The Merino Wool Farm
Omeo, Australia EST. 1900
Employees 2 people
Average salary: Income is returned to the farm, owners only draw a living allowance
Work hours: 70 hours per week
Products: The Merino Crew Neck, The Merino Wool Polo, The Merino Roll Neck, The Merino Zip Cardigan, The Rib Wool Beanie, The Plain Wool Beanie
Last visit: April 2019
The Smith Family keeps 5000 Pendarra and Bindawarra merinos on thousands of acres of rolling hills and river beds. Working in the same place over 100 years, they have perfected their craft through meticulous breeding and care for their flock. The outcome is a merino wool fiber of superior quality. The year’s shearing takes place in late September. The process starts with the farm owner Alan, herding the Merinos to a space outside the shearing shed, where the sheep are washed and undergo health checks. Then, a highly trained shearing team bring them inside to manually trim the fleece of each, one by one, using electric trimmers. After the trimming, the fleece is visually and tactilely inspected by Belinda, Alan’s daughter who also works on the family farm, and rates every section of fleece.
Herding at the Smith Farm is done by alpacas, instead of dogs. Alpacas are extremely protective animals and won’t let predators near the flock they will patrol the boundary fences. If they sense trouble they will round all the sheep up and take them to the highest point in the paddock where they can be on the lookout for potential attackers. One of the farmers shared the following story: "One day we were checking ewes and lambs and found a lamb in the dam, Kelvin got the lamb out, we had no idea which ewe it belonged to but the alpaca did and got behind the lamb and nudged it all the way back to its mother. It was unbelievable to watch. They are very intelligent animals."