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Relatively Speaking with brothers John and Geoffrey

By Simon Fallaha

For brothers John and Geoffrey Kinnear from Keady, Co Armagh, farming is very much in the blood, as they will be revealing as subjects of the latest series of hit UTV show Rare Breed.

Like John, I've appreciated being part of Rare Breed. You don't expect television to delve so deeply into farm life, yet it has done just that. We're featuring in seven or eight programmes out of the 12, and the publicity has been good for us.

I wanted to do engineering at school as I was passionate about woodwork, craft and design. Like a well-founded family business or a strong relationship, what you made was really built to last.

Being eight years younger than John, I naturally looked up to him, and the agricultural influence was always around me as I grew up in a circle of farmers. That's not to say that I wanted to be one, as not everyone from a farming generation does.

Yet I didn't feel too bad when circumstances changed after I did my A-Levels and Nigel moved away. A job's a job, and I was really happy to work with the family; I'd always enjoyed our family picnics and how we would gather to help one another at the most difficult times.

We don't look forward to paying the bills, the rotten weather conditions and, as John has pointed out, the relatively low prices of milk these days. But seeing your newborn calves develop successfully into dairy cows is extremely rewarding. It's like new life forming from the fruits of your own labours. You live in hope that your livestock will turn out fine, so it's great when they actually do.

One of the best things about our business is that both John and I know what each other is thinking. When we're working all hours, we know we can count on each other; we've the sort of connection through which all our disagreements can be worked out. You don't have that sort of thing with someone you've hired to do a job for you.

We take the odd night out when we can too. It settles our heads, keeps us sane and gives us valuable time for socialising. Above all, it prevents me from getting lonely, though I wouldn't necessarily say it's helped my luck with women, yet. But who knows? I'm the happy-go-lucky kind; the way I see it, if you don't laugh, you'll cry.

Name: Geoffrey Kinnear

Age: 40

Occupation: Farmer

Relationship to John: Brother

I don't think I always saw Geoffrey becoming a farmer like me. Myself, Geoffrey and our middle brother Nigel were extremely close and very playful as children, the kind who enjoyed bicycles and playing games in the hayfields.

Geoffrey had ambitions of being an engineer, however, when Nigel moved away and married about two decades ago, I was left in sole charge of the farm that my father and uncle had run and nurtured since the 1950s. Geoffrey offered to give me a hand, and the partnership started from there.

If I hadn't farmed for a living, I'd have loved to fly a plane. I've taken lessons and my wife has just booked another one for me, but I can find neither a clear day nor the time for it.

The hardest part of farming is getting a pint of milk from the farm over to the public - it's very disheartening that people currently pay more for bottled water or heavily advertised soft drinks in the shops. The positive messages about milk from health experts just don't seem to be transferring themselves to the market. But on the flipside, when the cattle are out in the open air during glorious weather and the countryside is looking well, both me and Geoffrey truly feel like proud custodians of the land.

We have a happy working relationship to this day. Our dairy farm, near Keady in Co Armagh, feels like a factory where we are well organised, know exactly what to do and when to do it. It's like an "old married couple" bond - despite the odd fall-out here and there, we're always there for one another.

I have four children of my own, although Geoffrey is currently single, but I do hope he'll find someone. It's never too late; I know a guy who married at Geoffrey's age (40), and he still felt he was too young to marry.

Both of us have enjoyed the Rare Breed experience. It's an excellent programme that gives the public a thorough insight into what we farmers do every day - you genuinely see what life is really like for us.

Name:John Kinnear

Age: 48

Occupation: Farmer

Relationship to Geoffrey: Brother

Rare Breed a ratings winner

  • Produced for UTV by independent production company Crawford-McCann, Rare Breed: A Farming Year continues to document the peaks and troughs of the agricultural industry through a unique “behind the scenes” window into the lives of farming families
  •  In detailing the journey of produce from field to fork through the eyes of its subjects over a year, it reflects communal cultivation in tandem with nature, circumstances and the weather. John and Geoffrey Kinnear are one of 21 families featured in the third series. The first series in 2012 was a huge success, regularly attracting over 200,000 viewers. The impressive ratings continue, with the second show in this run mustering a peak of 232,000
  • Rare Breed is on UTV on Monday at 8pm

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