A winning farm
Armidale Merino Stud
Gimmerburn, Central Otago, New Zealand
5500 merinos on 2054 hectars
There must be something in the fresh New Zealand-air down on Armidale. Or possibly, senior Allan Paterson and his son Simon (35), must have a very good nose for sniffing out great DNA. Because over at Armidale Merino Stud, on the flat and rolling areas on the southern island of New Zealand, exists a merino farm so renowned, that neighboring merino farms want to buy many of their rams. Armidale give approximately 200 merino rams a new piece of land to grass on each year. “We have always been very focused on quality, and our reputation have grown over the years”, Simon says. “We want every lamb, ewe and ram to produce the best wool of their ability”, adds Allan. A way of making sure to produce the finest wool is to regularly, and digitally, record the health and growth of each individual animal. If you ask father and son how many awards the have won for the quality of their merinos, they will laugh heartily. Because Armidale takes home so many medals, diplomas and gold-prices from big national fleece-competitions that many of them are still boxed up all over their main office.
Over 150 years ago, Mr. George Paterson worked with sheep in Scotland. In 1862 he came sailing from to the other side of the world with four of his sons. One of them, Anthony, bought Armidale in 1881, but it was his son George who in 1934 became the first Paterson to breed merinos. “We know sheep”, says Allan about the fact that his family has been sheep-farmers “forever”. Today, the two young boys on the farm, Hugo (5) and Bede (3), can call themselves the 6th generation to work with magnificent merino sheep. “The kids help out as much as they can”, says their father Simon. They love the trucks, and when the animals run fast through the gates.
Both Allan and his wife Iris, and Simon and his wife Sarah, all live and work together on the farm surrounded by the roses that Iris, with patience and love, has made grow around the garden. “Its hard to grow anything because of little rain and low temperatures”. Sarah is a school-teacher, and loves to take the family for waterskiing in a nearby lake during the summers. “All of us are active in sports”, Simon says. Both Allan and Simon have a history in playing rugby, but it has flipped for golf and squash respectively, although little Hugo has carried on the rugby-tradition. The Patersons also go hunting for deer or rabbit, or go fishing whenever they get the chance. Nature means everything for these guys, and as Allan says, “living with nature, you have to work with it, because you can not fight it”.