Marrying the guy who milks it for laughs
Waterford couple Moya and Tom Power have been there for each other through heartbreak and joy
Tom and Moya Power first met eight years ago on December 23 at Creation nightclub in Waterford. They were introduced by mutual friends, and Moya liked that Tom was a messer and great fun to be around. She also thought he was fit and good-looking, and had a roguish twinkle in his eye.
As for farmer Tom, he was equally smitten. "Moya is a stunner and we just clicked," he says. "It was easy, but the challenging part was that we met just as I was going into my crazy season at work with calving. Moya was working in Dublin, and I was in Dungarvan working seven days a week."
Moya, 37, says any prospective farming relationship will survive if the couple can make it through a calving season. She and Tom got engaged in August 2010 and were married in October 2011 in her hometown of Abbeyside, which is just 10km from where Tom grew up. She's the youngest of Donal and Moya Verling's three children.
Moya did a degree in food business at UCC, followed by a master's in food marketing. She then went to Portland, Oregon, working with the Irish Dairy Board. After two years, she returned home and worked with Unilever in Dublin, and moved to Musgrave in Cork after she met Tom. While she is currently on maternity leave, Moya is now brand manager with Flahavan's, best known for its porridge oats, and she says it's a fabulous place to work.
Tom, 39, and his four siblings grew up on Drumhills Farm in the hills of Dungarvan. Their parents, Jim and Brid, worked hard on the dairy and beef farm, which has been in the family for generations. Tom had a passion for farming, and spent a year learning dairy agriculture in New Zealand after he graduated from Rockwell Agricultural College. He is now the fifth generation of the family to run the farm, and he and Moya built their house on the grounds in 2012. He loves the animals, the land and being his own boss. "I have a very understanding wife," he says of the long hours, adding that Moya is a marvellous help and he gets great support on the farm from his cousin Shane.
Moya and Tom discovered that they were expecting their first baby in October 2012. What should have been a wonderful time turned into heartbreak at the 20-week scan, when they discovered that their baby, Fionn, had a syndrome called Trisomy 13 Patau. Caused by a chromosomal abnormality, it causes devastating neurological and physical defects and many babies with the condition don't survive. Sadly their beautiful little boy was born sleeping, on his mum's birthday in May 2013, when Moya was 34 weeks pregnant.
Moya kept a blog throughout this time (fionnsjourney.blogspot.ie).She and Tom were devastated, but supported each other through their grief. "Men either cower or stand up and support in these circumstances and Tom was amazing," says Moya. "Our families were incredible too." While baby Fionn remains firmly in their hearts, Moya and Tom also now have two daughters, Ella, two, and Chloe, who is six months old. Chloe shares her birthday with Tom's mum and grandmother Catherine, who is 102.
"We have great fun, but it's a busy household and it's challenging being married to a farmer, because Tom works such long hours and is gone by 5.30am." says Moya.
Tom and Moya were delighted that their passion for the farm was recognised at the National Dairy Council & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards 2016. They were nominated by Glanbia, to whom they supply their milk. They were really happy to be awarded a prize for excellence in milk production at the awards ceremony in Dublin, and shocked when they were declared the overall winners. "I was just so thrilled for my parents and Moya, and I hope that I can pass the love for the farm down to the next generation too," says Tom. "It takes such time and effort to produce what we do, but we do it because we love it."
Moya says that she and Tom have a very honest relationship, and the communication between them is first-rate. This, she reckons, is because of all they went through together when they lost Fionn. "I know I could tell Tom anything, well apart from how much I spent on a dress last week," she laughs. "We have a very fun and social relationship, and have a lot of friends and are spoiled with babysitters. Dungarvan is a very vibrant town and a great place to go out in."
When asked about the differences between them, Moya says that Tom can be slightly OCD when it comes to organising things, probably because he is so clinically clean with the farm. "He's great fun but managing stress isn't his strong point, whereas stressful things happen every day in my job so I have to be as cool as a cucumber," she says.
"And Moya's best quality is that she'd remain calm in an earthquake, while everyone around was losing their head," says Tom, smiling fondly at his lovely wife.
For further information on the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards, which recognises Ireland's top dairy farmers, visit www.qualitymilkawards.ie
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