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Friday 25 May 2018

'I was always out on the farm since I was a child'

My week... Kathleen Fallon

Kathleen Fallon getting ready for another day on the family farm in Drumkeeran, Co Leitrim. Photo: Conor Maguire
Kathleen Fallon getting ready for another day on the family farm in Drumkeeran, Co Leitrim. Photo: Conor Maguire

Ken Whelan

It has been a busy few months for Kathleen Fallon at the family farm in Leitrim what with the cattle, the contracting and, of course, the arrival of her first born, Cian, 10 weeks ago.

"I am back on the farm now and was out dosing the cattle a few weeks ago. I couldn't just look out the window at the cattle knowing they had to be dosed so my sister Aoife, who is a teacher, helped me out with Cian," says the 24-year-old.

She farms in partnership with her father Dermot on 50 hectares in Drumkeeran near Drumshanbo. They keep a stock bull and rear spring calving livestock ( a mixture of Angus, Limousin and Charolais) for sale at local marts and to neighbours and she also helps out with the family's contracting business.

And when she is not dosing and baling, she lends a hand with the sheep at her partner Niall Moran's farm near Drumshanbo. Busy is the word that springs to mind.

Kathleen is the middle sister of three and the one who was earmarked for farming from the get go.

Neither Aoife (25), the teacher, nor Caroline (22), the nurse, had the slightest interest in farming, Kathleen explains.

Kathleen Fallon getting ready for another day on the family farm in Drumkeeran, Co Leitrim. Photo: Conor Maguire
Kathleen Fallon getting ready for another day on the family farm in Drumkeeran, Co Leitrim. Photo: Conor Maguire

"My sisters showed no interest, but I was always out on the farm every day and on the tractors or down at the garage since I was a child," she says.

Apart from the first-hand experience, she studied at Ballyhaise Agricultural College in Co Cavan where she achieved a Level 6 qualification. And then, anticipating the needs of the home farm, she completed a veterinarian assistant's course in Sligo.

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Now with her dad taking a few steps back on the farming side, she finds herself more and more involved in the day-to-day operation of the farm.

Kathleen is happy with the livestock prices generally over the past few years and hopes the current record prices being called out at Drumshanbo Mart hold until the Fallons' next visit to the sale.

"Prices go up and down all the time but they are good at the moment. We are near getting what we want," she says.

Things are good too on the contracting side, Kathleen is certainly a full participant - "driving, oiling and greasing and all that crack" - as she says puts it.

The Fallons run New Hollands and Fords for the contracting and smaller Masseys for the family farm.

So far this year the baling has been tipping along fine despite the mixed weather of the past month.

It's certainly better than last year when many of the fields were inaccessible because the wrong weather came at the wrong time for the business.

"You couldn't go into some fields last year because you knew you wouldn't get out of them," she explains.

So I ask her about the quality of land around Drumkeeran. "The farmland is fine," she replies, "though my mother Brid is always saying that it is not as good as the land in her home place in Bodyke in Co Clare."

Finally, I ask Kathleen what she does in her spare time which seems a little impertinent considering her farming and contracting work along with starting up her new family, and I am met with a noticeable silent pause.

"Well I don't have much time off but I suppose I like to go to country dances."


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