20 July 2021
Shepherd Abby Puddefoot came to Harper Adams after being encouraged to push her boundaries and four years later she leaves after finding her “university family” in the LGBTQ+ society and HAU’s Women’s Rugby team.
Abby, 22, has recently finished her Agriculture with Animal Sciences degree after balancing her studies with working as a part-time shepherd all over Shropshire with her Border Collie, Kiwi.
“I love sheep farming”, says Abby, who adds that, her favourite part of her degree was “learning about the future of agriculture using technology to record and manage genetics in sheep production.”
Even half her third-year placement was sheep orientated: “I spent half my placement year at ForFarmers and the other half shepherding in Somerset - and learning how to blade shear.”
“Blade shearing was difficult, when I first started learning the skill I thought it was more of a SAS selection challenge, but it soon became second nature.”
Outside of shepherding and studying Abby plays rugby and body builds but laughs that running after wayward livestock should be considered her other sport.
“I played rugby a lot with my older brother growing up and found that it’s a great way to destress, I also needed something to focus on while in the gym and rugby was it – as soon as I knew Harper had a women’s team, I signed up straight away.
For the three years I was based near campus I played scrumhalf for HAWRFC and over that time my teammates became my family, when things went wrong, or I wanted to celebrate something I’d always turn to them first.”
“I’ve been really lucky with my teammates and friends, but I have received a lot of support from Harper’s LGBTQ+ society this year, too. Take my advice: don’t hide who you are, seek help when you need it with academic or personal bits, be brave and go to clubs and societies because they become your university family.”
Looking to the future, Abby who is currently training her new puppy, Ferne, to herd sheep, will be staying in Shropshire on shepherding duties with her dogs whilst looking for a graduate job.