My background is dairy, but I wasn’t raised on a farm. My dad was a builder and my mum was a stay-at-home mum. We did a lot of stuff outdoors, so when I married a dairy farmer, I enjoyed the physical side of it. Every day was different. It was all outdoors and I wasn’t stuck in an office. We were fifty-fifty sharemilking for a number of years. Then we went to lower order and farm ownership at the same time. We were able to grow our business and have a family – a daughter and three boys – and they were all able to come work with us on the farm.
My husband passed away when the kids were young. He had a farm accident. It has been tough, but my job helped me get through. It has kept me busy and given me a reason to get out of bed. It’s been a big journey and I’ve come a long way. The kids have grown up with me here at PGG Wrightson. I’ve been very lucky – I was able to juggle the kids with the job because everything is quite centralised here in Hāwera. They have all grown up and left home – and I also have a grandson – so I’ve done the hard yards. I was on the primary school board; I was on the fundraising committee; I also coached sports – if I didn’t coach their sports, they wouldn’t have had a team to go into. I was doing what I loved, but it did get very busy. I don’t currently do as much as I used to, but I help out where I can because there’s always people who need it.
Working for PGG Wrightson has been fantastic because I can relate my farming background with working for them – without having to milk cows! My job is predominantly outdoors – I do a lot of crop-walking and checking paddocks for customers who are busy and don’t get to check their paddocks. A lot of them trust me to organise the contractors and the sprays. They rely on me to take that part of the pressure away. I weigh crops and help out with anything that arises. My job is helping out the farmers where I can.
[My customers in] South Taranaki are probably 90 per cent dairy farmers. We’ve got some cropping blocks that I manage, and we’ve got a handful of dry stock farmers, but currently I do a lot of dairy because that’s what I know. I can go up a driveway and understand if they’re busy – I understand the pressures that they’ve got. That had a lot of value when I first started. If I hadn’t had a farming background, I probably would have found it [harder] and I think the customers wouldn’t have related to me the same.
The last few years, going through Covid, have been about making sure I’m there for the customers; making sure I’ve got everything that they need and helping them out. If I was going out to a farm, for example, they might ring and say, “Can you grab this in town on your way past?” It might be a tractor part that had been dropped off to be fixed – I’d pick it up and take it out for them. The appreciation I’ve got for helping out in the past few years has been huge.
The whole experience of working for PGG Wrightson has been incredible for me. I’ve had a few family incidents, but they’ve been there to support me right through. PGG Wrightson has held a lot of trainings and mental health and leadership courses that have been really beneficial to me and my family, and my customers in the end. You become a big family once you’ve been there for a while. The whole journey has been pretty incredible, I just really love it.
The customers in Taranaki are always looking out for everybody. Farmers do that – they look after each other. I found out that one of our reps was taking some tradies over [to Hawke’s Bay] to do some fencing [after Cyclone Gabrielle]. I couldn’t get over, but my customers wanted to help. I sold a whole lot of wire and they took it over and did the hard work. It was nice to be part of helping others out again. The whole experience of helping someone out is what I love.
A lot of people are looking at diversifying, and within PGG Wrightson we can accommodate that. I can do blueberries in the morning and a dairy farm in the afternoon. That’s pretty cool. There’s never a dull moment. If someone asks about potatoes, I can look into that for them. I find it really exciting because I’m learning and growing at the same time. They might end up planting potatoes, they might not – but I can say, “I can help you with that,” and that’s what they like.
PGG Wrightson is a partner of Shepherdess magazine.
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