Charlie's Corner: surprise quadruplet lambs and a busy holiday
I am back at school this week after our two-week Easter holidays. I say “holidays”, however it was anything but. April is our busy time on the farm with calving and lambing, and I was on duty for a lot of it.
The weather has not made things easy. We were fortunate not to be too affected by a fodder shortage, but the fields are muddy and bare, and with the sheep out and some of the cattle, the pressure is mounting.
We’re hopeful that the place will dry up soon, and the grass will start to grow.
The cows calve indoors, and then they are tagged and go straight out into one of our drier fields.
It seems we are having a much higher percentage of heifers born this year, but we do not mind. My Dad says they are less work later on, and it gives us the opportunity to sell them off as breeding stock.
They are all three-parts Stabiliser, and there seems to be a growing demand for this breed. They are naturally polled so they have no horns, and they are quite small and docile, so quite easy to handle. We never have to assist with a calving, so that is another plus.
The sheep all lamb outside, and have been doing OK. There have been a few more losses than usual because of the weather, but generally they are hardy, and thrive well.
On April Fools’ Day, one ewe that was scanned for triplets had four big hardy lambs running after her that morning. That was a nice discovery for the morning that was in it.
Any weak lambs will be brought inside; so far we do not have too many indoors. We do not have pet lambs, despite my younger brother George’s protestations, and tend to successfully adopt any excess triplets (or quads) on to ewes who have had single lambs.
Speaking of quads, my Dad traded in the old quad bike for a new one. Although it was hard to tell if it was new or not after its first trip around the farm.
Quad bikes seem to be invaluable now for farmers. Nearly every farm I know has one. What did they do before them I do not know?
Perhaps farming entailed a lot of walking, or perhaps they used their tractors more. Maybe farms are bigger now too.
Hopefully we have seen the last of the cold, wet weather. It has been such a long winter, it is hard to imagine any leaves on the trees.
The rooks have built nine nests in the big ash tree at the back of our house, two more than last year I think, so they must be thriving. I admire their determination to build their nests in the cold and rain.
I’m not sure if they are sitting on any eggs yet, but when we do finally get a glimpse of the chicks later on, they are usually quite big.
The only good thing with all this cold weather is that the lawn is not growing so well, and I have not yet had to start that weekly chore of mowing.
I’m sure I will be at it again before long, and hopefully that will herald the start of the summer and some longer, warmer days, which I am looking forward to very much.
Charlie Hackett is a 14-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, along with a few horses, chickens, dogs and cats, making it a busy family farm. Charlie is a second-year student at Kilkenny College and boards there during the week.