35-year-old Nicola Baldrick is a farmer’s wife, a mother-of-six, a freelance hairdresser and blogger.
She has been providing an insight into her daily life on her Instagram page and blog labelled ‘Mammy of Six’ since February of this year.
Her social media platforms provide a medium to discuss the trials and tribulations of farming and parenting, a family home extension and experiencing the loss of her mother.
“My friends advised me to start blogging; I didn't have time really up until now as I was helping care for my mum who passed away last year,” she told Catherina Cunnane – That’s Farming.
“I love the response I get; the majority of the people who read my blog are other parents and fellow farmer’s wives, so it’s nice to have people to relate to.”
Nicola moved from Sligo to Buncrana, Co. Donegal when she was ten-years-old; she has been living there ever since.
“I grew up on a huge estate; we would have spent a lot of weekends in Donegal with my grandparents but my granda was from a fishing background,” explained Nicola.
She has been married to Shaun for nearly twelve years and they have six children - Eva (9), Sarah Jane (8), Leah (7), Beth (5) Ellen (3) and Shaun òg (20-months).
“Not coming from an ag background and marrying a farmer can be quite the shock, to say the least!”
“I thought I knew what I was in for because Shaun had missed a few nights out and holidays. Our wedding was organised around the calving and silage seasons.” she laughed.
“I was wrong, maybe not wrong actually, but definitely not fully aware of the number of hours it takes keeping a farm going,” she admitted.
Shaun works full-time in a quarry and oversees the running of his 60-acre sheep and beef enterprise every morning and evening.
With five of their daughters attending playschool/ primary school, Nicola spends her mornings completing tasks such as shopping before responding to emails and compiling blog posts in the evening time.
“We eat dinner as a family every day together at 6 pm and Shaun usually goes to farm then; someone is always with him depending on the task in hand.”
“Sundays are always spent together but we often end up going for a walk on our own farm as my father-in-law has made some incredible routes around a natural waterfall.”
“We also go on a foreign holiday to ensure that Shaun gets an actual rest and it allows us to spend time together.” added the 35-year-old.
Farming and Hairdressing
Nicola is involving in the running of the farm; she helps with herding and prepares meals for agricultural contractors during the silage season, like most farmer's wife's.
"I can be found driving jeeps to help herd cattle on country roads and standing in laneways with my arms out to stop runaways (cows not kids!)."
"When I got married, my mother-in-law advised me not to learn how to drive a tractor or the boys would have me doing everything; I took her advice," added Nicola as she acknowledged her mother-in-law's support.
The Donegal resident had her own hair salon for years; however, she has since opted to work as a freelance hairdresser on Saturdays. “We get someone to come to the house to mind the kids as Saturdays are always a big day on the farm.”
“There's always an activity or party so the kids need to be picked up or dropped off.”
Nicola said that she enjoys being a farmer’s wife as it allows her to appreciate hard work and value nature. “It's an incredible life to give your kids.”
“Being a farmer’s wife involves having buckets of patience, being on weather watch at all times and understanding that cows don’t care even when it’s Christmas Day.”
“It's learning how to be a personal assistant to someone who keeps slips of random pieces of paper with AI dates in their jeep.”
Difficult weather conditions, the loss of livestock and an increased workload during busier seasons are among some of the most challenging aspects of farming life that the married mother-of-six highlighted.
“My first three children were born in May/June. While all times of the year are busy, these months can be hectic – preparing for summer and the arrival of the last calves of the season.”
Although life can be challenging when you marry a farmer, Nicola has adjusted well to the arrangements; the couple is encouraging the next generation to carry on the tradition.
“I'm so incredibly proud of my husband and the hours he puts to keep what I call the most expensive hobby going,”
“The farm has been on down through the generations and I can see my own kids farming this land in the future.”
“Life is busy but fun on a farm; there's no time for games consoles as there are fields of stones to be harvested or such like.”
“Our kids have the greatest fun bottle-feeding lambs and their resilience is astounding!” concluded Nicola.
If you have a story to share, email Catherina Cunnane– email@example.com