Europe’s Largest Outdoor Festival.


On Wednesday and Thursday last week myself and the farmers headed to Europe’s largest outdoor festival ! . When I think of festivals I think of summer time, loads of music, face paints, shorts and fancy wellies and very trendy famous people with farming being the last thing I would think of. Europe’s largest outdoor festival is actually all things farming, food and enterprise with a little bit of music and dancing thrown in but no muddy fields full of tents. The National ploughing Championships this year were on Tues, Wed and Thurs the 19th to 21st of September and was held in Screggan in Co Offaly.  The ploughing is a yearly event that over the three days attract over 200,000 people, they come from far and near to see millions of euro worth of machinery, livestock and food. This day out is planned from one year to the other in a lot of houses and we haven’t missed it in years. This is an event for not just the farming community but for everyone as there is just so much to see and do and even though the weather this year on the Wednesday was crap we still wouldn’t have missed it, after all isn’t that what rain gear is for ?

This year was also a little special as the eldest farmer ( on the right) received his award from Dairymaster on the Wednesday and was presented it to him by the Minister for Agriculture, Micheal Creed. The two lads worked hard ( partied hard )on their thesis and it payed off in the end, they both started college together and received their awards together as well.

There were lots of cute animals to see and also a pink Valtra tractor for breast cancer, I couldn’t convince the farmers that we really needed this tractor.

For the last couple of years I have curated the @IrelandsFarmers twitter account on the Wednesday of the ploughing, taking photos and some videos during the day to share with the over 12k followers the account has, this year I got to curate for two days, the Wed and Thurs and it was made extra special as on the Wednesday it and myself were number 1 in the top 5 journalists to follow for the plouging which I was delighted with as its a great account giving people a inside view of real life on a farm. Here is the link below.

We put together a list of the top 5 journalists tweeting from #ploughing17. https://t.co/MLUMACCPCH

So that’s the ploughing over for another year and we are all looking forward to next year already, Roll on September 2018.

 

Women Are Only Good For…..


calf

Above photo by Elisha Clarke of some of our cute cattle.

This is a subject that from time to time plays on my mind and I know as I write it I will possibly have a hit put on me for not standing by my fellow females. I was born and raised on a farm and from a very early age I was never made feel I couldn’t do anything on the farm I wanted to do, I was never told I should stay inside or that a farm wasn’t really a place for a girl/woman. I went everywhere with my dad from sheep sales to shows and never did I feel I was somewhere I shouldn’t have been. As I got older more and more responsibility was given to me and I was left at times to deal with vets or cattle dealers and what I said to them stood and I was always backed by my Dad. I grew up knowing that I was equal to any man if I so chose to do a certain job from driving a tractor to lambing ewes and all the men I dealt with treated me the same.

I now live with a house of men and I still feel I am treated as an equal, I am not given any special treatment because I am female and am expected to muck in when needed as is everyone else. I am treated with the same respect as the men in the house by anyone who visits and if I happen to meet someone who is old school, and they are a few  I make sure they get a little education about women on a farm before I am done with them. Now this is where I think other females are falling down and they are just feeding into the old views of females on farms, I don’t think they are helping change age old views of females on farms. The other day I saw a post on Facebook about men complaining about why do women get cheaper car insurance than men and why have they got their own company who only insure women? this person asked was this not defeating the whole drive for women to be equal? that having groups that were just for females was keeping them isolated , which I am in total agreement with.

I think in farming this isn’t any different ( sorry women ) it is great to have groups where women can meet and socialise, this I agree with but I think to be seen as an equal we need to just mix with the men to be honest, why do we need to meet as a group to talk about what we do for farming or how we are not treated equal at home/ in our community when we should actually be getting out there and going on the same farm walks as the men, going to the same conferences as the men and to local discussion groups so to be honest we become part of the furniture and no one looks twice at us.

There is an old saying in the farming community that women are only good for stopping a gap, taking down tag numbers or doing the paperwork and that is not going to change unless we show just how important those little jobs are to the running of the farm. If we didn’t stop a gap when we are asked the stock would not go where they were supposed to  so our input is just as important as the person herding the stock from behind, it’s pretty hard to read tag numbers and write them down at the same time and I am sure no one wants to do paperwork after a long day outside so if we can do it then that frees up time for other jobs, so it’s time for us to show that all those tiny jobs, the ones that have been a laugh over the years are just as important to the running of the farm and should not be a joke and going to all female group meetings is not going to change how we are treated and I am pretty sure if the male farming community started their own men only groups their would be up roar.

I feel as a female in farming us women are our own worst enemy, we love to complain about not being treated equal but to be honest we don’t do much about it and I don’t think female only groups will change how we are seen but will only serve to keep us separate. The best way to change how we are treated is to start at home with your own farmer/ farmers and then start to work outside of that and eventually you will be treated no different to anyone else. We are the only people who can change how we are treated and being involved is the only way to do that, if it’s from keeping the house running, bills paid and a clean supply of work clothes to stopping gaps  or milking or tag reading each is just as important to how everything else runs and a progressive farm is going to be the one where it works as a team.

So where are you going to start ?

 

Freeing Up My Time.


As I type this I am on my last day of my summer nine week break, the time has just flown by summer days creeping into Autumn days. I am back to work tomorrow but this year after four years I am starting in a new school, new kids, new parents and new staff to work with. This is a school I have hoped to get a job in since I started back Montessori teaching six years ago and tomorrow is my first day.

I can’t wait to get started but one of the main reasons I am really looking forward to it is I think my new hours are going to free up my time so much more that I will be able to help on the farm and do more with my horses. I have always worked mornings, leaving home at 8am and not getting home till 2pm, this left me with no time hardly to get anything else done. I had to go collect Sid at 2.40pm and again he was home, had a snack, got his homework done and clothes changed it could be 4.30pm before we were ready to do any work and then it was nearly time to make the dinner and that was it, day done. I missed out on so much that was happening on the farm and even the horses missed out because I only had time to see them at feed times and even that was rushed most days.

Now I will be working afternoons, home every evening by 6.10pm, Sid will be with me and will have his homework done so when we are home we will have nothing to do only make the dinner and relax for the evening and I will be off for all school holidays. I will be free in the mornings till 12.30 once Sid is gone to school to do what ever is needed from jobs on the farm, riding some horses, doing the food shop to just drinking coffee for the morning in peace before I go to work. Our lives this summer have started to move at a fast pace and I don’t want to be so busy that it all happens while I am in work, I want to be part of the changes and also have time to some things I enjoy as well. My new school also has no uniform to get ready and no work to bring home and spend my weekend trying to get done which is also a first for me.

So tomorrow the adventure begins, new routines and excitement for all the possible things I can get done, roll on 6.30am !.

 

Back To School He Goes.


It’s only me and him now heading to school in this house the two older farmers are all finished school and college, where does the time go? . Today it was Sid who headed back and into 2nd class. He looked so handsome in his uniform and so grown up it’s nearly heartbreaking, what has happened to the littlest farmer.

We had a great summer, doing loads and having fun which made going back today feel a little less hard because we really made the most of our time off. This is a big year for the littlest farmer it’s his Holy Communion year which also means a busy year but that’s nothing new to us, being busy! .

I still have a few more days till I start in my new school, I am not starting back till the 4th of September and this year I am working afternoon’s which is totally new for me. Since Sid started school I have always worked mornings, coming home nearly the same time as him and then getting nothing done in the afternoons between homework, lunch and dinner making there was never any time. So this year I am home all morning to get as much or as little done as I like while Sid is in school, gone to work for the afternoon and home by 6.10pm to make the dinner and relax for the evening, Sid’s homework and all done before I ever get home. I am hoping this will free me up so much now the farm is starting to speed up and even the horses are getting busier I will have the time to get lots done before I ever go to work or that’s the plan.

So this term is starting off with lots happening and lots of changes which I am really looking forward to ( remind me I said this when I complain about being too busy) , here’s to a new beginnings and a busy school year.

Girls Can’t Do That.


Where do kids learn/hear this? I would love to know because in this day and age there is very little if anything a woman cant do. In this house its very equal, I would be expected to be able to do just about anything the farmers can do, there is never a moment when they would say you are a woman you won’t be able to do that. When there is talk of machinery I would be included the same as anyone else in the house and when something breaks it would be explained to me in as much detail as anyone else.

When we are doing any work on the farm there has never been a time when the littlest farmer has ever heard anyone say you cant do that work, drive that digger, catch those sheep, feed those calves or do that paperwork and yet he is fully convinced a girl as he says can’t do these jobs!.

A week after he was born I was back teaching horse riding and he was and has been with me everyday there is lessons since, any work that I have to do on the farm he has always been with me and has always seen me work the same as the rest of the farmers  which is why I just don’t understand where he is getting this idea from. He is positive a girl can’t be a farmer, cant drive any machines, cant milk cows but we can do any work with the horses!. We are getting a farm office in the next month or so and on Sunday Sid informed us that it was going to just be for the farmers (boys) and not for me to use, when the farmer asked him why I couldn’t use it he said I wouldn’t know how to do the paperwork and he knows and sees that  I am the only one who does it at the moment.

So I asked him why he thinks a woman couldn’t do all the above and his response was because your a girl. So I asked him where he was hearing all of this and he said in school which makes me sad. I am sad that when he is in school this is how women are being talked about, that this is the view young boys have of women when a lot in the school come from a farming background and even though he sees everyday that the woman in his life can and does do the same jobs as the men in his life what he hears in school is out weighing what he sees in his day to day.

I am hoping that as he grows he will change his views on what any woman can do, that what he sees will out weigh what his friends or anyone else says and maybe he will educate them. I want all my boys to see that we are equal and the two older boys are really good that way so I hope Sid will grow up to be the same.

How do you deal with things like this?