For Kathy Barrett it was being "mad-keen on animals, especially horses" since childhood that got her into farm work.

She has worked for Tim and Julie Hindmarsh for 12 years at their Haunui farm at Crownthorpe, west of Hastings.

She grew up in Napier but grazed her horses on a 48ha block south of Napier.
Eventually she and the owner's son Andrew Steiner became a couple and had two children.

"I didn't do much on the farm then but when it was sold and we moved to Crownthorpe I was asked to do casual farm work at Rissington Breedline. I loved the stud cattle work and they were fantastic people to work for."

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However, she moved to work at Haunui, a lamb-finishing and beef-breeding operation, because it was closer to home and her children's school.

"There's never a dull moment. The best part is working outdoor with the animals and I love bringing on young dogs.

The worst parts of the job are summer droughts and the facial eczema outbreaks that mean stock have to be killed.

A woman wanting to go farming has to have grit and determination.

"I'm pretty strong but when I can't do things such as fencing or some tractor work I have to find another way."

Modern farms rely on technology so any young woman wanting to go farming now may need a tertiary education.

"If I were younger and looking at farm ownership I would think about university.

Barrett has had problems with other farmers not taking her seriously -"until they see me at work".

She plans to stay where she is as long as she can. "I love this farm."

Courtney Herlihy also grew up in town with a passion for animals. Herlihy, 22, was at school in Whangarei thinking about vet school when two representatives from the Taratahi agricultural training centre got her thinking about a change.

She did a "taster" course there and was hooked. She wanted to study agriculture in year 13 but her school wouldn't let her. She could have taken it at Whangarei Boys' High next door, but they wouldn't let her do that either so she left and went straight to Taratahi - near Masterton.

"I learned a lot in the two years I was there. It got me to a position to start in the industry."

It was there she met partner Royce Wood and after stints working on a Wairarapa farm for her and near Gisborne for him, they both ended up in Hawke's Bay.

They are now both in the Whanawhana district, where Herlihy works for Bill Beamish at Whanawhana and Wood for Simon Beamish up the road at Awapai.

"I'm head-shepherd-in-training," she jokes.

The best part is the satisfaction in seeing stock flourish and grow in her care.
The hardest part recently was dealing with aftermath of the worst outbreak of facial eczema anyone could remember.

"We've never had it here before and had to kill a lot of stock. It was awful."

The couple's plans include travel and the big dream is having their own farm.
"Sustainable farming is the way of the future."