For UK born Sophie Barnes her love of sheep may have begun later than most at 17 years of age. It all started in a lambing shed, and today she can be found in New Zealand experiencing shepherding life across some of our countries amazing farmland. Sophie is currently living with her partner on his family property up what she describes as a typical rural road near Taumaranui.
Sophie was just 17 when she lambed a ewe who was having difficulty pushing out a monster of a lamb. Fast forward 12 months and her life was sheep, sheep, sheep and more sheep! Born and raised in a large UK town, Sophie had never visited a farm in her life, let alone assist with lambing a ewe.
Since that experience which Sophie describes as “some strange turn of fate”, she acquired a small flock of 300 ewes. For the next three years she had a contract shepherding run which involved a lot of lambing, foot trimming and vaccinating. Prior to this she would have told you she was going to be an Architect, but has ended up following a slightly different career choice.
While still in the UK Sophie was invited to a conference about genomics and over the three days heard from multiple people about New Zealand and how progressive they were in the ag industry. This got her thinking and doing more investigation, and anyone she spoke to urged her to pay a visit.
So, two months later the flights were booked, she had sold the sheep and was away on a journey, which two and a half years later is still continuing.
For the last 18 months Sophie has been the Youngstock Manager for Spring Sheep, where she was involved in artificially rearing 5,000 lambs last year. Not an easy task, but a challenge she accepted and excelled at, while learning a heap along the way.
While in NZ she has also been shepherding here there and everywhere and is now ready to settle with her partner and work towards there dreams together. The family have a polled dorest stud which she looking forward to being involved with and also to start growing a team of working dogs.
“I love everything about farming. The people, the lifestyle, the rewarding days and mostly how many jobs are rolled into one when you’re a farmer. Be it vet, accountant, agronomist etc etc etc. It keeps you on your toes, that’s for sure!!"
Sophie says she is proud to be a AgWoman and who wouldn’t be as she believes the best people she knows are female farmers like herself. Sophie you have truly made your mark in New Zealand and proved you are a woman with great work ethic, and a true love for the sheep industry. Keep it up!