Episode 6: Shazza's Challenge
On the next episode, screening 27 April at 7pm on TV ONE
A few eyebrows were raised when Sharon Chart got the stock manager's job on a property near Kaikoura but locals quickly came on board and have been generous with their knowledge.
"There was a lot to get my head around and I was worried I wouldn't be able to cope," says Sharon. "But I've had a huge amount of support from my neighbours. Everybody round this area has been great."
Sharon had no formal qualifications when she decided to go farming at age 30. Shearing sheep and wrestling with calves is a world away for someone who once applied to be an air hostess, but Sharon loves her occupation.
"I've always been an animal lover and I think, being on a farm, you have to have an affinity for animals," she says. "Without it, you're not going to get those animals to produce for you."
Sharon is stock manager at Quail Downs, a 500 hectare property half an hour south on the Inland Kaikoura Road, where she runs 300 cattle and around 3,000 sheep.
Before taking on her new role, she spent nine years working as a shepherd, picking up skills along the way.
She has more responsibility at Quail Downs, including planning ahead to ensure there is enough feed for the animals.
Sharon says it's important to keep the ewes and heifers in prime condition. "The priority is your capital stock. You want them looking good so they're in peak order for breeding."
One of the biggest challenges Sharon faced as a new farm worker was getting a team of dogs together. She's put a lot of time and effort into training her six working dogs and regularly cleans out their kennels and feeds them meat and biscuits every day.
"They're like athletes, they go out, do a lot of running around and hard work. You've got to look after them."
Sharon doesn't have a lot of spare time but she takes part in dog trialling and horse eventing when she can.
She keeps her horses fit by giving them a regular workout on a steep hill near Quail Downs. It's as close as she can get to the high country where she once worked.
Sharon has tried living in town but says it's not for her.
"I felt claustrophobic, closed in. Ultimately I'm a country girl and that's the way it's going to stay."
Sharon's goal is to one day be in charge of a farming operation, managing the budget as well as the stock, but until that opportunity comes along, there's plenty to keep her busy at Quail Downs.
Other sites to visit:
To find out more about training to work in the rural sector, visit:
To find out more about horse eventing and dog trialling, visit
www.nzequestrian.org.nz and www.sheepdogtrials.co.nz
To find out more about the Kaikoura region, visit: