Hello and happy new year to you all, writes Clodagh Hughes.
Although the first few days of 2021 haven’t exactly been anything to shout about, there is a feeling of optimism that comes with every New Year, none more so than this one with the expectation that the coming months can only be an improvement.
Overall, 2020 was not a bad year for me. I feel quite guilty saying that as I’m so aware of the hardships and tragic losses others have endured. But as a farmer living in rural Ireland, my life has mainly been unaffected. This is not to say I haven’t been impacted by this pandemic.
Laid off indefinitely from my job as a chef
Two days before St. Patrick’s Day 2020, I was laid off indefinitely from my job as a chef. As you all know, the hospitality sector has been hit savagely, I won’t be getting this position back anytime soon!
But again, I have to admit that I was lucky that I had my wee flock of sheep to occupy me all throughout and just as I was being laid off, my lambing season was taking off!
Also, since March last, I’ve been able to focus more on my wee farm enterprise. I’ve been able to install a rather rudimentary, but fully operational, handling facility with the help of my husband, who fortunately has been working almost normally throughout the pandemic, be it under restricted conditions obviously.
Teagasc Green Cert
I was able to take up an offer on studying the Teagasc Green Cert, which I’ve wanted to complete for a few years now and wasn’t in a position to do and which I’m enjoying immensely.
Ok, I suppose I better do some farm talk. I’ve gotten in more hay and my pregnant ewes are all housed in a lovely cosy shed as they relax and grow all their lovely wee lambs.
Having the sheep housed brings a few advantages such as, not having to lug bales and meal through treacherous muddy fields to feed them.
It also allows the ground get some much needed rest to recover from all the months of grazing and I LOVE spending time in the shed among the sheep.
If I go missing, this is most probably where you’ll find me. On these bitterly cold days, there is nothing as lovely as snuggling up to a big warm, woolly beast.
My replacement ewes and rams are still outfield and are on maintenance rations.
Pre-lambing vaccination booster
Next big job on the to-do list of Clodagh Hughes is a pre-lambing vaccination booster (how topical!). This is given 4/6 weeks before the first lambs fall to ensure enough of the vaccination’s properties are passed from ewe to lamb for their first few weeks of life.
I then vaccinate my lambs from 3 weeks of age to provide full cover against a number of serious diseases. For little more than €2 per animal, it’s a no brainer for me. I have lost lambs to common diseases covered by this vaccine and it’s terribly disheartening knowing you could have avoided a loss.