RUNNING a mixed country vet practice at Kojonup and Katanning is only one of the challenges Kate Clayton faces every day, along with spending time with her husband and children, pets and a farm.
Ms Clayton, who owns, works and runs the Kojonup and Katanning Veterinary Hospitals, lives 13 kilometres south of Kojonup on the family farm with her husband Graham and their three children, Thomas, 9 and seven-year-old twins Samuel and Darcie.
"I am a rural mixed practice country vet, living and working at Kojonup," Ms Clayton said.
Originally from Port Hedland, Ms Clayton always had a passion for living in the country.
"When I was in high school I knew I wanted to do something involving medicine but I didn't want to deal with people," Ms Clayton said.
"So I started looking into veterinary and completed my university degree in 2003."
After graduating, she went east with then boyfriend Graham and two dogs, working as a vet in northern New South Wales for two years.
"I made some great lifelong friends, learned a lot and enjoyed seeing how the other side of Australia lived," she said.
"In 2006 we returned to WA, got married and set up camp at Kojonup."
It was a busy year in 2007 when they took on the lease of Graham's family farm, bought their first home and also leased the Kojonup Veterinary Hospital.
Then in March 2008 they purchased the Kojonup practice and the building.
In June 2009 the Claytons welcomed their first child Thomas and by October that year the new mum and her baby were back at the clinic.
The next challenge was in May 2012 when Samuel and Darcie were born.
"They came seven weeks early and we spent the next six weeks in a neonatal ward in Perth," Ms Clayton said.
The good news is the twins came home healthy and gelled with the busy Clayton family lifestyle.
In 2015 Ms Clayton established a second centre, at Katanning.
"Expanding to Katanning was something we needed to do for our clients who already travelled to Kojonup to see us," she said.
"We already had loyal customers up there, so we knew it wouldn't be a large risk."
Ms Clayton had only been at the Katanning business 12 months when she won the 2016 Small Regional Business Award.
"It was great to get recognition for the hard work our staff had put in to the hospital there," she said.
"Now in 2019 I have three gorgeous kids, a hard working husband, chooks, two pet sheep, a dog and a cat."
All this is on top of running the 1011 hectare family farm, where Graham is a sixth-generation farmer and he works full-time at McIntosh & Son as a sales representative.
"I don't want to brag but I am genuinely happy with my job, my life and my town," Ms Clayton said.
"It's not to say I don't have my moments but I wouldn't change my circumstances and I love what I do.
"I am passionate about rural life and I am passionate about rural practice."
Ms Clayton said it was important to her to keep valuable skills and rural vets in the profession.
"I employ 15 amazing, dedicated, compassionate and committed people," she said.
"However attracting and retaining staff I find to be the hardest aspect of this practice.
"But I am grateful that I have a profession that is both rewarding and challenging and one that constantly keeps me on my toes."
Ms Clayton said she never knew what each day was going to deliver.
"One day I started with cattle preg testing early, back to preg scan a mare, then off to school for an hour where I take the school choir, then off to Katanning to give a talk about ewes as part of a producer information day," she said.
"It's never ending.
"We do so many different things and there is so much variety in the role that it's hard to get bored out here.
"But I have days when I threaten to become a florist in my next life, everything smells nice and no one cares when they die (the flowers!), however these days are not the norm and you need these unpleasant experiences to let you enjoy the good."