The turf-cutting business came about by accident. I had never intentionally set out to do it, but word can get around in a small community and it kind of took off from there.
I took over the family farm about four years ago, when I was 18 years old and I’m 22 now.
Up until then, I had been attending Ballinrobe Community School. Because I had always been around the farm, I didn’t really consider any other career options, farming was always what I intended to do.
The farm is 100ac and is mainly lowland, but the soil can be quite soft and wet. I bought a digger at the beginning of this year, as I intended to reclaim some of the land and work on the drains. It’s a Fiat-Hitachi EX-135.
I used to work with a local contractor when I was younger and through watching him, I began to pick up how to operate various types of machinery. He basically taught me how to operate a digger.
There is quite a lot of bog land around where I live
I’m getting as much use out of it as possible, as now I’m using it to cut the turf as well.
There is quite a lot of bog land around where I live. Unlike many other people, I really like working in the bog, and we have a lot of our own bog in the area, so around February this year, I bought the wheel-hopper.
I got it for our own use at home, where I live with my grandmother, mother and sister. I started to receive calls from neighbours who also needed their turf cut, so that’s what I’m doing at the moment.
It’s a Difco wheel hopper that attaches to the tractor, so I use the digger to fill it up with bog peat and then I lay it out using the hopper.
My uncle Michael Walsh and neighbour Niall Monaghan are helping me with the work at the moment. It’s great to be able to cut turf while the farm is a bit quieter, the whole cutting season only lasts about six weeks.
The suckler farm is 95 cows and the herd is made up of Hereford and Angus cattle. I don’t usually AI them, as I have a Limousin stock bull that runs with them. Calving began in January this year and finished just before the turf-cutting started at the beginning of April.
There were 40 cows calved this year and I plan to hold onto the calves until August
In fact, the last one calved on the very day I started in the bog, so that was lucky. There were 40 cows calved this year and I plan to hold onto the calves until August, when I will sell them.
I’m really glad that the coronavirus hasn’t upset any of my plans this year, as I didn’t have anything ready to sell when the pandemic started, but hopefully the marts will be back open again soon and things will go back to normal.
Most of my knowledge of the farm came from my experience with it growing up, but I did spend two years at Mountbellew Agricultural College in Co Galway, doing my Green Cert. I really enjoyed it and it was good craic.
I used to commute over and back from home every day, so the days were long enough, but farming has long days too, so I got used to it quickly.
A lot of people find that farming can be rather isolating, but not at our house
We did a lot of different types of farming at one stage, including milking dairy cows, but I’d much rather stick to rearing sucklers, as they don’t require as much time as a dairy herd, particularly in the summer when they’re out.
I like farming. I’ve always enjoyed it really, working outside and being my own boss is something I enjoy – it’s a lifestyle thing I suppose.
A lot of people find that farming can be rather isolating, but not at our house, as people are always calling into us. I have great neighbours as well – my farm is in Cloghans Hill, Tuam, Co Galway, which is a way from where I live, but there are always people to help me out when I need them.
I thought about buying a couple of sheep this year, but I didn’t get around to it yet. I plan to buy a flock of about 20 ewes later on in the year, when I have the drainage sorted out on the land.
he rest of the summer will be taken up clearing bogs for local farmers
I’m not aiming to keep any pedigrees, but I definitely want to get into commercials before the end of the year.
The rest of the summer will be taken up clearing bogs for local farmers and reclaiming some of my land with the digger, so hopefully, when that is sorted out, I’ll start expanding my suckler herd too.