“From no age, I would always be found in a pair of wellies in the yard with my dad,” explained Emily McAllister as she sat down for an interview with That’s Farming’s Catherina Cunnane.
“A day out with dad when I was seven-years-old resulted in me becoming the very proud owner of five dropped calves.” the twenty-one-year-old Cookstown native recalled.
A responsibility to feed calves every morning before her school day ignited her passion for agriculture. Years later, this interest continues to grow from strength-to-strength, and she has just recently purchased four Charolais heifers to add to her father’s suckler herd.
Emily juggles her farming commitments with her civil engineering studies at Queen’s University Belfast. With this being a full-time degree programme, she resides in Belfast from Monday to Friday each week and returns to the family-run farm at the weekend.
“There’s nothing I love more than getting home from Belfast on a Friday evening and catching up with what has been going on all week.”
“Engineering has given me knowledge, that I am able to apply to hands-on situations around the farm.”
“We put up a cattle shed recently and my engineering knowledge allowed me to assist with this working out concrete orders and material specifications.”
She is involved in all aspects of the farm from general husbandry to machinery work. “My dad has given me the opportunity to do a lot of the tractor work around the farm.”
“With my dad running a second-hand machinery sales firm, it’s always too easy to jump into a tractor and hook on a machine doing anything from topping, tedding, spreading slurry, baling and ploughing,” she added.
Women in agriculture
She believes that giving women opportunities in the agricultural sector is important. “I hope that over the past years I have been continuously proving people wrong in thinking that farming is a ‘man’s job’.”
“I owe a thanks to my dad and his workers for always being there when I shout! For me, I feel that the fact that I’m one of four girls came to my advantage, as I was given opportunities that may not have come my way if I had a brother!”
The Moneymore Young Farmers member feels that over the past years, farming has helped her to enhance her skill-set and work more independently.
“As well as farming, I don’t mind being a ‘girly’ girl too. I would never turn down a good run around the shops or getting the nails done!”
“As a young woman in agriculture, I feel that there is no better time to get involved than in today’s society.”
“You can never know enough and there’s no better way to learn than getting stuck into the middle of it!” concluded Emily, who is set to graduate as a civil engineer in 2022.
If you are a woman in agriculture and you want to share your story, email – firstname.lastname@example.org – with a short bio.