Tim’s discussion group was due for its annual visit. They normally have a cup of tea or coffee in the shed as the discussion begins. I had my niece, Kate, booked to help me with making scones and getting ready. I weighed out the ingredients for the scones and Kate started mixing, kneading and cutting scones.

I began to wash up a few bits and noticed that the water was only lukewarm coming out of the hot tap. I mentioned it to Tim with the proviso that there was no need to concern himself about it until the farm walk was finished. Did you ever notice that the heating or water are sure to give trouble if there are visitors due?

Luckily, in this case, there was no real panic, so I boiled the kettle and forgot about the water. Tim had also unpacked the patio chairs we purchased in Dairygold six weeks previously, so the men had a seat. It demonstrated how poor the weather had been that they remained sealed up. I had harboured notions of sitting out in the garden during my recovery period and using my new patio furniture! That idea went south as it nearly rained every day since we purchased them.

New facilities

The men arrived at 11am on the dot and Adrian O’Callaghan, the Teagasc facilitator, was already in place with his information sheets on the group and our farm. The importance of the discussion group in our farming lives cannot be stressed enough. It is a safe place to discuss problems and invariably get answers from like-minded people.

How could the expenditure be justified for a shed that would only be used for four or five months of the year?

If you think about it, the weather conditions are generally the same for farmers drawn from the same locality. So, if there are difficult weather conditions then farmers can come up with strategies to manage the situation successfully. Grass growth on farms will be similar too. This year there has been plenty of grass grown with surplus bales of silage generated for the winter. Colm is involved in a different discussion group. It has representatives from across the country and that brings a different dynamic to our home farm plans.

We have decided to build a new calf shed and an extra slurry tank. Both are grant aided under Tams II. Both investments are for future proofing our farming system and ensuring compliance into the future.

The calf shed has been under discussion for several years. I’d be advocating for it and the men would do the figures and the answer would be no. How could the expenditure be justified for a shed that would only be used for four or five months of the year?

It’s a point that could not be disputed until the realisation that we may well have to keep calves on our farms for longer periods before selling them. We cannot allow welfare conditions to slip on dairy farms so we have to be ahead of the game. Many of the decisions we make in the coming years will be to ensure that we can stay in business.

Tams III

Tams III generated a healthy debate at the discussion group gathering. It is complicated and any farmer that is considering investment should read the Department information carefully and take advice from your local Teagasc adviser. You cannot afford to make a mistake that might result in the grant not being paid out. Adrian warned farmers not to buy mobile equipment until your grant has been approved.

The lads went off to see the grass seeds that are now flourishing. The conventionally sown grass has now caught up with the stitched in grass seeds. It was out of rotation for 30 days longer than the stitched grass seeds. Drought was an issue in June.

Cold water

The men departed. Later in the evening, Julie said that she had intended to go for a shower but the water was cold. Tim spent some time investigating the boiler.

His exploration led him back to the diesel tank, where he found that the supply tap had been turned off. It could only be little fingers. He took Ricky out to explain the workings of the heating. The little boy was happy to admit that he had turned off the tap. The worrying thing is that I never saw him do it! CL

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