Raymond Dale is a third-generation contractor who hails from near Newbliss in Monaghan County.
It is here that the 28-year-old gained his first taste of the agricultural world, with the Dale family having once kept their own Suckler herd. This consisted of 30 Limousin Suckler cows, though the family decided to abandon their Suckler herd in order to focus on their contracting ventures in the early 2000’s.
“We used to keep livestock, but the contracting end of things got very busy in the year 2000. We quit the cows then as it was just too busy.” Raymond told Kevin of That’sFarming.
The family now rent out the family farm, instead focusing their collective efforts on all things contracting related. The third contracting generation within the Dale family, Raymond’s grandparents were actually the ones responsible for the family’s early involvement within the industry, on both his mother and father’s side.
His father, Kenneth Dale, began his own contracting journey over thirty years ago in 1987, continuing on what his father Albert had started before him. This is where the Monaghan man, Raymond, gained a passion for the industry and machinery, meaning he wanted no other career but one behind the wheel like his ancestors. His grandfather, on his mother’s side, carried out a lot of digger work in the past, while he also harvested corn regularly.
If being a third-generation contractor with both sets of grandparents having worked as contractors were not enough, Raymond recently married his partner Charlene, who just so happens to be the daughter of another contractor.
“Daddy started in 1987. His father (Albert) was at it before him.” Raymond explained.
“I had no choice, my mother’s father was even contracting as well. Charlene’s father is also a contractor as well.” Raymond laughed.
Always the dream/Raymond’s journey to date -
From an early age, it quickly became Raymond’s lifetime goal to pursue a career within contracting, just as his father and grandparents had done before him.
Even in school, it was always Raymond’s dream and he soon gave up on his education to pursue his dream further.
“When I was in school the teacher used to ask us ‘What do you want to be when you grow up’ and there were people in the class who used to say they didn’t know.” The 28-year-old explained to Kevin.
“I could not understand how they didn’t know what they wanted to do, because I always knew that I wanted to cut silage and be a contractor.” Raymond laughed.
The contractor from the Oriel county returned home on a full-time basis at the age of seventeen upon leaving school and soon fulfilled a lifetime dream, of working alongside his father as a contractor.
Although Raymond has been home for what is now his 11th year since leaving school, he also took time to carry out some work across waters. This included a trip to New Zealand where he worked on the harvest for a period of seven months.
“I drove the harvester for a bit too as well out there…I have done a lot of it.” Raymond noted.
“I was out there for seven or eight months. I mowed silage from May until Christmas day.” He added.
The Monaghan man also has experience working in the UK, having previously worked as a digger operator in England, while he also dug spuds for a living in the UK too.
“I dug spuds in England as well.” Raymond said.
“My father used to plough and sow barley up in Ardee for two farmers…One of them moved to England and bought a farm out there. He wanted my father to go out but he wouldn’t, So I went out.” He continued.
Raymond’s contracting adventure, on a personal level, only first began approximately four years ago in 2014. His father, Kenneth, had previously offered baling services to clients before deciding to get out of it due to time constraints and because their baler was In need of an upgrade.
The following summers saw numerous requests from neighbouring farmers in need of bales made and Raymond’s father then encouraged the 28-year-old to take on the work himself.
“Dad used to bale. The baler was old and we were very busy with the pit silage…Then we said we would cool off on the baling.” Raymond explained.
“But all of the farmers we were baling for still wanted to get us…It was just getting busier and busier and dad said to me four years ago ‘You should buy a baler and tractor and bale away’…That’s how I started out”. Raymond added.
The rest, as they say, is history and it was from these humble beginnings that Raymond has gradually grown his contracting enterprise into the business we see today.
Currently, Raymond and his father Kenneth operate their individual contracting business side-by-side, sharing both jobs and employees.
In general, Raymond and Kenneth make up the entirety of the full-time employees within their ranks, whilst the hire in up to 5 people in during the hectic summer silage season.
“We could have some lads coming to me to wrap bales and then going off to dad to draw…There would usually be four lads working all summer with me and dad.” Raymond said.
“There is another young lad who does a bit of farming at home, who is there when we need him as well.” Raymond adds.
Service-wise, Raymond focuses all of his contracting efforts on baled silage services. This includes mowing, raking, baling and wrapping, while the 28-year-old also carries out slurry work using one of his father’s tankers. Raymond bales for farmers within a 20-mile radius from their home.
“I do spread slurry in the summertime for people that I have made bales for.” Raymond told That’sFarming’s Kevin.
His father, Kenneth, meanwhile sticks to pit silage services, reseeding, and lime and slurry spreading services. Silage is harvested using a self-propelled harvester, whilst slurry is applied with both tankers and the trail and shoe system. Kenneth Dale offers his services to farmers as far away as Bailieborough in Co. Cavan.
“The harvester does be up as far as Bailieborough from home here.” Raymond said.
“We actually used to cut the silage up in Dublin airport as well.” He continued.
Since beginning his contracting venture back in 2014, Raymond has progressed from making 3,500 bales of silage in his first year to almost 10,000 bales, which he has produced this summer.
Only four years into his maiden contracting adventure on his own accord, Raymond currently runs his operation with two New Holland Tractors.
Tractors: New Holland T7 200. New Holland 6080.
Grass: Lely Welger 245 balers. Góweil wrapper. 2013 Pottinger mower, side-mounted. Claas 2900 rake.
Other: Slurry tanker (borrowed from his father)
Future Hopes -
In terms of the future, Raymond hopes to keep progressing his budding contracting enterprise, whilst further adding to the machinery within the ranks as he does.
The first item on the agenda will be a new baler, with Raymond considering purchasing a McHale Fusion 3. He does admit, however, that he is not fully decided on what brand to go with.
“It is definitely a combination baler I will be looking at. I don’t know yet whether I will go for a Fusion or a Lely tornado.” Said the Monaghan man.
Another piece of equipment which Raymond will look into purchasing is a hedge-cutter, which would enable the recently married 28-year-old to work throughout the winter months. This idea is merely in the pipeline at the minute, with no decision made as of yet.
The final item up for an upgrade will be a slurry tanker, with Raymond aiming to add a 3,500gallon tanker to the team. The Newbliss native also harbours dreams of adding a digger to the list of machinery, as he currently hires one in when needed.
“I have a notion of buying a digger too, but I don’t know yet.” He said.
Otherwise, the main aim for the third-generation contractor will be the consolidation of four years of hard work, whilst continually providing a service to customers that he can be proud of, something which brings him immense job satisfaction. He will also at some stage take over the running of his father’s contracting business.
“The main aim, whenever daddy decides to retire, would be to take over the whole thing.” Raymond stated.
Why Contracting -
Driven not only by a pride in continuing what is now a family legacy spanning three-generations and three families, Raymond is also driven by the satisfaction gained from a job well done.
This is not all that keeps him behind the wheel, as Raymond enjoys being his own boss and is also a big fan of machinery.
“You are your own boss…It is nice work too.” He said.
A man born into a life within the industry without a choice, not that Raymond Dale minds, as he is well and truly living his dream, enjoying every minute, doing what he loves most in the heart of Co. Monaghan.
Would you like to contact Raymond Dale RE: Contracting services? You can get him on 087-9548480 for all of your baling needs.