When Emma Poole walks to the calf sheds in the morning, the first thing she sees is Mount Pirongia. Beau, her one-year-old son, is strapped to her front to help with the day’s first task. Chris, her husband, has already started his. He’s out at the milking sheds.
“We’re lucky we farm right under the mountain,” she says.
“Up on the hill is where our runoff with young stock is, and our dairy farms are at the base. So yeah, that big mountain is in the background of every scene.”
Emma and Chris look after a 720-cow farm, splitting calving between autumn and spring and rearing an additional 1000 calves alongside milking. Emma loves to use her vetting skills when she can and does a bit of embryo work for breeding too.
Emma, one of five siblings, was first introduced to farming on her parents’ Muriwai dairy farm. She and her elder brother Tim Dangen would kick around the paddocks and woolsheds, lending a hand to their parents.
“Mum and Dad are incredibly creative and skilled in a lot of different areas. Dad can pretty much build anything, and Mum is just full of awesome ideas.”
Now a Grand Finalist for the second time, Emma gives credit to her upbringing for setting her up with the skills she has today.
Tim was crowned last season as FMG Young Farmer of the Year. Emma’s husband competed against him last year, too.
“It’s safe to say we’re pretty competitive in our family,” she laughs.
This season, Emma is going for gold. This Grand Final is her last shot.
“At 28, I haven’t aged out of Young Farmers. But I knew, even if I hadn’t won the Regional Final, it would probably be my last crack. We’ll just be busy with other farming things and our family from here on out, so I want to give the Grand Final my best.”
Competing head-to-head with 15 other contestants, Emma was announced as the winner of the Waikato Bay of Plenty FMG Young Farmer of the Year in March after spending the weekend competing at the Morrinsville A&P Show.
The first day saw the young farmers tested on technical modules that challenged work safety, farming techniques and agricultural theory. Saturday saw a physical challenge, where contestants proved solution and stamina by lifting hay bales, herding sheep and building a fence. One thing Emma wants to work on for the Grand Final is her fitness. She says she wants to prove a woman can do the “men’s jobs” and more.
“If I do win it, I want it to be a good, strong fair contest, and I want people to look at it and think, ‘That was a really fair display of farming out there.’”
“Whatever happens, I hope to be an inspiration for other people and other young women wanting to enter the industry.”