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HomeFarming NewsRare Breed – A Farming Year: 'Weather is the biggest challenge'
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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Rare Breed – A Farming Year: ‘Weather is the biggest challenge’

Rare Breed – A Farming Year made a welcome return to screens last Tuesday. In the second episode, which airs Tuesday 19th at 7.30pm, we meet more families who shared their year with us.

We head to Killinchy Co.Down first to meet sixth-generation farmers, Emily McGowan and her dad, Adrian. It’s the start of lambing season and with the wet ground they are juggling space for the ewes.

Adrian notes, “Every enterprise has its challenges, for us; weather is the biggest challenge.”

Emily is finishing her last year at Harper Adams. She started a farm shop in Saintfield, and she and Adrian are picking up vegetables from the fields to make up orders. In February kale, celery and purple sprouting broccoli are in season.

Adrian also proudly tells us about his other two daughters’ careers, and comments that Emily has the farming instinct, “it’s something you either have or you don’t.”

Claire Shearer and Davy Kinkead

In, this episode of Rare Breed, we also meet Claire Shearer and partner Davy Kinkead for the first time. This young couple breed and sell Irish sports horses in Comber.

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It’s a hobby, business and passion for care assistant, Claire. She also works in a day centre for people with head injuries.

Davy gave up his motorbikes to support Clare and says he doesn’t regret switching two wheels for four legs, commenting, “It’s a way of life now!”

Every day is an early start for her and Davy, and she’s looking forward to the arrival of two foals. Claire no longer competes, much preferring to produce young stock and provide the proper building blocks for young horses.

James Alexander

Also, in this episode, we return to the Alexander’s farm in Randalstown where James is getting quality time with his five children. James tries to spend every Sunday with them.

He quips that they are thankfully becoming more useful as they get older and comments to them as they make up lambs’ milking bottles, “I just can’t find anybody to buy you!”

He explains that Sunday is his day to look at everything on the farm as he spends so much of the week in the office.

Whilst he’s happy that the children help with lambs, he points out it’s too dangerous for them to be near calves and heifers, as they are too protective.

He notices the silence in the barn, which is a sign for him that the cattle are all content and feels the responsibility that any owner of any animal does, that he has to look after them as they can’t look after themselves.

Alexander Family , Jalex Herd, James Alexander, Rare Breed,


And in Gortin, Tyrone, it’s all hands-on deck for the Prestons as lambing is in full swing.  And it’s a family affair – Kenny and Janice, with daughters Zara and Leah, all having a role to play.

They’re running low on pens and Kenny explains how important it is to know when to intervene and when to let the ewe give birth herself.

We see Kenny and Zara bringing a lamb into the world. Kenny’s hoping for ram lambs but is glad they are all ok.  Zara has her own pedigree Beltex. She’s had a lot of show success with them and she’s really looking forward to seeing what lambs arrive in 2020.

Janice also helps a ewe give birth and it’s a double surprise with a ram lamb and female born within minutes of each other. Younger daughter Leah also helps when she gets home from school with making sure all the sheep have enough food and water.

We also get an insight into how Zara copes working with her mum and dad every day.  She says they get on well but has a laugh about her dad Kenny, “He roars at me a few times and I roar at him!”

Jubilee Farm

Lastly, Rare Breed closes with Jonny Hanson from Jubilee Farm attending the Science Fair in Belfast to spread the word about sustainable farming. Jubilee Farm is a bit different with 155 member-owners.

We hear of the innovative ways he has spread the word about the farm, including art and poetry competitions. Jonny also talks about his former job at the Ulster Museum and his research studies at Cambridge.

Jonny is passionate about looking at how people, farming and nature can co-exist, and enjoys events like these to spread the word in a fun and informative way.

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