Katesbridge farmer to star on Rare Breed.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Katesbridge farmer to star on Rare Breed. thumbnail Geoffrey and Lorraine are pictured with their daughters, Eva (far left) and Vanessa.

A KATESBRIDGE farmer is to star in the popular TV show 'Rare Breed - A Farming Year' this week.

Geoffrey Ringland (38) and his family will feature in the first episode of the new series tomorrow night (Wednesday) at 8pm on UTV.

This 12-part series shows the highs and lows of farming life throughout the agricultural year.

Goat breeder Geoffrey was first approached in December 2016 by his friend Libby Clarke who casts for the show.

Filming started at the Kilkinamurry Road family farm during January and February before being halted for a couple of months.

Geoffrey travelled over to Australia to judge the dairy goat section of the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

"I was over there for 16 days and it was quite an experience and an honour to be asked," he said.

Geoffrey's first goat was bought by his uncle, Sidney Corbett from Loughbrickland at Rathfriland Co- Op back in October 1989 for a fiver.

Aged just 10, Geoffrey cared tenderly for the animal and by his own admission, his obsession "quickly spiralled from there and went out of control".

His herd started to grow when his prized first animal was bred with a goat belonging to Nan Stray of Flush Road.

Success came in 2002 when he won at his first championship show, Castlewellan Agriculture Show.

And the awards kept coming with 13 championship wins at the creme de la creme of the local show world, Balmoral Show.

The film crew was there to record his reserve championship win last year which continued his record run of consecutive champion or reserve champion wins at every Balmoral Show since 2002.

Since starting to show animals in 1994, this sparked his enthusiasm for the competitive agriculture show circuit.

Geoffrey is from a farming family.

His parents, Zelwyn and Sheila, grow potatoes and keep a beef herd.

In addition to keeping his 40 pedigree British Saanen goats, Geoffrey has a demanding full-time job with a road haulage business.

"I'm office based and am in work from 6am-3pm but I'm up at about 4.15am to milk and check the goats.

The film crew was out for one of my very early starts at 3.30am so that was a shock for them!" The show covers all aspects of farm life from the early starts to the sad reality of keeping livestock.

"I haven't seen the final episode yet but there was a lot of filming," Geoffrey said.

"It started with the preparations for Balmoral Show in January and February before the break for a couple of months and back for the hectic three days of Balmoral Show. It is a busy time, as well as showing, I am a steward with the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society and I organise the stocksman's barbecue so there's a lot going on."

Geoffrey sadly lost one of his prize goats during filming. Churchview Salubrious was a prize-winning animal and was primed for landmark embryo transfer to Australia.

"The downside to farming is the loss of any animal and this was captured on camera. This animal meant a lot and was a huge lump out of the herd but it's one of those things.

"When I was in Australia, it was arranged to flush the animal to introduce a new strain. It would have been the first time there was a northern to southern hemisphere transfer and it was being set up before Salubrious took unwell." The animal had contracted a serious condition and was later put down by a vet.

"It will be interesting to see how the show comes across. It was a big challenge to be involved. Believe it or not, it was time consuming and daunting. We just had to decide to ignore the cameras."

Also starring in the show will be Geoffrey's wife Lorraine who works in the South Eastern Health Trust and their two daughters Eva (8) and Vanessa (4).

And this is not the girls' first foray on the small screen. They took part in the CBeebies show, 'My Pet and Me' which was aired last March also featuring their beloved pet goats.

* Rare Breed - A Farming Year featuring the Ringland family and others starts on Wednesday (10 January) at 8pm on UTV.


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