Thursday, 28 March 2013

A 7 month Smallholding Winter.

Haven't we had a lot of weather lately?  It's been dry here this week in Southern Ireland, but bitterly cold and the cattle are still using their winter housing, head feeder and yard.  Here's a photograph of the lads and lasses penned in the yard.  I do this so I can muck them out, spread saw dust and not get kicked or my wheelbarrow deliberately knocked over.  Cattle get great devilment out of kicking a wheelbarrow full of muck.

 The cattle looking ever so forlorn and not liking being penned in.  Notice a few of them have horns appearing.  It's too cold to cut them off though.  If I leave it until summer it will be fly season and they will get maggots if we cut them off then.  There's always a problem to be solved on a smallholding isn't there?

The cattle have been in for 7 months now.  That's thirty three big round bales of silage and 14 round bales of straw, a ton bag of beef nuts, lots of bags of 25kg beef nuts, lots of tractor diesel, bags of sawdust, dosing chemicals and a new pair of wellingtons for me.  I have never known such a long winter and late spring.  Thankfully we have not had the snow like the poor farmers in northern Ireland and parts of the UK like Wales, Cumbria and Scotland.  I still haven't planted my onions, but the potatoes are in.

Tomorrow is Good Friday and you can't a pint or drink of alcohol for love nor money in Ireland.  So if you are on holiday in Ireland, make sure you stock up today.  It's not even a statutary public holiday in Ireland and folk will work tomorrow and have bank holiday Monday off.   Never understood why Good Friday is not treated like Christmas day.  Obviously hospital workers and farmers have to work.  But surely Good Friday should be a public holiday.  Happy Easter folks.


  1. Yes, they do look a bit disgruntled, let's hope the price of beef on the hoof justifies the long expensive winter, at least you had the big bales. And spring has to come eventually.
    Daffodils trying to bloom here, snowdrops drooping, and the little birds seem a bit quiet, they must be confused after such a spring-like February to enter an Artic March.

    Good Friday's a bank holiday here, a 4-day weekend for most people, but the super stores are open as usual and all the pubs, it's a good drinking holiday.

    Cold but dry, no snow left, we missed the worst of it.
    Raggy cat pleased to see us and welcomed us home, seems to have lost a bit of weight, now re-united with its curling-up place in front of the bedroom radiator.

  2. Do you manage to make any money when they cost so much to feed? Still really cold here in southern England but dry at the moment.

  3. Hi Cumbrian,

    Glad to read your comments and welcome you back. I have read that the British Isles is having a long winter because Australia is having a long summer. Eh? Also there is high pressure in Scandinavia and it's allowing cold winds in from Siberia? It's all too complicated for the likes of me. I believe 1962 was very similar. Or was it 1965?

    A lot of the farmers herehave spread fertiliser but there are little signs of growth. It doesn't make sense to house a lot of cattle over winter. But if you only keep a few you make very little money. If you keep a lot you have to spend a lot! You just can't win.

    Bought 4 Aberdeen calfs last week. Farmer rang me up and I had to go and have a look. They resemble black Labradors with their puppy dog eyes. Absolutely gorgeous. Will post pictures of them in next few days. We now have 12 cattle altogether.

    Yes I remember the English Good Fridays. Drinkings got to be better than going to work.

    Hope you had a good holiday Cumbrian. What was it like?

    Glad to hear Raggy cat is well and pleased to see you.

  4. Hi John, I do and I don't, if you know what I mean. I get a single farm payment from the EEC and that almost pays for the winter feeding. If you want an argument in the countryside, talk about the single farm payment. It's not a good idea. I buy small cattle, over winter them and give them a summer and sell them when they are big. Then I have to go out and replace them. Tractors and machinery need fixing or replacing, fields need re-seeding, fences need repairing, silage or hay needs cutting. Shall I go on?

    If I got pencil and paper and worked it out, I would tell you (hand on heart),I don't make any real money really. There are times when we have a few pounds (Euros)when we sell the livestock.

    I farm mainly for sentiment (my grandparents farm) and I wouldn't want to live in a town or a city again. Although I do miss pubs, rock concerts, public transport, allotments and people... Don't think self sufficiency is possible. But it's a great life. Well sometimes any way.


  5. Happy Easter. I hope the cattle get soon as the weather warms.

  6. Happy Easter, Ronnie. I think all us smallholders and allotment gardeners pray and hope for it to warm up and we have a great summer this year. I have recently read blogs about people giving up their allotments because the weather's been so bad.

  7. Fuertaventura its usual warm sunny and breezy self, temperatures mid-high 20s.
    Most of the (BBC World News) TV was full of either the Cyprus bank debacle, or the English & Northern Irish snow, feeling sorry for the farmers and the sheep which had lambed early, our local sheep are just starting lambing, no doubt there'll have been some losses.

    Landed at Glasgow last night and drove home in record time, no snow at all. I was expecting to be handed a shovel at the car park and told which white mound to dig my car out from. Lovely day here, sun and blue sky but cold and breezy.

    Not a lot of growth here either, but I can smell some slurrey's been spread. Ground's gone from sodden to frozen.
    Looking forward to pics of the new resident Aberdeen stock, don't they look appealing at that age.

    Raggy cat gone out, a bit early, must have pressing business.

  8. Hi Cumbrian, No frost here today but it's rained in the night. Could do with the free rain nitrogen to get the grass growing.

    Did you see any small farms on your holidays?

    Dropped calfs are expensive to rear these days. We bought a bag of milk replacer the other day and it cost us forty 2 Euros. Then you open the bag and it's half full. We are also giving them straw and a scoop of calf pencils.

    The Aberdeens do look very appealing. A lot of dairy/farmers artificially inseminate a maiden heifer with the Aberdeen because it's a small calf. They call them the 'Black Polly' here in Ireland.

  9. Fuertaventura doesn't seem to have many farms or much else, it's a barren sort of island, moonscape of volcanic rock and sand, no water so no greenery except Aloe Vera and a few cactus in the wild and a golf course.
    No banana plantations like Gran Canaria and Tenerife.
    Animals are goats, don't know what they find to eat or drink, but there's a lot of them, they make a cheese from the milk but never saw goat on the menu; a few chickens and the occasional camel. Wild animals seem to consist of chipmunks and rats, again I don't know what they eat or drink. Maybe they do fish farming, Tapilia appeared a few times on the menu.
    Gardens seem to consist of cinders and cactus, with the very occasional green plot, they must irrigate it somehow, in the mountain villages.

    Hertz gave me a shit-heap of a Toyota something or other, it kept telling me to change up a gear in 5th, it was the last day before I noticed it had 6 gears.

    Not a bad morning, blue sky and white clouds, cool breeze.
    Raggy cat in as usual, milk and biccies, curled up beside bedroom radiator. Creature of habit.

  10. Thanks for telling us about Fuertaventura, Cumbrian. I suppose it's the rain that makes the British Isles so green and fertile. Dry today but very cold. We have to put the cattle back on beef nuts because the cold was taking it out of them.

    The farms around West Cork seem very quiet at the moment. Just a few farmers putting the cattle out by day and closely strip grazing with electric fences. Our range is blazing and I have brought in logs and solid fuel. It's more like Christmas than Easter.



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