I recently stumbled upon Ruth's initiative to bring more awareness to women working in the Agri Industry and I wanted to know about the who what where and why of Ruth's Instagram Journey.
Who are you farming with- employees, family etc.?
I work alongside my daddy on our family farm. We make a good partnership, yes we have arguments over how certain things are done but we can laugh about it an hour later. Mummy is also on hand to help out on the farm, which she loves doing.
Where are you located and farming system are you operating?
I’m based in Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland, on a 80 acre farm. At the minute we have 60+ cattle, including Limousin and Pedigree Shorthorns. When I was younger we used to also have sheep, beef and diary cows, so it was all go back then.
How do you see your role in the Social media farming community?
Last August I decided to set up my Instagram account to connect more with women in agriculture so I started my Instagram page “Ruth’s farming life.” It’s been inspiring to see so many women across the world farming cattle, sheep and arable crops. It’s a great platform to share your own farming tips/methods and to learn from others in all aspects of farming. You make friends with people who actually have a keen interest in farming and you don’t feel as if you are boring them with your cow antics lol. I want to be amongst these other women, raising the profile of women in Agriculture. As my mummy has said numerous times “everyone thinks it’s a mans world in the farming business, but women can farm just as well as men can, if not better.”
Have you found that it's harder now than before to maintain this living from income generated from the farm?
My daddy used to be a full time farmer but the income from farming was not sustainable at the time so he went back to his original job of being a stone mason! I think farming can be a very vulnerable job to be in due to the constant price fluctuations in milk and beef etc but if you love what you do and are making some profit from that passion, what more could you want. Your health is your wealth at the end of the day
Have you observed changes in the number, size and type of farms that are found your immediate locale? What is your attitude toward any trends you may have noticed?
Most farms around me are either diary or beef. I’ve definitely noticed over the years farmers decreasing their stock numbers, due to falling prices and having no one who is willing to take over the family farm. I think before it was just assumed boys would work alongside their fathers and one day run the farm and I don’t think that’s the case anymore especially in my local area. Boys are wanting to go to university now than ever before, which is great to see, so many don’t have an interest in what was once traditionally expected of them to undertake
How have advances in technology such as, machinery, genetics, or chemicals, affected your farm or competition with your farm?
Advances in technology haven’t affected our farm at all, we are still farming the old traditional methods that have been used for generations. My dad still prefers the old school methods of farming, so that’s something that he has instilled in me but I’m definitely keen to try and bring modern ways of doing things on the farm in the next couple of years.
What are your experiences of being a woman in agriculture?
To this day, I’ve only ever had a positive experience of being a woman in agriculture. Growing up alongside my sister, with no brothers, we were expected to help out on the farm regardless of our gender. We were seen as capable. Starting my own Shorthorn herd last August, I was met with comments such as “are you mad getting into farming”, the typical farming banter from men but they were so supportive and encouraging. Many said it was great to see a young girl getting more involved in farming
How did the #Agriwomen24 initiative come about?
My friend Kathryn and I, who I started a friendship over Instagram decided to collaborate with one another and share an insight into our different farming backgrounds and the work we do on the farm, Kathryn working on a diary farm and I a beef one. When we announced this on Instagram, we got so much support for it that we decided to ask other female farmers across social media to get involved using the hashtag #Agriwomen24 and showcase the fantastic job women are doing across all the different sectors in farming and the passion we have for the job. Hopefully it’s a success and we could turn it into a yearly event!
You can check out Ruth on Instagram Here