Forty years in any job may seem like a long time, though to John it was always the direction he was going to take in life.
Hailing from near Killorglin in the Kingdom, it is here that the second-generation contractor and third generation farmer runs a small suckler enterprise. Consisting of continental crossbreeds, from Black White Heads to Angus, John and the Galvin family-run operations on roughly 57-acres, with up to 30 cattle in total.
“We have a few Whiteheads and Angus…My father was a farmer and my grandfather too,”, John told ThatsFarming’s Kevin.
How it all began:
Galvin Agri hire and contractors, as mentioned, have been on the go for over forty years now. Started off by John senior upon leaving school in his early teens, he started out small, before gradually developing into the contracting powerhouse we all know today.
To begin with, John and his father James were the main ones behind the wheel, though now John junior, aged 27, has joined in on the act and is the next in line to keep the show on the road.
“I started it about forty years ago when I left school at 15. I am now 56,”, John chuckled.
“I started with a Massey 135 and I still have it...she is still working to this day”, he added.
It was actually John’s father James who kickstarted the whole contracting venture, purchasing the maiden tractor for the team, the beloved 135.
“He (my father) actually bought me the 135 when I started up,”, John said.
The team is made up of John and his son John Junior, who John now admits is the one telling him what to do.
John senior carries out the majority of the work throughout the year, with his son off for winter months. The father and son team, taking over from John Sr and his father, have now been working successfully for many years. But with 10 tractors on the go, they do hire in local farmers and younger farmers into help with driving duties during the busy harvest season.
“My son John, myself, and my father until he died three years ago were involved. My father was with me first, but he died three years ago. Now my son is out with me”, John explained.
“The two of us would do most of the work, but during the summertime, we would have casual labour and farmers son’s working with us for the silage,”, he continued.
Service wise, there is not much the Galvin’s do not offer. They offer all hay and silage baling services, while they also reseed, complete dung and slurry spreading, hedge cutting, post driving, excavator work, garden work and the occasional bird cover and bat boxes for GLAS schemes.
“We also do garden work for people as well and houses and walls etc,”, he said.
As mentioned Galvin Ag Hire have an extensive number of machinery on the road, with a fleet of 10 tractors. He has a few of what he calls vintage tractors on the go, though they still have their uses, with the Massey 298 carrying out all the turning and square baling in the hay making process.
“We have ten tractors in the yard…They are all set up to go. Instead of chopping and changing equipment, we can just get in and go”, John said.
“The 290 would be on the trail wrapper during the summertime”, he adds.
Tractors - Massey 135, Massey 298, Massey 290, 2016 Massey 6615 (160hp), 131 Massey Ferguson 5450, John Deere 6420S, Valtra T120, Valtra 6400, Landini 9880.
Grass: Balers - McHale 550, McHale Fusion 2, Wrapper - McHale 991B, Kverneland plough and power harrow.
Slurry/Dung - Belmac 2250 gallon, Conor 2,500 gallon
Hedgecutting - Spearhead 565 XL
Digger - JCB JS130, Hitachi EX40
As John honestly admits, he had not expected operations to have expanded quite as much as they have so far. He is happy now with how things are, with ten tractors on site and ready for work.
“We hope to keep going the way we are anyways,”, John admits,
In the short term, he says the father and son team are always looking at upgrading and updating machinery and this year remains the same, though nothing is yet set in stone. He says with the price of machinery it is now hard to justify spending so much money, though acknowledges sometimes it has to be done.
“We are always looking to add and update the fleet…Even tractors now, the prices have gone up nearly €10-€12,000. Even tyres to buy now, are four or five thousand per tractor,”, he stated.
In the longer term, with John having turned 56, he has one eye on retirement in the coming years, though as he will admit himself, he may not get to walk off into the sunset just yet. He does admit that someday in the future, operations will be left to John Junior, even though he has a larger say now than probably John Senior himself.
“In ten years’ time I hope to be retired, but I will probably be still ticking away,”, John laughs.
On the back of a tricky year with weather, with the rush on to get silage and hay cut as well as slurry spread, John also said the pair had struggled this year to source fodder for farmers. This is, he feels, the major challenging aspect of the career, though it hasn’t put him off the job.
A true machinery fanatic, John lives and breathes everything connected to the industry, though it is not solely his love for powerful machinery that keeps him plugging away.
“I always liked machines…That’s why I started in the first place and gave up school and I have been at it since. I never thought I would get as big as I have got”, John chuckles.
“To tell you the truth, it is probably John Junior that is keeping me going these days,”, John laughed.
On the go for over forty years, John may not have expected things to grow into the extensive outfit, operating out of the Kingdom, though it is no surprise. Contracting is not only flowing through his veins but is also firmly embedded into his genetics and the DNA of his son and future heir to the throne, John Junior. If he is half the contractor his father is, there is no doubt Galvin Agri hire will be going for at least another forty years.
If you would like to contact the Galvin team over potential contracting work, you can do so here.