In 2006 a family from Galway packed up their bags and hopped across the ocean to start, with no major experience, farming in France.
Ahead of the takeover Agriland spoke to daughter Laura, who runs the farm’s popular Instagram page and YouTube channel, to learn more about farming life at ‘La Forge’.
“Neither of my parents (Emily and Declan) came from farming backgrounds,” she said, explaining the origins of the farm.
“Mam was working as a costing analyst in a pharmaceutical company and Dad was working as a fitter in the mines before we moved. Back in Ireland we had a small farm of 9ac with some rented land, breeding pedigree Limousin cattle.
“We used to come on holidays to France a lot, and loved the country, so when they heard land was cheap, they saw the opportunity and decided to move to France to farm in 2006.”
At that time, Laura was just eight years old. Her two older brothers, William and Luke, were 11 and 13 respectively.
“Today, we are currently farming 1,300ac across three farms, farming Limousin/Charolais cattle, Alpine goats and some cereal,” Laura continued.
“At the moment we have 100 goats, 230 calving cows, 200 calves, 150 replacement heifers (yearlings, two-year olds, etc…, as we keep 50 each year). 50 cows for fattening and 10 stockbulls (all Limousin Bulls).”
Livestock is not all the farm has in abundance; La Forge also brags an impressive fleet of machinery.
“As Dad began serving his time in Ireland as a mechanic in a Ford / New Holland garage, today we have a collection of working Ford classics and New Hollands,” said Laura.
“We have 14 tractors in total on the farm, all working. In this region of France contracting is not very big so most farms have to be self-sufficient. We have all our own machinery for every job that has to be done on the farm.”
Luke, Laura’s brother, has evidently gained the machinery-loving gene, as he now works in a Massey garage back in Ireland. Her other brother William works nearby in the town of Clermont-Ferrand, about an hour and a half away.
Laura herself worked at an agri-engine import-export company in Clermont-Ferrand, before travelling Australia and returning home to farm full-time in mid-2020.
Around that time, she started her YouTube channel ‘Farming Life at La Forge’, where she shows the differences and similarities of farming in France compared to Ireland to her 13,300 subscribers.
The biggest difference between farming in France and Ireland, Laura believes, is the weather.
“Winters are shorter so cattle are out a lot longer, you’re not as much in a rush to get the harvest done as you would be in Ireland trying to beat the rain, and it’s just nice and makes you want to be outside all the time,” she said.