Lamb jumpers bring a NSW farmer an OAM

By Rodney Woods

It started as a way to keep orphaned lambs warm and has turned into a "phenomenon" that's brought joy to farmers doing it tough across NSW.

Coonabarabran farmer Marie Knight has sent more than 80 000 hand-knitted jumpers to farmers across NSW since 2018 to keep their baby lambs warm during winter.

The 56-year-old has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her services to rural and remote areas after creating the Lamb Jumpers, Helping Our Farmers Facebook page.

“At first I thought, ‘what did I do to deserve this?’," Ms Knight said.

“It was a really big group effort. It's a way I can accept it on behalf of everyone.”

Ms Knight said since the drought worsened, ewes were struggling and have been forced to abandon their young.

She put the word out about the jumpers in June 2018 and within one week she had requests for 700.

“The lamb jumpers were something farmers could easily take because it wasn't for them — it was for the animals,” she said.

“It became quite a phenomenon.”

The jumpers have even helped Ms Knight as the drought turned her farm, which she says is usually "drought proof,” into dust.

“It's really scary stuff,” she said.

“My family has been here for an awfully long time and there's never been anything like this before.

“But, seeing the colours and patterns of the jumpers around the house has been a fun and positive sight.”

Ms Knight said the community formed as a result of the jumpers had helped farmers feel less isolated.

“The jumpers helped us because it has given us a positive thing while we deal with so much negativity every day."