In normal non-covid times, we would be just after enjoying the first summer show of the year our very own Newmarket-on-Fergus agricultural show on the May bank holiday.
This show always heralds the arrival of the summer season. Unfortunately for the second consecutive year there has been a gulf in our Sunday bank holiday schedule due to this pandemic. The show to us and to many other rural communities is a day where the ties of friendship, family and farming are woven together to act as an example of the rich cultural tapestry we as rural dwellers thrive on.
Throughout the years what stands out to me especially from our local show is that much of the enjoyment we get from the day is not always in winning a first prize or even a champion with show cattle of ours. It is from the simple things like tidying up the field after or helping with the preparation before the show. It is the gratifying feeling you get from working alongside others towards a shared goal, ours being the continuation of the that great institution the Newmarket show.
It is my hope that when life goes back to a semblance of what it was, that we support these shows as there is no longer the creamery where farmers met daily and mixed, the thrashings are long gone, so the show is one of the few remaining cultural institutions that instils a sense of community and togetherness in its people.
I often hear people speak of the spring and how stressful and busy it is but if I’m being honest I would have to say that the breeding season is much more intense as the cow or heifer will not go in calf unless you have her in heat and monitoring of the herd becomes all encompassing. What creates a lot of work for us is breeding the maiden heifers in an outside block to A.I. it is far from efficient from a labour point of view but, the youngest female animals in the herd tend to have a higher genetic merit as they are a further generation of breeding selectively to what one would hope are top sires. I do DIY A.I. and have for the past 11 years. It creates extra work but it also allows us to breed a cow or heifer when is optimal for her and when suits us.
As I write this column the rain is pelting down, what a comforting sound. It is well needed after the drought like conditions of the last few weeks, it is becoming very similar to 2020 with its early drought. The advantages of the dry weather have been record high levels of dry matter in the grass which means what grass is there is lasting longer and more of it is being metabolised by the cow. Paddocks have also been grazed tightly so the regrowths will be top quality. However in spite of these advantages I’m looking forward to Petrichor as I step outside. This is the sweet earthy pleasant smell that is produced when the first rain falls onto parched ground after a prolonged dry spell, it is as if nature is letting us know it is blessing us with life sustaining rain!