Lake Heron Station
Home to Philip and anne todhunter
Life In the high country
Philip: "Living and working in the mountains is something I particularly enjoy. When I’m out working amongst the animals and mustering in the mountains, being there is a privilege. It’s a very special place to be."
Anne: "I love this environment, the landscape, the mountains. I just feel very comfortable in these surroundings. Just being here is great. I never feel lonely. It’s almost like a small village of its own, out in a remote environment."
A family legacy
Philip: "Being part of a family legacy is a great privilege, too. I’m the fourth-generation family member to be associated with the property. Anne and I have been here for 22 years. Our children are now away at school and university. Whether they come home and take over – that’s for them to decide. But they very much enjoy coming home and being part of the place; spending time working with the animals."
Growing with purpose
Philip: "Our philosophy at Lake Heron is to look after the environment, the people that work with us, our animals, and to produce something that is purposeful and natural, and is great for the environment."
Anne: "We absolutely love what we do. Part of the excitement and passion comes from having healthy animals and producing a fibre that we believe in. And also knowing that the environment, and the people involved in the whole operation, are cared for as well."
"For us it’s more than just ticking boxes. We absolutely love what we do. The excitement and passion comes from having healthy animals and producing a fibre that we believe in."
The wellbeing of the flock
Philip: "Out in the mountains it’s very free-range and wild. In New Zealand, we don’t have foxes or predators for the sheep. Pretty much all they have to worry about is making sure they eat enough. When you see the young sheep running around and skipping and jumping – they are fit, they move freely. That’s when you know they are happy and healthy."
What’s good for the sheep is good for the fibre
Philip: "We are focused on growing great merino wool and looking after our animals. We’re regularly audited as part of the ZQ merino programme, which has stringent requirements for looking after the animals. The better we do by the sheep while they’re young, the more productive they are as adults. It means we grow more wool, with consistent length, free from fault and breaks."
Anne: "We treat the animals with respect. When the guys are out moving the sheep or the cattle, the animals aren’t stressed. When they’re in the yards, the animals are treated in a way that causes the least stress possible. And they are well fed, which is obviously vitally important for their welfare, and also for them to be able to produce beautiful merino fibre."
Working with icebreaker
Anne: "It’s important for us to produce something that we know a consumer wants and values. Aligning ourselves with icebreaker has been a fantastic opportunity for us to align to that wider purpose, of more than just producing something, and not knowing where it’s going."
Caring for the land
Anne: "We’re in quite a fragile environment, and what that means is we cannot overgraze. We have to be really careful that we maintain good vegetation covers on the soils, so they don’t blow or wash away."
Philip: "Managing extensive areas of grazing is the same as for our predecessors 150 years ago: It’s a very harsh climate, we have very strong winds. It’s important for us to protect the soils in the paddocks - that’s what grows the forage for the sheep. It’s a seasonal rotation - we keep stock out at certain times of the year - so the land is looked after for the future."