The easy and satisfying part was going to the Ploughing Championships. I had a few farm items that I wanted to do, which in my view, needed face to face contact.
As usual, my first port of call was the Department of Agriculture stand. I was meant to bring my Ag food number which I forgot to do, but I had my herd number and that was enough.
I was glad to be reassured that my BISS application form had been received and as there were no obvious mistakes, I could be confident that my payment would come more or less on time. Another helpful booth examined my straw incorporation application.
It was slightly over the 40ha limit but I would be paid up to the 40ha, so that was ok, as was my protein aid application. The potentially trickiest part was in the reclassification of a few acres of previously ineligible land as eligible. After a fair bit of examination, that too was declared in order.
It would have taken a long time to have obtained the same level of detailed answers and guidance by phone or correspondence. No wonder there was such a crowd in the stand. The level of competence and courtesy from the Department staff should be acknowledged.
Next stop was a specialist IT firm. I have long wanted to link up my electronic cattle weighing scales with our own computer and ICBF‘s HerdPlus network. I had sent photos of my own weighing scales and instrumentation. I called in having assured them that I would see them at the Ploughing.
They greeted me by declaring that while my basic crush etc was fine, the rest of the installations were antiques and that a full upgrade was overdue! They were confident they could meet all my requirements at a modest cost. They gave me their card. I gave them name, address and Eircode and they promised they would call to me once they had got over the Ploughing.
The final urgent call was to the manufacturer of my slats. Because of the age of my slatted houses, we only have internal agitation points and the steel frames and bolts are showing their age.
A weakness in these units can be catastrophic if they give way when cattle are in the shed, so now is the time to make sure they are safe and in order. Again I explained what I needed – the exhibitor showed me what they had done in previous similar cases and again, promised to call once they had got over the Ploughing.
After that I looked at a range of equipment, trying to decide what we really needed as distinct from what would be nice to have. Meanwhile, back home, the seed for the winter barley had arrived. It was back to earth.