Charlie's Corner: mad for grass
I finally got behind the wheel of our Husqvarna ride-on lawnmower. Eventually my dad decided that I was mature enough to drive around the garden and not crash into trees or mow down my mum’s plants. I was under strict instructions, however, to turn off the lawnmower should any of my siblings come anywhere near me. At the start it was all a little nerve wracking, but by the time I’d finished I was a pro at it.
All is quiet on the farm this past while, as everything is outdoors and no extra feeding is required. The sheep were sheared in June, and were glad to be free of their thick woolly coats in time for the heat wave in June. The lambs were treated against blowfly attack with a spray, which is permitted as a preventative measure under organic rules.
My dad has been busy topping the fields, which not only tidies them up a lot, it helps deter docks, nettles and thistles (we have our fair share), and helps the grass regenerate for the rest of the summer growth.
It took us a while to get our silage cut, and we were eager to get this done as soon as possible. As an organic farm the grass growth tends to be slower, and we just had to wait for it to reach the right stage for cutting. Then it’s a matter of waiting for the right weather during which to harvest it. We managed to get it all cut by the end of July. We made some hay too during July, so hopefully that will be enough fodder for the winter. Organic silage and hay is very expensive to buy, and hard to come by.
I was on a farm of a different type last weekend – a wind farm. My mum is the organiser of the first parkrun in Co Offaly, and it took place around the walkways at Mountlucas Wind Farm, which is not too far away from us. There are 28 big white turbines there which can produce electricity for 45,000 homes. The parkruns are community based, free, weekly, timed 5K runs, and they take place all over the country (and the world) each and every Saturday at 9:30am, so look one up near you.
The vegetable garden is in full production at the moment. We have peas, carrots, beetroot, sweetcorn and pumpkins. The broad beans did not germinate at all this year – my mum changed variety this year, and now wishes she hadn’t. She would love a poly-tunnel sometime, but we make do with our conservatory, and have a nice courgette plant growing in a pot there at the moment.
All summer, we have been enjoying our potatoes from the garden. It does not seem so long ago when we planted the somewhat unappetising and shrivelled Charlotte seed potatoes. But these ugly ducklings have turned into beautiful swans, and we are looking forward to enjoying them for dinner with some butter this evening – bon appétit.
Charlie Hackett is a 13-year-old boy from Geashill in Co Offaly, where he lives with his two younger sisters Poppy and Heidi, and his younger brother George. His parents Mark and Pippa both work on the farm, producing organic beef and sheep and, along with a few horses, chickens, dogs and cats, is a busy family farm. He has just finished his first year as a student at Kilkenny College.