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HomeFarming NewsFamily tradition of breeding pedigree Ayrshires since the 19th-century
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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Family tradition of breeding pedigree Ayrshires since the 19th-century

Book: My Father Was a Farmer in New Cumnock

My Father Was a Farmer in New Cumnock tells the story of a young dairy farmer in Ayrshire at the end of the nineteenth century.

The 232-page book, which The Choir Press released in recent years, documents the highs and lows of one Scottish farming family’s journey.

In general, this was a difficult period for farmers in Scotland, after ten years of cold spells made it difficult to grow crops and feed animals.

Despite the harsh conditions, John Baird and his wife, Flora, managed to raise a family, and a herd of pedigree Ayrshire cattle.

The expansion of the railway network allowed milk to be shipped to cities at affordable prices. This gave dairy farmers a valuable and guaranteed market for their produce.

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The distribution of milk to urban families ultimately led to an explosion in cases of tuberculosis.

That was until its cause was understood, and measures to control it were introduced.

Ayrshire cattle

John Baird’s skill in breeding Ayrshire cattle led to many awards and regular visits by dairy farmers across the UK who were keen to buy his heifers and use his bulls.

John’s son Andrew inherited his father’s aptitude for breeding Ayrshires by raising May Mischief, which became a world champion milk cow.

Iain Baird, has used fictional characters, as well as real family members, to tell an interesting and informative story about dairy farming in the context of the industrial and social conditions that existed in Ayrshire, as well as the lives and loves of his great-grandfather’s family.

Even Kier Hardie, the founder of the Labour Party, makes an appearance as a union official at one of the coal mines, where men burrowed beneath the fields that surrounded New Cumnock.

John and Flora Baird raised six sons, all of whom became successful farmers.

Their stories, through the period of two world wars, is told in Iain Baird’s second book titled The Sons of the Farmer.

Like his Scottish forebears, Iain grew up on a dairy farm but pursued a very different career as a science teacher.

He now lives in the Forest of Dean with his wife, enjoying watching the next generations of Bairds growing up.

Previous article on That’s Farming on a book that could ‘prevent heartache and ultimately potentially save many euros’

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