International Women’s Day: Meet shepherdess and mum Zoe

While farming can be perceived as a male-dominated industry, the industry is filled with women leading successful careers on farms while taking care of their families. International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to give them a shout-out. 

Meet Zoe Norton from Bures, Suffolk.

Shepherdess Zoe Norton from Suffolk is a perfect example of a woman who is not only flourishing in her farming career, but is also a happy mother and partner. 

The 32-year-old woman from Bures started her farming journey when she met her partner Gary four years ago and they began with buying just a few sheep. They now own 110 north country Cheviot sheep and 31 lambs at Hammonds Farm, with lambing still ongoing.

Shepherdess and mum

Last year, Zoe became a mum to Olivia. She said: “When my daughter was six weeks old, we started lambing. There were definitely lots of sleepless nights. 

“Many times Olivia was strapped to me while I was delivering lambs. It became a juggling act of who needed me the most. It was a lot to handle, as I had to make sure she was safe and looked after and that the lambs were also taken care of.” 

Zoe added that her daughter was planned around lambing season, and she fitted perfectly in the “lambing calendar”. 

“Before having Olivia, I was definitely too optimistic about how well I would cope with the little baby and the lambs. 

“But this year has been really good with her being a year older. She’s a very happy and content baby. Quite often she just sits and watches the lambs, which makes my life a lot easier. Then I can get the job done,” she said.

Family or career

Zoe pointed out that it is not easy to be a woman in the farming industry, especially if you are planning on having a family. 

She added that the responsibility to take care of the baby typically falls to the mother, which makes it difficult for women to continue their careers. 

You’re stronger than you think

Zoe said that she received lots of help from her partner, which enabled her to go back to the job she truly loves. 

She added: “I’d like to tell other women that they can definitely make it work, have a career, and raise children. 

“There’ll never be a right time, but we’re a lot stronger than we think and a lot more capable. For me, having my lovely baby and little lambs makes all this effort totally worth it.” 

Zoe’s plans for the future are to have more sheep, more cows, and another baby. 

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