A family enterprise, Lakeview Organic Farm in County Cavan has benefitted from three generations of female farmers at the helm. The latest of which is Jane Shackleton, whose charges currently include a herd of Aberdeen Angus cows and a flock of sheep, and whose entrepreneurial spirit means that for the first time, the farm is also open to guests via Airbnb. We caught up with Jane about life on the farm.
What does a typical day look like?
We are just about to start calving here on the farm so first thing to do is check and feed the cows that are outside. They all give birth outside as we find calves are healthier that way. Usually they are born in the early morning so it’s up early to check for any new arrivals.
After this I head to the cattle shed where we keep all of the other cattle inside over winter. They have to be fed and given a fresh bed of straw every day.
The sheep are also inside for a few weeks before lambing so any problems can be handled easily. They are fed twice a day and also get extra organic nuts to help their lambs grow healthily in the final few weeks.
What’s your favourite thing about farming?
My favourite thing about farming is being able to work outside all the time. This time of year is exciting as calving and lambing is just about to start. Seeing a lamb being born or helping in a difficult birth is really rewarding. When you see a lamb or calf get to its feet for the first time and take the first drink from its mother is really satisfying.
And your least favourite?
Farming is a way of life not just a job. You have to work 24/7 and sometimes it is hard to get away for a few days for a holiday. You also have to be able to work on your own and not let the isolation bother you.
Your online presence provides a great insight into life on the farm. What motivates you to share your experiences?
Working alone I think social media is a great way to keep in touch with people and a way to communicate with other farmers. If you have a question about something you can get an answer immediately! I also use it to advertise my organic lamb that I sell and the holiday rentals here on the farm.
Some of the country’s best chefs cook with beef you’ve raised. Are there any experiences or clients that stand out?
We have sold some of our organic Angus beef to the celebrity chef Richard Corrigan for his London restaurants, that was a great feeling.
You’re out every day labouring on the farm, exhausting work! How do you wind down at the end of the day?
It’s really important to be able to take time to wind down. I like turning my phone off and taking my dog, Angus for a hike or a swim in our lake. I’m doing a Masters in Organic Farming at the moment so I do study a lot in the evenings. But it’s also important to leave the farm so I try to go to Dublin to see friends every few weeks.
Thank you so much for chatting to us Jane!