TY farmer finds her passion on the land
By Alanna Greene (TY student on work experience at the Westmeath Examiner)
Olivia Coyle has confirmed a love for farming after surprising a local dairy farmer with her dedication to hard work while on TY work experience.
Olivia didn’t grow up in a farming background, having lived in Kinnegad most of her life. Two years ago, she moved to the countryside, and that put farming at her doorstep.
But a farming life was always a draw for Olivia, even when she lived in a town: "I had a feeling I needed to farm," she says.
TY work experience gave her an opportunity to put interest to the test.
At first, the farmer she worked for, Eddie Cully of Gaulstown, treated Olivia with a measure of hesitation caused by previous students treating the dairy farm like a petting zoo. But it wasn’t long till he saw she was willing to work hard and her passion for the job was clear.
Eddie was surprised with the amount she did. "You know, she’s a small, slight girl but she can heave around a bag of meal and bring it down to the cows," he said.
From the start of her TY placement in November, Olivia worked on the farm every Friday for 10 weeks. A couple of weeks into that, calving season began and Eddie needed more help, so Olivia began going twice a week and now works there every week part time.
Her first day on the farm gave Olivia clarity on what she wanted to do. She realised how much happier she was, and her overall wellbeing has improved.
"It’s a good job for people who enjoy hard work," she said. Shoveling is still a big part of farming, even with the modern machinery available, and Olivia finds that working with her hands is physically demanding and satisfying.
Her strength and patience are particularly useful when dealing with cattle. She says moving cows when they’re sick can be tricky, especially having to push, even "wrestle" them into position for dosing. Dealing with that regularly is tiring, but Olivia says encouraging the animals with food can help.
Dealing with newborn calves is another challenge though "feeding them was an easy enough job and quite enjoyable".
"It feels weird to be a first-generation farmer with no farming background, but I’m absolutely loving it," she says.
"You’re looking after all these animals while also feeding people. I don’t know what I’d do with myself without farming."