Beauty salon

The passion of a beauty salon owner

Catherine Cunnane, It’s farming editor, in conversation with Alison Lyness-Lappin in this week’s Women in Agriculture segment. We discuss continuing the long family tradition and what it entails to run a beauty salon and the Lismaine farm.

“We live in Co Down near a small village called Magheralin, many of our fields cross the famous Lagan River.

I am the fourth generation to run our farm. I live next to the family farm with my husband, Paul, who has no farming experience. However, he can do it all and we work like a dream team. Mom and Dad live on the original farm.

I was born a farmer, I grew up as an only child. My mother worked full time as a secretary at a cheese factory now known as Glanbia.

Being a full time farmer, my dad took me everywhere he went, whether it was a sales yard, lambing ewes, calving cows, making hay or shearing or soaking sheep! I was involved in everything.

My dad, Ted, owns the farm. But I have to remember that my dad always thinks he’s the boss and sometimes reminds us both of his ways, which we don’t always agree with, but he certainly has experience with them.

Currently, I run our farm with my husband, Paul, who works full time in management.

Takeover of the Lismaine Farm

An opportunity presented itself five years ago on our family farm when my father suffered from poor health and decided to slow down his stock.

We had to decide: should he quit farming or leave the farm? Under no circumstances did I abandon our farm, as this has always been my way of life.

Therefore, my father Paul and I discussed to see what could happen. I was very keen to continue the farm and challenge myself and bring new ideas and ways to the farm.

The only problem was that I had my own beauty salon that I run from home, which is so different from farming, and my husband works full time. So we decided that I would do my business part-time and continue farming.

One minute I’m fully dressed and the next I’m in boots herding cattle. It’s crazy, but that’s what I like to do.

Ferme Lismaine is home to sheep, suckler cows and beef cattle. The cattle breeds we use include an Aberdeen Angus bull with Aberdeen Angus crossbred cows, and we have Belgian Blue heifers.

My dad has always kept Aberdeen Angus cattle, and it worked with calving ease and the end result in bringing cattle to the slaughterhouse from 24 to 28 months old. Plus, we find that they make great replacements.

Sheep breeding

Our sheep breeds are Charollais, Beltex, Dorset and some crossbred ewes. Paul and I have decided to get into pedigree Suffolk tups for the past two years.

We obtain very good results, with beautiful lamb ewes, which are guardians. Also we have Charollais and Dorset tups.

We now hope to branch out into more purebred sheep. We lamb our ewes from February to April in three batches. In addition, we feed good quality silage bales on which we start them in the field before housing them.

This year we wanted to keep them longer, but with very wet conditions the soil just wouldn’t hold. Therefore, we housed all but a few ewe lambs; they always came out.

We start giving a small meal at eight weeks and increase the rate in the last 4 to 6 weeks. Additionally, we vaccinate and get high energy buckets, plus molasses for energy.

We house our sheep a little longer than most to take advantage of the grass growth. We make our own silage in June and round bales in August, under the supervision of agricultural contractors.

A passion for sheep

We raise nearly 100 head of cattle and 200 sheep, which keeps me busy cultivating myself.

Farming is amazing because every day is different, from one easy day to the next everything goes wrong.

It’s the challenge you face, but with love and passion for something, it gets you through.

I must say that I am most passionate about sheep. My dad says I’d do anything for the sheep before the humans.

Four important things when handling sheep are a good dog, sheep hedges, a turning crate when handling on your own, and incredible patience.

My husband, Paul, loves cattle. He maintains that sheep are very needy, so the combination of the two works well!

Alison Lyness-Lappin of Lismaine Farm is a sheep and suckler cow farmer and beauty salon owner, originally from Northern Ireland.


My daily responsibilities in the winter include feeding cattle silage and flour, cleaning, bedding, and checking that all animals are healthy and healthy.

As for the sheep, I feed them, clean them and coat them, as well as other general tasks.

We also take the alley and paddock grazing approach, which we believe works well with cattle grazing.

In addition, we decided to fence the fields in smaller sections. Soil sampling is another new addition we are taking which is important for advanced farming.

Alison Lyness-Lappin of Lismaine Farm is a sheep and suckler cow farmer and beauty salon owner, originally from Northern Ireland.

Tuberculosis epidemic

The biggest challenge I have ever faced in farming was almost four years ago. Shortly after dad handed over the reins to us, we were hit by a dreadful tuberculosis epidemic.

It was a huge challenge for both of us. We lost 42 cattle in one go. I will never forget that feeling until the day I died, seeing the best of our animals leave us, including an amazing Angus bull who of course had a name, Andy.

We then had to isolate the 42 animals until sampling. It broke my heart when I looked outside and saw a big Scania double decker truck reversing in the yard. The cows had to go, leaving behind their calves.

The hardest part was seeing the barn so bare without ¾ of our cattle.

We were treated so well with the guidance of our local agriculture department officer.

They gave us the opportunity to cull all of our cattle and start new cattle in a few months.

Dad, Paul and I thought sleepless nights about what to do. I said we would try a second time and try another test. You must have two clear tests.

Now remember the last test, we had 42 less. The two-month test arrived, which was so nerve-wracking. We had clear tests, which our local vet mentions to date.

We just passed our annual TB test and got the green light on January 1st, 2022. Tuberculosis is a big threat in our region.

women in agriculture

As a farmer, I never felt different from my male counterparts, as I grew up with men during my early farming years.

In recent years, women have become increasingly involved in agriculture. Women are now seen regularly in livestock markets and they dominate our local veterinary clinic. It’s nice when they visit our farm catching up.

With social media, there are many opportunities for women to be recognized in agriculture.

For women to get into farming, we have modern farming skills; we are good communicators, versatile and used to working hard with odd challenges. It is always said that behind every man hides a bigger woman!

Alison Lyness-Lappin of Lismaine Farm is a sheep and suckler cow farmer and beauty salon owner, originally from Northern Ireland.

Future plans

Our vision for future farming is to be happy, to enjoy farming and to continue to evolve with the times, but also to have a life because you are only on this earth once.

As a woman in agriculture, I love life; it is hard work and challenging yet rewarding. You will find me trying everything.

I also have a great interest in sheepdog competitions. This is my next challenge; buy a good sheepdog.

In my opinion, you can’t work with sheep without one. In 2018 we were privileged to have the International Sheep Trials, just 4 miles from my home.

It’s hard not to fall in love with animals. I tend to give personal names to cattle and sheep.

We try to do our best to take care of our livestock. My dad always says never to fall in love with animals, but I’m too sweet!”

To read more women in farming profiles.

To share your story like Lismaine Farm, email [email protected]