Like many woolgrowers across Eastern Australia, their annual shear in May was dragged out from its usual fortnight to more than a month as they battled up to 80 millimetre rainfalls daily.
Wool sat in their shed for more than four months as the nearby Back Creek, which ran dry most of the year, swelled to more than 50 metres wide, preventing access to the sheds.
“In the end we had to load bales onto a trailer in lots of 10 and tow it through the water on a tractor,” Sharon McCalman said.
More than half of their 2030 hectare property was underwater from June to October.
“The shear length of time was a challenge because it came in two waves of heavy rain so nothing was able to dry out,” Mrs McCalman said.
“It was protracted flooding over four months, whereas summer floods usually come and go much quicker.
“Rain can be easier than drought – drought is exhausting but you can always see some good in water.”
“Rain can be easier than drought - drought is exhausting but you can always see some good in water.”
They are one of many woolgrowers whose delay in shearing and transportation of bales has bumped November’s offering at Sydney and Melbourne wool auctions up 12 per cent, to 147590.
Wool carrier Dave Hall, Parkes, NSW, was on the receiving end of the McCalman’s epic transporting efforts, and said there was a six week flood induced backlog getting bales to store in October.
“It was trying to get it off-farm and into store before it rained again,” Mr Hall said.
“It didn’t take much rain before it wrecked the whole show again – when you couldn’t get on farm because it was so wet.”
Mr Hall transported 550 tonnes of wool bales last month, all transported from central NSW properties impacted by floods.
While most of the backlog had dissipated, Mr Hall said there was still pressure on transporting wool bales from properties who are currently shearing following months of delays.
Jemalong technical services manager David Quirk said western NSW was cut off from the East for nearly four months, preventing the receival of bales in the peak spring period.
“Shearing had been delayed by six weeks, it only ramped up at the end of spring,” Mr Quirk said.
“A lot is coming into the store now with the market rallying like it is but whatever does come in is meeting the market because it is so solid.
“Spring prices usually softens due to the influx, but this year with the falling dollar and rising demand, we’re seeing that wool go straight on to the market and little being sold for autumn next year.”
Australian Wool Network wool marketing manager Rod Miller said woolgrowers shearing in the South East South Australia were greatest impacted by September rainfall which marked the fifth-wettest month on record for the state.
“Shearing is back on track after being delayed a month across most of South Australia,” Mr Miller said.
“We are having what would be regarded as a normal spring influx in the market but one month later than it ordinarily would.”
“We had solid rain for many, many weeks, so there was virtually no shearing for most of the state.”
He said shearing contractors were forced to work through weekends to catch-up on the build-up, with the delay causing a labour shortage in parts of the northern pastoral regions.