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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘Getting used to dating a farmer is a challenge’

Dating a farmer certainly is not a walk in the park, but neither is dating in general. I met Paul four years ago. Our first date was a quad ride around the farm to watch the sunset – he is a romantic at heart.”

Those are the sentiments of Niamh Dillon, Co Wicklow, who provides an insight into her life as a farmer’s girlfriend on her growing Instagram account.

The 25-year-old assists her other half, Paul, on his family-run 100-acre sheep and calf farm, which was home to suckler cows up until recently.

Although she was born into a cattle and sheep farm, she openly admits that dating a farmer comes with its challenges, requiring patience and an understanding of the lifestyle.

Being a farmer’s girlfriend

“What has surprised me most about farming life is that there is always something to do. Farmers never stop no matter what the weather is like, whether there is rain, hail, snow, or sun,” she told That’s Farming.

“Animals still have to be fed and bedded etc. It is a seven day a week job. In the summer, Paul does not get in from the farm until 11 pm. It took me a while to get used to late nights.”

“I have always loved an early night, but if I want to see him, I have to be OK with the late nights. We have had many times when I could not understand why he was so late to come to see me.”

“You start to wonder if they want to see you at all, but the reality of it is that things have to be done. Also, you need to understand that he is doing the best that he can.”

“Getting used to dating a farmer is a challenge, and I do not mean that in a bad way. I am very lucky to be able to experience the life of a farmer.”

“There are so many happy and wonderful days on the farm, but being out in the cold winter evenings, feeding calves and bedding them is tough sometimes when you are not used to it. Coming home to that warm shower is heaven.

“There are always days that are harder than others when things go wrong, and emotions get high. However, you must learn to take the bad with the good.”

Sheep and cattle enterprise

Paul and his four brothers farm 250 ewes (pedigree Blueface Leicesters, Swaledales, Texels and mules) and rear 50 Angus, Hereford, Belgian Blue, Charolais and Simmental-bred calves, selling these at 18-months.

Lambing kicks off on March 1st, while they start purchasing calves from the middle of March onwards.

“When I first started dating Paul, my jobs on the farm included opening and closing gates and standing in gaps, praying that nothing would come my way.”

“My favourite job to do on the farm is bedding calves. As much as I never thought I would be saying that, I like to be in with the calves.”

“They are happy out in their fresh new bed, and Paul is slowly but surely training me in on driving the tractor for silage season. That will be interesting, and I am sure I will take on more and more jobs as time goes on.”

Niamh stated that there are “many reasons” to enjoy farming.

“For me, it has to be driving around on the quad checking the stock and moving calves from one paddock to the next.”

“Seeing them run and skip around the field is a view I will never get sick of. Tractor dates, in my opinion, are a real perk of dating a farmer. The sun shining, the radio playing and just the quality time together; nothing beats it.”

“When silage season starts on them sunny days on the hill fields taking in the beautiful scenery around us and in them times, you do appreciate the lifestyle of being a farmer. As much as it is stressful at times, the benefits of being a farmer outweigh the negatives.”

a farmer's girlfriend, farming news

Time management and weather

She cited the “constant tie to the farm” as the “biggest” challenge associated with dating a farmer.

“Planning things is an absolute nightmare at the best of times. Do not even think about planning during silage season.”

“I am always on time when I go places, but I have come to accept that if we have planned to go somewhere at a certain time, I have to at least add an extra 30/40 mins on to it because he is never on time – is that a farmer thing?” she laughed.

“The weather is always the topic of conversation. For a farmer’s girlfriend, there are times where you find yourself hoping it would rain so it would be too wet for him to go out.”

“Then he can spend time with you at home instead. It is the harsh reality of dating a farmer that you have to be understanding and patient.”

“However, Paul is one of the most hard-working people I have met, and he is so passionate about farming. Being a farmer is one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs there is.”

“Even with the long and hectic summer days and the cold nights, I have fallen in love with it all.”

“You learn to take advantage of the small things and make them the big things. I count myself lucky to be a farmer’s girlfriend,” she concluded.

Follow her Instagram account. 

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