In this week’s Women in Ag segment, That’s Farming, speaks to Lauren Durnin, a senior cabin crew member who has embraced farm life due to Covid-19 restrictive measures.
In pre-Covid-times, Lauren Durnin, a senior cabin crew member, travelled the world, venturing to Europe or the United States of America.
However, with the Covid-19 pandemic leading to a dramatic drop in demand for passenger air transport, she has donned a pair of wellies to assist on her partner’s mixed farm in the midlands.
The 30-year-old, who hails from Drogheda, has uncovered a newfound yet unlikely passion for farming over the past year.
“Meeting my boyfriend sparked my interest in farming. I have always loved animals, so I was keen to get out and see the animals up close. If someone told me years ago that I would embrace farming life, I would have said absolutely no way.” she told That’s Farming.
“I do think for someone who would be referred to as a townie, it is a complete contrast. I did ballet my entire life from 4-24-years-old, and toured Ireland with a ballet company.”
“Now, I travel the world for work, so to now be out in all-weather conditions and covered in dirt most of the time is a complete contrast for me.”
Farmer, virtual mart enthusiast and homemaker
Lauren assists her partner, Patrick Flood, and his brother, John, with the daily running of their beef, suckler (150 animals in total) and equine enterprise in Kells, County Meath.
She said she is adapting to farming life “surprisingly well” and admitted she was astonished to find that there is more to the lifestyle than what meets the eye.
“What has surprised me most about farming is the number of hours that goes into it and the fact there are no days off. It is a labour-intensive job for sure.”
“The most enjoyable aspect is getting the opportunity to see the new calves and learning how the farming system works. Being out in all kinds of weather is challenging. No one told me I would need a decent pair of thick socks.” she laughed.
“I am a real homemaker and love to clean, cook, and bake. When I am not at home doing that, I am out on the farm with Patrick. He has excellent patience for teaching me how to use machinery and explaining things to me.”
“Lockdown has sparked my interest in farming for sure. I have a lot of free time now due to little or no flights. If I am not outdoors with my boyfriend, then his dad is inside showing me marts on the iPad.”
“He tries to explain to me what a good cow is and what you should be looking for when looking to buy. He also puts on the calf sales for me because he knows I like to see how cute they are,” she added.
Senior cabin crew member
Lauren’s current lifestyle is a far cry from her professional career, in charge of the cabin on European flights with Aer Lingus for over seven years.
Her schedule pre-Covid, of course, would have been extremely busy, and ordinarily, Lauren would be approaching her busiest time of year right now, summer.
She would generally undertake a European flight over and back in the same day, and then the following morning, she would head across the Atlantic for a night.
“The night shifts are hard when you are dealing with jetlag, but you are home before you even know it. I would tell people I do not get jetlagged, and to be honest, I am not sure if that was true or it was just something I would tell myself.”
“If you had been in LA or San Fran and fighting the eight-hour time difference, it would be a lot worse than a mere five-hour time difference.”
“I have gotten to travel to cities I would have never gotten to see had I not applied for a job with Aer Lingus. I love my job and don’t mind getting up at 4 am to go in for an early European flight.”
“Ok, so when the alarm goes off, it is hard. However, once I am up and put on that uniform, the excitement of the day ahead overrides all that. That is the beauty of my job. No two days are alike with a new crew to work with and new passengers to meet.” she added.
Link with farming
While agriculture and aviation may seem like opposites to many, Lauren believes her safety-conscious nature has helped her adapt to farming life. She identified the whole aspect of health and safety as the main cross-over between the two fields.
“I always say to my boyfriend that farm safety is so important. But why would someone who is not from a farming background be saying that? Because my primary role as a cabin crew member is safety.”
“I am there first and foremost to look after your safety, and I am trained to the highest possible standard to do just that, and it is transferable when it comes to farming.”
“So although the two jobs are not alike, if I do not do my equipment checks before departure and security checks and so on, it could have ramifications down the line. That goes for farming machinery, too, in my opinion, anyway.
“I love meeting people and travel far too much to give it up. I do think, however, from now on, that farming will be in my life in some aspect or another. When I hopefully go back to flying when Covid allows, I am sure there will be days I will still be out in a field with Patrick somewhere on my days off.”
“The farm has helped my headspace. Being out in the country with fresh air and animals, it’s like a form of therapy. It lowers your blood pressure for sure.”
Chic in the Country
Lauren is sharing her journey into farming on Instagram, under the chic_in_the_country handle, having joined the platform last month. This stemmed from her interest in photography, capturing images of livestock, and passion for knowledge-sharing.
“I first decided to put the idea to Patrick to see what he thought. To be honest, he does not really use social media, but he was all for it. I think I set it up for several reasons.”
“People feel trapped at the minute with the Covid-19 restrictions that are in place. People who live in towns or cities are craving the beach or countryside.”
“Besides, people want to get out, and swim, or hike, as we saw, both activities have become hugely popular since the start of lockdown. So, I think posting photos of fields and the outdoors, allows for almost a form of escapism.”
She posts content daily, with a view to appealing to a broad audience “showing that you do not need to be from a farming background to learn”.
“Even if you do not want to farm yourself, hopefully, you can still find something of interest from our page.”
A new respect for farmers and returning to work
Reflecting on her journey to date, Lauren said: “I have no regrets. I think I continue to surprise people, including myself, to how adaptable I have been to farm life, whether it is spreading slurry or fencing.”
“Life is there to be filled with experiences. So, why not try something new that may be out of your comfort zone and see what happens?”
“I have a new respect for farmers and the hard work that goes into farm management. I also respect them as a community. The aviation industry is one of the worst affected industries due to Covid-19. I pray my job will still be there for me when we come out of this the other side.” the senior cabin crew member concluded.
You can follow Lauren’s journey on Instagram by clicking here.