Farmer’s Diary: We need to talk about Blackie…


I’m not one for wearing my heart on my sleeve but this is one of those occasions where I would like to share something a bit personal, writes Clodagh Hughes.

Farmer’s Diary: We need to talk about Blackie…

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I’m not one for wearing my heart on my sleeve but this is one of those occasions where I would like to share something a bit personal, writes Clodagh Hughes.

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

I’m not one for wearing my heart on my sleeve but this is one of those occasions where I would like to share something a bit personal, it’s about my dog, Blackie.

He’s not well at all; in fact, he is in the latter stages of canine lymphoma which is a cancer that affects the body’s lymphatic system.

The lymphatic system is responsible for a number of important functions in the body including protecting it against infection.

A lot of human and animal bodily processes are similar and even some of the same medicines and treatments are implemented. But unlike treating human conditions, it is sometimes just not realistic to pursue the same actions with animals. Tough call I know.

In the case of my doggo, he was diagnosed with stage 4 out of 5 lymphoma.

I chose to go with a course of steroids which will not cure the cancer, but are proven to make the patient feel better until it is time to call his last woof.

And that is the ultimate goal, to give my animals as natural, comfortable and dignified a life as possible.

When I grow up, I want to be a sheepdog.

Blackie’s story is a bittersweet; we found him crying in a ditch in our field with a frayed piece of baling twine around his neck as if he’d broken free from somewhere.

He was about 5/6 months old and extremely afraid. He is a collie dog and they can be a very nervous breed without the added complications of possible past maltreatment.

Long story short, over many months, I gained his trust and he actually became such a loyal and happy dog who has had many great years with my other 2 dogs, cat, sheep and even the hens, that I’m telling myself this will make it easier to let him go when the time comes!

On a lighter note, Blackie is oblivious to his circumstances and although he has never had any training with sheep this doesn’t stop him thinking he is one of Ireland’s top sheepdogs!

I jokingly tell people that he is still in training…all 8/9 years in training.

Other updates

I finally collected my friend’s fleeces so now I have no excuse not to get stuck into my suint fermentation wool cleaning project.

With the weather being so bad, I postponed setting up my wee egg dispensary, but this too is back on the cards.

After last week’s weaning drama all is fine in my flock, the lambs are thriving on lush grass that is literally leaping out of the ground and my ewes are grazing lower quality grass to slow down milk production and prevent the risk of them developing mastitis, which is a high risk after weaning.

I’m still at least a month off having any lambs ready for mart and I also need to decide how many of my best ewe lambs to keep for my breeding flock. Decisions, decisions!

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