ANNA TRUESDALE | 4th Generation Dairy Farmer
Hi, hello, how are you? My name is Anna Truesdale and today I’m going to share a little bit about who I am and what I do with you lovely folk on the Hollands Country Clothing blog.
I’m a 23 year old, recently graduated, 4th generation dairy farmer, on a farm in County Down in Northern Ireland. Working alongside my dad and brother, together we farm 150 acres, managing a flock of pedigree ewes as well as a herd of pedigree Holsteins. Last July, I qualified with a First-Class honours degree in Agricultural Technology from Queens University in Belfast but hands-on, feet-in-the-mud kind of agriculture has always been where my heart was at!
I like to say I farm full-time, but I also balance my farm work with a part-time job with Cogent Breeding in Northern Ireland. I help manage cow data on their Precision AI programme, so when I’m not working with my own cows, I’m often thinking about someone else’s!
Our own herd of cows went pedigree in 1989 and have been bred under the ‘Castletru Holsteins’ prefix since then. We like using Holstein because of their production - our cows average in and around 9,500 litres a lactation (that’s a lot of milk for your cereal!). And we went pedigree based on the ability then to sell any surplus stock for breeding.
The sheep flock are also 70% pedigree, comprising of 150 breeding ewes, we run a flock of pedigree Texels, pedigree Dorsets and then a small flock of commercial ewes. We lamb Dorsets in September and the Texels and commercials lamb in February and March, so I’m never far from a very cute little lamb!
Folk will often ask what the best part of my job is, and it’s always the hardest question to answer! I love that my weeks are flexible, and no two days in my working month are exactly the same. I could never get bored of farming, every day presents a new challenge, adventure or learning curve and I revel in being able to improve my skills or knowledge daily. This time of year can be quite difficult in the farming calendar, especially with all the recent bad weather (I know it’s all farmers ever talk about, but trust me, it’s effect on the mindset of the farming community is insurmountable!). But one of the best feelings for me is walking around the farm on the mornings where the weather is just beginning to change, the sun is warming the air and you can almost smell the grass growing – you definitely don’t get that from behind a computer in an office!!
Being able to share those days with folk who perhaps don’t get the chance to experience them is another one of my big passions. I regularly share what I get up to - be it on the farm or in my other job - on Instagram. Instagram is a fantastic window into the life of a farmer (and indeed the food production industry), I absolutely love being able to engage with a vast array of people from different backgrounds on the platform.
I use Instagram in two ways, the first is to do my bit in educating those who perhaps have no experience with farming. It’s an industry that’s regularly scapegoated in the media and often our rhetoric can get lost in a sea of voices which have the ability to shout a lot louder than we can. I show farming as is, the good the bad and the ugly and leave it up to my audience to make their own minds up on how they feel about where their food comes from. I answer questions honestly and try my best to explain why we do the things we do – there isn’t much that’s off limits.
Secondly, I use Instagram as an online, interactive, portal of information. I follow other farmers and engage regularly, asking questions, picking up new ways of doing things and discovering the ins and outs of other farming systems which could perhaps be different to my own. Instagram is a community, and in an industry where loneliness and isolation are (in my opinion) wrongly described as being ‘part and parcel of the job’, it’s great to have an easily accessible avenue to other like-minded individuals who regularly face all the same adversities.
So that’s me in a hastily written, (I kid you not I’m writing this between milking cows!), little nutshell. I’m really looking forward to sharing what happens on the farm with you all, and I hope you too, enjoy an insight into all things “annatrues”.