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Extract: Looking for the farmer of your dreams?

Lorna Sixsmith, a self-described ‘farmerette’, takes a humorous yet realistic view of the trials and tribulations of a marriage interrupted by the demands of sheep, pigs and cantankerous goats.

Lorna Sixsmith

Ireland has a long tradition of agriculture – with most families are just a generation of two away from the farm.

Lorna Sixsmith, a self-described ‘farmerette’, takes a humorous yet realistic view of the trials and tribulations of a marriage interrupted by the demands of sheep, pigs and cantankerous goats in her book Would You Marry a Farmer?

Here, she gives a cut-out-and-keep guide to the types of Irish farmers out there…

Irish Farmers Journal 22/07/1972

Nicola Silver is an enterprising intelligent well-to-do
farmer’s daughter. She is 26 years, of smart, attractive
appearance, cheerful and very sincere. She would like to
meet a nice sincere gentleman of neat appearance, extensive
farmer, business man or professional between 26-38. She has
large capital and stock. Her interests are varied. Photo
appreciated with first letter. Confidence assured.

The Irish Press 24/05/1971

Brown Eyes is a farmer’s daughter from Co. Cork who has
a good education and is considered attractive and would like
to hear from respectable farmers (Protestant) aged 35-45
years. They must be good looking and of a good family.
They must also be sober and capable. She likes farming and
has wide interests and some capital.

Which type of farmer is best?

Even though land with road frontage has significantly reduced in value, farmers are now considered a good catch by many. However, there are huge differences in the types of farmers and before you go looking for one, you may want to consider which type of farmer would suit you and your lifestyle best.

Tillage farmers – Irish tillage farms are not that large; most are 100-300 acres. Tillage farmers are really busy in the spring and the autumn when sowing and harvesting. Some tillage farmers have a part-time job or another farming enterprise. Therefore, he either brings in additional off-farm income and is out of your hair, or you have lots of quality time with him during the quieter months. They like their big machines just as much as you might like handbags and expensive shoes: John D versus Jimmy C.

Sheep farmers – There is quite a lot of work with sheep between lambing, shearing, dipping, dagging, feeding and herding. Sheep farmers are particularly busy during lambing and if you marry one, you will be too. If you want an Aga or a Rayburn, expect to be sitting by it at 2am bringing tiny lambs back to life. Some farmers schedule the birth of lambs to coincide with having lambs ready for the Easter market. Hence, your calendar has to work around that timetable.

Being vegetarian is never a good thing if you are a sheep farmer’s wife as Easter lamb has to be one of the most delicious meats you will miss out on.

Beef farmers – Some beef farmers have suckler cows and rear the calves for sale. Others buy in cattle and finish them for the factory. While not as labour intensive as dairy farming, they are busy at certain times of the year, between winter feeding, calving and going to and from the mart or factory.

Dairy farmer – Dairy farmers probably work the longest hours, as cows have to be milked twice a day, fourteen times a week, so taking off on a spontaneous day away can be tricky. The calving period is the busiest season. When you are feeding calves or bringing in the cows together, it should all be considered good quality time spent together.

Pig farmers – Between sows farrowing, piglets being weaned and getting pigs to market, pig farming is also busy. It is an industry with tight margins so most pig farmers seem to be incredibly efficient. The only disadvantage is that pig slurry is one of the smelliest and moving grown pigs can be easier said than done.

Goat farmers – Goat farming is in vogue now as more people are drinking goats’ milk and eating goats’ cheese. More people are eating goat meat too so that market is growing. Goats have incredibly cheeky personalities so the farmer is bound to be patient. Otherwise, the goats will drive him to distraction and he will blow a gasket. You have to be equally tolerant and vigilant, as goats possess an incredible ability to sneak into the garden to eat roses and pull clothes off the line.

Smallholders – Many smallholders may have left the corporate rat race in the city and bought a few acres in the countryside planning to live the good life. If you are a Barbara Good, you will love the challenge of growing and producing your own food – rearing chickens, pigs and goats, and growing vegetables in a polytunnel and large garden. If you are a Margo Leadbetter though, it just might end in tears. You just have to decide if you are a Barbara or a Margo.

imageLorna Sixsmith is a social media consultant, mum of two and wife to a dairy farmer, based near Carlow.  Blogging about the farm at www.irishfarmerette.com inspired her book ‘Would You Marry a Farmer?’ when a blog post entitled ‘Advice to those considering marrying a farmer’ went viral.  Lorna enjoys writing about the reality of farming in Ireland but with a humourous and very tongue-in-cheek touch.

Would You Marry a Farmer? can be purchased from IrishFarmerette.com for €15 plus €2 postage (last day of shipping for  Xmas within Ireland is Friday 20 Dec) and it is also available now on Kindle for €7.99.

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Lorna Sixsmith

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