Born and bred near Mullingar Co. Westmeath, Brian Carter comes from a dairy and beef enterprise, which is ran on his uncle’s farm in Rhode, Co. Offaly.
Bitten by the machinery bug from a young age, Brian was always destined for a career in the agricultural sector and has had a steady influence on the home farm for as long as he can remember.
“We run a dairy and beef farm. It’s plenty big to keep us busy. The farm is in Rhode in Offaly, but we live in Mullingar.” Brian explained to That’sFarming.
The Home Farm -
As mentioned, Brian and his family currently run a dairy and beef enterprise side by side. The farm is mainly run by Brian’s uncle, Tony Bracken, with Brian helping out as much as possible to date.
“It’s ran by my uncle Tony, but it’s a real family farm…We all have a part to play in it.” Brian said.
During peak milking season, the family aim to milk an average of 80 cows per day, while they keep a couple of hundred cattle for beef also. All calves born on the dairy side of the family farm are kept for beef purposes. Milking is carried out in a 10-Unit DeLaval palour, upgraded in recent years.
“At peak times we could be milking about 80 cows which is plenty for us, as we have a couple hundred head of beef cattle.” Brian noted.
The farm is what Brian calls “decent sized” and the dairy grazing platform is located in close proximity to the milking parlour. The beef cattle are reared on a range of outfields, which the family rented in recent years and is dispersed from the land in Offaly.
The 80-strong dairy herd is comprised of British Friesian breeds for the majority, with the beef herd a mixture of continental breeds.
“The beef herd is a mixture of everything. Limousine, Charolais, Black Whiteheads, Friesian crosses. Just a bit of everything.” Brian noted.
The family run a Hereford bull with their beef stock, something they have always done in the past. AI is used on the dairy cows for the majority, a mixture of Friesian, Angus and Hereford breeds, with the stock bull used for mopping up. Ideally, the farm aim to have a replacement rate of between 30-45% each year.
“We have always had a Hereford bull on the farm.” Brian stated.
“The Black Whitehead calves, we find, do the best out of them all. There is a demand for them.” The young farmer noted.
The young farmer says it was always inevitable he would end up farming and says they carry out the majority of their own contracting work, bar silage, on the farm.
“I’ve always loved farming…We’ve a Massey 5455 tractor but all going well the colour will be blue at some stage, if I’ve anything to do with it.” Brian joked.
“We do our own slurry, dung spreading, fertiliser spreading. We got a new twin disc fertiliser spreader this year. We also got a new roller this year and we have our own slurry tanker, dung spreader and topper.” He added.
The hurling mad Brian also has a bit of a background in Tillage, having grown up beside tillage farmer, Eamon McEvoy.
“Growing up I’d always go out to the barley field next to the farm owned by Eamon McEvoy. Whether it was being ploughed or combined I would nearly always be up with Eamonn.” he noted.
Little did Brian know that he would be soon to drive combines on his own accord, though on a much larger scale.
As previously stated, it was always Brian’s intention to pursue a career within the agricultural industry in some shape or form.
This saw the Westmeath man completing his Leaving Certificate examinations, before he then went on to study in LIT and Pallaskenry Agricultural College. It was here that Brian quenched his burning desire to work with machinery, taking on an Agricultural Mechanisation course.
“I am in Pallaskenry and between there and LIT doing the Agricultural Mechanisation course.” Brian said.
“I really like it as it has a lot to do with machinery and that is my forte, I’m machinery mad.” He said.
From here, things began to get very interesting and adventurous for the young farmer, as he soon embarked on an educational working trip to the US, where he has been working all summer.
“It’s part of our course that we do 33 weeks work placement. You can decide to go abroad or else stay in Ireland and complete it in a garage, welder or contractor, whatever you like.” Brian explained.
Brian then took a chance and applied for an internship through Ohio State University, which he received and accepted. Upon confirmation that he had received his place in the US, Brian first sought the advice of a fellow Student who had previously carried out the same internship. This is what pushed Brian to take the chance and embark on the once in a lifetime trip Stateside. He has now been out there and operating combines since the beginning of April and will finish up just before Christmas.
“I could have stayed in Ireland, but I thought why say no to an opportunity you might not get again. It is a great experience out here. I never thought I would be out in America for eight months on my own and away from the farm at home and hurling, but it is after flying by.” The farmer added.
US Adventure -
Brian is currently flying the flag for Irish Agriculture with the Farris Brother Inc Harvest team, which operate out of Edson Kansas on the harvest run from Oklahoma to Montana.
The farm is run by Rick Farris, alongside his son JJ and nephew, Pat. The Farris Brother Inc Harvest team, as the name would suggest, as a custom cutting and harvesting business, who have been in operation for in excess of 70 years having been founded in 1944.
“We run four 7240 Case axial flow combines, but for this year Case Engineering sent us out a fifth 7240 demo combine for us to run for the year,” Brian noted.
“Along with these combines, we have four 40ft Macdon flex Draper headers and Case 12 row corn heads.” Brian added.
On the tractor and grain cart side, the farm has two Case 310 magnum tractors accompanied by two Kinze 1050 grain carts to keep up with the combines. On the trucking side of things, all of the trucks used on the farm are Peterbilt trucks with grain trailers and combine trailers all manufactured by Gary Farris, the brother of Rick Farris, Brian’s boss. Brians work has seen him driving grain trucks and combines, an experience he will never forget.
“With Rick it’s great, you get a chance to do everything. For example, I have driven trucks thousands of miles, combined close to 2,000 acres on my own and now I’m starting off on the grain cart in fall harvest…It is crazy the scale of farming out here.” Brian explained.
“It’s a great place to be working with such great experiences. There is currently four of us in the Ohio programme and then there’s Rick, JJ and Pat who make up the main crew.” the Westmeath native said.
For accommodation, rather unusually the workers on the Farris farm live in a mobile trailer living space, which is transported around with them whilst on the harvest trail.
“We live in a very nice trailer house that we bring with us as we travel around to harvest.” Brian said.
“It is basically like a house. It has so much space. It can house eight people and there is only four of us in it. You have a kitchen, bathroom, living room and two bedrooms. It’s ideal.” Brian adds.
Brian’s placement has taken him to not only Arizona but also North Dakota, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wyoming, Ohio, New York, Denver, Nebraska and Montana too, making it a real eye-opening experience for the Westmeath man. Brian has also gained a lot of hands on experience with machinery maintenance, noting that when something breaks down you always try and fix it yourself first.
“I am not too far off having cut 2,000 acres and that’s just me myself in the combine. I had never combined before in my life and to have that under my belt is just crazy.” He said.
“If something goes wrong you fix it and if you can’t fix it, Rick or someone will come over and help you to try and fix it.” Brian added.
Brian’s favourite aspect of the whole American working experience was the opportunities gained and knowledge picked up from the team.
“It is just something I will never ever forget.” Brian noted.
“I am going to miss it a lot when I go home, it is like a second family out here.” He added.
Future Hopes for Brian -
In the short term, Brian will make his return home to the Emerald Isles in just over two months, where he will continue work on the family farm and relief work for neighbouring farmers.
“After May, I don’t know what I’ll do.” Brian said.
“I might pursue the welding side of things to be honest.” He continued.
He will then return back to Pallaskenry in January, before he finishes up in May. The young farmer will also make his return home to play his beloved hurling for Oliver Plunkett’s, something the goalkeeper is extremely passionate about. He does intend, however, to return stateside to take in some more of the open road. Though he is unsure as of yet.
“I have seen so much of America, but there is so much more I want to see. I might come back at some stage and go traveling.” Brian told Kevin.
“We’ll see what the future holds I suppose, take every day as it comes.” He added.
On the home farm, Brian hopes to continue improving the farm and maybe even expand the herd gradually if possible. Regardless of what does happen, he intends to always have a part to play on the Offaly farm.
Why Agriculture -
“If your doing something you love you will never work a day in your life. That is the truth.” The young farmer explained.
The young farmer says there is no better feeling than sitting behind the wheel in the cab of a powerful machine, something he describes as a “thrill” and only fitting for a machinery fanatic.
“It’s not work if you are doing something you love…Even at home on the farm, I never look for pay…It’s going to be our future too, so why not put money towards it.” Brian explained.
“I just love farming, there is just something about it…I don’t see myself at anything other than farming, it is something I always wanted to do and something I will continue to do.” He said.
A passionate and dedicated young farmer, who literally enjoys every aspect of the industry. Brian is a machinery mad, hurling fanatic, who is now fulfilling a childhood dream and more, flying the flag for the Irish in the US.