These jumpers are saving the lives of orphaned lambs and farmers
6 July 2019 at 5:05 pm
As winter settles in and temperatures plummet across rural Australia, hand-knitted jumpers from as far away as Belgium and America are being posted to farmers struggling to keep their little orphaned lambs alive.
It’s a campaign that has not only inspired knitters across Australia and the world to get creative with their yarn but has brought joy to farmers battling one of the worst droughts in Australia’s history.
Marie Knight, a farmer from the northwestern NSW town of Coonabarabran, put a call out for jumpers a year ago to help struggling farmers look after their orphaned “poddy” lambs, which are at their most vulnerable to freezing temperatures in the first few days after birth.
“You get a poddy lamb when the mother dies or just rejects it, but due to the drought, the numbers have just skyrocketed,” Knight told Pro Bono News.
“The problem is that they are newborns, and very similar to a newborn baby they can’t control their own body temp, and they don’t have mum to help them with keeping their temperature right…so having a little jumper helps with that.”
The idea exploded. While Knight was initially collecting and sorting through the hundreds of jumpers being sent each week on her own, she’s had to call in outside help to keep up with the demand.
“Our local Country Women’s Association Rotary members and general community have been helping unpack them, sorting them out and then packing them up and posting them out again,” she said.
“By today I will have sent out over 60,000 jumpers to farmers around Australia and we’ve still got a supply in our shearing shed.”
Packages have come in from countries as far as America, Canada, and Belgium which included some local chocolates.
While the jumpers have saved the lives of many lambs, Knight said she underestimated the impact it would have on the lives of the farmers.
“When you’re doing it tough in the drought – we’re in our third or fourth year in different places – it’s the monotony that kills you, and when you can have a bit of a laugh at some colour on a lamb, it makes such a difference,” she said.
“The fact that somebody would bother to knit you a jumper and send it out and send you a little card to say we appreciate what you do, we support you and we wish you well, I think that saves lives.
“It just makes you feel part of the community and not so isolated.”
Knight said she has also been blown away by the creativity and effort put into the jumpers.
“We had one with little lambs knitted onto the jumper, and another with hearts stitched in. There’s just so much thought that has been put into it,” she said.
“We’ve made a little community between the city and rural Australia which is lovely as well, and we just really appreciate that people care enough to think about our little lambs,” she said.
They’ve also been able to extend their market, with cows and pigs now donning custom knits to keep them nice and cosy through the harsh winter to come.
Information on how to participate in the project and where to send in jumpers can be found on the Lamb Jumpers Project Facebook page.