Real Life

Novelist Daisy Remington found greener pastures in rural New Zealand farm life

The city slicker swapped Gucci for gumboots to run a farm – and the whole family’s thriving

By Aroha Awarau
US-born theatre producer Daisy Remington decided she needed a new name on social media when she went from raising her family in Auckland to becoming a farmer.
"I thought because I was moving to the farm, I needed a farming name," she explains. "Then one day in winter I was feeding the cows and thought, 'Whenever I'm out working in the paddock, I always end up getting hay all over me.' So, I decided to change my online profile to 'A Pocket Full of Hay' because that's literally what farming is all about."
Raised in Orange County, in the "well-irrigated deserts of Southern California", Daisy, 41, moved to New Zealand with her Kiwi husband Russell Clarke in 2007.
Growing up in the US with an African-American father, a European mother and a love for animals, Daisy never imagined she would move to New Zealand and change her lifestyle to raise her two children, Theodore, 14, and Tabitha, nine, on a four-hectare property on the outskirts of Auckland.
Just paw-fect! Animal lover Daisy can't think of a better way to bring up her daughter Tabitha.
The two main reasons Daisy chose to make the big move was so she could grow organic food and to help her son Theodore, who was diagnosed with autism and who Daisy home schools.
"When Theodore turned five, we enrolled him into a local school and it was tough for him," she recalls. "His social interaction and the way he perceives the world is so different, and it comes across quite abrasive for some people.
"I visited his classroom once to drop something off that he had left behind and I found him hiding under the desk. I decided to home school him, realising that this was not the best environment for him. I thought, 'Let's try home schooling, see what happens and see how it goes.' It allowed him to hyper-focus on the things that he was interested in."
Theodore's imagination can take flight.
The family moved to the farm in 2017 and she says the environment is perfect for her kids to learn.
"Part of my home schooling is quite practical – 'Let's go outside, let's observe the world, let's float things down the river and let's talk and learn about it,'" she says.
"It gave Theodore a lot of space to just be himself, be with his thoughts and be with whatever he wanted."
The move was also therapeutic for Daisy. In the US, she didn't finish high school and worked in various office jobs in the hope of finding the one thing she was passionate about.
"I did service jobs, developing film, making cheese, retail...," she recounts. "I've done every kind of job that you can do in an office setting, trying to find what is 'it' for me.
"I have a problem where I get a job, and it seems like it's going to be really fun and fast-paced, and then once I learn it and then it gets mundane. That's really hard."
While Daisy juggles being the sole manager on the farm and home schooling, husband Russell works full-time during the week at his job in sales.
Their property has cows, sheep, chickens and ducks, a vegetable garden and an orchard with apples, peaches and plums. Daisy picks the fruit with her children and sells it at a local farmers' market.
"This job has made me more relaxed," she enthuses.
"It used to be very challenging to control everything. On the farm, that's not how it goes. Animals get out randomly. Things go different from what we planned. It's taughtme to slow down!"
The rural setting is also the perfect place for Daisy to work on her creative endeavours. She's recently finished writing a novel based on her life, and produces plays for the Auckland-based Black Creatives Aotearoa, a group aiming to elevate the voice of African and Caribbean writers, actors and artists who now call New Zealand home.
"When I discovered there was a group of black creatives in Aotearoa, I wanted to join and help out where I can because it's a community that I support and that share the same values as me. I'm here to cheer for all of the black people living in New Zealand."
Her time with fellow creatives is giving Daisy the balance in life that she needs. But ultimately, it's being a farmer and raising her two children in her idyllic paradise that reminds her that moving to New Zealand and having a lifestyle overhaul has been worth it.
"I'm living the Kiwi dream!" she says with a smile.
  • undefined: Aroha Awarau

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