Meet the mother and daughter team who live and farm together
This Mother’s Day mother and daughter team, Patricia and Felicity McGrath, expect to be busy assisting with calving on their 170ac farm outside Ballinasloe.
“We have two cows due to calve so we expect to be helping them have a Mother’s Day, rather than enjoying it ourselves,” said Felicity.
Patricia is a Dubliner who took enthusiastically to country life after she inherited her uncle’s farm in 2000.
“Mam always had an interest in horses. When she took over her uncle’s farm, there were plenty of challenges,” said Felicity. “The cattle were hard to handle. My uncle had kept a lot of cross-breeds that lived up to their name in being very cross,” she said.
“We weeded them out over time. We introduced pedigree Charolais but replaced them with pedigree Angus after I got one as a Junior Cert student,” said Felicity.
“Another difficulty was the condition of the farm buildings. A lot of them had to be brought up to scratch and mam did a lot of the work herself.”
Through trial and error, the mother and daughter have built up a system that works well.
“We now have an entire herd of pedigree Angus, having sold the Charolais in 2008,” Felicity said.
We find the Angus very docile and enjoy them. They are easier to calve and to show.
Patricia and Felicity live together on the farm but both have off-farm jobs. Patricia is an AI technician with Eurogene. Felicity – who did a PhD in physics in London, working in the UK for six years – manages an agri business, Bo Steel.
Felicity puts her physics expertise to good use on the farm, designing her own weighing scales and cattle training pens. “I find physics great for problem-solving,” she said.
While some inter-generational farm relationships can be testing, that isn’t the case for this mother and daughter.
“We have our little squabbles on issues such as what bulls to use and cattle to keep, as we both like different things. However, we don’t fall out over anything,” said Felicity who is currently doing the Green Cert.
“Mam does the AI really well so I leave that to her. I train the cattle for all the shows. We both know our roles. If a cow is having difficulty calving, we can handle it ourselves,” said Felicity.
“I have two brothers who have no interest in farming – they work in computers. We just roll up our sleeves and get on with it,” she said.
“The odd time when we go to cattle sales, someone might have a quip. But, by and large, people respect us.
“Sometimes people think that we are not strong enough to do the work or that we just want to be around cute calves but we do everything ourselves,” said Felicity.
Having worked for big companies and travelled the world, I just wanted to come home. I missed the cattle.
“I would sooner be up at 3:00am for calving than sitting in a hotel room.”
After the day’s work is done today, the mother and daughter team said they will spend it together at a fundraiser.
“My company is raffling a pink calving gate to raise funds for breast cancer research, at the Village Inn, Kilchreest, just outside Loughrea, at 8:00pm. All are welcome to come along,” said Felicity.