At a Havelock North lifestyle block, serene pet sheep Flossy is the pick of the flock.
There’s one simple way to distinguish which are the pet sheep and which are not, in the paddocks around Tom O’Sullivan’s Havelock North home. “If they have an ear tag with a name on it, it’s a pet. If not, it’s what we might call a ‘commercial animal,’” he says.
With a dozen pet ewes, a pregnant sheepdog and three cats, along with Tom, his partner Rachel and their two daughters, it’s a full house at the rural lifestyle block, just on the outskirts of the Hawke’s Bay town. Given that Tom is chair of the Campaign for Wool New Zealand, which promotes wool’s natural benefits and sustainability, sheep play a huge role in the passionate farmer’s career as well as his home life.
“We built our home with woollen carpet, insulation and curtains – just wool wherever we can use it,” he says. “Plus, there’s the most amazing view from the house, overlooking the paddocks and our small flock. For me, it’s a really beautiful and relaxing sight.”
Flossy (left, with Tom) is one of his flock – sweet, placid and fond of kitchen scraps. Being inside for Haven’s photo shoot was a novelty, but she’s much loved by Tom, Rachel, Ruby, 10, and Tessa, nine.
“She’s a Suffolk crossed with a Texel,” says Tom, “and she’s breeding stock for us. We’re hoping there’ll be some little Flossies running about come spring.”
And lambing, Tom says, is his favourite time of the year. “It’s lovely. Ruby and Tessa will come around with me, checking on all the ewes, and if there’s an orphaned lamb, they’re always keen to get involved in the feeding and caring.”
He says having a small flock of sheep helps him get his farming fix but he’s on the lookout for a larger property. “That connection to land, and to wool, is really important to me.”
IMAGE VIA FLORENCE CHARVIN