30 Jul 2019

Real skills from a real 'Southern girl'

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:18 pm on 30 July 2019

What do you know about shooting guns? Can you back a trailer? Or muster some sheep? 

Laura Douglas was born and bred on a sheep and deer farm in Southland and can do all of these things. Now she’s teaching other people country skills with her company Real Country

Laura Douglas

Laura Douglas Photo: Supplied / Real Country

“I got a little bit sidetracked when I went to university, went down the corporate route and I thought that’s what adults should do - get a job, make some money but I love the outdoors, I love my animals and I just knew it wasn’t quite right.”

A couple of years ago Douglas drew a picture of her dream life, in biro pen on refill paper, while she was sitting at her desk in Christchurch. 

It featured her on the deck with a glass of whiskey, a dog at her foot, a jet boat and 4wd in the driveway, a horse in the paddock (with no legs because she says it’s difficult to draw legs on horses), and mountains in the background.

“Once that picture was drawn it was a big mind map that I did.”

She quickly realised if she wanted to achieve everything in that picture she would need to make some changes, so she did.

“No matter how much money I was making in the city, that was never going to be the life I was going to have.”

She wrote a list of somethings that she was good at, and of things that she loved.

“The stuff that Real Country does was all on that list.”

Three years later she’s running a company that earns her a living doing things that she thinks are awesome. “All I’m missing is the jet boat.”

Douglas runs a shooting experience, popular with corporate work-dos and hens/stag nights. She puts on a fair show for tourists and runs a farm skills workshop for anyone who wants to learn things like lunge a horse, round up sheep and change a tyre.

The thing that really proves to be a favourite with visitors to the farm is the animals, Douglas has everything from dogs, lambs and pigs who think they’re dogs to rescue animals.

What makes it all worth it for Douglas is her passion project of teaching farm skills to teenage girls which hopefully gives them confidence for other areas of their life. 

“Having a company that is financially sustainable, that allows me to do these passion projects is really important to me. Even if one girl goes away and pursues a career in farming or one girl goes away and decides she wants to start her own company or even just a bit of a change in attitude for the positive, that’s really what keeps me going.”

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