I’m from Rath, Co Offaly, just outside Birr. We’ve tillage and beef. So we’re busy enough, but not busy enough to be home full time.

My mother says ever since I could walk she’s had to keep an eye on me, because I’d be just gone down the yard in a minute.

The grandad would go herding every morning, before I was in school even I’d always go with him. As soon as I was 16 I got the tractor licence and then the car licence. I was always big into machinery.

Opportunities arise

I always said I’d drive or do something farming related. I had no intention of going to university after school. I went to Gurteen. I was always going to farm, so the father said: “You might as well get the Green Cert as soon as possible.”

I’ve two younger sisters, but they’re not into the farming at all.

I was at home farming for a long time and I did silage with a contractor. I drew silage for my father first. He’d do our own silage here and help out a few local lads, but he wouldn’t be flat out at it. I love Fendt tractors and there’s only one silage contractor around that has Fendt tractors.

Rachel on the farm at Springfield, Rath, Co Offaly. \ Odhran Ducie

I met him at a Ploughing Match or the Tullamore Show, something like that anyway. I just asked him for work and he said: “Well sure, can you drive?”And I said, “I can.” He said: “Have you any experience?” I said: “I have a bit.” It started from there. He took me on straight away, no problems.

I was going to stay at that, but then you’re very quiet during the winter months. You’ve no money. I loved being at the silage, it was some craic like, but sure I had to get a job.

We were actually drawing stone out of Loughnane’s Quarry with the tractor and trailer for a couple of months, just for a lad doing a yard up the road from us. I got a flat wheel and I went into the garage, I was getting the wheel mended in Loughnane’s.

They said they were looking for someone to drive the dump truck and did I ever drive one? I said, ‘I didn’t’. I thought they were only messing, sure I left that day and I had no intention of following up on it. Then a couple of months later I said: “Sure, I might as well chance my arm.” I’m there two years last November and I’m 22 now.

The dump truck, it’s big. It’s a lot bigger than a tractor. But it’s surprisingly easy to manage and sure, when you’re doing the same thing every day it’s very easy get used to it.

I’m the only woman driving in Loughnane’s and they never had a woman before. They’re very good to me, they’re a really nice bunch of lads and I really get on with them. You’d get a few funny looks from lads coming in getting stone, they’d kind of have to take a second look, but you get used to it.

Rachel with her father James and grandfather William. \ Odhran Ducie

Summer days

I keep my holidays for when we’re at corn during the summer. I can take an odd day off here and there, they don’t mind too much. Daddy would be on the combine and I do the bailing. It just works out the best, because the combine is his pride and joy, but I like bailing, so it’s perfect.

I still help Daddy with the silage during the summer too. We work it with a neighbour of ours. The neighbour drives the harvester and my father drives the loader. I draw in and the grandad draws in sometimes too.

We’ll stay doing our own for another while, I’d say. It keeps the grandad happy as well, he likes to be doing it. He has to get a load of silage drew once a year, it doesn’t matter if he just draws one and goes in. As long as he gets one, he’s happy.

During the summer now when I’m in Loughnane’s and I see Snapchats of everyone at silage, it kills me. I’m just like: “I’d love to be out doing that.” The contractor, he’d ring me some days at the weekend, of a Saturday or a Sunday, to fill in for a lad and sure I do love it.

My favourite tractor is a Fendt, even though we don’t have one. I was on a Fendt 720, for the contractor. He always puts me back on it when I fill in. He knows I love it. I got to bring it home one evening, we were doing some lad’s silage near where I live. Seeing it parked outside the front door, it looked great. The plan is to save up for one.

I hope to be in Loughnane’s probably full-time for the next 10 years anyway. Then as I get more into the farm and doing things myself, I’ll probably go part time. That’s what my father’s doing now, he’s driving a lorry and he’s part time. During the winter he can be pretty much full time. Then during the summer he’s able to farm away. CL

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