When Holly Reid was 13 years old, she received a cheque in the mail from her godfather for $100. Unlike most kids who would rush to spend the money on toys, Holly had her eyes set on starting her own business.
“I had this cow I really wanted to buy and I went to Dad and told him I wanted to start my herd,” Holly said. “Obviously, buying a breeder for $100 is a massive discount, but Dad said if I wanted that instead of buying a Barbie or a toy or anything, I could buy her.”
“She ended up being the best breeder on the place – she went on to have twins and had a calf every year till she died. All my other breeders have come from her – it all stemmed from that one cow.”
That one cow, and Holly says, her father.
“Dad really encouraged me to do that. He wasn’t like, ‘You can marry someone and get cattle that way’. Instead he showed me that girls could have their own cattle too. He also got me into the management side of things. He said, “You’ve got to cut your own, brand your own” and taught me how to do it.”
Holly now works as an agricultural economist for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries out of Charters Towers, while also growing and managing her own herd. It was her passion for cattle that led her to the job despite the fact her degree was in Agribusiness and Animal Production, not economics.
Despite her lack of a background in economics, Holly's willingness to get out of the office and work onsite alongside graziers combined with her desire to learn more made her the preferred candidate. She was hired.
“In a rural place like Charters Towers, you need to be self-sufficient. I’ve found that I learn the best when I’m thrown in the deep end, when I’m pushed. There are always going to be things I cannot do physically, but I try to not get too embarrassed or beat myself up about it.”
She said what helps her bounce back from a moment of feeling small or less capable is actually about working from the outside in.
“I actually feel more confident when I’m wearing something feminine. The generic work shirts would swim on me and I’d feel frumpy.
“I just felt like one of the boys. Sometimes you do want to feel equal, but sometimes you want to feel ‘I’m a girl and I’m still doing this job.’
“I also carry a little bottle of sunscreen in my pocket everywhere I go – coconut-scented – and putting it on in the cattle yards, I feel girly and smell nice.”
The little things Holly does to make herself feel more feminine and confident aren’t too dissimilar to the mechanics of beef production.
“Working with them through the yards, you get to see how what you do affects them, how every action you take is shown through the cattle. They are so reactive to what you do. And there’s no better feeling than coming home knowing you contributed to that.”
Story by : Megan Stafford