Monday, February 26, 2024

A day in the life of Harriet Bremner

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2023 Zanda McDonald Award winner Harriet Bremner provides insight into what a typical day is like for her on farm.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Whether delivering a farming safety and well-being class for a rural school, or being up in the sheep yards on Jericho Station at Manapōuri, no two days are the same for farmer, author and educator Harriet Bremner.

Fresh from winning the 2023 Zanda McDonald Award, Harriet is out to raise her voice and live every day to the fullest – always accompanied by her number-one companion, Pops the sausage dog.

First thing. You can find me in the boot room doing a Kate Ivey workout – this has been instrumental in helping me get through tough days mentally and physically over the past six years and is now a solid part of my daily routine. Pops stays in bed, of course, until I persuade her with a treat that swapping sheets for her farm coat is a good idea.

Before starting work on the farm, I sit down at my computer to fill book orders and send emails – completing chores for my business, Gurt and Pops – while eating breakfast. During the day I juggle running between inside and outside to do Zoom calls as my rural schools’ work is done remotely – often apologising for being covered in mud, and hay and quite frankly looking like I have been dragged through a gorse bush backwards!

Harriet finds herself juggling between farm work and admin work while out on farm as her commitments often necessitate.

Morning. Plans in farming seem to change all the time so communication is key and farm radios are a blessing. At this time of year (spring 2023), it usually consists of moving break fences, setting up the next days or mustering. It can also involve office work or running inside between shifting stock mobs to have a meeting.

Afternoon. In the afternoon we can be outside mustering on the hill on my horse or on foot once the fog has cleared; or it’s back into the yards. Generally, I work alongside our shepherd and we take a hillside each, enjoying the challenges of running teams of dogs on steep hill country with Perendale sheep. There’s nothing I love more than to be outside in the fresh air with my animals, enjoying top views, and the satisfaction of being able to say that I am following my dreams. However, I never seem to puff any less walking the hills!

Harriet’s trusty sidekick and fur friend, Pops, has no shame in accepting treats as a reward for being out on farm.

Evening. At the end of the day, there is a stack of animals to feed, working dogs to cover and put to bed and horses to work. Ed and I share the cooking – I am lucky to live with a Southland bloke who loves cooking and happens to be bloody good at it, too! We both will have meeting commitments from time to time in the evenings – or recording a podcast – but generally, we make sure this is our time with each other.

You can also find me spending time hunting or with my beloved plane, Maggie. I worked incredibly hard for two years to complete my license and so it is a privilege to be able to hit the skies – although there has not been much of that of late with the weather. Once the evenings get longer, you will be sure to find me above 2000 feet.

Story written by Harriet Bremner and photographed by Francine Boer for Shepherdess magazine. Shepherdess magazine was started around a kitchen table on a dairy and beef farm in the Horowhenua. We continue to come to you from this kitchen table, and from many other farms, home offices and lounges across provincial Aotearoa. The magazine is here to connect, empower and inspire women across rural New Zealand, by offering a place to tell stories of our rural communities. Find out more about Shepherdess here

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