“In 2014, I started going out with Philip and this is what sparked my interest in farming,” explained Aedín Quirke.
Aedín - who grew up in Bohermeen, Navan, Co. Meath - does not hail from a farming background, although her grandfather worked as a farm labourer throughout his life.
The 23-year-old was introduced to the farming lifestyle by her partner - a suckler farmer from Kells, Co. Meath. “Silage season was in full swing and this is where I got my first taste of farming.” she laughed.
“I had no idea how to interact with a cow and I was quite weary of them at first. After working around them for a while, I got used to the cows and they got used to me,” Aedín added.
She graduated with a Level-7 Bachelor of Arts in Creative Digital Media from Institute of Blanchardstown in 2016 but diverted her career in an alternative direction.
“Over the first year with Philip, I started to realise that I had more of an interest in animals and farming than my college work.”
She began working on a 200-cow dairy farm in 2017 in Co. Cavan when she completed her degree. “The farm owner didn't mind that I had no experience and was very willing to teach me.”
“The milking parlour was 24-unit with no ACR and one person milking so it fairly put me to the test,” she said.
Glandore Farm Limited
Aedín secured a full-time position at Glandore Farm Limited, Beaupark, Navan, Co. Meath last September.130 pedigree Holstein Friesians pass through a 12-unit Herringbone Dairymaster parlour on Frankie Crinion’s enterprise.
Her main responsibilities include evening milkings, bedding sheds, detecting heats, feeding calves, spreading fertiliser and other general duties.
The 23-year-old enjoys working outdoors with animals and watching new life being brought into the world. “I always had a great love for animals but never thought I would love farming so much.”
“I couldn’t imagine having an office job and sitting in the same chair every day, looking out the same window at the same view daily,” she added.
“I've learned so much about myself because of farming and have gained so much confidence. I'm proud of where I am now, for someone who didn't even know how to milk a cow.”
Aedín admitted that although farming can be physically challenging, she does not find the manual labour too difficult.
“If there's something I can't move there's always a loader that I can use or someone at the other end of the phone.”
“My boss is always there to help when I'm in a difficult situation,” she added.
Aedín also helps her partner, his mother Marie and his father Paul with the running of their herd of 30 suckler cows.“In general, I help out with whatever I can such as drawing in bales, tagging and registering calves, feeding, dosing and paperwork.”
“On my days off work, I can be found in Philip’s yard. I feel blessed to be able to watch calves grow into cows and join the rest of the herd with their dams.”
Woman in Agriculture
Aedín described her experience as a woman in ag as “eye-opening.” “Overall, it has been positive with a few hiccups along the way but I've learnt how not to let people treat me.”
“I've learnt so much from other farmers and vets from asking them questions about anything I could think of.”
“Coming from a family with three older brothers and no sisters, women were always respected as they should be, but when I started farming, I realised that women aren't always treated the same.”
She said that in recent years, women are becoming more recognised for their ability to farm and operate machinery. “I've had lots of farmers say to me that they would much prefer any woman to rear their calves than a man.”
“I think in this day and age that any man or woman that thinks a career in farming should only be for men, should think twice about it.”
“There is not any need for it - that would be the same as a woman judging a man for wanting to be a make-up artist.”
“I’ve been told before that I wasn't good enough, I wasn't strong enough and because I didn't grow up farming, I wasn't knowledgeable enough to make decisions on my own.”
Looking ahead, Aedín (23) is satisfied in her current position at Glandore Farm Limited and relishes the idea of purchasing her own land and owning her own cattle in the future.
“For now, I hope to keep working on the dairy farm I'm on now as I really enjoy working here.”
Completing an agricultural course and travelling to New Zealand to work on a dairy farm or for a silage contractor are also on her bucket list.
“I knew when I was going into my final year of college, I wasn't going to pursue it as a career. I got my degree, went farming and I'm more than happy because I made that choice.”
“I won’t be changing career anything soon and that's for sure!” she concluded.
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