Top trainee swaps the checkout for great outdoors

Top trainee swaps the checkout for great outdoors

Swapping a supermarket job with a life on the land, Eden Ritchie’s hard work has been rewarded by being named Northland’s Trainee of the year at the region’s dairy industry awards.
Eden is in her second season working on Jean Jeffs’ 550 cow 380-hectare dairy unit 15 kilometres north west of Dargaville.
Eden had been working in a supermarket when the call of the wide-open spaces beckoned. “There had been quite a draw to go farming,” says Eden.
“I sort of came from a farming background. My mum and dad farmed until I was about 6, then they moved into town. I think it was the lifestyle that attracted me and I started an agriculture course through Northtech.”
Initially working part time relief milking and calf rearing, Eden heard that Guy Hooper, the Jeffs’ 50/50 sharemilker was looking for a couple of farm assistants and arranged to meet with him on the farm.
Guy says he was very impressed with Eden’s enthusiasm and willingness to learn.
“I’d actually had Northtech students on the farm previously. I was pretty interested in giving young people a crack at the job.”
Commencing her role on the farm in June of 2016, Guy says Eden had a very positive attitude all the way through with a real willingness to listen and lean. “There has been quite a transformation in Eden from the time she started here till now.
She has become much more confident with her pasture management, animal health and calf rearing.” Eden says she entered the competition to see how her skills matched up with the other competitors.
One of the things that she is most proud of is her ability to back a trailer, though she says she still struggles a bit with double axle trailers.
Eden attended the awards dinner with her partner Regan, who also works on the farm, and Regan’s sister. Banking on winning a merit award, Eden thought it was all over when the merits were called out without success.
“I felt pretty shocked when my name was called out for the Trainee of the Year. It was a pretty good feeling. I got on stage and everyone else had prepared speeches and I just kind of stood up smiling and squeaking. Mum was pretty proud – she was screaming down the phone when I called her.
“Guy says he was actually called the morning of the competitions and told that Eden had won but had to keep it secret.
“Unfortunately it was just too short a notice to organise a relief milker and attend the awards myself. I knew she would give the competition a good crack – I was very proud of her.” Guy believes Eden’s success will open up a few doors for her.
“I would have thought her career steps will be farm manager next and then contract milking or sharemilking from there. Eden and Regan are on their way to sharemilking in the not too distant future if they apply themselves. I give them 20 heifers a year.”
Eden’s goals are to continue saving money and to complete some more ITO Ag certificates in agriculture. She is currently working towards her level 3 certificate in animal health and husbandry.
Farm ownership is also a goal that Eden aspires to. Right now, attending the national competitions in the South Island and possibly seeing some snow are pretty exciting for Eden.
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…

  • Roydons Mamaranui Transport Ltd
  • Spreading Northland
  • Nichols Hay and Silage

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