North Canterbury shepherd Georgie Lindsay will make history in July when she becomes the first woman to represent the Tasman region at the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final.
Mustering sheep off rugged hills is all in a day's work for North Canterbury shepherd Georgie Lindsay and her dogs.
The 24-year-old has five working dogs. She whistles commands and they scamper up the steep hill towards a mob of ewes and lambs.
"A good team of working dogs is essential here. It would be difficult in this terrain to muster sheep without them," she said.
In March, Lindsay made history when she became the first woman to win the Tasman regional final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.
At the time, she was working at Marble Point Station, a picturesque 2400 hectare property between Hanmer Springs and Culverden.
"The past 12 months have been a big learning curve for me. I hadn't worked much with dogs prior to taking the job," she said.
"I'm really fortunate to have been given three good dogs and I'm in the process of training two pups," said Lindsay.
The Amuri Basin Young Farmers member has taken up dog trialling and competed in her first event at Waiau.
"It was terrifying, but loads of fun at the same time," she laughed. "I took Penny, a huntaway who was given to me by my old boss Matt."
"They let three sheep out in front of you, and you have to use your dog to move them up the hill between a series of markers."
"It was quite nerve-racking because literally every man and their dog is standing behind you watching to see how you go," she said.
Dog trials offer a supportive environment, perfect for a young shepherd looking to grow their skills and make connections.
"Shepherds with a good team of dogs earn a huge amount of respect from their peers and their reputation often precedes them," she said.
"They're admired in the same way as people with tidy farms."
Lindsay had plenty of opportunities to hone her technique, with the help of her former employers Matt and Sarah Black.
Marble Point Station runs 3600 Corriedale ewes and 380 Angus breeding cows, plus replacement stock.
It's a 10.5 kilometre walk for the sheep from the back paddock to the yards and woolshed on the flats at the front of the property.
Ewes are given access to grain and better-quality pastures during tupping, which starts in late April.
"The next time they're brought into the yards is for shearing and scanning in the winter," said Lindsay.
"We don't have the ability to keep a close eye on every animal when they're grazing up in the hills."
"So it's vital we're observant and have the right policies in place to identify light animals at the times we do handle them," she said.
The ewes are set-stocked in sheltered blocks before lambing starts in mid-September.
"Corriedale's really suit this country. They are a duel-purpose breed, with a higher value fleece than crossbred sheep," she said.
Tailing – done to prevent fly strike – is, where necessary, carried out in the paddock using temporary yards. Lambs are weaned in mid-January.
"The first draft of prime lambs is sent to the meat processor straight away. Some store lambs are sold then too. We finish the rest," she said.
Lindsay grew up on a sheep, beef and deer farm in Dipton. She has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours) from Lincoln University.
She got her job at Marble Point Station by picking up the phone in March 2018.
"I heard through the grapevine Matt was looking for a shepherd, so I gave him a call," she said.
"I came for a drive around the farm and it kind of just went from there."
"I don't like applying for jobs and Matt didn't really want to interview people, so it worked out pretty well," she laughed.
The property is run as an equity partnership between Matt and Sarah and West Melton brothers Robin and Gavin Wilson.
"The Wilson's are Corriedale stud breeders who bought Marble Point Station and a dairy farm in Hinds and brought young farmers into both businesses as equity partners," she said.
"There's a real sense of selflessness in their actions."
Looking ahead, Lindsay is doing casual shepherding while she prepares for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final in Hawke's Bay in July.
"I entered the contest to learn and grow my skills, so it's been an exciting few months," she said.
"Whatever else happens will be a bonus."
Name: Georgie Lindsay
- The FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final runs from 4 th -6 th July in Hawke's Bay.