Woman sits in the cockpit of a small plane as she takes notes

First thing. You can find me in the boot room doing a Kate Ivey workout – this has been instrumental in helping me get through tough days mentally and physically over the past six years and is now a solid part of my daily routine. Pops stays in bed, of course, until I persuade her with a treat that swapping sheets for her farm coat is a good idea!

Before starting work on the farm, I sit down at my computer to fill book orders and send emails – completing chores for my business, Gurt and Pops – while eating breakfast. During the day I juggle running between inside and outside to do Zoom calls as my rural schools’ work is done remotely – often apologising for being covered in mud, and hay and quite frankly looking like I have been dragged through a gorse bush backwards!

Morning. Plans in farming seem to change all the time so communication is key and farm radios are a blessing. At this time of year, it usually consists of moving break fences, setting up the next days or mustering. It can also involve office work or running inside between shifting stock mobs to have a meeting.

Woman stands in between two horses

Afternoon. In the afternoon we can be outside mustering on the hill on my horse or on foot once the fog has cleared; or it’s back into the yards. Generally, I work alongside our shepherd, Harriet, and we take a hillside each, enjoying the challenges of running teams of dogs on steep hill country with Perendale sheep. There’s nothing I love more than to be outside in the fresh air with my animals, enjoying top views, and the satisfaction of being able to say that I am following my dreams. However, I never seem to puff any less walking the hills!

Black and white image of a woman and man standing with one horse each while seven dogs look up at them

Evening. At the end of the day, there is a stack of animals to feed, working dogs to cover and put to bed and horses to work. Ed and I share the cooking – I am lucky to live with a Southland bloke who loves cooking and happens to be bloody good at it, too! We both will have meeting commitments from time to time in the evenings – or recording a podcast – but generally, we make sure this is our time with each other.

You can also find me spending time hunting or with my beloved plane, Maggie. I worked incredibly hard for two years to complete my license and so it is a privilege to be able to hit the skies – although there has not been much of that of late with the weather. Once the evenings get longer, you will be sure to find me above 2,000 feet!


Harriet is the New Zealand winner of the 2023 Zanda McDonald Award, which recognises and supports future leaders in agriculture. Winners and finalists receive unparalleled personal and professional development opportunities to help them learn, network, experience and grow. Applications for 2024 are open from 1–31 October 2023. Learn more and register your interest at zandamcdonaldaward.com.

A sausage dog in a little coat stand on a stool in front of a small plane

Harriet first shared how she withstood the grief of losing a loved one with Shepherdess in our Kōanga Spring 2020 Edition.

This story appeared in our Kōanga Spring 2023 Edition.

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