I farm: “Eighty Cheviot-Blackface cross ewes on the Cooley Peninsula, part-time, alongside my family. I am a committee member of the Cooley Sheep Breeders Association and the IFA sheep commodity representative for Co Louth.”

Shearing: “I will be gathering the sheep for shearing in the next week or two. I shear all the sheep myself using hand shears. It leaves more wool on the sheep and a hand shears is more portable.”

Lambs: ”We lamb down on 1 April, all outdoors. We take the top pick of our ewe lambs and sell them at the Cooley Sheep Breeders sale. The rest of the lambs will either go to the factory or be kept for store lambs.”

Breeding: ”We use a Blueface Leicester x Texel ram with the ewes. Sheep are on the mountain unless they are rearing twin lambs down in the field or when they are being mated. Farmers on the hill want their sheep mated with their own ram. The breeding season starts in November.”

New Government: “It’s still very early days. Farming on the hill we farm with nature, without pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilisers, so seeing that there is a junior minister appointed to deal with special land use and biodiversity, I would like to see that she does everything in her power to help the high nature value farming systems that we have on the hills.”

Dog attacks: “Dogs loose on the Cooley Mountains has always been a problem. This year, I had sheep injured on the mountain, which sadly is not uncommon. It is not a suitable place to take your dog for a walk – it’s too much risk to our livelihood. It’s never the dog’s fault – it’s the owner’s.”

Cooley Sheep Breeders: “Our sale is on the first Saturday in September in Carlingford. This year, we are trying to make the sale as safe as possible with COVID-19. We have been going 10 years and the sale is going from strength to strength.”

Sheepdogs: “I have always had a sheepdog and I like to train my own. It is very important to have a good one when you are farming on hill commonage land.”

Quotable quote: ”Not all sheep suit all men and not all men suit all sheep.”

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