Jill Smith is a 70 year old dairy farmer from near Carrigaline Co. Cork, who has made a decision to save her herd of cows from slaughter, as reported in the Irishexaminer.com.
She recently had an accident on her farm, which led to her being bed bound for a time. This led to Jill making a peculiar decision indeed, in the farming world anyway. She was advised to tone back on the farming after her accident. Instead of selling or sending her beloved cows to the factory like most would, she decided to find a way they could live out their days in peace. She then made the decision to send her 70 strong dairy herd to the Hillside animal sanctuary in Norfolk.
She is thought to be the first farmer in the country to have made the nobel decision, with 37 animals having already made the trip and two more loads to follow shortly. The decision has been described as “inspirational” by locals who know Jill, with Jill saying the time out of action enabled her to decide the future of her herd.
“I was back on track in February and I said ‘before this year is out the numbers will have to be reduced,” she stated. Before adding, “Help is scarce around and I can’t be depending on my good neighbours forever.”.
To some losing out on a big pay cheque from selling the animals is ludicrous, but not Jill. Instead she had to raise the money herself to pay for her cows travel across the waters.
“Money never worried me, thanks be to God,” she said.
She first heard of the sanctuary after hearing them featured on the BBC Countrywide programme and got in contact with Charlie’s Equine Rescue in Wexford. Together they set up a go fund me page in an effort to raise the cash. The gofundme campaign went extremely well, with the target of €6,500 more than met. Sharon Shannon also got in on the act and even took time to play a song for Jill’s beloved animals.
“Even the first load are gone, I miss a few of the faces looking at me...But I feel they’re having a better life where they are now.”, Jill said.
Jill also praised the way the animals were transported, saying the received the “hotel treatment”. Though she will miss the cows she milked by herself, she knows the will live the high life.
“They will be pampered.I would love to go (and visit) when I get a chance. Cattle never forget you. They know your voice. They will remember you forever, in a nice way. “, she added.
“I did shed a tear when the lorry pulled away, but they (her neighbours) comforted me. Five minutes later when it went around the corner, I was fine. and I’m still fine. I just miss their presence but I know that they are happy.” said Jill.
The consignment was even blessed by a local Reverend, wishing them happy travels before their big journey. The farmer has been milking for the past 54 years, with no plans to retire fully yet.
She hopes to now learn more about computers to help her supplement the loss of her lifelong friends.