I have decided to reduce the number of ewes on the farm and I reluctantly sold off hoggets with lambs at foot.
found lambing this year hard. I was losing interest in it and it was too much of a 24/7 workload for myself and my wife Claire, who is a teacher.
With a lot of stock and the price of inputs, we just felt we were rolling a boulder up a hill.
During the last six months I got Covid twice and both times I had to work through it. Many people would consider that madness, but stopping to recuperate in the middle of lambing just wasn’t a runner.
It made me realise I need to calm things down on the farm. As much as I love it, life is too short to be so busy you can’t take a day off.
I have to laugh when I hear people discussing how working 9 to 5 is becoming a thing of the past and how we should aspire to working a four day week.
For me this just isn’t on the radar. But instead of laughing at it maybe I should try to figure out a better way to make our living without flailing ourselves seven days a week?
It’s great being a farmer but all work and no play can make farming very dull even on the sunny days.
So I sold the hoggets in Carnaross and Delvin. I was happy enough with the price, but it’s not something that I am used to doing.
It was hectic getting ewes with lambs at foot together and penned. A few lambs got mixed up in the panic of penning but thankfully I got them all sorted.
The buyers were happy and thankfully patient and I was grateful to them for that, farmers are decent with stuff like that when it comes to buying and selling stock.
Meanwhile, grass is jumping out of the ground. I’ve spread very little fertiliser compared to other years, and I go out with 25kg/ac splits of protected urea where and when necessary.
The fertiliser price increase has focused my mind on getting more from less. I won’t be as flaithiúlach with it in the future, even when the prices come back down.
By working on soil fertility and dealing with lime, P & K issues along with reseeding with clover, I’m getting the benefit now in terms of keeping my costs down.
It takes a bit of patience, a few mistakes here and there and there, but as the saying goes the man or indeed the woman that never made a mistake never made anything.
I plan to start making pit silage towards the end of the month or the first week in June soon, and any fields that are getting too far ahead will be baled.
I really don’t want to be stuck for winter feed. It’s not worth it. So I always take the opportunity to make as much winter fodder as I can, and given the weather we’re getting, there’s a chance to make loads.
By the end of the month I have to get the wild bird cover sown, spray docks, reseed 30ac which I’ll undersow with tyfon and stitch in a bit of clover to a field that is infested with docks.
Clover stitching worked really well for me last year. The contractor did it with an Einböck and air drill at a rate of 2kg/ac. It worked a treat and I’d really recommend it. Although it takes a year for the benefits to be seen.
I dosed all the lambs for coccisdiosis and did them with clik to cover them for blow fly. The ewes are dagged but I continuously have to keep checking them as they are going on their backs.
Losing a sheep on her back is really frustrating, and Murphy’s law would have it that if you miss one evening to check them, it’s inevitable that the next day you’ll find one with the four legs up in the air.
I’m getting them shorn soon and that should alleviate the problem.
The solar panels are finally going up on the shed. I’m looking forward to reduced electricity bills and when the ‘eco warrior’ millennials that come to stay leave the lights on, I won’t give a hoot.
I get a load of students from all over Europe to help out. They are all really environmentally conscious, complaining about this and that, but when I ask them to turn off a light or use a clothes line instead of the tumble drier, you’d think I asked them to donate their left kidney.
John Fagan farms at Gartlandstown, Co Westmeath
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