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Rare Breed – Local farming series continues with lots of new life in next episode

Rodney Balfour feeding one of the pet lambs.

Rodney Balfour feeding one of the pet lambs.

 

The hugely popular ‘RARE BREED – A Farming Year’ continues this Thursday where it’s now March and it’s all about new life in this episode, be that lambs and calves or planting vegetables.  


We’re on the Ards Peninsula, in Enniskillen, The Belfast Hills and Cookstown for this episode.


‘Rare Breed – A Farming Year’ is the ground-breaking year-in-the-life observational documentary series charting the agricultural year. Filmed during 2023, each episode captures the highs and lows of each month of the year, as the families deal with economic and environmental challenges.



All the families featured reflect the diversity and innovation in Northern Ireland’s agri-food sector.  Be they big or small, traditional beef, sheep, dairy, pig or arable, farm shops or even tourism, the passion and commitment shines through in every episode.


In the third episode, it’s March and the episode begins in the Fermanagh Lakelands, with Rodney and Emma Balfour at their farm in Mullygarry. They are busy with new arrivals while their rams James and Donnie get a break. They specialise in Rylands, Isle de France and Dutch Spotted and they’re part time farmers as they both work in the NHS.  


Emma comments how her nursing skills are very useful when she’s tending to the newly born lambs.



Bronagh O'Kane

Bronagh O'Kane

A calf born on Bronagh O'Kane's farm in Cookstown

A calf born on Bronagh O'Kane's farm in Cookstown


Next we’re off to outside Cookstown in Tyrone, where Bronagh O’Kane is in the middle of calving her small herd of beef cattle. Jobs like tagging give Bronagh the chance to get a really close look at the animal’s condition.  Freshly calved cows can be dangerous as they are protective of their young. The calves are too small for the cattle crush, so Bronagh creates a safe zone in every pen.  


Next up, we’re back at Adrian and Emily McGowan’s vegetable farm near Killinchy in Down.  


Adrian McGowan planting potatoes.

Adrian McGowan planting potatoes.


In this episode, they’re busy planting early potatoes for harvest in mid-May. Adrian explains how they are planting smaller crops to service mainly the farm shop. Elsewhere, the cauliflowers need attention, and Adrian and Emily work together to bring them in at the right time. Adrian says, “It’s a basic human instinct, to grow things and to farm.”  


As Belfast wakes up and commuters make their way to work, 18-year-old Dan McCaffery has arrived home after a night’s work. But before he can catch up on sleep – he has a herd of cattle that needs breakfast.  He talks about being at Greenmount and how much he enjoys both the theoretical and practical elements of his course. “There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than studying agriculture,” he says.



Jude McClements

Jude McClements


The McClements farm on the Ards Peninsula in County Down. In March, Jude, Josh and Sarah are preparing the latest batch of cows for calving.  They do this every week. It’s a busy time for all the children and Jude has mock exams to revise for.  He doesn’t have time for his other hobby at the moment – posting on TikTok.


The episode ends back in Fermanagh with Emma Balfour setting up milking stations for the lambs that have been hand reared in the farmhouse kitchen, as they  are now ready to leave the kitchen and move back into the shed.



Emma Balfour moving lambs from the house to shed.

Emma Balfour moving lambs from the house to shed.


UTV’s Mark McFadden and Rita Fitzgerald narrate thisseries. Sponsored by NIE Networks, ‘Rare Breed’ – A Farming Year continues on Thursday 1st February at 8.30pm on UTV.


You can catch up afterwards on ITVX. Simply select ‘Categories, then News, select UTV as your region from the box and scroll across to find the episode.

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