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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
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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‘Living, farming and working together have been a real test of our relationship’

That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, catches up with A & A Livestock, property of Abbie Bryant (28) and Andy Moye (25), who we have previously profiled as part of our popular Farmer Focus segment.

You can read part one of their previous article and part two.

“We are A & A Livestock in Suffolk and are both first-generation farmers.

I fell in love with farming when we would stay on farms; it made such a difference from my usual environment growing up in built-up Essex.

I wanted to be a farmer from the age of six, but I studied childcare instead at college and went on to work with children.

Andy’s great-grandfather was a herdsman, and so was his nan. Andy grew up hearing stories and seeing pictures of the cattle and went on to study agriculture in college and became a herdsman.

When he was 21, after trying for months and months, he finally found some land to rent and bought a small herd of cattle.

Connecting on a dating app

After connecting on a dating app and having our first date, we soon discovered we had the same dream, and that was one day have our own farm.

After a few months of dating, we decided to go for it. We found more land to rent and bought more cattle and some sheep and have also started farming using regenerative farming practices.

Two years on and having been certified to sell our beef and lamb to the public, we decided to move in together and leave our full-time jobs to farm full-time. We farm over 90-acres of grazing here in Suffolk.

Challenges

We had lots of ups and downs last year; firstly, we bought some orphan lambs to raise, and although they were very cute, the lack of sleep was not easy.

Seeing them grow and flourish made up for this; however, I am not sure I would rush to do it again.

Like all farmers, the drought really hit us hard as we had to move stock faster as the grass was drying up and dying.

Luckily, we had forage and hay stockpiled, so we were able to wait it out until we finally got rain.

Cost of living

The cost of living rising was also difficult as this meant we had to get part-time jobs working in a local vineyard, although the people there are lovely, and we made friends and learnt new skills.

We got some chickens and added eggs to our produce; I even hatched some eggs and raised some chicks, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Living, farming and working together have been a real test of our relationship.

It is the first time either of us has lived with a partner. We had fights and ups and downs, but our love for farming and our animals always brought us back together.

We still firmly believe that regenerative farming is the future of agriculture, and it has really gained a following of late.

The ethos is that you work with nature, not against it, healing the soil and building up biodiversity as well as the microbiology within the soil.

We do this with organic matter from the cattle and sheep as well as only grazing a third of the plant, allowing it to still be able to photosynthesise and grow.

This allows us to graze two or three times over. We move our animals daily with electric fencing. They are always outside, even in winter, and we try to use as little chemical input as possible.

Social media

Social media still plays an important part in our business as we are passionate about connecting people to where their food comes from.

We use our Instagram page (which you can find under the handle: a_and_a_livestock) as well as our Facebook page (A & A Livestock) to showcase our journey into farming and encourage others to follow their dream.

We have been very humbled by the following we have received and hope to continue to showcase our journey.

Future goals

In the next few years, we hope to expand our stock numbers and grazing land and buy our own land.

Also, we desire to learn and implement more regenerative practices into our business. We are also looking at expanding our chicken numbers to produce more eggs.”

To share your story, email – [email protected]

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