Ailie: Mum and Dad bought Cravendale when I was five. At 540 hectares, it runs 2500 ewes, 800 hoggets, and 140 breeding cows. We were so lucky to have four kids in the family and to have a good backyard. We were pretty free-range, always thinking up new games; rescuing stray animals, climbing trees and finding kittens down hay bales.
After school, I studied nursing in Dunedin and worked as a shepherd on Lake Heron station in my holidays. After finishing my study, I moved to Gisborne for my first nursing job, before working in the Aussie outback as a nurse for a couple of years in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. When I returned home in 2018 I wanted to spend the summer outside, so did a lambing job up the Ashburton Gorge and then moved to Wanaka to work on a tailing gang. I got hooked on the farm life over this time and decided to get a farming job and put nursing on the back burner for a bit. I've been working on a sheep and beef farm called Queensberry Ridges for the last year.
Cravendale has a bit of flat and a bit of hill. It's not irrigated, but has a good rainfall. It can get dry in summer though, and also a fair bit of snow in winter. The snow will stay around for a week or so if it's a big one, and the snow can come during lambing.
Nina and I get on really well. We're quite close in age and do lots together. She’s a little shit though. Once she called me up on April Fool’s day and told me my dog had been run over and had had to be put down. I started crying. She is also a tightarse and refuses to buy fresh milk. Instead she buys powdered milk, which I'm not really down for.
Nina has opted to do accounts and make scones and I'm more keen on the stock work side of things, so I think running the farm will work really well. It feels like a goer with the two of us, as we can also keep up a bit of nursing and vetting on the side.
Nina: I loved growing up on a farm, running riot with my brother and sisters. We all loved helping out and would spend most of our spare time on the farm. After school, I headed off overseas to work, with indoor lambing beats in the UK and wrangling in Wyoming. I studied veterinary science in Palmerston North and then moved to the metropolis of Ranfurly to work as a vet. I’m now back in the Maniototo working on Craigneuk, a sheep, beef and deer farm. I'm learning loads before heading home to lease the farm.
I've always loved farming and used to work up the Ashburton Gorge during summer holidays. There’s nothing quite like the shepherding lifestyle to lose some well-earned university kilograms. A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to farm full time, and after a few family discussions, it was decided that my sister and I would lease the family farm. I’m looking forward to the challenge and seeing results from the work we put in.
Ailie is a few years older than me, but is a wee hobbit so is easily mistaken for the younger sister. She loves to make sure she's always the boss, so hopefully we still get on in a few years! She’s a talker and can sell ice to Eskimos. She also likes baking and bookwork, and is pretty good at weeding veggie gardens. Her mechanical skills are impeccable and she was once known to have walked four-kilometres home after having 'split' the heavy roller in half. Who knew they had a permanent split? I'm fairly frugal, so it'll be challenging converting Ailie to my ways. We're both keen to get stuck in and happy to ask for help if we need it, which I think is a strength. Mount Somers is a great community and will be a good spot to head back to.
A huge thing for me is making sure our family continue to get along. We're all really close, all love the farm and want to see it have a good future. Family succession is so important and tricky to get right, but I hope that by being open and honest we can carry on playing happy families for years to come.
This story appeared in the Takurua Winter 2021 Edition of Shepherdess.
From her home in Geraldine, Renee (Rangitāne, Ngāti Kahungunu) reflects on how her upbringing has influenced how she is committed to raising her two children with gentleness.
Shepherdess caught up with Holly on Mounganui Station to learn more about how the curling competitor spends her days.
This story is the second in a series where we share, in their own words, the stories of ten women who call Tararua home.
Self-proclaimed lifelong learner Kate Menzies, 54, is passionate about supporting a new generation of farmers to make connections and grow their skills.