A family passion
Blenheim, Awatere Valley, New Zealand
7000 merinos on 8500 hectars
On a picturesque merino farm, in a long steep valley with interesting rock formations, north on the southernmost New Zealand island, Jeremy and Hayley have found their ultimate spot in the world. They recently took over the ownership of Gladstone, which has been in the Pitts-family since 1963, when Jeremys grandfather Gentry bought it. They even got married here, down by the river, 13 years ago. Actually their house is framed by this powerful river on three sides, while the forth and final side of the family house are lined with spiky, snowy, beautiful mountains. Jeremy, and Hayley who sometimes herd the sheep controlling 10 dogs by herself, run Gladstone together, producing merino wool “soft as a warm cloud”, as Jeremy would describe it.
Their two sons, Jack (11) and Harry (9), are being home-schooled from 08:00 to 13:00 during weekdays, because their farm is too far away from a public school. That means they get more time to play and run around with their eight pet-lambs who got lost from their mothers on a stormy day in the paddocks, and who are now living in the family garden. The kids are very actively involved in both the hands-on work of merino farming, as well as outdoor living, which is being appreciated so much in New Zealand. Because even though farming is tough work that might last till even after sunset, this family knows how to take advantage of being “adrenaline junkies”, as Hayley would say.
“Jeremy just bought river kayaks, and I do a lot of mountain biking”, says Hayley. She also has a horse, the sons have ponies, and she likes to jog. One time both of their little pet-pigs followed her on the run when one of them didn’t come back home till late at night. “It had met another wild pig and then came back, pregnant it turned out”, says Hayley. “We have eaten them now though, they got a bit aggressive”, Jeremy says. Well, that´s farming-life, for you. The whole family loves to go hunting for wild goats as well as deer, and then quite regularly they will bring the hunted meat, together with a tent and some camping gear, and drive their jeep to sleep outside, on higher ground for the night. They light a bonfire and when its time to sleep, they listen to absolutely nothing. “It is actually incredibly silent - and you can see the The Milky Way so clearly, it is wonderful”, says Hayley.