Women in Agriculture featuring Jessica Pollock
Place you call home: Castlederg, Co. Tyrone.
Occupation: Full-time dairy farmer.
We milk 160 dairy cows, working with a three-way crossbred cow (Holstein x Fleckvieh x Norwegian Red). We aim to maximise the use of graze grass on the farm and have a number of renewable technologies generating a large proportion of our own electricity.
How did you become involved in farming?
Growing up on a dairy farm my sisters and I always saw my father out farming and heard the daily tales of what was happening on the farm before bed each night. I started farming after Christmas 2006, everyone in my class had got an iPod for Christmas and I unfortunately didn’t ask for one so my parents told me I could have one if I saved up and worked for it. Six months, one pink iPod later - the rest is history.
Earliest farming memory:
My father previously kept sheep on the farm and my earliest memories on the farm are feeding the sheep in the garden beside my grandparents’ house.
What personal characteristics did you develop from agriculture?
Determination, independence and adaptability.
Life lesson you learnt from farming:
I’m still learning but I believe hard work is the key to a lot of success.
As Jefferson, former President of the United States said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
What do you enjoy most about the farming lifestyle?
The great outdoors, that no two days are the same and the challenges that farming brings. Too often on the farm things don’t go to plan but I love the challenge of trying to figure out ways to resolve these problems and the sense of accomplishment I feel when they are resolved.
Describe a farmer in three words:
Hard-working, determined, dedicated.
What would you like the public to know about NI farming?
I would like to encourage the public to be more aware of the origin of their food and buy local when they can as Northern Irish food is produced to some of the highest standards and quality in the world.
What would you say to others who are considering a career in the agri industry?
Trust, travel and try. Trust in your own abilities, don’t let your size, age, gender or the tale of what’s been done here before, stop you from trying or doing something that you want to.
Travel. See different farms, farming practices and bring home a broader knowledge of different farming systems.
Try different roles. I have tried a 9-5 office job and I can now safely say that job isn’t for me! As a wise man once told me when the cattle have broken out and the rain is on my back and nothing on the farm is going right, I know I won’t be envious of friends in a warm office as I’ve tried it!
What are your hopes for the future of NI’s agriculture industry?
I hope our industry keeps progressing in the manner it has done over the last century with improvements in technologies, efficiency and productivity to ensure farms are sustainable and profitable businesses for future generations to come.
Whilst there are more and more women and young people entering our agriculture industry every year, I hope in the future the number of opportunities for women and young people to enter the industry continues to increase. That we are no longer seen as a rarity within the sector and our involvement becomes the norm.