Meet the Farmers

Maria Maloney

Meet Maria Maloney

What does farming mean to you?

Farming means freedom. It means you’re able to be your own boss. It’s a very rewarding job, there’s nothing better than seeing livestock grow and thrive and getting on well. You get to meet people and learn a lot from talking to other people at sales and shows. It’s a passion. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have it – it’s a nice way of life. Coming into March, lambing season, the days will all blend into each other it’ll be so full on – but in a good way. It’s a nice time of year.

How did you get into farming sheep?

I’ve always been farming. We used to farm beef but we gave that up and got into sheep then. I got my first sheep when I was 6 years old, it was a Suffolk, and I’ve had them ever since. Everyone thought I would grow out of it when I got older but actually I’ve only become more and more interested in it over the years! I’ve always been involved in the family farm, it’s always been me and Dad who run it. You have to be brought up around it to have a real passion for farming. All the little things you learn when you’re small make the difference, there’s too much to learn if you were to get into it in your 20’s or 30’s! Dad has always farmed full time.

From your point of view what is special about the Mayo Blackface breed?

The Mayo Blackface breed are hardy and the ewes are easy to manage, they work well for the land we have and the area that we live in which is often very wet. They’re easy to lamb down too, you very rarely ever have to pull a lamb from them. The sale that they hold every year is a big advantage as well, and the fact that there’s a lorry that goes to Kildare Chilling once or twice a week during the summer – which is always the best price guaranteed for the lambs.

The thing with farming is that a lot of the time the men don’t want women to be involved or they don’t take heed of women farmers. The difference with the Mayo Blackface group is that there’s a big push for women to get involved and to have a say about the sale and the lorry that goes to Kildare. The lads all really want more and more women to get really involved, it’s not just one sided. A lot of the members of the group are older and they think that the younger members should have a chance, see how they get on. They like to see young people showing an interest – it’s rare to see. They take what the women and younger people say into account.

What are your goals for the future of farming?

The goal is to be farming full time. I’d love to be able to get up in the mornings and get out into the fresh air. Working 12 hours cooped up in the factory makes farming feel like The Great Escape. I’m glad to have it. If I wasn’t farming I don’t know what I’d be doing or what I’d even have an interest in. I’d like to buy a bit more land in the future and have a few more sheep too. At the minute we have about 250 sheep in total.

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