The attitude to farming of Mrs Angela O’Neill, Derryvore, Portadown, probably mirrors the views of thousands of women throughout the country who like herself, have been involved in the industry all their lives.
There is acknowledgment of the satisfaction gained in helping to win a living from the land; reluctance to recommend the life to the family as a full-time occupation; sadness tempered with sympathy for the younger generation who find the exodus from the land the only road to a secure livelihood.
“I have never known any other life and, given a second chance, I don’t believe I would make any change but there must be easier ways of earning a living than the very long hours and seven day weeks which farming entails,” Mrs O’Neill told FarmWeek.
The O’Neill 40-acre holding is run along traditional mixed lines with milk production from the 12-cow herd the major enterprise.
Most of the land is given over to grazing and hay with a small acreage of oats, potatoes and turnips grown each year as a supplement to the cattle rations.
Regarding milk as “the most worthwhile line in farming today,” Mrs O’Neill had consistently favoured egg production on the farm “until over-production in the country as a whole forced us to slash the stock from thousands to hundreds”.
Despite disappointment at recent falls in egg prices, Mrs O’Neill is well satisfied with the demand for eggs from her free-range flock.
“Farmgate sales would seem to prove that people generally prefer eggs produced from free-range stock rather than by more modern methods,” she commented.
“However, the Egg Marketing Board could solve many of the problems of the industry by putting the brakes on businessmen who are glutting the market and depriving the genuine farmers of his legitimate livelihood.”
Daughter of the late Mr and Mrs John Rafferty, Eglish, Annaghmore – a family connected with fruit production for generations – Mrs O’Neill regrets that farmers generally do not give support to a line which she maintains is “admirably suited to any farm whatever its acreage”.
Keen on knitting, sewing and cooking, Mrs O’Neill is also interested in sport but “mostly as a TV spectator”.