In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, sheep farmer, Clodagh Hughes, discusses Ireland’s weather obsession, a lack of grass growth, the loss of a lamb and new arrivals.
We are famous here in Ireland for our love of talking about the weather, and as farmers, we are even a bit more obsessed than some. But it is completely justified, folks as we spend so much of our time working outside exposed to the elements. Also, we need specific conditions throughout the seasons for our grass and crops to grow and carry out specific farm tasks. The weather in its many guises is an integral part of our farming life.
And, as each type of farming enterprise requires differing weather conditions, we can never collectively be satisfied.
Lack of grass growth
For example, a few weeks ago, I wrote about the grass leaping out of the ground and how great it was to get my ewes and lambs out to graze.
Well, due to the arctic conditions most of the country has experienced of late, grass growth has ceased as quickly as it began.
And because of this reduction in growth, I am now in a situation where I will have to manage my paddocks carefully or else, I will end up overgrazing some and not having an adequate rest period for them to recover after grazing out.
At least there has already been a big improvement in temperatures since the weekend.
On the flip side of the coin, some tillage farmers have been able to get onto their previously waterlogged land and prepare for their forthcoming crops season.
Unfortunately, I have more disappointment to report regarding a young lamb that got trampled in the melee, which occurs at feeding time.
The ewes go a bit berserk for their meal rations; I mean, they would run you over! And regrettably, this one lamb got caught up by some of the stampede.
I took him up to the house and nursed him for three days, but he succumbed to his injuries last night.
Honestly, I do not know why, but I shed a few tears over this wee fellow. I am not saying I am hardened to the losses by any means, but this one got to me for some reason.
Today the sun is out smiling down upon us, and as I watch all my healthy lambs frolicking about, things don’t seem so bad.
Surplus lamb and new chicks
Let’s lift the mood a bit now. My little bunch of surplus lambs are flying. They still have ad-lb access to warm milk all day but have started nibbling grass, and they also get a small ration of lamb nuts and good hay.
This means their daily milk intake is reducing, which is precisely what you are aiming for. They are such fun to be around too.
I have yet to administer my lamb’s vaccinations, but with the help of my lovely ag student Laura, next week will see us get that started. So much for being organised.
I’m looking forward to some new chicks from Sunday next as I have a brooding hen nesting. As it only takes approximately 21 days for the eggs to incubate, it will not be long now. Stay tuned for cute chick photos!
Read more of Clodagh Hughes’ sheep farming diary entries.