Day 2: Hynes Sheep Farm
Driving up the narrow gravel drive, the bus was greeted by four smiling faces each holding a “welcome” sign. Stepping off the bus, we were immediately greeted by the Hynes family and the local parish priest. After our extremely warm welcome, we trekked up a stone trail following Olivia Hynes to the highest point on her farm which so happened to have a breathtaking view of the Irish countryside.
Olivia Hynes is a multi-generational sheep farmer but she stands out from most as she took over the farm from her parents after they retired. Olivia is one of the few, but proud, women farmers of Ireland. She inherited the farm from her mother Mary, who was also a farmer. Hynes has four brothers and three sisters and the fact that the farm went to her instead of her brothers is quite rare. Olivia has run the farm for seventeen years now and has roughly 250 sheep.
Hynes has five different breeds of sheep on her farm which include: Texal, Charollais, Suffolk, Bluefaced Leicester, and Belclare. All sheep kept on a separate farm and are grass fed, but during the cold and rainy months, are fed silage as well. Olivia uses seven rams during a three week span to breed the ewes of her herd. The ewes typically lamb in May and before they lamb, are brought back to the main farm. The ewes normally birth two lambs but there are some ewes that birth triplets. These special ewes are tagged with a number “3” so the farm staff can easily recognize and separate those triplet-bearing ewes when the lambing season comes around. The sheep are sold around 100 euro per animal and the sheep’s wool is sold as well.
After our tour, we were shown hospitality by the Hynes family in the most Irish way…hot tea and butter scones! When we finished our delicious snack, we were taught how to play hurling by the Hynes grandchildren. Then, we loaded up and headed out waving goodbye to our new Irish friends while they waved their signs and the flag of their wonderful country.
A look over the Irish countryside from the highest point of the Hynes farm.
A group picture of us with the Hynes family and their “Welcome to Ireland” sign.
Post by: Rachel Hayes and Collin Kramer