AFTER a decade's shearing, Sam Beavis returned to his culinary roots, writes SARAH HUDSON
Shearing sheep and baking cakes would seem, on first impressions, worlds apart.
Not for Avoca's Sam Beavis.
Sam grew up on a 610ha sheep farm on the outskirts of the central highlands town, became an apprentice baker at 15, and then followed a decade of shearing. He reverted to his true love two years ago when he established Shear Delights Bakery in Avoca's main street.
Yes, it's a cute play on words.
Sam says swapping the blade of shears for the blade of a food processor was a given - even as a young boy he preferred cooking for the shearers rather than shearing.
"I'm one of 10 children and with four older brothers who always did the shearing, I took more interest in cooking, helping mum in the kitchen and picking up recipes off my gran," says the 35-year-old.
"I wouldn't say I've always been a sweet tooth - I just like food and I like eating. I suppose I like to cook to support the habit."
In 1992 he started his baking apprenticeship in Maryborough and then Ballarat.
He only stopped working in the trade because of the poor hours, generally 10pm to 5am.
And lucky he did so, because it was at the Barley Banquet in Rupanyup that he met his wife, Joanne, five years ago.
Sam says the 10 years he spent shearing saw him start off, self-taught, at 45 sheep a day, and eventually build to 260, working around Ararat and up to Echuca.
"I miss the camaraderie with the boys in the shed, although I now get that through the local footy club," he said.
"And there's good money in shearing. It allowed me to buy my house and all the machinery for the bakery.
"But ultimately I love baking. I love looking at a recipe picture and feeling the satisfaction of making a product that looks the same."
He opened Shear Delights after a lot of hard work. Everything is made "from scratch" and locals have flocked through his door.
His sponge cake is popular, as are his pies, including the drover's.
"We try not to complicate what we offer. We don't offer sourdough, for instance, because this is a square-bread town."
While Sam comes from a big family, his wider circle of relatives means he always has hungry relatives to feed.
"My mum was a Wardlaw, my dad's mother was a Farnsworth and with the Beavis side thrown in, that covers a lot of the families in the area."
- Shear Delights Bakery, High Street, Avoca. Ph: (03) 54653517.