Mon, Mar 6, 2023 6:30 PM

Giving It a Go


Eloise Martyn

Being a shepherd is what Julie Edwards knows. She was raised on a Romney stud in Havelock. “Which is where my love of sheep comes from,” she says.  It was during her time at Marlborough Girls College that she heard about the idea of milking sheep.

“It just really appealed to me, I like genetics and the health benefits seemed great, I wanted to try it” explains Julie. The school put her in touch with an ITO adviser who managed to find someone in the Neudorf area who was actively milking sheep. Julie contacted him and it turned out he was looking for a farm hand, so Julie decided to ‘give it a go’ and moved to the Neudorf farm.

Time flies by and soon enough Julie and hubby, Nathan, were leasing the farm with their own stock on it and milking the sheep themselves.

“You milk a sheep the same way you milk a cow only you have 2 cups not 4 and the cups are much smaller.”

Sheep will produce 1-3 litres of milk per day, although this will increase in time with the improvement in genetics a

nd age of the ewes, still this amount is less than a goat and much less than a cow produces. “It was really hard work as we were doing it on our own, I didn’t have a day off for three years” she states “We learnt so much though”.

Things changed for the couple when they purchased their own 50 acres in the Moutere, which has sheep and woodlot trees on it, however they both have off property jobs.

“Even though I wasn’t milking sheep anymore my love for them continued so I was thrilled to get a job shepherding which is what I have done my whole life.”

She’s also lucky to have a job close to home. “I know some people travel long distances to their work, mines just down the road which is awesome.”

Julie says that she knows others in the industry who face long isolated days which can be challenging. “I’m really fortunate as I work a bit on my own but have other people around and someone is always coming or going from the farm so I get to chat with others often.”

Recently Julie has been kept busy with stock shifts, weed control and pasture renewal.

“It’s a busy job but I love the day-to-day variety, I’m hugely passionate about working with my dogs so it’s great my work involves them.”

Julie has five dogs that go to work with her each day.

Julie Edwards, happily surrounded by sheep while working on a farm near Ngātīmoti. Photo: Supplied.

“They all do different jobs and work well together.” Julie’s passion for working dogs has inspired her to become involved in the Tapawera Dog Trial Club.

“Years ago, at a beef and lamb field day I met a guy called Rodney Biggs who was from Wakefield, he was into dog trials and we got chatting and the rest is history,” she laughs. “I really enjoy the dog trials, there is always something to learn.”

Julie calls herself an active relaxer.

“I like to spend my spare time horse riding, training pups for work and trials as well working with my hubby around our property. Nathan and I really love the bird song here and the stunning sun sets.”

Julie encourages anyone who is interested in getting into farming or ag work to give it a go.

“Contact ITO or look up New Zealand Farming on Facebook, there are heaps of people out there willing to help you get into the industry even if you have no experience,” she explains.

Julie is also offering an open invitation to anyone who is interested in dog trials.

“Come and see what we do, it’s family friendly and fun, just swing past and have a look.”

Tapawera Dog Trial Club: 4627 Motueka Valley Highway, Tapawera. Friday the 24th March 1pm-5pm and Saturday 25thMarch 8am-4pm. “Go on - give it a go!” she exclaims.

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