“I exchanged my swimmers for wellies and I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” explained Thenia Nicolakis.
The 28-year-old - who is originally from Vienna, Austria - lived in Australia for the last six-and-a-half years before moving to Shronell in Co. Tipperary at the beginning of this year.
Thenia now resides with her fiancé Tadhg - a dairy farmer - who she met in Coogee - a Sydney beach suburb - on a bank holiday weekend four years ago.
“When my (now) fiancé told me four years ago that he is a dairy farmer back in Ireland, I was very intrigued,” she told Catherina Cunnane - That’s Farming.
“I’ve always loved animals and being outdoors. I had never been on a dairy farm before I met him and I would have never even imagined being a farmer myself.”
Thenia - who studied International Business Administration at University of Applied Sciences Vienna - “jumped into the deep end” when she moved to the Emerald Isle.
Tadhg (her fiancée) is currently in a farm partnership with his parents; John and Ann. Hennessy Farm is home to 200 cattle - 117 of which are Friesian and Jersey-cross cows.
She works full-time on the dairy enterprise with the trio; her main responsibilities include calf rearing, allocating fresh grass daily, milking, observing cows for heat and general animal duties.
“Working together is important to complete all daily tasks ensuring the farm runs smoothly.”
“I have been working on our farm from the day I arrived, bottle-feeding new-born calves and taking on day-to-day jobs.”
“People often tell me that they cannot believe how quickly I took to farming seeing that I do not come from a farming background,” she added.
Thenia is passionate about bovine genetics and is involved in the breeding programme on the farm. “Watching the heifers grow up, putting them in-calve and seeing how they will milk is such a rewarding feeling on its own.”
“I just couldn’t imagine my life without the cattle anymore,” she said.
The 28-year-old does not regret moving to Ireland; she enjoys working with animals and overcoming challenges associated with farming. “I could not imagine ever working in an office again. I really appreciate the work-life balance.”
“There are days when I feel like staying inside instead of going out into the rain but there are animals relying on us to look after them,” she explained.
Women in Ag
Describing her experience as a woman in agriculture as “positive”, Thenia said that most farmers in her area are quite surprised when they see her working on the farm as they do know that she is not from a farming background
“I’ve been learning new things every day but by having a business background, I bring a variety of skills to the table that are important for running a successful enterprise.”
“I’ve learnt in life that if you really want something, you just have to go for it.”
She acknowledged that while farming is male-dominated, times have changed and many women run their own farms with notable success.
“I think promoting women in agriculture around the world through social media is a very effective way of encouraging women into the sector.”
“Generations to come will be turning to social media for inspiration and many will be prompted to follow their dreams based on seeing other women’s success,” she added.
Looking ahead, Thenia - who is set to tie the knot next month - has a desire to continue running Hennessy Farm as a successful enterprise, focusing on herd health and producing milk to the highest standard.
“If someone would have told me five years ago that I was going to be living and working on a farm, I would have probably laughed in their face.”
“I was working a 9-5 job, living by the beach and the city was just a stone’s throw away. That would sound pretty good to most people but I knew something was missing.”
“I finally found the place I’m going to call home forever now,” she concluded.
If you are a woman in agriculture and you want to share your story, email - firstname.lastname@example.org - with a short bio.