Growing up in the heart of Cork city is a far cry from Megan Foley’s current farming life. In 2014, she moved to Mallow, and that is when she claims she “fell in love with farming”.
The 19-year-old does not hail from an agricultural background but has been passionate about animals from a tender age. Before embracing rural life, she did not have any farm experience, but one evening changed her future.
“I was terrified of cattle because I had never seen them before, and I did not have any experience with them. To be honest, I wanted to get over that fear, so I made friends with a local farmer.” Megan Foley told That’s Farming.
“On Friday evening, she showed me how to milk cows. I was fascinated by the whole thing and developed a passion for farming from that day forth.”
“One weekend in spring, those farmers went to a wedding and asked me to look after their calves. One was born ill, and I saved him. When I went home, it hit me; I realised that I wanted to go farming.”
“I wanted to become a vet at the age of six. Working with animals was always my plan, but I never thought it would be in the manner I am now.”
Her passion for agriculture took her to Clonakilty Agricultural College, where she is studying an advanced certificate in agriculture since September.
After completing this course, she intends to undertake a Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management with Teagasc.
“I wanted to study dairy, but I am a very practical-based learner. So, I researched various degree programmes, but know theory-orientated courses with limited practicals would not be for me.”
“I went to the open days at Clonakilty Agricultural College with my best friend, who is farming at home and very supportive. She encouraged me and pushed me to follow through with it. We went down together, and it helped both of us settle in.”
“The course consists of various modules including animal husbandry, machinery, soil science, grassland management and farm safety. While I have only really begun the course, placement has been my highlight.”
Keen to gain experience in the agricultural field, she is currently working in a local piggery and also relief milks. She has previously worked on beef farms and for an agricultural contractor.
She has held the position of farmworker since June at a local commercial piggery unit. “I am looking after pigs with tasks such as feeding, vaccines, power-washing, AI and general animal husbandry.”
“I like the variety associated with farming – You could be fencing, calving, nursing animals, doing machinery work, or overseeing the management of grassland on-farm, for example.”
“At the moment, all is quiet, given the time of year. I don’t work on any winter milk farms, so I am just waiting for calves to start dropping.”
Looking ahead to the future, Megan said she is “really excited to see where the road takes me”.
She relishes the idea of running her own dairy enterprise in her own right someday, but for now, the plan is to further her education.
“Starting out, farming was difficult. I found it next to impossible to get farm work because of my initial lack of experience.”
“I started farming for a woman, and that’s how I got into the sector. She is an incredible farmer/multitasker who is exceptionally hard working. She is a great role model, and I look up to her.”
“It was a huge risk to decide to branch into farming. I had no experience no farm behind me, and almost everyone told me I couldn’t do it. People said to go hairdressing or something girly, but I am glad I followed by heart and went farming.” Megan Foley concluded.
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