How I live... A MOO-VER & SHAKER! - I'm ahead of the herd
New Zealand Woman's Weekly|November 2, 2020
WRANGLING 8000 COWS, THEN DELIVERING A UNIVERSITY LECTURE? IT’S ALL IN A DAY’S WORK FOR ASH-LEIGH CAMPBELL, 29, THIS YEAR’S FONTERRA DAIRY WOMAN OF THE YEAR, WHO OVERSEES NGĀI TAHU FARMING’S EIGHT DAIRY FARMS IN NORTH CANTERBURY’S TE WHENUA HOU (EYREWELL FOREST)
Leena Tailor

I just had a Facebook memory pop up from 10 years ago, where I wrote, ‘I knew my first day at work would be big, but I didn’t realise it’d be that big!’

It was September 4, 2010 and we’d started milking the cows at 4.30 am on day one of my first full-time job as a dairy assistant in Dunsandel. The Christchurch earthquake happened at 4.35 am. I worked 23 hours that day – walking the cows six kilometres to a neighbouring farm with a generator, milking them, then walking them back. It was a crazy start to the industry.

I grew up on a lifestyle property near Lincoln, but only stumbled into farming to cover expenses on the car my parents bought me in high school. Rather than work at a supermarket for $6 an hour, I found a job milking cows for $14 an hour.

The farmer was shocked to see a teenage girl show up for the interview. Afterwards he said, ‘I won’t be offended if you don’t come back. It can be a dirty job.’ I was like, ‘It’s fine!’

Agriculture isn’t something career advisors typically encourage, so I didn’t know you could make a career out of it. I started a Property Valuation degree at Lincoln University, but it felt forced upon me by my career’s advisor, so I left after a year and got the dairy assistant job.

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