As per usual, I’m running behind schedule. I had always intended to creep feed my calves this year or my bull calves at least, the idea being to try to take as little cattle through the winter as possible.

However, seeing as the last year I used the creep feeder was 2014, it is a little worse for wear, to put it mildly.

Basically, the trough is completely rotten and needs to be replaced. My intentions were good last May when I asked my neighbour, who is handy with the welder, if he would repair it for me. He said he would and to leave it over sometime.

Unfortunately, one week runs into the next and I only got it delivered a couple of weeks ago. I had intended to start feeding in mid-July, but the way I’m going, it'll be mid-August before I get started.

Teagasc course

I attended an environmental course recently, which was run by Teagasc. It gave an overview of the next CAP and the new ACRES scheme and how the 85% convergence would affect the level of payments to farmers at each end of the scale.

Unfortunately, it was hard to take much positives from any of it.

Eighty-five percent convergence means that over the next five years, everyone’s payment will have to be at least 85% of the national average.

The people with the smallest payment will get bigger and the people with the biggest payment will get smaller - sounds fair, doesn’t it?

However, a person’s payment would need to be starting off from a very small base for it to get any bigger and the people in the middle, whose payments are just about allowing them to survive as full-time farmers, could end up losing half of the payment they have now, leaving their farm unviable as a full-time operation.

Buzz words

Eco schemes are the buzz words at the minute, which I don’t personally have a problem with, as long as they make sense.

The new ACRES scheme is not aimed at the farmers who spent the past 10 to 20 years trying to be as efficient and productive as possible.

There aren’t too many farmers in Inishowen with fields full of the relevant indicator species that will enable them to collect maximum payments.

We are definitely entering a new era. Hitting the 25% carbon reduction is a mammoth, if not impossible, task, but farmers are never ones to shy away from a difficult task.

The Government says that no farmer will have to reduce stock, but it seems very clear to me that the dairy farmer will have to reduce stock because of the new nitrate regulations and the suckler farmer will reduce stock due to lack of profit, either way less stock seems like the way forward.