Sunday, 26 January 2014

More Smallholding Metal Work Projects.

Number one son constructed a new stainless steel trough for the cattle on Friday.  We bought the stainless steel  trough second hand for twenty two Euros.  Then he made hooks and welded them on.  To hook over the head feeders when give the bullocks and heifers their daily beef nuts and yellow meal.  You just lift the trough off the head feeder when they have ate all the meal.  Then they can get back to eating their silage.  He also made metal ends for the troughs.  All for 22 Euros.  Number one son  also made the head feeders recently.

You have got to make your own smallholding stuff when  Jersey Cross bullocks are only making one Euro and seventy a Kilo.  Or about one pound and forty three pence for two pounds of beef.  You try purchasing two pounds (in weight) of meat for one pounds and forty three pence.  I heard of Jersey Cross bull calves for sale the other day for 35 Euros.  All because they are born male and it costs a fortune to fatten them.

I have always said that the farmer should be assured of getting a minimum price for his cattle at the mart.  But it's a buyers market.  There's an old saying here in Ireland:

"The day you buy.  Is the day you sell."

Meaning:  You get what you pay for.  It makes you realise.  That you have to raise continental breeds if you want to maker any money from your farm.  Trouble is a lot of continental cattle are too expensive to buy.

Any road.  Enough talk about money.  It's great to have a clever son who is not in any way academic.  But light years a head in practicality.  Think it's about time we went back to the Arts and Crafts movements that teach rural dwellers real crafts and practical skills.  Don't you?  Instead of them having to move to the towns and cities or even emigrate.  Smallholding families are a dying breed.


  1. They are a dying breed but lets just hope there's enough of us propper smallholders who keep it going! I was brought up to be practical and my girls will be to!
    Trough lokos great, I prefer to stick to woodwork but I do sometimes wish I could wed a bit better than I can!

  2. Looks like a really professional job, you're right he's a very talented young man. Like Kev, I'm better at joinery, totally useless at metalwork.

    Yes, the day you buy is the day you sell, a good rule of thumb, but even that's not guaranteed in todays crazy economy. I suppose the butchers dictate the price of beef animals, and there's less of them now, the Tescos and Asdas have taken so much of their trade.

    Agree more effort and money should be channeled into developing rural trades, crafts and employment, sadly the powers-that-be don't seem to think so, they appear to be intent on wiping out a whole way of life. Very short-sighted.

    Heavy rain and strong winds this morning, rain's stopped but still windy and overcast, but surprisingly not that cold.

    Raggy cat spending more time in front of fire, only wakes up for milk and biccies, out briefly then back to its favourite position, any closer and it'll catch fire. Always goes out at night though.

  3. Thanks for that Kev. It's good to know there are still people who make things. We seem to be living in a post industrial society that believes in being consumers rather than manufacturers. There are so few apprenticeships available today. Years a go every tradesman had a young lad to help them and show them the right way to make things.


  4. Hi Cumbrian, What did you or do you make with wood?

    I some times think its impossible for a smallholder to make a decent living with out an off farm income. You haven't got the acreage, money or help to make it feasible. My Grandfather use to sell cabbage plants, catch rabbits, dig turf, grow fields ov vegetables for the cattle, horse , family and if he could sell some surplus. It was good enough for our ancestors. So it's good enough for us. Still miss public transport, a decent pub, community centres and rock concert or ten. Even a pavement to safely walk on with street lighting...? There's a lot to be said for living near a village.

    Been watching my train and tractor DVD's again. Seems like Britain's been in industrial decline for the last forty years. All the national reserves like ship building, steel making and coal mining seem to have been scrapped and ignored. No steel means no manufacturing and everything gets imported.

    The countryside seems to get ignored also. With property prices that are only affordable for the middle classes, mechanization of agriculture and very few traditional rural jobs. I can see why the young have to emigrate or move away.

    Been blowing a gale for the last 24 hours. Can't wait for Spring and hopefully a good Summer. Glad I dug over my veg plot before all the rain.

    Our terrier and cat just sleep through the storms. Wish I could.


  5. Yes, it's a sad reflection of "progress" but the days of the smallholder seem to be numbered, the only people who can afford to live on a smallholding are already rich or with a substantial income not related to the holding.
    Huge acreages with huge specialised machines and not many people seems to be the modern way forward. talking to a young chap on holiday, he worked on a farm, Somerset if I remember correctly, milking 400, and cultivating vast fields with huge tractors, he told be the tractors were fitted with GPS systems and didn't actually need a driver. That's progress?

    Coal mining, iron ore mining, iron and steel making and rolling rails was our industry in West Cumbria, employing thousands and supporting many more. Enter Maggie Thatcher and her American hit-man Ian McGregor, remember them? They flattened our whole economy, unemployment in Workington hit 35% when the steelworks closed. The area has never fully recovered, although we do have the BCMS centre, all your cattle passports are administered here, but it only employs a few, they use minimum-wage part-timers if required at busy times.
    The remnants of the steel plant lingered on as a rail-rolling facility, Workington rails were exported world-wide, most of India runs on Workington rails. It was bought by Corus, a Dutch company, who eventually sold it to Tata, an Indian company, who closed it completely.
    A decline in fishing, mechanisation of forestry and agriculture means there's not a lot left.
    Except Sellafield, nuclear dustbin of the world, they employ a small % of people at astronomical wages which artificially inflates the local average wage.

    Bit better weather this morning, still overcast and damp but not raining or windy and surprisingly warm. Everything's sodden though.

    Raggy cat in its usual fireside position, fire's not even on either.

  6. Thanks for that Cumbrian. I do remember the terrible nineteen eighties and Mrs Thatcher and Ian McGregor. They decimated the industrial heartland of the Midlands and the North of England, Wales, and Scotland. "Greed is good". Was their motto.

    The reason why the governments decidd to electrify the railways was because they had the coal to power them. Then everything was sold off and the Yuppies took over the industrial buildings and docklands and turned them into up market apartments.

    You can buy incredibly cheap property *smallholdings) here in Ireland for less than fifty grand - honestly! But what tou would do for a living is another question. It's better than living a rat race but it's certainly not for people who think of the chocolate box rural idyll with Wisteria and two ponies for Tarquin and Prudence.

    Terrible weather here. Terrier and cat already fast a sleep next to range.



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