Coming from a farming family in the Wairarapa, Katie Alsop’s heart has always been on the land. Upon leaving school Katie studied Sports Science and adventure tourism at university. This was really a bit of a “place holder” as it didn’t take long for Katie to gravitate back to what she really loved – farming. She worked as a Shepard and looked after family farms as well as other farming jobs to get a start on the land. Katie has spent winters sheep scanning. After buying her own scanner, she spent eight years scanning around 100,000 to 120,000 ewes each season. In spring she worked as an LIC technician doing AB runs and would also rear calves on the side.
“From early on I knew farming was for me. I have also been lucky that my husband Sully and I share the same farming goals and complimentary skills so it allowed us to map out what we wanted and where we want to be early on in my career.”
Things have come a long way since getting started in their own farming operation in 2007 where they were given the chance to lease 150ha of east coast hill country followed by a further lease of 120ha from Katie’s family trust three years later. “There were are lot of challenges and learnings in when we first started out in our own operation. On top of this we had to farm through multiple droughts.”
One thing that really sticks in Katie’s mind was how bad it got that first year. “We sold store lambs for under $1.00/kg, wool was under $2.00/kg, and cattle prices got under $3.00/kg. It taught us some good disciplines that are important cornerstones of what we do now. It definitely puts things
With willingness to work hard, they now have four farms on the go totalling 1080ha. The make-up of this doesn’t fit the traditional operation either. Owning one farm, they have shares in two others and have formed a 12-year equity partnership. “The partnership has let us leverage our skills with outside capital to increase our landholding and grow our farming operation.” While Sully still works off-farm for agricultural consultancy firm Baker Ag, Katie is the one running the day to day business. Katie runs one of the farms but also does a lot of the planning and overseeing of the other farms with two block managers.
“With four farms to manage we work hard at being efficient. We try to have happy staff and well fed, highly productive, and happy animals. I love the fact that ours is a family orientated business. I can take my one year old daughter to work with me and have her outside. It slows me down a bit but I can be a mum and still have a career and she makes me laugh every day. I was brought up on a farm and I think there is no better childhood”.
Katie, you are such a go getter and a great role model for your daughter. She will grow up seeing you be so successful at both family life and your career. You know where hard work will get you and clearly have a knack for life as an AgWomen. Good Stuff!