In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, Clodagh Hughes, sheep farmer, discusses current weather conditions and her first mart outing of the year.
Well, I think it is safe to say that the summer came at last, folks and not a minute too soon for me, as I spent an anxious few days waiting for my hay to be ready for baling.
Whatever chance you have of getting away with a small amount of rain on cut hay, you don’t want it to rain on it when it is baled.
As luck would have it, I got the weather I needed, and I now have a field of lovely, sweet hay.
Clodagh’s sheep farming diary
The sheep will consume this over the winter when the grass is low, and paddocks need to be closed off and rested for the following spring. It is also a huge saving financially.
Now all I need to do; is sweet-talk my lovely husband into helping me gather them from the field and stack them in the shed before our traditional Irish summer weather returns.
With the weather forecast over the next couple of days giving very high temperatures and extended spells of scorching sunshine, it is vital that I ensure all my animals have access to fresh water and shade.
Here is where my lovely mature hedgerows come into play, providing ample shelter during the hottest parts of the day.
It has just gone 11 am here, and already the sheep are all lined up along the shadiest parts of the fields. And I actually must go out after this and replenish all the drinkers that are not piped up to the mains.
My fly-struck ewe from last week is well on the mend, thank goodness. I caught her twice since the first treatment to check her over, and, although I found a few more maggots on her, she is now clear of them.
Thankfully, her poor skin is healing well. I know I am repeating myself here, but I am constantly amazed by the healing powers of animals!
Last Monday was my first mart day of 2022, and it was bitter-sweet as I had a few older sheep to go. These were ewes that either: had developed irreversible mastitis or had no milk at lambing time.
I am frequently reminding myself that I need to rule with my head rather than my heart with sheep farming. And, although it is always hard to say goodbye to any of my animals, the cheque in the post was badly needed as farming in any capacity is a business.
The monies I made will go straight back into the farm and pay a few bills. Some of my lambs are nearing sales weights; another few trips to my local mart will be on the cards soon.
I received a batch of ear-tags in the post this morning, and I am awaiting a new sheep dispatch book from the Department of Agriculture as my last one is full.
These items are required by law when selling and buying sheep. It means that each animal can be traced back to its place of birth or sale, ensuring safety for the consumer.
See more in Clodagh’s sheep farming diary.