Book Review – A Year on Our Farm

It’s been a busy week but I wanted to tell you about this new farming book as it will be on sale at the Ploughing Championships. I was late to their book launch as I was doing a talk on crowdfunding and when I got to Ann and Robin Talbot’s farm, there were loads of people milling around with their copies of ‘A Year on the Farm’.A year on the land

Beef farmers from Co. Laois and part-time agricultural journalists, Ann and Robin have recorded life on their farm over the course of a year. Not only do you read about individual beef cattle but you also discover how they are reared and finished for the factory. You see the quality of the green grass and the other foodstuffs required to finish them. ?Ann has written a chapter on everyone that is involved with their farm – from their vet to their workman to students and farm visitors. ?I also love it because it shows the quality of Irish farming and produce. ?She has also included some of her favourite farmhouse recipes and I think she’s a woman after my own heart with her claim to be a fast cook rather than a good one.

A Year on our Farm

For all its charm, it is a ‘warts and all’ look at farming and life in general. Ann writes about the death of their precious daughter Rachel as a tiny baby and on the same page, is a reference to a calf dying with pneumonia. We’re all used to life and death on a farm, after all, when there’s livestock, there’s deadstock but to read about the passing away of a precious firstborn newborn, that really is tragic.


Whether you are a farmer or non-farmer, you will enjoy this book. The photography is beautiful and it includes great accounts of how meat is produced. As a farmer, I enjoyed it for its take on farming life, from living with a mother-in-law, the history of the Talbot family and the changes in farming over the years. Ann admits that their farm may not be representative of many in Ireland today in that it’s a substantial size at 600 acres and they are in the enviable position of having low borrowings but nevertheless, it is a wonderful account of life on an Irish farm today and for that reason, it is of historical value for the future too. ?I’d have loved to have read more about Ann’s family background (and there weren’t any photos of cattle dogs so I guess they don’t have any – I love farm dogs) so I guess I’ll have to meet her for a coffee sometime to get to know her better. ?I got the impression anyway that she would recommend the life of being married to a farmer!

‘A Year on the Land’ will be on sale for ?15 at the Irish Independent tent at the Ploughing next week. You can also read Ann’s blog here too and you can purchase the book here.

2 thoughts on “Book Review – A Year on Our Farm

  • robannsbeef

    Hi Lorna,
    many thanks for the positive review (with selection of pics!) and, yes, I would very much like to meet up for a coffee and, yes, I would definitely recommend being married to this farmer. Also, for the perfect timing. As for the farm dogs, apparently Robin has never had a farm dog. “Even when you had sheep?” (about twenty years ago) I asked. “No, we always used a jeep and I did the barking and shouting myself,” he replied, without missing a beat. So there you have it!
    Anyway, we were delighted you came to the launch … and hope to catch up at the Ploughing. Thanks again. Ann

    • Lorna

      When I was a kid, all but one of our farm dogs were useless and my father used to say that we, the children, spoilt them and rendered them useless. But really, he just didn’t have the patience. We didn’t get a dog until 2008 when we took a pup from an unplanned pregnancy at a neighbour’s farm. He is worth his weight in gold, we wouldn’t manage the Friesian bulls without him. He just loves to please Brian and always does his best.
      yes, I’ll call to the Indo tent and see if you are there. I’m at T320 if you are able to call over. Lorna 🙂
      PS Lovely interview on RTE countrywide yesterday



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