I’m from Drumahoe in Derry. My father and my uncle are in partnership together, so they’re milking 180 cows here on the farm. Then I have a wee flock of my own sheep, Zwartbles, the wee black ones with the white stripe on their face. They’re just a wee hobby, I don’t show them or anything like that.
I was always brought up with sheep, but then my father and uncle expanded the dairy side of things, so we went out of them. But I just loved it, so I got two Zwartbles for Christmas many years ago and it just gradually expanded from there. It must be eight or nine years ago, now.
Keeping sheep or something like that, it’s good for young people to have that responsibility
Keeping sheep or something like that, it’s good for young people to have that responsibility. You have to go out and feed them every day, check them every day to make sure they’re fit and healthy, they’re eating and they’re not stuck in a hedge or anything.
They’re a breed originally from the Netherlands and I obviously just loved the look of them. They’re great sheep - big and tall, they’re easy lambed and they’re great mothers. They’re not like a wee Texel that would need the odd caesarean. The Zwarbles, I never have any issues with feet or anything at all.
I would have grown up milking every weekend. My fiancé is a dairy farmer as well. We just got engaged a month ago. We met through the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, so we’re all farming. Up at his, I’d help with the milking or if he’s down here, he’d milk.
I knew from primary school I wanted to be a veterinary nurse. We were asking each other: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It was all teachers and policemen, but I’ve a cousin who’s a veterinary nurse and I thought that was such a good idea.
From then on, I always just wanted to be a veterinary nurse. I didn’t want to be a vet. I just wasn’t cut out for going to uni for so many years. I’ve always had an interest in animals, looking after their health and just caring for them.
I left school and went to Greenmount in Antrim. I went there to do my veterinary nursing. The way our course worked was, you were in an employed placement. So you would do time in the veterinary clinic and time in Greenmount, too.
I graduated in December 2016 and I got a job straight out of uni in our local practice. It’s actually about two miles down the road from me. I do a mix of small animals, large animals and equine.
I worked the whole way through the pandemic. Animals don’t know when not to be sick. It was a bit intense, because a lot of the general public were at home, they were with their pets and they saw the odd lump and bump or, ‘Och, the dog will need a wee worming tablet now’. We were inundated with all that, never mind the emergencies that needed to come in.
At the start of the pandemic, we were lambing that time as well in spring. Even in work lambing is crazy as well, with farmers needing help with sheep.
I’m vice president of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster. I was secretary for a couple of years and now I’ve worked my way up to vice president. My club is City of Derry Young Farmers.
I’m very involved in Young Farmers’ so I’m constantly at meetings and things. Obviously now with COVID-19, everything’s on Zoom. I hope once things calm down we can go out and about and meet people again.
I’ve been a member for 14 years now. I know you can join Macra at age 17, but we can join Young Farmers’ at age 12. It’s brilliant to be a part of, the people you meet and the life skills you gain. I could stand up in front of a crowd and make a speech, no bother.
I took part in Queen of the Land in 2018. I met girls from all over Ireland through that. It’s just such a social thing. You meet people, you get out and about having the craic. Obviously when you’re involved at a high level you’re learning organisational skills, too.
This year, I’ll be finally getting Christmas Day off work, which is great. I worked it the last couple of years. So I’ll have a nice wee break. We’re very busy at this time of year, because you have a lot of puppies coming in this week for vaccinations especially.
We’re just having our granny round Christmas Day, all going well. She lives about five miles away and she’s just turned 91. We’ll have a nice, quiet Christmas.