Time is flying and we are already halfway through the calendar year. But then it always flies when you look back and it seems to take forever when you look ahead.

From where we stand now, it is hard to imagine September when grass growth will be slow and the evenings will start closing in.

The recent rain makes this especially hard to think about since it has grass jumping out of the ground and it means our second cut of silage will now be larger than planned.

I have included the increased number of hectares in my application to the Fodder Support Scheme and it would be great to think I will now get the maximum amount of €1,000. The figures do not look promising, however.

The Department of Agriculture has announced that €56m will be available in the scheme. There are approximately 130,000 farmers in the country, going by the number of Basic Payment Scheme applications in recent years.

If we remove the 18,000 dairy farmers who are ineligible, that leaves 112,000 farmers who can apply for the silage/hay money. While land under tillage is also excluded, the bottom line is that if more than 56,000 farmers apply for 10ha, then you will not get the advertised €1,000.


Whatever the final amount, it is still money going into farmers’ pockets. “Every little helps” as that annoying supermarket ad says, but it is misleading for the Department to trumpet about the maximum payout in its press releases when it cannot guarantee that its budget will cover it.

I understand the need to promote such schemes and to sell them on their positives, but a more down-to-earth approach would stop farmers being so suspicious whenever a public relations circus is used for what should be a simple announcement.

Leaving aside the natural scepticism associated with the fanfare of this latest scheme, all is going well inside the farm gate.

Grass is flying, cattle are shining, and the calves are mostly thriving. I say mostly as two of the 30 calves I bought were put back on milk after they started to look a bit empty and sorry for themselves when they were initially weaned.

From where I stand now, it is hard to imagine September when the house will return to being quiet

There was only one really that I was concerned about, but a second one had been treated for pneumonia and I decided it would do her no harm to keep the other one company and have another few weeks on milk. There was a half bag of milk powder left in the shed so it wasn’t a big decision to allow these two a little latitude.

The remedial feeding will not cost too much extra and I will chalk it down as just one of those things.

So, farm life and family life go on. Our three young lads are off school for the summer now, and while I will be getting them to help around the yard with a few token jobs, part of me is counting the days until they are gone back to school again. From where I stand now, it is hard to imagine September when the house will return to being quiet.