Farmer’s Diary: A ‘woolly’ reflection this week


I believe many of life’s lessons, good and tough, can be learned through working with animals, writes sheep farmer, Clodagh Hughes.

Farmer’s Diary: A ‘woolly’ reflection this week

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  • 11 days ago

I believe many of life’s lessons, good and tough, can be learned through working with animals, writes sheep farmer, Clodagh Hughes.

That’s Farming’s weekly contributor, Clodagh Hughes, runs a sheep enterprise on the Monaghan/Louth border near Inniskeen.

Do you remember when you were younger, and your elders warned you to stop ‘wishing your life away’!

And now being just a little older and wiser you can appreciate that advice? Yeah me too and nowhere, in my opinion, is this more apparent than when you farm.

The farming year works hand in hoof with Mother Nature and no matter whether you’re a sheep, dairy, beef or tillage farmer etc. your working year will be decided for you by a number of factors be it the weather, breeding cycles of the animals, farm setup, finances to mention just a few.

This current year, 2020, has been such a tumultuous and tragic year for everyone on this planet and no one has gone unscathed by something Covid-19 related.

But as the saying goes ‘the show must go on’ and so too must life - especially farm life.

Breeding season

I cannot believe it is nearing time for me to start getting myself and my sheep prepared for another breeding season!

When this stage comes around it’s a time to make some tough but necessary decisions regarding animals that may not be viable to the flock anymore.

This is a deed that must be undertaken while your heart is tucked safely away, as it can mean having to sell on some sheep that you may have gotten very attached to.

They may be ewes that gave you many lambs and unfortunately, have just come to the end of their role in your flock.

Then there are those lovely wee lambs that you spent sleepless nights and weeks, nay months ensuring they survived everything thrown at them and nursing the worst cases back from the brink of death in some instances!

I can’t speak for other farmers, but let me just say these decisions do not come easy guys!

It probably doesn’t help the fact that I spend a lot of time with my animals and I invest an awful lot of myself in them (perhaps, too much at times) I’ve always been like this.

But the bigger picture here is I am seriously trying to build up a business and this is what helps drive these tough calls…it is a business and in any business, there will be times when hard decisions must be made or else you’ll sink completely.

I understand where our veggie and vegan friends come from to a certain point, but knowing the great life I give my animals and the experiences I have caring for them, makes it all good with me.

I believe many of life’s lessons, good and tough, can be learned through working with animals and you don’t even have to leave the farm environs!

Circle of nature

All that said, I’ll be starting to draft some lambs that are coming near their selling weights and as I alluded to above, I have made my peace with a few ewes who I must also sell on. The circle of nature is complete…take a bow.

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