“What happened to them?” That was the shocked reaction of the dog-groomer when my father landed in with our two collies after we botched an attempt at a DIY haircut to help them cope with the hot weather in June.

We used a set of cordless cow clippers, and while the dogs were entirely cooperative with the process, the issue was that the clippers lacked a depth gauge. We were also later told that collie coats are particularly hard to trim.

It all resulted in both canines getting what would be, at best, considered a terrible haircut reminiscent of the days of lockdown – to, at worst, the fear they are suffering from an awful hair moulting skin condition.

While we would frequently wash the dogs (using a double-wheeled wheelbarrow and Lidl shampoo), this was our first and last venture into the styling business.


With the dramatic worsening in weather, silage cutting has become a much more important issue than heat control.

While I am extremely grateful for the increase in grass growth, the lack of opportunity to ensile a deteriorating second cut is at the forefront of my mind.

The need to get the grass cut as soon as metrologically possible isn’t just to preserve silage quality, but also because I need some of the regrowth on an out-farm to graze dry cows who are expecting to be heading off on holiday in the near future.

However, while our situation is frustrating, thoughts should also go to local contractors who will be under immense pressure as soon as conditions improve.

A combination of heavy crops, sticky fields, long hours and stressed customers, provide a less-than-ideal working environment.


While we are all aware of the risks of wire ingestion in cattle due to worn tyres on a silo, there is little thought usually given to how best to encourage farmers to dispose of tyres responsibly.

Credit, therefore, to Causeway Coast and Glens council for providing a free disposal service last month.

Collecting them centrally at their recycling centres is presumably also a much more efficient use of rate-payer money than having to send out workers to clear up sites where they have been illegally fly-tipped.


Recently, Lynsey and I were fortunate enough to holiday in Switzerland, a country that by most metrics (wealth, education and health, etc), is considered one of the most advanced in the world.

Despite these achievements, the sense I got from the visit is that the country is actually most proud of its rural life, food production and breathtaking scenery, with the farmers responsible for these features highly valued by wider society.

Local food saturates every part of the nation, from metropolitan Zürich restaurants to rural market towns.


The average size of a Swiss farm is 24 hectares. Small dairy herds, comprising mostly Swiss Fleckvieh cows, are scattered throughout the Alpine region of Grinderwald, in which we were staying.

It was incredible to see the gradient at which silage was harvested. On the steepest areas grass is cut with a walk-behind cutter bar, with spikes on the wheels for extra grip.

After drying, grass is moved down the hill using the same power unit, with the cutter bar replaced with a mini grass-merger. Once on suitably level ground, the grass is windrowed and lifted, mostly using small silage wagons.

While walking in the Bernese Mountains, we stumbled across a herd coming in for evening milking.

On approaching the farmer for information on his farm, I found he spoke only slightly more English than I spoke German – but I was able to find out though gesturing and demonstration that he milked 80 Fleckviehs in a tie-stall/pipeline system.

He then transported the milk to a small Emmental cheese producer further up the valley.

The most entertaining part of the conversation was when I told him I was from Northern Ireland and he asked: “Ah Irish, you milk by hand? Or you now have machine?”

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