Twenty-two-year-old Leighanne Kelly is a part-time farmer who works with her two brothers on their farmstead. She has a full-time job in a pharmacy however; working at home on the farm would be her ideal situation.
The youngest of six, she has three sisters as well as her two brothers.
Leighanne’s father Matt initially bought some chickens for her brothers Michael and David. Michael took the lead and bought some pigs to add with the poultry.
Later, some sheep were added to the mix and the farm grew to include cattle. “There were six pigs on the farm” explained Leighanne, “but we had to get rid of them a couple of years ago because we chose to concentrate on sucklers and sheep.” The farmers finished thirty cows for beef last year.
Leighanne had such a devotion to the animals as a child, she would try and stay off school to help with work on the farm, but It didn’t always work.
“I would change any arrangements that I have made to stay at home and do the farming,” said the Offaly native.
The farm is made up of approximately 120-acres with fragmented paddocks nearby the family home just a short distance from Tullamore.
Rape is grown on the farm every year for the animals and beet was grown previously.
During lambing season, Leighanne is first up with her brothers to check on their 100 ewes, to make sure that everything is going as it should.
Most young women of her age are looking forward to going out in town on a Saturday night, but not Leighanne, she would much rather spend her Saturday nights looking after the animals.
Spending time on the farm is quite cathartic for the young farmer who said that it helps her feel relaxed and she enjoys the open spaces, the fresh air and being surrounded by nature.
It’s also well within her comfort zone. “On the farm, I know what I’m doing, she elaborated, “I would hate to be stuck in an office hating my job and getting stressed out”.
It’s all hands on deck on the Kelly’s farm and there is no job that Leighanne is not willing and able to take on, driving tractors and other machinery or mucking out sheds, she will do it with gusto and wouldn’t expect it any other way.
She is adamant that if you’re going to help on the farm, you have to get “stuck in” and that is the ethos she lives by.
Most of her friends are not farmers but Leighanne doesn’t feel like the odd one out amongst her peers as she recalls, “in primary school, everyone used to come to my house and look at everything and see what we were doing on the farm”.
As an adult, nothing has changed and her friends know not to call her during February and March as Leighanne wouldn’t contemplate going out and leaving the farm during such a busy time.
The 22-year-old described how it was a mistake not to do agricultural science in school as she feels that this may have held her back when choosing a college course in the agricultural sector – a career path that she is certainly going to pursue in the near future.
“You can go to college as a mature student at 23-years-old, so I will wait until next year and my options will have opened up,” she said. Her plan is to first complete the Green Cert and then progress forward to a degree.
The only hiccup may be that Leighanne is reluctant to move too far away from her beloved animals. The areas of farming that interest the ambitious young woman is animal husbandry or business. She wants to eventually own her own farm and both Michael and David are very encouraging in her choice.
The Offaly woman is very clear about her favourite area to work on the farm, “If you do one job, you have to do them all, there are no favourite jobs because I love all of it”.
Although Leighanne has been farming all her life, she is just starting out in agriculture in a professional capacity. She is currently interested in taking up an internship and gaining practical experience to make an informed decision when it comes to choosing a college course that suits her skills and interests.
Leighanne’s future in farming is certain and it is an exciting time as she is on the cusp of creating her dream career in agriculture.
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