Last Friday morning, my husband Tim’s phone rang. It was 7.45am. I could hear our son Colm’s voice on the end of the line.
“I just met Pat Murphy on the road to Ballyanly. He’s headed our way. He’s on the loader!”
Pat is our silage contractor and both Tim and Colm know that once the loader is in the yard; it won’t leave until the job is complete. Pat had said he’d be on at 8am.
Tim had been up at cock crow to spread a sheet of plastic down the sides of the silage walls to ensure a proper seal of the pit
At 7.57am, the rumble of the first tractor and trailer came in the drive. Tim had been up at cock crow to spread a sheet of plastic down the sides of the silage walls to ensure a proper seal of the pit. There was no point in doing that until just before the event as the wind would surely catch it.
It was the calmest of mornings with the sun splitting the stones and just three days to the longest day of the year – otherwise known as mid-summer’s day. It certainly didn’t feel like we’d had enough good weather to be as far as mid-summer given the amount of broken weather that farmers have endured over the last few weeks.
Even though the weather was misty when Tim decided to take out paddocks; the grass was picked up dry the following day
It has been really tough to manage grass. We had succeeded in getting paddocks taken out as the growth rate was high and there was just too much grass on the farm. It’s a balancing act to get it right. Even though the weather was misty when Tim decided to take out paddocks; the grass was picked up dry the following day securing good-quality bales for the milking cow. It’s the kind of year when farmers have to take chances to keep the grass ahead of the cows right.
That’s a lot of bales to harvest
It is hard to prevent the protein content of the milk from taking a nose dive in this kind of weather. According to Adrian O’Callaghan at the discussion group meeting on our farm recently; farmers need to have three silage bales per cow made for the winter period; one for autumn, one for spring and one spare. That’s a lot of bales to harvest. These bales are top quality for the milking cow.
The broken weather has resulted in main crop silage being late. We are three weeks late on this farm. Consequently, that pit silage will only be suitable for feeding dry cows. It will not be good enough for milking cows.
My 18-month old grandson Ricky was thrilled with the rumbling tractors and clanging trailers.
There is a clear view of the farm roadway from our living room. It was the best babysitting service ever. Ricky stood rooted to the spot, his little ears hearing the tractors coming well before me in the distance. Little boys and big boys love the action. It is so important to be vigilant about safety around silage making time.
Take absolutely no chances
The rule has to be to stay inside and if you take little ones to see the silage making operation; keep them in the jeep or tightly in your arms. Take absolutely no chances.
This year is really tough on silage contractors. The workload has piled in front of them. Sleep deficit is an absolute reality and no matter how experienced one is; the body needs replenishing. In that scenario accidents can happen so the best way to help is not to add any more things for them to watch. Give them the space to get on with it.
The farmers are anxious for the work to be done and the silage contractor not answering the phone adds to the frustration. My son in law David says: “They don’t know what to tell you! That’s the problem!” I say: “Keep talking.”
Pat spelled out that there were three farms before us
Pat Murphy had spoken to Tim several times over the previous two weeks and daily for the last few days. On Sunday, Pat spelled out that there were three farms before us. Tim explained that he wanted the grass wilted for at least 24 hours and 36 if possible. They cut it on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. They arrived on Friday. So, it was a happy medium for both farmer and contractor. Some of the crop got 36 hours wilting and the rest 24 hours. After all, one can’t do without the other so it is better to understand and preserve the relationship as much as possible.