My favourites: Shepherdess editor Christy MacGregor talks about the joys of farm life

Christy MacGregor runs Shepherdess magazine while also doing ranch life and balancing two young children on her hips. A quarterly publication, Shepherdess connects rural women by sharing their stories, and female perspectives on agriculture and rural life.

She is also the founder of the popular Channel Country Ladies Day, founded in 2012, and the Horowhenua Food Producers Festival. MacGregor is a finalist in the 2021 Women of Influence Awards – Primary Industries category. She lives on a sixth-generation family farm in Horowhenua, with her partner dairy farmer and their young son and daughter.

Read more:
* A woman’s dream of milking cows for life came true through the agricultural community
*Shepherdess author highlights rural women
* Embroidery flowerwoods about living a “fake” country life

TV program

I’ll admit, we don’t have a TV, which is really refreshing. This means spending a lot of time around the dining table – no matter how messy it is with two young children. But I’ve been dealing with Starstruck, with Rose Matafeo, online. On the one hand, it’s out of our world, and on the other hand it can be associated – the embarrassment of the early days of relationships and living in a shared house made me sway and laugh at the same time.

Resturant

My favorite restaurant is located in the most unexpected place – Yatai – Izakaya Japanese restaurant in a suburban street of Palmerston North. Run by the wonderful Barbara and her husband Atsushi, who welcomes you so warmly, the food is incredible. I don’t know where to start with my favorite layer. Squid okonomiyaki, ika juice, shrimp snack with Japanese mayonnaise and lemon, mushroom koshige, and of course sashimi and sushi.

Kristi keeps a TV-free home, but that won't stop her from indulging in Starstruck, with Rose Matafeo, online.
supplied

Kristi keeps a TV-free home, but that won’t stop her from indulging in Starstruck, with Rose Matafeo, online.

Song

Southern Sun Boy and Bear. We saw them playing live in Wellington a few years ago – pre-kids, when it was easy to get out at night. Oh my gosh it was good. If I’m driving, I love to play Fanny Lumsden’s Roll On because it has the vibe of this road trip and takes me back to days in Outback Australia when we’d get in the car and drive eight hours (one way) just to get to town.

the book

One of my favorites is The Flying Nun & the Women of the West – it’s not on any bestseller list, but it’s great and tells the story of a group of women who lived in the stations 20 or 30 years ago. I remember reading it on long trips when I lived in Canal Country and being fascinated by their lives and admiring their strength. I’m still in awe of them – I’m too afraid to clear a dead mouse trap and have no idea where to start when the water breaks (which it regularly does on a dairy farm!)

A piece of art

I bought artwork from Lyn Barnes, a Quilpie painter in Channel Country – a painting she painted of golden light on the chaos – the flat mountain ranges that dot the Australian countryside. Lyn has captured her simple beauty well. It is a special part of the world and means a lot to me. The painting is above my desk in my home office, and alongside it is a shepherd’s calendar filled with wonderful scenes of life in rural Aotearoa, by talented local photographers, and I enjoy clicking the page each month. The juxtaposition of the two landscapes is striking.

audio notation

Graziher produces the Life on the Land podcast, and in one episode they talk to Julie MacDonald. Jolie’s husband died after falling off a windmill on their property, leaving her a widow with four children. She talked about how, before his death, they made time in their relationship with a cup of tea every morning, just the two of them.

It’s something I can only hope for at this point – making time for yourself while running the farm and other interests, as well as the time Mike and I take very thin. But we need to do more. I love hearing someone’s story that you can learn, and you can learn something about your life.

Movie

An old classic but good, Priscilla Queen of the Desert is one of my favorites and I’ve also seen it twice as a live show, in Sydney and Auckland. The costumes are equally outrageous and adorable, the music is great and deals with an important social issue in rural areas – which can be somewhat conservative places.

Smell

Frankincense trees remind me of my childhood home. The smell of ripe tomatoes reminds me of the place my family and I now call home.

destination

Outside, our favorite spot was Niue. Incredible swimming holes, caves and crevices, quaint food places and just the most beautiful islands and people. Closer to home… Where do I start? There are so many great parts to rustic Aotearoa, you just need to peel the layers.

We love going to Browns Boutique B&B in Whanganui for the weekend, but I really love exploring the more secluded parts of Aotearoa. We’ve traveled all over the East Coast including Tokomaru Bay, Lottin Point and Waihau Bay – people, paua pies, and stations; I came back feeling like we had just experienced this magical part of the world. I think the most isolated places often have a beautiful sense of community.

Job

My role is now, without a doubt, as Shepherdess publisher. It doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing something you love. There is so much I want to do with it, which is exciting and a little scary but also exciting. We have the best team and I am really fortunate and happy to be able to tell the stories of rural women. It is an absolute honor to tell them.

Shepherdess Autumn Edition is now available at good bookstores and local supermarkets, as well as online at www.shepherdess.co.nz

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