Gunnedah High School's agriculture students will learn a whole lot of new skills thanks to a local family.
Gary and Karen Fogarty made the difficult decision to sell off their breeding ewes and stud rights because of the drought and five of the ewes have found a new home at the high school.
The ewes were in lamb when they were sold in June and between them, the ewes produced three sets of twins and two singles. The last lot of lambs were only born on Saturday.
From these sheep, the school has started its own Poll Dorset stud - Gunndemar - a combination of Gunnedah and the Fogartys' stud name, Braemar.
Braemar was established in March 1960 in Binnaway by Karen Fogarty's father, Ross Bull. The stud got its name from the property and was handed down to Karen and her husband in October 2005.
The Fogartys moved the operation to Innisvale in Gunnedah and all was well until the drought set in. They held off lambing in March as they weighed up what to do. In the end, they surrendered to the elements and 250 ewes have been sold this year. About 90 ewes and the stud rights were purchased by a Boggabri family.
"It's a 60-year-old stud so it was a bit hard to make the decision," Mrs Fogarty said.
"I'm likely to go to tears at any moment."
As difficult as it has been to sell off, Mrs Fogarty is happy to see five of their ewes find a new home at the high school.
"I'll keep coming in and helping the girls. I'll keep my hand in," she said.
New agriculture teacher Brooke Cowan has experience with sheep breeding and has taken on the role of stud manager.
In a few weeks, she will be teaching Year 9 students how to tag, dock and vaccinate the lambs.
The students will also learn how to feed, prepare, lead and show the sheep at shows and competitions.
"These will be our show stud ewes and our intention is to use them as a breeding stock and we will take them to shows like the Sydney Royal," Ms Cowan said.
"A lot of what we've done has been hoof and hook, feeding and taking them to a show and not bringing them back.
"This will be a whole new experience to what we did at [the 2019 School Merino Wether Challenge].
"It will be something Gunnedah High can own and have as their own little stud."
Head agriculture teacher Nicole Dwyer said the students can "get as attached to these guys as they like" and sheep were a good option for the school in the dry conditions.
"Sheep need less feed and water than cattle," she said.
"Per unit, you can do a lot more with sheep than cattle."
Year 9 student Leisel Torrens does 100 hours of agriculture classes a year and said it was "very exciting" to get hands-on with the lambs. She lives on a farm and wants to work in agriculture after she finishes school.
As for the Fogartys, they are waiting for the rain so they can take up lamb trading instead.