Shrek, The Merino Sheep Who Avoided shearing For 6 Years

By Teresa Harper 7 Min Read

Shrek, the rogue adventurer with a fleece as thick as a forest, was no ordinary sheep. In the rugged terrain of New Zealand’s South Island, he became a legend, a woolly maverick who dodged shears for six whole years. He was not just a sheep; he was a survivalist, an escape artist, a fuzzy Houdini on four legs.

Born into the flocks that roamed the tussock grasslands, Shrek should have been just another Merino, bred for the softness of his wool. But Shrek was different. Maybe it was the twinkle in his eye or the spring in his step that first told the world he was a rebel, but either way, Shrek had other plans. He didn’t fancy the annual shearing ritual and the close camaraderie of his pen-mates. No, sir! This boy was born to walk on the wild side.

As a young lamb, Shrek discovered the caves of the high country, the perfect hideaways for a sheep with an appetite for solitude. When the other sheep moseyed down the hills for shearing, Shrek bolted up, blending into the craggy landscape like a four-legged boulder. For six years, season after season, as his fleece grew into a colossal woolen mass, nobody could catch the elusive Shrek.

They said he was a woolen myth, a ghostly sheep-shaped shadow slipping through the gorse and stone. Farmers swapped tales of his sightings like he was the Yeti of the highlands. And oh, how his fleece grew! It spiraled into a mammoth cloak that trailed behind him, a testament to his freedom and to the seasons he’d watched roll by from his mountain lair.

Then one fateful day, as the crisp autumn air heralded the coming winter, Shrek’s secret life came to an end. A sharp-eyed farmer spotted a curious mound of wool near some rocks. As he approached, the mound moved, and lo and behold, there was Shrek, almost unrecognizable beneath the six years’ worth of fleece. The jig was up. But unlike a fugitive caught, Shrek seemed almost relieved. Maybe he missed companionship, or perhaps the weight of his wool had become too much even for him.

The news of Shrek’s capture spread like wildfire. His giant fleece, now a majestic, tangled tapestry of his adventures, made him an instant celebrity. People couldn’t get enough of the rebellious ruminant who had outsmarted us all.

The day of his shearing became a spectacle of sorts, a country affair that drew observers from near and far. Shearers approached the Herculean task with a mix of glee and trepidation. Cameras flashed, children giggled, and Shrek? Well, he handled it all with the grace of a sheep who knew he’d already secured his place in history.

As the shears whirred and the wool fell away, it was like watching an artist sculpting a masterpiece from marble. Bit by bit, the woolen mound transformed back into a sheep, albeit one with a bewildering look in his eyes. Who was this slim character beneath all that fluff?

his enormous fleece was auctioned off for charity and he ended up raising over $150,000.

When the shearing was done, an astonishing 60 pounds of wool lay piled around—enough to make suits for 20 large men or keep a small village warm with knitted goods. Shrek stood there, looking almost naked, a slim shadow of his former self. Yet the sparkle in his eye remained. He was still Shrek, the sheep who beat the system, the Merino marvel.

His wool went on to do great things. Some of it was auctioned for charity, fetching a king’s ransom to help those in need. Some was spun into high-quality yarns, coveted by knitters who wanted a piece of Shrek’s legacy woven into their creations.

Shrek became more than just a sheep; he became a symbol of indomitable spirit, of the will to carve one’s path, even if that path was up a mountainside and into obscurity. He met dignitaries and posed for pictures, always with that knowing look that said, “I did it my way.”

The years rolled on, and Shrek basked in his unlikely stardom. He was the guest of honor at parades and appeared on television. He even met the Prime Minister, who couldn’t help but chuckle in the presence of such a fuzzy renegade.

As for the cave in the hills, it sat empty, a silent testament to the sheep who once called it home. Some say, on quiet nights, a soft baa can be heard echoing off the stone, a woolen whisper reminding us to live life on our own terms.

Shrek, the gentle giant of the high country, lived out his days in comfort and peace, having seen the world from both sides of the fence. He’d been a wild thing of the mountains and a pampered prince of the paddock.

Sadly, on June 6, 2011, at the ripe age of 17—a venerable age for any sheep, let alone one of such renown—Shrek’s grand adventure came to a gentle close. The decision to euthanize him came with heavy hearts, as his health had declined, and his caretakers wished to spare him any discomfort. Even in his final moments, Shrek’s eyes held the same spark that had once ignited a nation’s love and turned a runaway sheep into an icon.

His story was a warm, woolly reminder that sometimes, the best adventures are the ones we carve out for ourselves, even if we’re a little sheepish about it in the end. 🙂

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