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Farmer Valerie packed up herd to follow her Scottish beefcake James Cameron

By Chris McCullough

Published 03/02/2016

Valerie Orr and her homebred cow Knowehead Jane with judge James Cameron at the 2012 Castlewellan Show
Valerie Orr and her homebred cow Knowehead Jane with judge James Cameron at the 2012 Castlewellan Show
The happy couple now

Love certainly does strange things to people, but for a young farmer from Ballygowan it has meant packing up her cows and shipping them over to Perthshire.

Valerie Orr's eyes met those of her Scottish boyfriend James Cameron across the cattle judging ring at Castlewellan Show back in 2012, but as their relationship blossomed the long haul from Northern Ireland to Scotland was becoming a bit much.

Valerie (27) had a decision to make - her beloved herd of Irish Moiled cattle at home, or James in Scotland ... so she choose both!

James (42) was at the show to judge the Irish Moiled cattle and the Beef Shorthorn breeds when he first met Valerie.

She has helped run Trainview Farm in Ballygowan, Co Down, for the past five years with her parents after leaving Greenmount College.

Her interest in pedigree cattle developed 10 years ago when she received an Irish Moiled heifer as a Christmas present.

She said: "We have a traditional mixed farm with beef cattle and broiler breeder hens, run by my parents David and Rosemary.

"My interest in pedigree cattle started 10 years ago when an Irish Moiled heifer came home as a Christmas present for me, which was the start of Knowehead Irish Moileds.

"James and I have been together for two years. He is from Glenshee in Perthshire and works as a beef stockman.

"We first met at Castlewellan Show in 2012 when James was judging the Irish Moiled and Shorthorn classes where I happened to be showing.

"I had a very good day that day, being placed reserve Irish Moiled breed champion with my homebred cow Knowehead Jane.

"Two years later we met again at the February Stirling bull sales and the rest, as they say, is history."

As Valerie's cows meant the world to her she could not be without them, so she was in a bit of a dilemma. However, she choose both James and the cows and has taken them to Scotland with her.

Valerie said: "Long distance relationships can be very hard work and with both of us working on farms getting chances to get away to see each other was very difficult.

"James moved over to Northern Ireland in June 2014 with the hope of finding work as a beef stockman here. At the same time we started to build up cow numbers on the family farm, with the Beef Shorthorns coming home to run alongside the Irish Moileds.

"Beef farms in Northern Ireland tend to be smaller family-run units so work opportunities for James were very limited.

"He decided to go back to Scotland to find work while I managed our herd back home.

"Over the last year things have gradually developed with opportunities coming our way that just seemed to be right. I applied for a job as an Agricultural Officer with ScotGov and I got the job.

"As James was getting ample work and with beef prices consistently higher in Scotland we decided just to move there. The next step was finding a farm to rent for the cows to move to.

"And, just in time for the move we secured the rent of sheds at Arnbog Farm, in Meigle, Perthshire. This part of Scotland is famed for the quality of its livestock and has some of the best arable ground in the country with no shortage of straw to bed the cattle with.

"We shipped over 25 cattle in total which was all our Shorthorns and a portion of the Irish Moiled herd.

"Unfortunately Storm Gertrude hit the day we had arranged to move the cattle, but with all the export paperwork signed we only had a small window to move them.

"In the end we had to delay the move by around six hours until the weather had calmed enough to allow livestock to sail. It worked out well though, because it meant we were able to load the cattle in the sunshine as opposed to the pitch black of 5am.

"The cows arrived safely at Arnbog farm and although a little tired from the journey they were glad to see a deep straw bed to lie on compared with the mud we left behind in County Down."

Valerie did not find the decision to move to Scotland an easy one, but in the end she followed her heart.

"It wasn't an easy decision to make," she said: "I have worked hard on the farm for five years to build up the cut flower and Christmas tree business along with my family.

"However, I knew I had to literally follow my heart and that is with James and our herd of cows (not forgetting our dogs Jude and Gyp).

"Home will always be home, but I love Scotland too and we see the opportunities in farming here to be much better for us."

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