Despite being seventeen-years-old, Michaela Mahon has vast agricultural experience under her belt.
She grew up on a sheep enterprise, steeped in family tradition, in Rossnowlagh Co. Donegal and has worked on a farm overseas.
“My father, my grandfather and my uncles are all farmers, so farming is in my blood. Between sheep, cattle and a few ponies, we are busy all-year-round,” she explained to Catherina Cunnane, editor of That’s Farming.
“Farming has been in the Mahon family for at least five generations. Some of my earliest memories revolve around being on-farm with my father during lambing time and helping to feed pet lambs.
“At a young age, during silage season, I used to sit beside my dad watching him wrap or draw bales in.”
Suckler and sheep farm
Michaela, who has yet to complete her second-level studies, runs the farm with her father, Alan, a part-time farmer, while her mother, Jenny, also provides assistance mainly during lambing season.
80 ewes dominate the pastures with three breeding rams, while a further forty ram lambs are being fed for slaughter at present.
They breed mainly cross-breds such as Texel, Suffolk, Charlaois, Zwartbles, with some pedigree Zwartbles and Suffolks.
They operate an indoor lambing system and during lambing season, while Alan is at work, Michaela is tasked with casting a firm eye on the flock, for any new arrivals. “Either dad or I complete the night check at around 11 pm.”
“Then I usually check the flock again at 3 am, while dad checks the ewes between 6-7 am before heading off to work.”
“I missed lambing this year as I was away in Glasgow lambing 1,200 ewes, which is an amazing experience coming from a small farm to such a big one.”
Lambing season is the most enjoyable aspect of farming for Michaela. “I love the thrill of getting up early seeing how many lambs await you.”
Women in ag
“Life in agriculture is enjoyable but challenging at times, especially during lambing. Once the season draws to a close, enjoyable aspects such as watching lambs grow and picking out replacements follow.”
“Since there are very few females farming in my area, I feel like my male counterparts are always treating me more highly than their fellow male workers.”
“In my opinion, women in agriculture are getting the recognition that they deserve at farm and industry-level. Females should consider a career in agriculture because it teaches them the responsibility of taking care of an animal’s life.”
“You learn to develop patience, become accustomed to long working hours and often challenging tasks, many of which may occur out of the blue, but the results are rewarding in the end.” the 17-year-old added.
In the near future, Michaela hopes to further her education by attending Mountbellew/G.M.I.T. with a view to studying an agri-business degree programme.
“Once I finish secondary school and further my studies, I hope to travel to Scotland or even New Zealand for a year to work on farms.”
“I would like to experience what larger farms are like and gain an insight into the crop side of agriculture.”
“My goal in the agricultural industry is to eventually own/run my own farm with sheep, horses and a few cattle.”
“My life as a person in agriculture is great. I would not change it for the world, no matter how hard it gets. I have been brought up on a farm since I was born. Agriculture is part of my life and working elsewhere just wouldn’t feel right.” Michaela concluded.
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