Luxury Lambs' Wool Baby Blanket
Made in Wairarapa
This beautiful blanket has humble beginnings, as the fibre that is shorn from the Romney lambs at Palliser Ridge station, in February of each year. The shearing process, as well as all farm practices, are Responsible Wool Standard accredited, so you can be assured the blanket comes with strong ethical credentials.
The shorn wool then heads to the sunny Hawkes Bay for scouring, before travelling to Woolyarns in Wellington for carding and spinning.
Once the yarn is in single ply form, it's shipped up to the big city of Auckland where Inter-Weave turn it into beautiful fabric.
The fabric is then brought back to Palliser Ridge where it all began, where lovely Glenda cuts it into shape, adds the satin and the leather badging, before packaging them up in beautiful gift boxes made by the good folk at Port Nicholson Packaging in Wellington.
The blankets are a generous cot size, each blankets dimensions are approximately 120cm* wide by 150cm* long.
*give or take a couple of centimetres due to the handmade nature of these items
Palliser Ridge in New Zealand’s North Island is part of the Wools of New Zealand Ltd integrity programme and were one of the very first New Zealand farms to be accredited under the Responsible Wool Standard for Marks and Spencer UK.
Kurt Portas runs the 1320-hectare [1150-hectare] coastal property with his wife Lisa, and as a young Kiwi family with two boys, Axel (8 years) and Beauden (5 years), they’re committed to working with nature and their 10,000 sheep.
South Wairarapa sheep and beef farm Palliser Ridge has been embedded with sustainability and social stewardship since the beginning.
The farm sells 10 tonnes of lamb’s wool and 20 tonnes of ewes’ wool each year, in addition to marketing honey, lambs’ wool and hand-knitted clothing products used to demonstrate the wonders of wool.
The off-grid accommodation and on-farm tour enterprises also add value to the business and highlight their sustainable management practices.
Stock water sourced from a bore on the Turanganui Plains is reticulated across the entire property and Kurt has begun a planting programme on retiring old dams and establishing native vegetation.
Growing the wool
The amazing thing about the wool from Palliser Ridge is the care and science that goes into looking after the sheep. You are what you eat, and in some kind of roundabout way, we wear what they eat. Beyond the obvious desire to look after stock, healthy sheep also means higher quality wool. Kurt ran us through the fodder that makes up the sheep's diet. The fodder selection is crafted to balance the health of the stock while also ensuring the long-term fertility of the land.
So what's on the menu?
Three of the regulars on the menu are chicory, yarrow and couch. Chicory is a crop that has good protein in it for the stock and is good for the land. Chicory has a 400-500mm tap root. This size means it breaks up the soil and increases the mineral content in the soil around it. Yarrow is used because it is tolerant in the dry, wind-swept conditions of a Palliser Ridge summer. Interestingly, many people think of it as a weed but it in fact has a higher content of minerals that some perennial grasses.
Another tough grass well suited to the conditions is couch. Couch is a tough fibrous grass that you might have seen alongside highways. It is a long dry grass that grows quickly so the stock can keep its health and fibre benefits many times a year.
Rounding out the sheep’s menu at Palliser Ridge is a selection of other herbs and grasses including red and white clover, legumes plants such as common rye, and other seasonal grasses. A rather elaborate side-salad if you will.
Moving onto things neither us nor the sheep want to eat, Kurt has introduced dung beetles onto the farm. The purpose is to balance the impact of livestock on the land by aerating soil, improving the nutrient cycle, and increasing water absorption. The Greater Wellington regional council has been actively promoting the introduction of dung beetles because of the benefits to regional water quality and improved pasture yields for farmers.