A Christmas day calving, sourcing all produce locally, beer ab-lib and not a mart for weeks; Catherina takes a look at how farmers do Christmas!
Time to throw the overalls off, a squirt of perfume or aftershave on (with a hope to overpower the dreaded silage smell) and dig out the glad rags, as we hit into Christmas 2017 festive celebrations! The only season of the year whereby good mart jackets and Super Hamptons do not make the cut when it comes to ‘dressing up’, much to the disappointment of many.
Signs that Christmas is drawing near from a farmer’s perspective
- The last mart sale draws to a close for the year. It only really hits home when you are gearing up the trailer and chequebook on a Friday evening when you receive a text message from the mart manager wishing all their purchasers and sellers for the year, ‘A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Sale returns the first week of January.’ The sheer disappoint when you have to throw the dealer boots to one side for a few weeks and their potential to gather dust is the least of your worries.
- The factory has sent out a notice that they are not killing cattle for Christmas week but may squeeze a few in before the new year.The push is then on to get the final heifers of the season sold, a few shillings are well needed for Christmas! It’s time to gather the beef in fear that the prices will be ‘cut’ the first week of January.
- The ‘Yanks’ willing be arriving at the airport for the festive season and they need a ‘taxi’, ( Yes, the message of their arrival is directed at you the farmer.. you’re equipped to haul more than a few hoggets or heifers around the country! )
- Calving Season is just around the corner! Calving jacks, ropes and vet lube at the ready! Alarm clocks at ready to be set, it’s time to drink gallons of tea and source ‘farming worthy’ thermals! If you’re truly lucky, you may just welcome an unexpected arrival on Christmas Day ahead of peak calving season!
Every farmer can relate the excitement of Christmas day as the ‘boss’ lets you have a sleep-in, all in the name of just 10 minutes.
If you happen to sleep in for a further two minutes, chances are your own living alarm clock will come to the rescue! The young calf is after going out through the feeding barrier, a nanosecond ago and is now wandering the yard. Mammy is getting protective and decides to alert the full neighbourhood about her youth’s departure of less than 100 metres.
One thing we can look forward to is the nation’s favourite breakfast, comprising on average of the fry-up of two sausages, two pieces of bacon (rashers), mushrooms, a fried egg, hash brown, beans, toast, tomatoes and a pot of tea. Described as being immensely enjoyable and capable of stopping the ‘bitter cold from getting in’ this frosty Christmas morning.
And there you are waiting for the highlight of the day... to investigate if your Santa list has been fulfilled. The first thing you open on Christmas Day is a.... bale of silage!
All is well once you discover the bale has a DMD of 76, which goes above and beyond Teagasc recommendations. You now claim yourself worthy of competing in next year’s Young Farmer’s Competition!
You’re still hoping that a new pair of wellies or overalls will be positioned under the tree, but your lifelong desire is to be gifted with good weather so that you can get the slurry out and silage gathered to fulfil ‘farming calendar’ deadlines, as you so call it. We won’t dare mention an improvement in the price of milk or beef!
The Real Deal
Once you have attended to the flock or herd, it’s time to squeeze in a little family time, just before the ‘grub’.
Carefully crafted meat, locally sourced turkey, home-grown vegetables… farmers really do know how to do Christmas! When the turkey has been butchered and the beer enjoyed ad-lib, we are faced with the ultimate problem…who is going to do the routine stock checks and silage feeding? At this stage, some farmers aren’t fit to move from the armchair, never mind pick up a pitch-fork or spot a sick or lame animal.
A trip to the ‘local’ is the next on the agenda where the usual price of beef, milk, 'jokes of schemes', and plans for expansion of 2018 will be topics of discussion
And let's face it, there is always that one cow of the herd that decides to re-enact the nativity story through the delivery of her own baba every Christmas either prior or post to tucking into the turkey or the skullin’ of a few cans, which sets back plans a little! She once she drops a smashing Charolais calf you won’t be too disappointed!
Once a farmer has recovered from the celebrations, it’s time to get back on track again, calving season preparation, mart and factory visits and everything else that happens in-between is well underway!
Happy festive farming to our followers!