We believed it was well overtime for North Otago sheep farmer Sally Rae’s Ag Woman story to be told. She isn’t used to being written about, she usually has the shoe on the other foot and is found writing about others and their great stories. As an Agribusiness Reporter at Otago Daily Times, she meets amazing rural people doing great things every day and when she isn’t putting ink to paper you will find her on the family sheep farm in North Otago, where they run a Poll Dorset stud.
Sally grew up on a farm in North Otago, and has literally just jumped the fence and calls a 10-acre "lifestyle" property which runs alongside the farm home. It was back in 1995 she joined the team at the Otago Daily Times as a journalist and has been there ever since.
It was seven years ago she became the first female to take on, editor of the farming section for the business. Considering the newspapers 150-odd year history this was a challenging switch, which she embraced with both hands. The role also is combined with a business reporting role, so has a lot of variety to keep things interesting.
Sally describes the best part of the job as meeting and telling the stories of those working in the rural sector, a sector she has always been passionate about.
“I feel so fortunate to have a job that I genuinely love, for the opportunities that I've had
over the years, and all the great people that I've met. It's a privilege to tell their stories.”
Many of you have probably come across two rural-themed books which Sally has published in recent years. Gold Dust and Saddle Bags, which is the story of the Otago Goldfields Cavalcade in Central Otago, and The Snow Farmer, which is the biography of Cardrona legend John Lee who swapped his crop from sheep for snow - establishing the Cardrona Alpine Resort, Snow Farm cross-country ski field and Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds.
Sally won the Rural Women New Zealand Journalism award for 2017. An award which encouraged journalists to report on the achievements of women living and working in rural communities.
Entries in this year's award had to comprise two articles, radio broadcasts or television programmes broadly based on the theme of ``rural women making a difference.''
Sally’s entries were on Kate Ivey, who runs her business Kate Ivey - Fitness, Health and Inspiration from a farm in the Mackenzie, and Julie Dee who spoke out about the need for people to wear seat-belts following the death of her husband Paul in an ATV side-by-side buggy roll-over in April.
She sure now’s how to tell a great story and the rural community are honoured to have her to share their stories and keep those who read the Otago Daily Times informed. Very well deserved Sally.
If you ever happen to run into Sally, it will most likely be at a farm field day or a&p show as she helps show the families poll dorest rams. Like many rural woman, four legged children run the roost at home, with dogs and horses playing major roles in day to day life. This Agwoman is a full of so much energy and passion for the industry its infectious and you can’t help but smile for a photo or answer her questions for her next piece.
Sally you are truly an amazing journalist, your passion and overall honesty and compassion is a credit to you. Keep up the great work and we look forward to your next piece. Maybe we will even see another book in future?