Growing up on a 5th generation sheep and beef farm in the Wairarapa was a great start to life, but agriculture was never something Lynley Wyeth wanted to pursue as a career. Hanging out on horses was about as ‘farm’ as she wanted to be. Farming through the 80’s was tough going for many farming families, and Lynley remembers her mother strongly encouraging her NOT to marry a farmer when boys started turning up at home.
As a teenager Lynley had a passion for fashion and hair, so a 20 year career as a hairdresser was the path she pursued.
"I was never really a ‘follow the rules’ type of girl, so at age 24 what did I do? I married a farmer!!! I worked off farm, he worked on farm - it was a winning formula for the time being.”
After their 2 boys arrived, now aged 12 & 10, it was clear their winning formula wasn't winning anymore. Juggling kids, the farm, her work. Life in general had no balance or flexibility, so when the opportunity arose to start her own hairdressing salon Lynley jumped at it and a balanced, winning formula resumed. Nine years on she has three amazing staff and great little business.
It's fair to say you can take the girl out of the country but you cant take the country out of the girl, and as their boys grew, so did their farming enterprise. Growing in staff, stock units and land area, it soon made the couple realise that there was the need for Lynley to put down the scissors and get her hands dirty again.
"It's a bit like riding a bike, you never forget how but to be totally honest I was lost. Where did I fit in? What value could I add? What are my strengths? It wasn't until I did the First Steps Course through AWDT that I could answer any of those burning questions and I'll quote my husband for this one….Our business has gone from strength to strength since Lynley's been more involved."
Since returning to farming there are a couple of highlights that stand out for Lynley. She has been involved in developing and running a three year trial through Beef and Lamb NZ's Demonstration Farm Program, which is to hand rear hundreds of orphan lambs. Lambs that would be left for dead for various reasons are now thriving, ethically, sustainably and financially across the country and she is really proud to be part of that.
"It did earn me the nickname 'The Lamb Lady' but I can live with that."
Co-founding the Wairarapa Rural Womens Initiative three years ago is another highlight. There was a need for local women to up skill and share their knowledge, as well as have a place to learn more soft and practical agricultural skills.
"We have the most incredibly talented, motivated ladies in our members and have a network of skills second to non. Agriculture is strong with these ladies driving some very innovative and successful businesses."
Being a farmer is very humbling to Lynley.
"People across the world trust us to put safe, nutritious, ethical food in their mouths three times a day. Telling our positive stories and sharing our winning formulas will ensure that trust will continue. I guess agriculture is a bit Iike salt and pepper to me. It's in everything and I love it."
We agree Lynley, telling the story behind the primary industries is so important! Thank you for letting us tell yours. Your dedication to lifting rural women up is inspirational, and we thank you for being such an empowering AgWomen!