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Woman at Work: Courtney Schuur, Rancher + Farmer

What's a typical workday on North 44 Farm?
Like many farmers who direct-market their products, I wear a lot of hats. I can spend a whole day in the fields working with our herd, and another on the computer building out our website...Then there are the days you wake up and see that all the sheep have gotten out of their pasture, and that pushes everything else out of the window until you get everyone situated again 😂


Did you grow up ranching?
It's been a long slow burn to get to farm life. I'm a former chef. I was lucky enough to work in places where we sourced farm-direct products, which meant we often got to meet the farmers and hear about how they produced what they do. I loved every bit of it—their food was always better than what we'd source from the big companies. I loved nerding with them about what they produced. Over time, I went from using this unique produce in the kitchen to wanting to produce myself.

I left the cooking world and got a job in marketing, while also starting a big backyard garden, and raising chickens and a few sheep with a couple friends. The 9–5 didn't feel satisfying, and I knew it was time to go all-in on the farm dream. It was totally idealistic, but I really do think you need that idealism to start in on a dream. I’m so happy I was able to do so.

I don't have any formal training in agriculture. I've learned from YouTube, workshops, books, and just learning from mistakes made on the job. The first time I helped a momma sheep lamb, I had a book with drawings of lamb positioning laid out on the barn floor and my husband was playing YouTube reference videos. It was hectic, and I've learned so much since then! I've made some hard mistakes along the way, but they have helped me make better decisions every season, and that's all I can hope for.



What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a veterinarian, which I laugh at now because as a livestock producer, I am like the off-brand version of one. When you raise livestock, you have to be comfortable to make a lot of health calls on your own. I'm lucky to have an amazing vet who has taught me a lot, and I find it really gratifying to know I have learned the skills to tend to our herd if we need to tackle issues on our own.

What do you have to sacrifice to run a successful farm?
Free time, and time off the farm. Asking someone to jump into farm life is not a small ask, so it takes a lot of organization to get off the farm. My parents are a great support network and they make it possible for us to get some free time when needed.

Tell us something surprising about you.
I'm a farmer, but I don't identify with country western culture at all. I have zero western gear in my wardrobe and my playlists lean more towards 90s hip hop than country. I have nothing against country western culture—all I'm saying is that not every farmer listens to country music.



What does workwear designed for women mean to you?
It makes me feel seen! There have been countless times where I need equipment not available in my size, which means I have to find a similar smaller version. Disappointingly, it's often not the same heavy-duty quality. When I can get workwear that fits me well and is made for hard work, it feels like I'm right where I should be. I can get work done while feeling comfortable and staying safe. Dovetail is the only brand I have come across that makes heavy-duty women's workwear that holds up to years of farm work. I don't have to worry about pants ripping or catching while working with barbed wire. I have all the pockets to hold everything I need for a day working sheep. Plus, that kangaroo pouch on the overalls is the perfect place for a hands-free chore beer at the end of the day.

What scares you?

Cows! Even though we have cows, I am still scared of them, ha ha! They are huge and I can't read them as well as I can sheep, so I'm a little scared of them—but working on it!

Any special projects you want people to check out?
I just started a Farm Club, which I'm so excited for. The Farm Club is a customizable subscription box of our grass-fed lamb and beef, raised and shipped out by me! This has been a goal of mine since we started the farm, as a way for people to have easy access to high-quality grass-fed meat. I'm really proud that we've been able to put it into action.

Connect with Courtney, North44 Farm, and the Farm Club here.
Courtney's pronouns are she + her.

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