It’s hard to believe that I became a full-time farmer overnight. The day before lockdown, I had everything else going on and now that’s all stopped. I live across the road from my parents, George and Valerie, in Castlemacadam, Co Wicklow.

Even though I work in childcare, I’ve always helped out on their dairy farm, milking the cows after work.

Since all of all the schools and crèches are closed due to the coronavirus, I’m full-time on the farm now. All the other girls at work were worried about what they were going to do, but I thought, it’s grand, I’ll work on the farm.

Susan has started milking full time.

I hadn’t fully appreciated what I had until I came back on the farm and I thought, wow. It was a beautiful morning and I wouldn’t have appreciated that at all before. I have always just gotten in my car, worked all day and milked the cows in the evening when it was half-dark.

My dad is in-line for a hip operation at the moment, so that’s why I’m taking on a bigger role on the farm. We have 98ac of a milking platform, but you could only put a tractor on about 30ac. We live in a valley, so the rest is on the brow of a hill. We rent 120ac of land for pre-calving heifers, sheep and tillage.

About two weeks ago, we sowed around 15ac of spring barley. We also grow kale as fodder for the cows over the winter. Our herd is a mixture of British Friesian and Montbéliarde cows. Because the land is so steep, we find that British Friesian are good and hardy on their feet, as our milking platform is all uphill.

The herd is mostly British Friesian with some Montbéliardes.

We have 100 milking cows, but we’re only milking 70 of them at the moment, as we do both spring and autumn-calving. Calving started on April 28, so it’s busy, but we’ll get through it.

We have a Senior eight-unit parlour. It’s nothing very fancy, but it is unique, in that it is built into the side of a hill. We had a five-unit Pipeline parlour before that, but this newer parlour is above it, so we’re using the same tank, which means that our milks drops 16ft into the tank. We keep 41 sheep at the moment, in order to eat the grass on the brow of the hill.


Sometimes, the girls at work ask me how I can work with a class of pre-schoolers and come home to start milking. The one answer I always give them is, that I just don’t know any different. That’s always the way it has been, in the nine years since I started working in a crèche.

Luckily, we do have a relief milker; his name is Ashley Kinsella and he has been an absolute life saver, because his help allows me to go jiving three times a week. I love dancing – as they say, if you rest, you rust and I don’t want to rust so I’d rather just jive.

Susan with her father George.

I go dancing every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. I would definitely be jiving at the weekend as well. I plan on going on Paul Claffey’s jive holiday at the end of September. There’s 32 of us going to Portugal and I really hope that it’s still going ahead.

The gang of us go everywhere dancing together and I’m really looking forward to it. Before the virus hit, a group of us were at the Johnny Brady Festival in Galway and it was great craic, but it was the strangest thing because just a week later, everything was closed.

It was bizarre – I had that realisation of, oh my God, I’m a full-time farmer now. I always get asked whether I prefer farming or childcare, but the honest answer is that I love them both. It’s nice to be able to go to work and spend time on the farm as well.


I’ve been a member of Ballycoog Macra in Co Wicklow since I was 17. My first experience of it was when we had a BBQ in a trailer. One of the lads up the road roped me into it and I’ve never looked back.

Susan hadn’t fully appreciated what she had until she came back on the farm.

There is a crazy social life, it’s just unbelievable. I’m so lucky to have been able to represent Wicklow in two national Macra competitions. The first was for Queen of the Land in 2015, and then I participated in Blue Jean Country Queen in 2017, where I won the best dressed contest.

Queen of the Land was my first big competition and I wasn’t there to win it, just for the atmosphere – it was like the Rose of Tralee for farmers. I’ll take any excuse to get dressed up.

Susan enjoys both working in a creche and spending time on the farm too.

Even when I was doing my Green Cert, people used to say to me, “Sure you’d never milk a cow”, because I would always have make-up on. I remember tagging calves one day for the practicals and my teacher said that they’d never seen make-up on in the shed. I want to look good, but I get a slagging for it all the time. I like my wellies, but I like my heels too.”

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