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Farm friends . . . Kerry Watson and her faithful companion, rescue dog Tui, share a Five Forks farm house. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

Kerry Watson is a can-do person.

The Five Forks dairy farm worker is the only woman in the Aorangi regional final of the Young Farmer of the Year competition.

But rather than being concerned about its physical challenges, she is more worried about the theory.

Miss Watson (27) grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Cumbria, in the northwest of England, until her family emigrated to New Zealand when she was 11.

Arriving in Te Awamutu was “a big culture shock”, she said.

By the time she was of high school age, her family had moved to Waitaki and she attended St Kevin’s College and studied agriculture.

Upon leaving school, Miss Watson worked at the Williamson family’s harness racing stable.

Then she was in charge of two horses as a pen rider at the Five Star Beef feedlot in Canterbury for two years.

A stint at the Veterinary Centre in Oamaru was next, followed by six weeks in Britain to visit her relatives.

Miss Watson headed to the United States to teach horse-riding a summer camp in New York state for about three months.

After a return to Britain, she came home and began working for her father, a fencing contractor.

When her best friend rang to say the farm she worked at was short-staffed for two weeks, she agreed to fill in.

She stayed for three years.

The Enfield property was owned by Callum and Twyla Kingan, who had converted it from sheep and beef to dairying.

Miss Watson enjoyed working for them, appreciating their ongoing quest to improve their environmental performance and willingness to lead community initiatives.

“I was learning all the time. It was so good. Callum was always chatting to me, telling me to plan ahead.”

In June Miss Watson moved to Five Forks to work on Craig Kingan and Amy Muldrew’s dairy farm.

However, she does not want to become a sharemilker.

“Dairying’s not really my passion.

“I won’t take it any further. I’ll do it as long as I do it.”

Young Farmers has been a long-standing interest.

She has been a member of the Five Forks club “on and off for nine years”.

“I joined fresh out of school.”

It was mostly a social activity, but she had also entered district competitions from time to time.

“I like to beat the boys.”

She was a member of the committee that organised the Aorangi regional final in Waimate last year, but this was the first time she has made it that far as a competitor.

“It’s quite terrifying. It’s the theory that gets me.

“I’m pretty experienced at the practical side.

“Dad’s always been really good; I was out on the farm more with him than my brother was.”

Although she said “it would be nice” to get through to the grand final, Miss Watson did not expect to. Those who did had to “basically take a year off to study”.

“There’s no way I’ll get there.”

The Aorangi regional final is at the Oamaru Showgrounds on February 23.