Sara Sutherland grew up on a sheep farm in Québec, Canada. At 17, she took a summer job on a farm in the United States who gave her a working Border Collie dog, Mig, as a salary. With few people in North America owning or able to work a dog, she had several summer job offers each year as a shepherd. Spending five summers grazing sheep to control vegetation on forestry blocks or under power lines, with the regular threat of bears and wolves, they were completely dependent on their dogs as there were no fences!
In the off-season when sheep were indoors for winter, Sara completed a degree in Animal Science and took an opportunity to spend a year traveling and working on farms around the world. Her first job was milking 1000 ewes on a sheep dairy farm near Invercargill. She spent time on an outback Australian Merino stud, sheep farms in Spain, England, France, and alongside one of the last true shepherds in the Swiss Alps. When Sara returned she did a Masters degree in sheep behaviour from the University of Guelph in Canada.
Cold Canadian winters and challenging attitudes towards animal agriculture in North America made Sara look elsewhere in the world to further her agricultural passions. New Zealand being the lucky destination, she studied at the Vet School at Massey University. After graduating she spent a couple of years in Taumarunui, before settling in the Wairarapa, with a month in between working as a Veterinary volunteer in a donkey hospital in Morocco. "I love the Wairarapa, it is a great place to live. I'm working with sheep farmers who are passionate about improving animal health and production. I get excited about parasites and doing post mortem examinations of dead ewes. I'm living the dream and love every minute of my job, helping farmers achieve their goals. I do miss the day to day of shepherding but I don't see myself ever going back to farm in Canada."
Sara you are so passionate about sheep and agriculture and that is evident in the way you have committed yourself to the land and bettering the animals that live on it. You must have some amazing stories to tell of your farming travels and experiences! New Zealand is lucky to have you!