Merino sheep are in this family's blood

2014 marks the International Year of the Farming Family. 

Each day we have contact with a farmer, though we may not realise it. 

Through the milk we enjoy on our breakfast, the meat we have for dinner, to the clothes we wear, a farmer has had something to do with our daily lives. 

This year we honour our farming families across the Central West and Western NSW, bringing you their stories in the paper and online each week. 

The Armstrong Family

PEMCAW Merino and Poll Merino Stud in Dunedoo was established in 1896 by Lou Armstrong’s grandfather William and has been in the family ever since.

The Armstrong family are even in the name – Pemcaw – which came about in the 1950’s after Harold Armstrong moved the stud to Cassilis and renamed the family stud after his four son’s - Peter, Murray, Camden and Warwick (Lou).

“My grandfather started the stud down in Yass. It then moved to Boorowa for a few years before it moved to Cassilis in 1948. I’m the third generation and Harry will be the fifth,” Pemcaw principal Lou Armstrong said.

Lou and wife Jen still live on Pemcaw while son Henry and wife Sarah live next door with their children Harry and Tom – the fifth generations of Armstrong’s to be born on the land.

Mr Armstrong said it was his love of the land that has kept him in the merino industry all these years and the same love had brought son Henry back to Dunedoo to help keep the stud in the family.

“I enjoy a challenge and the opportunity to produce better stock,” he said.

Mr Armstrong said that while he never had the chance to meet his grandfather, watching his father work on the farm had encouraged him to stay on the land as well.

“I was the youngest of four boys so I was pretty low on the totem pole really,” he said. “I was given the chance to go to boarding school and have a look at other things that were about but I never wanted to do anything else but work on the farm.”

The Armstrong’s have three children – two of who have returned to work on the land in some capacity.

While Henry is with his father in Dunedoo, Lou’s second son lives on a farm near Coonamble.

“I hopefully gave my children the same opportunities I had to see there was something else. There was no obligation to come back but both of them decided they wanted to come back,” he said.

The love of sheep seems to run in Lou’s grandson Harry’s blood with the toddler getting down to work with his father and grandfather on a regular basis. At the Dunedoo Show Harry was in the yards all day, dressed in a hat passed down from his aunt’s time on the farm, and always willing help out by holding the sheep and checking their wool just like the judges.

“Harry’s already bossing us around on the farm. He’ll be ready to take over in no time.”

Do you know a farming family who would like to be featured in our series email their details to lpinkerton@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

More families:

* BATHURST: Dan and Steve Owens 

* DUBBO:  Cherie and Matthew Coddington 

* PARKES: Neil and Alison Westcott and Cliff and Helen Westcott

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