Born and bred in Southland, Megan McGregor has always been around the rural scene. However, she never thought she would end up immersed in it day in and day out. When she left school in 2008 she started studying a Bachelor of Commerce at Southern Institute of Technology. Megan didn't really know exactly what she wanted to do, but thought a BCom would help her find out what that 'something' was. It was at the same time she started going out with her now husband Craig.
At the time, Craig was dairy farming in Eastern Southland, just over an hour away from where Megan was living. She would go and stay with him, but never really got involved with the dairy farm. At the age of 19, Megan found out she was pregnant. It wasn't planned, but they both knew that they were going to have to grow up quickly and start making some adult decisions. Megan decided that studying wasn't going to pay the bills that come with having a child so she took up 2 part time jobs, Bar Maid at a local pub and some relief milking. Craig had left the dairy industry and was enjoying the tractor driving life. They both knew these jobs weren't going to be sustainable long-term. It was here that they decided that Craig would go back managing for a season, then the two of them would start looking for a Contract Milking job together after that. A year later, the two secured their first contract job together on a 500 cow farm in central Southland. The couple stayed there for 2 years, expanded their family by one more, learnt so much from fabulous farm owners and had a ball doing it!
From there, Megan and Craig went into a 50:50 sharemilking equity partnership on a 500 cow farm in western Southland. "It was an insane 3 years as Sharemilkers. The dairy downturn hit the industry and our business and growth were at a standstill. Every day was tough. Trying to run a farm, keep a financially burdened business alive, raise a family, maintain a social-life and keep a smile on our face was hard. But the sun still seemed to rise each morning and we carried on". In March this year, the equity partners decided they wanted out, and unfortunately the couple were unable to afford to purchase their shares. With that, the Sharemilking company is now being wound up. The driven pair are now going to a Variable Order position 15 minutes down the road from where they are now, the new farm has a top performing herd on a great farm. A challenge that they can't wait to begin!
In any given day Megan's job description can range from mum to Sienna, 6 and Carter, 4, wife, calf rearer, administrator, tractor driver, farm assistant, relief milker, or if she is really lucky - all of them on the same day! Megan is currently completing the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme - a programme that has opened her eyes and mind to a whole new world that she didn't even know existed. Megan also helps administrate the Farming Mums NZ Facebook and Instagram page. "I love the challenge that dairy farming brings. I love the cows, I love that no two days are the same and I love that my office has no walls. But most of all I love being able to have my kids grow up in the rural industry. It's a fabulous industry to be a part of and I'm proud to be a part of it. Taking action while not being quite prepared has given me the experience and confidence to take the next step..... and the next..... and the next. My journey so far has not been perfect, or the easiest but we don't grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges."
Your story is very real to how so many people have to juggle life on the farm. You wear so many hats yet keep looking forward to the next challenge. Thanks for sharing your story Megan!