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Farmer’s Diary: Navigating through puddles, that if you fell into, you wouldn’t be seen for days

Former professional chef, Clodagh Hughes, runs a sheep enterprise on the Monaghan/Louth border near Inniskeen.

After last week’s drama with an injured pup, college practical tests and my old dog going through a rough patch, this week has started off much calmer and relaxed.

Peadar pup is almost back to his former fluffy self. It is great to be able to have both pups together again and, more importantly, back outside.

I am not overdoing training with them yet as they still need regular naps. As their wee bodies are growing so fast, I do not want to put any unnecessary stresses on them.

I ordered two lovely books off the internet to help me with training the pups and one arrived a few days ago.

It covers everything from meeting your pup for the first time to the different characteristics of collies all through the training stages and has lots of tips from experienced shepherds throughout.

The most important thing I have already learned; is not to ‘overload’ the pups with too much information or stimuli at such a young age.  They are still only 11-weeks-old and I was, perhaps, being a little overzealous with my own enthusiasm!

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The weather has been so wet recently that everywhere is in pure muck and has made my feeding chores all the more treacherous an expedition!

Not only am I at risk of being bitten or trampled on by my own sheep at the feeders, but I also have to contend with navigating through puddles, that if you fell into, you wouldn’t be seen for days, and mud plains that you’d need skis to get across safely.

I am a bit peed off with the rain at the minute, although, on the flip side, my water barrels are constantly full.

To-do list

Which brings me nicely onto one of my jobs this week; I must administer a liver flue worm dose to my breeding ewes and replacement ewe lambs.

Because of the amount of rain we’ve had and due to the nature of the ground I farm, it provides the perfect environment for a type of snail which is the host/carrier of the liver fluke eggs that, if ingested by the sheep, can cause serious welfare and economical detriment to your flock.

It is really important to understand the type of area you farm your animals on and what you might be up against when it comes to parasite risks and nutritional deficiencies in the soils.

I still need to get a soil sample done on-farm and make a plan for next year’s fertiliser/slurry applications and mineral supplementations for the sheep.

You’ll be happy to hear I feel quietly confident that I passed my practical tasks last week in college. every little counts’ as the saying goes and we have more assignments to tackle over the next 4 weeks, the workload is increasing!

I have another couple of mart visits coming up in the next few weeks. I need to buy more hay and work out how much straw I am going to need for the winter housing period plus lambing.


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