Leanne Workman juggles life as a wife, mother to three children, farmer, cattle judge and part-time employee at her local veterinary office.
The well-esteemed Agricultural ambassador has been involved in the farming field for as long as she can remember, hailing from a family renowned for major success with their herd of multi-prize winning cattle.
“It was only a natural progression for me to delve into Agriculture. There is farming in my family as far back as we can trace.” Leanne Workman told Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming.
Leanne’s home-farm, the prestigious Hillhead Blondes herd, Ballynahinch, Co. Down is now under the management of her brother, however; Leanne is as actively involved in farming as ever.
Since tying the knot with Robert, Leanne has moved away from her native soil to run a major operation with her husband and his father. The trio are making big waves, with approximately 200 suckler cows and 1,300 sheep dominating the pastures of their Antrim-based farm. A further number of pedigree Belgian Blues, Charolais, a number of Blonde and a Limousin have also caught Leanne’s eye.
“I get great satisfaction from the work that I do. Farming is extremely enjoyable.” Leanne said.
Producing high-end cattle tapping into exceptional genetic pools means that Leanne and her family can be found in the centre of the show-ring at local and national Agricultural shows, taking an occasional trip across the waters. Leanne herself popped on the white coat and took charge of the ropes at the age of seven, making her debut break onto the show circuit. Since, the family have continued to sweep the boards at major competitions, with a cabinet of prestigious accolades to show for it.
“We are all heavily involved in showing, more so commercial cattle as opposed to pedigree. I am watching the next generation; my son and daughter are both very interested in showing too, so that is fantastic to see. ” Leanne said.
“Our home-bred black heifer won the Supreme Champion at Agri Expo in November. It was my proudest achievement ever. It brings such satisfaction to see an animal that you have bred and produced yourself to do very well.” Leanne added.
Having an eye for exceptional quality animals, by owning them herself, Leanne goes the other side of the show-ring and switches from the position as a competitor to a judge at Agricultural shows.
“I am honoured when asked to judge cattle at shows. It is a fantastic opportunity.” Leanne said.
Women in Agriculture
As a key contributor to the blossoming Agricultural sector and someone who flies the Women in Agriculture flag with pride, Leanne is looked upon as an inspirational figure with years’ of valuable experience under her belt.
“Personally, I don’t feel that the negative pre-conceptions are as bad as they used to be. I think that male’s perspectives have changed because there are so many females involved in Agriculture including a large number that have been high-profile and very successful in their own rights.” Leanne said.
With a direct involvement in the sector for over three decades, she reveals while the positive experiences have outweighed the negative encounters, she has still had people question her abilities, despite her vast experience and knowledge in the sector. She is quick to draw attention to the powerful involvement of females in Agriculture and their positive efforts that shape the sector.
“There is not a farm family around that I know of that does not have a woman in the background, at least doing some part, let that be the paperwork or feeding,” Leanne added.
Leanne has led the way, breaking the moulds an
nd is quick to offer advice to all those who want to follow in her footsteps, with a number of inspirational words.
“If you can find someone that is encouraging to work with, that is a big step forward. Preserve, keep your head down. As for showing, as long as you are prepared to stand last as equally happy as you stand first; that is a major thing.” Leanne said.
Satisfied in her current roles, juggling family life with her farming and working three days a week in her local veterinary practice and believes that she can wear these hats because of her supportive network of family and friends and good time-management techniques.
“I have a 12-year old daughter and two sons aged 11 and 8. In the morning, the first place that I go is outside to the yard and then I come inside, get the kids fed and off to school. I go to work three days a week then.” Leanne said.
“I want to encourage my children and keep them as interested in Agriculture as possible. I look forward to watching them progress in the future and for myself, I look forward to the road that lies ahead for me.” Leanne concluded.
Photo in left bottom corner: Orla McKenna
If you are a Woman in Agriculture and you want to share your story, get in touch; email firstname.lastname@example.org and you may just be featured on That’s Farming next week!