Being a full time farmer and the realities of everyday family life

Caryn Webster lives in Brown’s Bay, Islandmagee, with her husband James, and three children Benjamin (5), William (3) and Tilly (5 months), where she farms with her father Jack.

Saturday, 7th December 2019, 12:36 pm
Carwyn and Tilly

A member of dairy cooperative Dale Farm, Caryn is milking on average 55-60 cows twice a day.

We caught up with her and daughter Tilly at the farm, which sits right on the east Antrim coast, to discuss her passion for agriculture, farming full-time and bringing up her young children on farm.

“I always wanted to farm and helped out from a young age. I remember on the night of my school formal, aged 16, I was dressed up and ready to go but Dad needed a hand with calving so the wellies went back on again until the job was done!”

After finishing school, Caryn went on to study agriculture at CAFRE Greenmount. “As part of my course at Greenmount, I had the opportunity to go to New Zealand for a year, where I worked on a dairy farm. New Zealand is a really interesting place. The climate is very similar to ours although the farming model is different. When I left Greenmount, I had further studies at Bishop Burton college in Hull and after that, it was straight to working full time on the family farm.”

Caryn’s husband works full-time off the farm, and with three young children, they balance work with the everyday realities of family life. Their five-month old baby daughter Tilly is always by Caryn’s side at the farm, just as her big brothers Benjamin and William had been before.

“There isn’t much by way of maternity leave for farming mothers!” Caryn jokes. “Between managing two school runs, feeding Tilly and milking cows every day, life is pretty non-stop.”

But Caryn wouldn’t have it any other way: “Farming has always been part of my life and I think it is a great environment for children to be brought up in, around animals and being in the countryside whilst also seeing the results of a job you enjoy. Hopefully one day, the kids will take up the mantle and take over the farm. It would be so rewarding to see it passed along to the next generation.”