WORKING as a qualified accountant, it didn't take Emilya Wood a long time to realise that an office job in the city wasn't for her.
Having grown up in the regional town of Brookton where her parents Cathy and Sean are the managers/owners of Stumpy's Gateway Roadhouse, living in Perth was a far cry from her childhood.
Ms Wood would regularly spend her time helping her parents do odd jobs around the roadhouse, before attending Mount Lawley Primary School and then Mount Lawley High School.
"I've had a massive role in my family's business as my brother and I have both worked as soon as we were tall enough to stand and wash dishes or sit and wrap cutlery," Ms Wood said.
"There wasn't much else to do with our weekends at the time, so we learnt to love it."
With plans to become a veterinary surgeon growing up, Ms Wood had a change of heart once she graduated from high school, instead opting to enrol in a degree in Economics and Management at Curtin University.
"At the time I was thinking I wanted to run a big business, but after working as an insolvency accountant for a liquidator after uni, I realised it wasn't really my thing," Ms Wood said.
"It was interesting work, but I didn't enjoy being in the city - there's not as many open spaces and, having grown up in a country town, it almost felt a bit claustrophobic to me."
After her parents bought a hobby farm in Brookton in 2020, Ms Wood found she was spending most of her spare time back in her hometown, so when her mum came across a local farmer who was looking for a farmhand, she jumped at the opportunity.
"The farmer had come to agist sheep on my parents' property and while there he mentioned that he was having trouble getting staff, so mum took off down the paddock and rang me on my lunch break asking if I was still looking for a local job," Ms Wood said.
"I went out and met him on a Monday, helped him drench sheep for a couple of hours and that was my interview, so by Tuesday I had quit my job and a month later I was on the farm working for him."
Brothers Nigel and Damian Morrison, who run the San-Mateo Merino and Poll Merino stud, own the farm where Ms Wood now does everything from drenching, drafting and feeding the sheep to fencing.
"In lambing season they taught me how to pull the lambs and when I pulled my first one I stood there for about five minutes in tears," Ms Wood said.
"I think it is the most awesome thing I've ever seen - there is nothing better than helping newborn animals.
"Getting in and working with the animals day in, day out - they can be somewhat frustrating, but when you get to the end of the week and you know you have helped 500-600 sheep - it's a pretty awesome feeling."
After working in an office, Ms Wood said it had been a challenge to increase her fitness levels in order to be able to do the sheep work more efficiently.
"Until you figure out how they work, there is a lot of running involved and I wasn't particularly fit to start with, so I'm working on that at the moment," Ms Wood said.
She said the Morrisons had been very supportive and patient in teaching her, a girl who had only spent a few weeks on a farm previously, all the basics of sheep work.
"I would love to know what they first thought about taking on an accountant from the city," Ms Wood said.
"I also work with two other guys on the farm including a mechanic, so that's been helpful in allowing me to get all the different perspectives on farming.
"The more I learn about the industry - the more I learn that I have lots to learn."
Also in the process of completing a Masters of Business Administration, Ms Wood said managing and owning a farm, perhaps in the Brookton area, was a longer-term goal for her.
"I love the fact that it's not crazy wet but it's wet enough that we have a bit of water security, that there aren't too many people, but it's still big enough that we have everything we need and small enough that everyone still knows and looks after each other," Ms Wood said.
A horse enthusiast, Ms Wood's thoroughbred ex-racehorse, Zed, takes up most of her weekends now that she's living back in the country.
"I never really had the opportunity to learn to ride growing up, so I'm making the most of it now," Ms Wood said.
"I'm also hoping to learn to do some stock work on horseback."
Ms Wood still plays an active role at Stumpy's Gateway Roadhouse, with business picking up after a tough few years due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
"Mum and dad are looking at expanding the roadhouse and business is going really well now, so everything seems to be looking up," Ms Wood said.
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