Eddie Hartnett operates an agricultural contracting business in Ballynoe, Conna, East Cork - E & F Machine Hire. His son, Gavin also works with the firm driving machinery.
The main speciality of the contractors is silage cutting, but the Cork men have enough work to see them through the whole year.
The man from Conna has always loved machinery, that is what got him into the industry from the beginning. Unlike many who start this line of work, he is not originally from a farming background.
As a youngster, after leaving primary school, Eddie would spend his time working on neighbouring farms. He did this for many years until later, when he started work as a forester with Coillte.
It wasn’t until after leaving Coillte that the father-of-two decided to purchase some agricultural machinery and go into the contracting trade in 2006. He wouldn’t have it any other way but to work out in the fresh air.
As well as silage-cutting, wrapping, tedding and mowing, the business provides a hedge-cutting service over the winter months using a Twose 520 hedge trimmer and lime spreading in the spring using a pair of 10-tonne Bredal K65 machines.
Eddie is a fan of John Deere and his modern fleet of three tractors include a brand new, 191 6155R, a 2012, 6830 and a 2007, 6930, that was purchased in Sam Power in Castlelyons.
They also have a McHale Fusion 3 plus bale wrapper that came from Atkins Ltd., a Kuhn mower, purchased from Cork Farm Machinery and a Krone rake that was acquired from Jim Power, Tallow.
“Atkins is great for the backup service,” said the Corkonian, when he was speaking of his new McHale baler, “they’ll call up or come out whenever you need them” he added.
The new Fusion Baler has adopted a new film and film system, and it uses film in place of where once you would have used a net. “It makes great bales,” said Eddie, who is pleased with his new purchase, “they don’t get any mould and it’s faster to use”.
Gavin, his son, draws in the bales using a twenty-eight-foot trailer that can carry twenty bales at a time. Quite often, the farmers will draw in the bales themselves, therefore, the contractor has no need to hire extra help during the summer months.
Eddie’s children; his daughter Leanne and Gavin, both enjoy farming. Twenty-five-year-old Gavin attended Clonakilty Agricultural College after his Leaving Cert and joined his father’s business.
Leanne undertakes a different line of work; however, she and Gavin both work at nearby dairy farms at various times of the year.
The biggest obstacles that come with having a contracting business is the weather. “Even now, I’m looking ahead, and the weather is supposed to be bad at the end of the week,” said Eddie, who knows that the saying ‘make hay while the sun shines’ is not just an idiomatic expression.
In fact, it’s the unexpected nature of Irish weather that can make farming in general very difficult. “Sometimes we can be out from six in the morning until twelve at night to get the job done” explains Eddie, who, despite the long hours, loves being outside in the fresh air.
It is when silage needs repeated tedding that it could become a frustration.
He also enjoys working alongside his son. “We get on well, there’ll be a difference in any relationship, but if that happens, it’s over very quickly” he smiled.
A lot of the Hartnett's success is attributed to their customers. The contractors make sure that they provide top-quality service to their clients because of their loyalty to the company.
The businessman is completely aware of this fact, “We’d be nothing without our customers” he asserted, “they are everything”.
Between them, Eddie and Gavin are able to produce approximately fifteen thousand bales of silage per season with their new baler with the possibility of more and there are no signs of them slowing down.
The contracting business is going well for the pair, and the love for machinery will keep Eddie seated in the cabin for a long time to come.
He hopes that Gavin will do as he pleases in the future but for now, the father-and-son-duo make a perfect team.
Main photo credit \ O'Gorman Photography
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