Anna and her husband are herd-owning sharemilkers on a 280ha farm in the Tararua region of New Zealand. They have 2 youngs boys, and Anna also works part-time for Cashmanager Rural, a software company that specialises in farm accounting software.
Anna is originally from Auckland, so farming was never even on her agenda. Anna met her husband at Massey University in Palmerston North. He had a dairy farming and contracting background and after a few years of university and working in town they took the plunge and became variable-order sharemilkers on a 500 cow farm. Anna remembers that going from working in a retail store to working full-time on a dairy farm was a hell of an eye-opener!
"I had no real idea about dairy farming; I truly thought a cow calved and then you just put cups on and milked her, then put her in a paddock, simple! But there's so, so much more to it all than that. Looking back, I definitely remember questioning our sanity many times, especially when the long hours and hard physical work started taking its toll. However it can't have been all bad; we're still here, 7 years later, and a few years ago took another big step and purchased a herd of 400 crossbred cows."
Anna and her husband now also have 2 kids in the mix, and they think one of the reasons they have continued with the dairy farming is for the life their kids can have. It isn't always easy for them, especially as Anna works hands-on on the farm rearing calves, milking and doing the heat detection over the mating period, but she likes that their kids can see their dad several times a day, and learn about what they do.
"They have had to learn to be independent, and that looking after animals is the priority. The kids love being outside, going in the tractor, and have a go in the cowshed teat spraying. They have learned about where milk and meat comes from, where babies come from, and the fact that sometimes animals die."
The last few years especially have been tough for Anna and her husband, with low milk payouts; they have had to work like slaves just to minimise the financial losses.
"It has made me really ponder about the benefits of farming, and whether the costs to ourselves as people are too high. However I have noticed a huge upswing in positivity as the payout has increased, and we feel that it's worth carrying on farming for a little while yet."
Anna juggles working on farm with working off-farm, and although it can be tiring, she really enjoys getting off the farm and being part of the team at Cashmanager Rural. She gets to talk to other farmers which she loves; farmers in general are an amazing group of people who have a huge range of skills and abilities.
"In the future I hope I can continue my juggling act and still be a good mother and farmer, and fingers crossed we can make some financial gains which will allow us to live life to the full."
Juggling life as a busy mother and dedicated AgWomen cant be easy but continue what you are doing Anna and we know you'll get to where you want to be.