Scout’s merino wool comes from Eden Valley Farm in Dumbleyung, Western Australia. The 2000 hectare property was settled in 1905, and has been in the Lloyd family since 1945, with Ross and Terri Lloyd as the current owners (sheepdogs Jeff & Dot help out too). The property has been certified Demeter Biodynamic since 1988, a system that supports and develops world class ecological & sustainable production of food and natural fibres. As well as raising sheep, Ross and Terri also grow grain crops which they process into grain flour and stockfeeds.
Eden Valley is home to 4,500 Merino sheep (originally descendants of Collinsville Merino). Since 1950 the family have been breeding their own Stud Merino Rams to do well in their Biodynamic farming system, with a quiet temperament and natural resistance to parasites, they thrive in the low rainfall environment, producing a bright white wool with a soft handle (the fibre is 21 microns).
Shearing takes place mid August when the weather starts to warm and before the blowflies & grass seeds become a problem – it takes 4 shearers 8 days to shear all 4,500 sheep. The sheep are crutched (removal of wool from around the tail & rear legs) in March and July each year to prevent stained wool. No artificial insemination is used, only natural paddock mating, and lambs are born in May hoping to coincide with the beginning of the new season.
The sheep graze green pastures during the growing season and in the dry season they receive supplementary grain & hay that grow specifically for them on the property. Ross and Terri do all of the sheep handling & management themselves – sheep classing, feeding, lamb marking, crutching, pregnancy testing etc. They feel that avoiding outside contractors for stock handling (except shearing) benefits the sheep’s wellbeing and enables them to treat each animal as an individual.
Along with the hard earned rewards, there are also challenges in raising happy and sustainable sheep – the farm has seen a steady reduction in annual rainfall over the last 100 years from 350mm to 250mm. The rainfall is generally over 6 months of growing conditions from May to October and 6 months of dry from November to April, although no two years are the same. This means higher levels of planning and management are required.
Ross, Terri and their family take great pride & care in the effort they put into wool production and their sheep. They are incredibly passionate about what they do, and by being open in their work hope to share that passion with those who enjoy the farms produce.
To see what their amazing efforts helped us produce (and to grab your own pocketful of merino wool magic from Eden Valley) go have a peek at our totally huggable Scout yarn.