I live in Co Meath, Kildalkey. It’s about 5km from Trim. I’m teaching in Moynalvey National School, just covering a maternity leave. I’m farming then as well. So keeping busy, but it’s a nice balance.
Just before Christmas I graduated from my teaching master’s with Hibernia College, it’s an online course and it was a virtual ceremony.
Hibernia was tough going. I was registered with the Teaching Council straight away, so immediately I started substitute work. That was great, because I could understand the theory of it so much better. When someone is teaching you things from a book, you don’t understand it fully until you put it into practise.
I did my undergraduate degree in St Pat’s in Dublin. I studied Irish and geography for three years. In between that and starting the master’s I worked for a year in Farm Wardrobe (a clothing company), she’s there in Delvin.
I had dairy business and other agricultural courses down on my CAO at one stage. But I just think I enjoy everything far more when I’ve balance. Farming is more of a break this way. You’ve less stress and it’s an escape from the norm.
I always liked working with children anyway and the teaching complements the farming lifestyle, especially with showing cattle in the summer.
We’ve a suckler farm. We calve in spring and autumn. All of the calves are sold nine- to 10-months-old with about 10 or 15 held on as either replacements or to sell as springers. We don’t really fatten anything here.
Mam’s the main boss. She’s Helen and I’m Ellen. She inherited the farm and has been farming since she was 16. She’s nursing as well, so the farm is her escape, too. I’ve one older brother, but he was never really interested in farming.
Mam’s side is mainly commercials, she likes that whole end of things. I think per acre, because we’re not massive farmers, the pedigree route was the better route to go for profit for me, really.
I was given my first calf when I was eight. I’ve been building up stock numbers since then. My goal is to start my distance Green Cert this September. Just to get my own herd number up and running, I’m using Mam’s now at the minute. We actually bought a tractor together last year.
The pedigree side was something I took on in 2012. I bought a pure bred Charolais heifer off Sionhill Charolais. I ended up showing her and winning a few prizes with her. I bought another one then and ended up getting champion at a few shows. So I put her into a flushing programme with Champion Embryos then. Last year I started the embryo transfer, so I’ve five of those calves due this spring.
I’ve 12 female pedigree Charolais cattle and I’ve a good lot of commercials as well myself. With the embryos that are due now, I’m really trying to cut down on my suckler side and boost my pedigree side.
I miss the shows. Even going to Balmoral, we wouldn’t show anything up there, but it’s just a great day out. Showing cattle, it’s just pure pride. You’re basically showing off what you can breed and what you can do. It’s pride in who you are and what you have on the ground.
I had 200 ewes when I was 18, but I sold out of them and got into cattle instead. There was far too much work in them. I’m happy with the decision. By selling the sheep it funded me to get into the quality of Charolais I wanted.
I’m only in Macra about a year. I’m 24 now. It was really only finishing my master’s that I said that I’d have the time. Before that I didn’t give it any thought to join, but it’s an excellent thing to do. There are so many competitions and it’s just great to meet like-minded people, really.
My club, Athboy, put me forward for Best New Member and I’m actually secretary now of Meath Macra. I was to represent Meath in Queen of the Land in November just gone, but it’s postponed now until November 2021. I was also recently the Meath entrant for the Macra FBD Young Drystock Farmer of the Year.
I’m not doing any of it out of vanity. It was more so that being nominated to go forward for Best New Member, Queen of the Land and stuff like that was an honour. For the likes of the Young Farmer of the Year, the competition was at a serious level. When you’d watch the final it was a way of learning and seeing what advice I could get. I can’t see any of it being a negative. It’s all a positive, so you might as well go for it. CL