In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, Clodagh Hughes, sheep farmer, discusses preparing for breeding season and mental health and wellbeing.
As I write this article, folks, I am just in from a very pleasant sunny walk around the fields after checking all my sheep and lambs (Gorsey too).
I am now taking ‘stock’ of what I need to plan for the next few weeks ahead. Can you believe that it is almost tupping time again?
Life flies by fast enough in the ordinary sense but, when you farm, your days, weeks and months are set out quite differently.
You will find certain times of the year can be very quiet and reasonably uneventful. But, other times are so full-on and hectic; you do not know if you are coming or going!
During this fine spell of belated summer sunshine, I have found myself remembering back to the wet, freezing, miserable days and nights I spent throughout my lambing season.
It seems like such a long time ago. Yet, here I am preparing to introduce my ram (Mr Woody) back into my flock of breeding ewes for lambing 2022.
All throughout my farming year, amidst everything that went wrong for me, be it; bad decisions, bad luck and just plain old ‘that’s farming’ stuff.
My breeding ewes have long since recovered and maintained their condition and health since they all lambed down last spring.
And, although I cannot take all the credit for this minor achievement, it has given me a much-needed boost to be more confident in my abilities as a sheep farmer as I go forward.
Mental health and wellbeing
As a rule, I do not discuss mental health. Personally, I deal with most of my own issues privately.
However, my article recently touched on how frustrating and disheartening it can be when things go wrong in the farming world.
Also, I posted on my social media about having a few rough weeks on the farm. It was the best thing I did, you guys!
I received nothing but supportive messages from friends and other farmers who knew precisely what I was going through and shared their own experiences.
Although it seems like such a cliché, it made me feel immediately like “I am not the only one”.
The old saying, “No man/woman/beast is an Island”, resonates quite deeply with me.
It might surprise people to know that I am happiest in my own world, on my wee farm, surrounded by my animals and rooting around in the muck and dirt!
But every now and then, even I need the support and interaction of humans, plus you cannot beat a bit of craic.
I sometimes forget this and can get bogged down and very overwhelmed when things go awry. It is so very easy to blame yourself for everything negative.
I just wanted to give a shout out to all those who continue to support me and say how grateful I am and to other farmers who may feel like nobody understands; chances are there are lots like you, and all you need to do is reach out.
All hail the power of social media.
Read more of Clodagh’s sheep farming diary entries.
To share your photos, stories and/videos, email – [email protected]