Jean: We live in Ardagh, Co Longford, just outside the village. I’m 15 and I go to Scoil Mhuire, Longford in the town.
Emma: I’m 12 and I go to St Mel’s National School in Ardagh.
J: At the minute on the farm we have three Angus cows, purebreds, who all have calves. We have one commercial cow and we have a couple of heifers that don’t have calves. Usually we have bullocks of my dad’s as well, but we sold them recently.
We decided to get Angus first when we got into pedigree because we said the easy calving and no horns were big factors. So that swung it for us.
We out winter them, we don’t have them in sheds. They’re very good at staying out. We read somewhere that Angus can withstand temperatures of minus 30 degrees to plus 30 degrees, so that’s their comfortable temperature range.
I like being out on the farm. I’m out there a lot. Mostly I’d be helping with the fencing. Emma more so gets them in, she’s good at that. She’s better at running than I am. When we do have the bullocks, I feed them.
J: We started in Ladybirds when we were in Junior Infants.
E: Ladybirds is from age five to seven. Brownies is seven to 10. Then it’s 10 to 15 for Girl Guides. So I’m in Guides still. Our unit is Ardagh Girl Guides.
J: I’m kind of gone out of Guides now. I’m gone into Senior Branch. I haven’t re-joined yet, because I had my Junior Cert but it was kind of cancelled. I wanted to focus on the exams, but hopefully when I go into transition year (TY) I might do a little bit more.
We probably have one of the biggest units in Longford and we’re quite well known around the country as well. We’re fairly big, but in recent times it has died down a little bit. Probably because of COVID, but hopefully when things are back in full swing, it’ll be normal again.
Normally, outside of the pandemic, we meet up once a week, we go on a couple of camping trips a year and have different outings. We learn different survival tips, just in case you ever do need to use them. Then even just general arts and crafts and interesting general knowledge.
E: You learn different knots as well. The uniform is a blue and pink hoody, a white patterned neckerchief and a bag that you put all your badges on.
J: Girl Guides is a nice relaxing hobby if you’re not in to sports as such. If you’re not a huge sports fan, but you want to still have lots of friends and just meet new people, it’s great.
E: It’s very beneficial and you learn lots of different things.
J: During COVID our unit had Zoom meetings and we did a camp out at home, where you camped out in your own tent in the garden or inside.
We also did a Zoom calving from our farm. We had a good idea the cow was going to calve and she’s a cow who always goes ahead of her time, so we had a suspicion that she might calve during the meeting. We were kind of getting ready for it anyway. She was in the shed.
The group really liked it. We didn’t show the graphic details, as such. But they saw the cow licking the calf afterwards and that.
We allowed them to name the calf. They called him Baden. They chose that name because the day he was born is called Thinking Day in Guides. It’s one of the huge celebrations. It’s when the founders’ birthdays are. They’re a brother and sister, Robert Baden-Powell and Agnes Baden-Powell.
We both have our farming badge. For your farming badge you have to show evidence that you’ve looked after a farm animal for at least two weeks and know their needs. You also have to know about different kinds of farming, general farming knowledge and some machinery as well.
E: You have to write an article about what you have at home, just in general about it. It wasn’t too hard.
J: After school I’d like to do veterinary a lot, I’ve said it since I was about four. Or else something in science, genetics maybe. I’d be interested in working on a stud farm.
E: I haven’t really got an idea yet, but maybe something like a vet or a dentist.
J: For the summer we’ll be mostly on the farm and with the ponies as well. We have two horses. We have one each and then we have another little one on loan to someone, because we’ve grown out of him.
J: Mine is called Magic.
E: Mine is called Pistachio.
Aim: To understand the elements of farming.
Complete any four options to gain a badge. Subsequent badges may be earned when you complete four additional options.
Safety on the farm
Describe a number of farm safety guidelines including: the working environment, animals, chemicals and machinery.
1 Have a working knowledge of the tractor.
2 Describe the function of three of the following: plough, cultivator, harrow, roller, corn drill, sprayer, combine harvester, forage harvester, mowing machine, swathe turner, baler, and fertiliser spreader.
3 Have spent at least five days on a farm helping as much as possible and keep a log of your experience.
4 Have knowledge of the different types of farming practiced in your area and describe the yearly sequence.
5 Describe some of the natural resources that can be farmed in Ireland.
6 Look after (or help to look after), feed and keep clean regularly for two weeks any farm animal or poultry.
7 List the necessary equipment required to look after your livestock.
8 Describe the collection method of your animals’ waste produce eg slatted sheds, straw bedding.
9 Describe three different breeds of the livestock you are caring for.
10 Explain the feeding, housing and general care requirements of your livestock in winter and summer.
11 Recognise the signs of illness in livestock and what you should do to care for it.
12 Know how long the gestation periods are for three types of livestock.
13 List the necessary equipment to look after your livestock correctly
14 Describe the collection method of your livestock’s produce.
15 List the most common farm crops grown in Ireland.
16 Describe the process from preparing the land to harvesting the crop.
17 Describe the process of care in both organic and non-organic farming.
18 Explain the value of market gardening.