The more I dig into the wool industry, the more it feels like it’s just one huge family run business. You will be hard pressed to find someone working in wool that doesn’t have a family tie to it somewhere. Caleb Morgan falls comfortably into that family genre and his ties run for four generations.
The story of wool before Caleb is a long one. His Grandad and Great Papa were both shearers and woolgrowers, mum was a woolhandler and dad is a shearing contractor. It is quite fitting that Caleb would be born into the woolsheds, literally. His story starts with breaking his mum’s waters on the shearing board, keen to get out and start his life in wool.
‘I have been in the woolsheds ever since I can remember. Mum says I was shearing teddies with either hand or one of dad’s old handpieces as soon as I could walk. I’ve had plenty of practice perfecting my footwork and blows.’
And all of the early practice has paid off with impressive personal bests in his early years.
‘I shore my first ‘real’ sheep at the age of 8. When I was 9, I shore my PB of 61 lambs. When I was 11 I shore 91 ewes for the day. On my 13th birthday I shore my first 100 – cause like what else do you prefer to do on your birthday? When I was 14, I shore my first 200 (220 crossbred lambs) and have now shorn over 200, over ten times. Mum and Dad used to joke that I’d be ready for a career change by the time I was 17. Phhftt….I’m only just getting started.’
Now, at the age of fifteen and based at Macarthur, Victoria, Caleb is still smashing personal bests and has 300 sheep shorn for the day in his sights. An update as this story was being written was sent to me.
‘I shore my new personal best of 280 by 5:15 My best run was 90 and if I didn’t have to shear dorset/ south down rams the first run I would’ve got my 300.’ (His weekly total was well into the 1100’s)
Caleb jokes about the amount of money he’s able to earn, comparing it to the pay packets of his peers putting the hours in at Maccas and Woolies, but there is more than just dollars from blows driving this ambition teen. Outside of the woolshed and his impressive shearing totals, Caleb is also a woolgrower.
Purchasing his first horned ram at the age of 13, he’s working hard on improving the genetics of his flock to meet market demand.
‘I’ve purchased rams from both Glenlea Park stud in SA and Coryule stud in Vic, to suit the climates where we’ve lived. I’m focusing on growing bright white 18 micron wools on large framed, plain bodied sheep while still cutting a decent amount of wool (5-6kgs)’
‘I love Merino sheep, particularly the look of horned rams. There’s nothing quite like the feel of beautiful merino wool and the accomplishment of growing it.’
With so many generations working in wool before him and some big shoes fill, there is no doubt that Caleb has already fit into those shoes (or moccassins) and walking his own prosperous path.