Opinion: Celebrating farming mothers

By Trish Rankin

OPINION: Mums all around New Zealand should be celebrating another year of being superheroes on Mother's Day. 

Early in May I was awarded the Fonterra NZ Dairy Woman of the Year title, totally unexpected and overwhelming. In my borrowed 'new to me' dress from my sis-in-law and awesome pink 'borrowed' shoes from my sister, my hair pinned up by me and my own make-up, I attended the Dairy Women's Network Gala Dinner to award the Dairy Woman of the Year award. 

I did not think I had a chance of winning. The other women were outstanding and I probably suffered from 'imposter' syndrome - not believing I deserved the title. 

Boy, us farming mums really underestimate our skills in so many ways - I know I do! Then I sat there and watched the videos about each entrant - wow, clever well established women. I kicked my shoes off under the table and poured another glass of wine waiting to hear what one of the other entrants would be awarded the title.

Turned out, I won. After quickly slipping my shoes back on, I went up to accept the award. Many people said what a great speech I had done - I can’t remember anything I said.

Trish Rankin and family on their Taranaki farm.
Trish Rankin and family on their Taranaki farm. Photo credit: Supplied

I remember looking out to the audience just being so excited and energised with the amazing award.

Like other farming mums, I wear many hats. I'm on local committees, run sports clubs, work off farm, volunteer on national bodies and participate in professional development. This is the norm for me and for many others. Dairy farming mums might also squeeze in to their day milking, farm tasks, calves and dry stock shifts. We are versatile, flexible, and always at the end of a phone call to solve some problem. 

My day on Mother's Day will hopefully start in Wellington after the Dairy Industry Awards dinner on Saturday night. It won't start with a sleep in - we have to get back to the farm and kids, but we have a great relief milker on Sundays from January to May so that my hubby Glen and I can spend Sunday as family day. This doesn’t always work out - but we make the most of it when we can. Our children - four energetic boys, aged from six to 14 - are diverse in their needs and interests and how they want to spend their day! 

Last Sunday we went up Mt Taranaki to Wilkies Pools. On Mother's Day we might just chill at home with movies and popcorn. Whatever you are doing, farming mums will be there in spirit alongside you - some might be wearing their wet-weather gear milking cows helping to feed the world or running round after the kids just to feed the family or in many cases, doing both. 

Farming mums are awesome, powerful, adaptable, flexible and clever women!

Trish Rankin is 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of The Year and mum to four boys.