In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, Clodagh Hughes reflects on her journey to date as a small sheep farmer.
Even though in the grand scheme of things, I am a small sheep farmer, I sometimes get it very hard to squeeze in half of what my farming week can entail. No two days are the same and even the best-laid plans go awry.
When I first started out on my sheep farming adventure, I was told, by more than a few farmers, that there is a lot of handling involved with keeping sheep, especially if you are a very conscientious individual and invest a lot of yourself emotionally, never mind financially, into them.
You may have noticed a rather sombre tone to a few of my recent diary posts. I cannot deny that, over the last 4/5 weeks, I have encountered several challenges on my wee farm that have truly tested my resolve: both emotionally and physically.
Although I was reared on a farm and was always very actively involved in most aspects of the enterprise, up until I left to pursue my career as a chef that is, I cannot pretend that I fully understood the ‘big issues’ that our parents would have dealt with and perhaps shielded us from.
It is only now, as my flock continues to grow and I am in charge of the whole running of things, that I feel a little overwhelmed sometimes.
Green Cert with Teagasc
But it is not all doom and gloom folks; since studying the Green Cert with Teagasc, I have picked up so much information and been given access to agricultural resources to help me overcome some of these challenges.
It is great to talk to like-minded people who are as passionate about Irish agriculture as I am.
Most importantly, I have others to bounce ideas off and compare and support any disasters that may have occurred!
I have also mentioned the ‘power of social media’, which is a very beneficial tool when you use it correctly.
I think what I am trying to say is that; although I had a good grasp of what being a sheep farmer would demand of me, I was a bit naïve when it came to certain aspects of running a farm, regardless of size.
Rules and regulations
It may surprise a lot of people the amount of rules and regulations associated with farming. Of course, they are there to protect the farmer and the consumer.
I had a young woman ask me; “but what do you actually do as a farmer?”
Needless to say, I was not short of words to explain to her the gist of what I do!
We ended up having a good chat. She was blown away by the amount of care and veterinary attention that Irish farm animals receive.
One particular thing that she was very impressed with was the worming and vaccination protocols on farms and also, how in farming, we strive to keep antimicrobial resistance as low as possible.
Of course, I can only speak for myself and how I farm. However, this is something that I am getting better and more confident at doing.
Read more of Clodagh’s diary entries.