Merredin men to shed sloth

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

The Merredin Men's Shed chapter is on a mission to capture the couch potatoes and help increase membership.

Shed president Jim Flockart, who started the group only four years ago after retiring from farming, says current membership is only about 30-odd blokes, but with the move to a gigantic new shed, he's hoping to double that.

"We'd like to capture those people sitting at home 10-hours-a-day watching TV and get them to come down and participate," Mr Flockart said.

"When we get the new shed up and running we're hoping to be able to accommodate all men from around the town," he said.

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Mr Flockart said that after working in the original shed provided by the local earthmoving company, they all looked forward to moving to bigger and better premises.

"For the past four years we've had the original shed supplied free, including the power and water," he said

"But now, through the generosity of various charities and a 20-year free lease of land from the Shire, we will be able to offer some great facilities to our new members."

Mr Flockart said the new shed would have a recreation area where people who were thinking of joining can come down and have a cup of coffee with the blokes and then get involved if they wanted to.

Mr Flockart said there would be a wide variety of activities on offer.

"We're looking at introducing photography, plus the usual woodworking, metal working and restoration work we'll be doing," he said

Mr Flockart said the key driver of the Men's Shed was the health and wellbeing of men in the community.

"It's our intention to get more men down there talking about their problems and hopefully we'll be able to help them."

City boy Langley Smith says he can learn a lot from the old cockies.

The retired prison guard moved to Merredin after leaving Roebourne several years ago.

Mr Smith said he had been suffering from depression and became involved with the shed on advice from his doctor.

"I'm a city boy originally, but I have learnt a wealth of knowledge from coming to the shed," Mr Smith said

"There is just about every type of talent available here, from painting, machinery, restoration and cropping."

Mr Smith said one of his recent projects was to make a trophy for the inaugural Destination Merredin event, where he got to put his woodworking skills to use.

"They gave me a little box and I had to make a little table and little suitcase to go on it for the travel theme," he said.

With a good start to the season, the shed hopes another good crop will bring more tools.

Men's Shed cropping program co-ordinator and Muntadgin wheat farmer Peter McCrae says this year will the Men's Shed will be putting in a crop for the second time.

"Last year we ended up having to dry seed, but we still managed to getaround 1.4 tonnes to the hectare, so it ended up being quite a profitable little crop because it didn't cost much to put it in," he said.

"It was all volunteer labour.

"We ended up selling it for around $301 per tonne and bringing in around $8500 for the crop, which was a good result."

Mr McCrae said the proceeds for this year's crop would be spent on the new shed.

"We haven't spent the proceeds from last year yet, but that will end up going towards finishing the new shed," he said.

"It will go to fitting out the new shed with a kitchen and toilets, as well as new tools like drills, grinders and welders."

Vice-president Malcolm Robartson says he is glad farming and harvesting technology has improved.

A fully restored Nicholson and Morrow stripper takes pride of place at the front of the new shed.

"This stripper was made in Melbourne and used between 1920 and 1938," Mr Robartson said.

"A local farmer named Tom Dobson had donated the stripper to theshed to be restored," he said.

"He used the stripper on his property at Hines Hill up until 1938."

Mr Robartson said when using this machine they used to scrape the contents of the box out on to the ground and put it through a hand operated winnower.

"Someone would need to be turning the handle on the winnower, while another person used the shovel to put the cut material into the winnower," he said.

"As you can imagine it was very laborious work."

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