In November we spoke to Katie McCarthy from Kenmare who farms with her grandfather Dan McCarthy. Together they farm 120 sheep and 20 sucklers on an 80ha that includes commonage.
Katie is balancing farming life with her studies in DIT where she is pursuing a degree in agricultural science. She is also an active member of her local Macra na Feirme club.
Quotable quote: “I love the farming lifestyle. When you go out to gather the sheep off the mountain looking out over Kenmare Bay, it’s surreal. I know a lot of farmers find peace in the scenery.”
In the sunshine of May, we caught up with Tiina Laas who has diversified her two acre farm in Co Leitrim. She sells the eggs from a flock of 300 quail birds and soap made from donkey milk.
A native of Estonia she moved to Ireland in 2008 and started her farm with 12 quails. The donkey soap is exported to markets in the US, France and Canada as well as being sold in Ireland and the UK.
Quoatable quote: “Cleopatra had 700 donkeys so she could bathe in their milk. If it was good enough for her, it’s good enough for us.”
Niamh Keane is farming in Co Wicklow alongside her brother and his girlfriend. They keep 40 sucklers, 250 ewes, and some dairy-cross calves along the Wicklow-Dublin border.
Niamh is currently finishing her final year in UCD with all teaching taking place remotely. She has spent time working in a 3,000-sow unit in Kildare and a 1,300-cow dairy herd in New Zealand.
Quotable quote: “I feel bad for the first years. They are missing out on not going to the common room and meeting people. At least I had my friends made.
Back before the start of COVID-19 lockdowns, we met Sligo farmer Rose McDonnell. She runs a 60ac farm of fragmented land with her partner Martin.
The farm is split between a split calving suckler herd and a small flock of sheep. The suckler calves are sold as weanlings at a year old with some kept on as replacements.
Quotable quote: “I was born on a farm and reared on a farm and maybe I’m a fool for it, but it’s in my blood.”
During the summer, Michelle Curley spoke to us about her farm in Prosperous Co Kildare. She has a 50-cow suckler herd that run across a 150ac block of land.
The cows are Hereford-Friesian crosses and calve down in spring with the weanlings sold in the autumn. Michelle puts a heavy emphasis on farm safety as her two sons enjoy helping out on the farm.
Quotable quote: “My parents gave us a progressive attitude early on. I showed the most interest in the farm growing up and now I am in charge, despite having two brothers.”