6:30am. Usually woken by my seven-year-old son, Charlie, I begrudgingly rise and set about my day – I am not a morning person unless it’s a horse show morning. Right now, that means showering, feeding orphaned lambs acquired by neighbours and friends, checking and feeding the horses and running the dogs – Zoe, a Miniature Schnauzer, and Stella, an eight-month-old Rottweiler – all before my four-year-old daughter, Madison, awakes. I also have a son who lives in Napier, now all grown up at nineteen and doing his own thing.
7:30am. It’s the usual routine of kids eating breakfast while I make school and kindy lunches in my dressing gown, as I’m always the last to get ready. Then it’s onto homework and queries about what we should have for dinner that night.
8:15am. I throw on my scrubs, grab my keys and we are all out the door. School and kindy drop-offs normally go off without a hitch. Without fail, I grab my coffee from my local cafe, Le Café Téléphonique. My order is known by staff as “Tui’s coffee” and is an almond mocha with cinnamon and marshmallows on top for the kids. Then I walk into work at Taihape Health with coffee in hand.
9am. By nine I have completed labs for my first patient or two as a phlebotomist. Bloods have to be taken before 12pm as they are collected by midday and transported to a lab in Whanganui for processing. I complete around 15–20 blood tests a day. Living in a rural community, our practice provides this service to save local patients travelling over an hour and a half to the nearest medical lab facility.
12pm. I also take on the role of a healthcare assistant, so once labs have been completed for the day I go about restocking clinical rooms, checking stock, vaccines, sterilising instruments and more.
2:15pm. I am out the door – usually starving and rummaging through my handbag to look for any snacks that have been stashed for the kids. Sometimes I grab another coffee if I have time before collecting kids from school.
3pm. I kick off my shoes and change into farm clothes to feed lambs and attend to the horses, which might mean feeding, changing rugs, riding, supervising the children with their ponies or breeding mares that have come in to be covered by my sport horse stallion, Cookie. With a lifestyle block, several horses and a collection of pets, there’s always some maintenance to do, usually with the kids “helping.” I’m very practical – always have been – and hands-on with farming and animals. It comes from seventeen years of vet nursing and being brought up as a drover and musterer’s daughter. I’m capable of swinging a hammer and being on the end of a spade.
6:30pm. The kids are fed, showered and winding down for bed. I have been a member of the Taihape Volunteer Fire Brigade as a firefighter now for three years. On Monday evenings I have fire-brigade training, so a good friend comes and watches the kids. She also steps in to watch the kids if the siren goes and I attend any call-outs.
10pm. I’m usually home from training and have a quick debrief with my friend on the children’s night and anything we have planned for the week ahead as we devour samples from my chocolate stash. I then go on to feed lambs and check any of the horses that may be stabled. I shower, check on children and tidy any small hurricane that’s gone through the house before getting into bed.
When the worst happens, whānau comes together. Often, it’s not until you’re most tested that you find out how strong you really are.
Erin Lee, 29, has fond memories of Lawrence, the “little gem” of a town in South Otago where she grew up.
From the Editor, Ngahuru Autumn 2022.
Despite being flat-tack running a dairy farm and raising three children, Te Aroha farmer Kate is the successful owner of two small businesses.