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Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at my alma mater Clonmoney national school. I was there to speak about farming, the environment and biodiversity. I have spoken to schools in the past but there is a sentimental aspect to returning to your own school.

It was wonderful to see the development and progress the school has made in recent years under the guidance of its principal David McCormack with the help of the great teachers and staff. Our venue was the outdoor astro turf and after I gave my talk I encouraged the pupils to ask any questions they might have. This part of the experience was as enlightening for me as it was for my audience as I was thoroughly impressed with the questions and the complexity of the questions that were asked of me.

It was heartening to hear not only their interest and questions expressed but also that they had their own opinions and experiences on farms whether that be their own farms or even neighbouring farms. Questions about our pastured hens were prolific and I even found out there were young competitors in my midst who had their own hens to keep their own family supplied with eggs. As I returned home from my lovely morning with the staff and pupils of Clonmoney , it began to dawn on me that it was beginning to feel like a deja vu of recent summers with a continued drying breeze and little rain in the past few weeks.

The challenge of grass quality faced over the past few weeks seems now a trivial matter compared to the prospect of a diminished grass quantity. Hopefully though with our reseeded ground coming back into the grazing rotation it will help stymie the worst ravishes of a soil moisture deficit. Paddocks that were cut as a surplus ten days ago received an application of watery slurry at a rate of 2,500 gallons per acre which was injected and seems to have revitalised these paddocks replacing P and K that was removed in those bales. The whole herd will be vaccinated for IBR this week. Vaccination is expensive but we have seen a marked reduction in vet call outs and production losses since adopting a vaccination program over five years ago. it is an insurance policy as much as anything else.

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The hen house continues its progress with now only a few short weeks to the arrival of our new hens. There is no blueprint for what we are doing as such, so it is taking a little more thought than say in the past when we were building sheds or a milking parlour. We are lucky to have great support and the best of people to advise and help us. There is considerable time and capital tied up in this project and we are delighted with how it is turning out. That delight is now turning to excitement as we are getting near to supplying our new outlets and customers and bringing Melody Farm Eggs to a wider market.

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