It is difficult to find words to describe the spring we have just been through.

The cows were in and out so much, it was extremely difficult to fix a feeding regime.

Sometimes they are out day and night, sometimes they are out days only and sometimes they weren’t out at all.

We just had to bite the bullet and feed them, but, fortunately, we had just enough silage stocks to see them through.

Pasture damage

Yes, we did damage the pasture, but hopefully the tillering effect will compensate for damage done.

One piece of good luck - and I’m not sure why - but on one third of the paddocks, we had left inadequate cover for the winter and these happened to be the wettest paddocks that we couldn’t graze.

The cows are now out full-time and grass has taken off. Phenomenally, we have had to pre-mow, post-mow and take out wraps. Then, it looked like we were getting short of grazing and torrential rain arrived.

10-day drought

We have now been experiencing a 10-day drought and grass is heading before it’s even grown.

Hopefully, an onslaught of fertiliser will address things, if we can catch the thunderstorms coming through.

Talking of fertiliser, it’s good to see the price has fallen. The merchants killed the goose that laid the golden egg, by opportunistically raising the price beyond what was realistic.

From habit, over the years, we have been applying fertiliser willy-nilly. But the phenomenal prices charged have made us pull back and delay applications and reduce applications.

This has checked grass growth to a degree, but has given the clover we stitched in last autumn an advantage.

Fodder storage

With all the wraps we have taken out, the next generation are looking at me sideways, wondering why I’m building up such a storage of fodder. I said nothing, but I’m too long in the tooth to turn down what nature sends.

Last spring, many young farmers around here were saying after the first cut they had never seen so much silage and would never use it. I told them: “If you make a lot, you need a lot.”

In August and September, every animal on the farm was on full winter rations. There is a Chinese curse which goes like this: “May you live in interesting times.” We certainly are.


I can’t help but comment on the political front, since it has so many implications for farming.

When I first started visiting Ireland 50 years ago, it was obvious the Irish Government had a rural conscience, since so much of the rural population still had one foot on the land.

They sought every advantage to be gained from the EU, for the benefit of Irish farming. We now see the Irish Government is virtually penalising the Irish dairy farmer for its success.

Over here, we are seeing the ruling Conservative party in total turmoil… no party in such turmoil has ever won an election, so we are anxious to see what the Labour party has in store for us.

Over here, the milk price is crashing, but I have no concerns, because the lower it goes, the higher it will go later, as herds are selling up like wildfire.

Currently, the processors are deluding themselves, saying they would rather pick up the same amount of milk from fewer farmers, but no one is increasing herd size. Conversely, many are reducing numbers to help with the controls coming in.

The current labour shortage is a major problem for every industry and the next generation are keener by the minute to move to robots. Which I am happy with, as long as they are based on a grazing system.

But, unfortunately, during the last 18 months, the price of robots seems to have doubled, probably due to demand coupled with other factors.