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Overseas and Off-Campus Programs Blog

Airfield Estate: A Visit to a Farm

  • The quiet walkway of Airfield Estate
    The quiet walkway of Airfield Estate

Author Name

Ashton Haze-Heacock

Author Program

Ireland: Social Sciences

Program Semester and Year

Spring 2019

Student Major

Psychology

This weekend, I had the opportunity to visit a working farm just outside of Dublin. A distant relative of mine had invited me to spend the day there (with no admission ticket needed!) and the thought of spending time outdoors, in nature, and away from the city was just the right thing for me. I walked into Dublin, caught the LUAS train, and read and looked at photographs I had taken on the trip so far, enjoying my Sunday to the fullest before it had really even begun.

Once I got off the train, I was a bit unsure if I had gotten off at the right stop, as the stop seemed like it was still somewhat part of the city. There was no apparent sign that a farm was anywhere near me, but good old Siri was of course there to guide me to the 5-minute walk from the train station. Then, around the corner, and seemingly out of nowhere, the entrance to the farm came up on the road, and I turned from the busy street onto the quiet road that led to the farm. When I arrived, my relative was nowhere to be found, but luckily another staff member could tell I was looking for someone and guessed that I was the person they were holding a ticket for, and led me into the farm.

Upon entering the farm, it immediately became apparent that it was the best possible thing I could have done that day. A flower garden around the fine house of the farm, trees tall enough to compare with that of Oregon, and the sight of farm animals just down the walkway, all of it looked promising of the makings of just the type of beauty I needed. I met up with my relative who was on her lunch break, which meant that I was lucky enough to get a walking tour with her, just her and I.

She showed me through the working aspects of the farm, which covered the harvesting of eggs for chickens, the milking and breeding of cows, raising lamb, farming bees, and, of course, some nice walking paths along the way. On my tour, I learned that the original owners of the farm were quite passionate loyalists to the British Queen at the time, as this predated the Irish War for Independence, and that the wife of the estate was almost infatuated with Queen Victoria. The reason this bit is key is that the wife insisted that the farm have the same kind of cows that the Queen had at her estates, which, I learned, were a breed called Jersey Cows.

Jersey Cows are somewhat of a less common breed seen at working farms, as they tend to produce less meat, however, the tradeoff is that the milk they produce is much higher in fat content than any other. While a gallon of milk by a non-Jersey dairy cow may yield on average around 4% fat in our consumable whole milk, Jersey cows yield 6%. That is 50% more fat than the traditional whole milk, and while it is quite rich, it is quite delicious and makes a regular cup of tea into something of a special treat.

While the cows were interesting to learn about, the real jewel of the day was getting to see some newborn lambs that the farm had just had, and by newborn, I mean less than  1 week old. There were 5 newbies in the field, all huddled up together, napping for most of the time that I saw them. The lambs were from a breed of sheep called Jacob’s sheep, and these are the sheep that have distinct black and white patterns around their hair. Apparently, the current owners of the farm decided to get that breed not necessarily for their wool yield, but more importantly, the fact that they are just very adorable animals.

Throughout the day I walked around, admiring all the farm had to offer, including the smell of lavender that was growing around the gardens. As a souvenir, I purchased some honey that was farmed there, which, to no surprise, is some of the best honey I have ever had. I was very glad to have taken the opportunity to learn new things and get out of the city and see some distant family, and it made for quite the perfect Sunday that I was wanting.