Interview with Blythe Calnan from Runnymede Farm
As we celebrated International Women’s Day this week, Christie interviewed one of our farmers, Blythe Calnan from Runnymede Farm, about what inspired her to become a farmer.
Where did your interest in farming come from and who was your inspiration?
Blythe’s interest in farming came from her love of, and working with animals. Annabelle Coppin who owns and manages Yarrie Station in the East Pilbara, was an early mentor of Blythe's. Like most women in a station environment she is great at getting everything done - from managing animals to managing a team.
"Annabelle is an absolute powerhouse, as are many women up in the top end of WA," said Blythe.
Blythe’s inspiration for getting into regenerative farming came from Joel Salatin, Gabe Brown and Allan Savoury. However, Blythe says there are more amazing women coming through now, including Nicole Masters, who is breaking new ground through processes for accelerating, understanding and building soil.
You and Gregg started out farming beef – where did the idea of integrating chickens into your farming model come from?
"Like many of the best ideas, this came from necessity!" said Blythe.
Blythe and Gregg were looking for another enterprise with a different business dynamic and cash flow that complemented beef farming, rather than competing with it and eggs was a great fit.
"These days there is a good understanding from customers about pastured eggs, and they value the high welfare of a pastured egg operation. We have access to market for our eggs, in the form of local shops, farmers markets, and through Dirty Clean Food," explained Blythe.
What does an average day look like as a farmer at Runnymede?
Catering to the needs of all of the animals and the pasture is paramount!
"My days are varied, there are only a few things that are the same every day – making sure everyone has water and feed and collecting and processing the eggs", said Blythe.
A major part of the beef and cattle operation is preparing pasture for future feed. This includes irrigation, seeding and planning soil improvements.
There is more time spent working on the pasture and maintaining fences than actually working cattle! Every day is varied but essentially Blythe and Gregg are working to the same core principles.
What words of advice would you give to women looking to pursue a career in Agriculture/Farming?
"To say yes to opportunities and be open minded to these opportunities.
My career path has included things cropping up that weren’t planned. However, by exploring opportunities as they presented themselves I have gained a wealth of knowledge which has landed me in a farming system that I love! said Blythe.