A pow­er­ful les­son from Storm Ali

Irish Independent - Farming - - FARM OUR - GER­ARD SHER­LOCK

AS we be­gin Oc­to­ber we are all en­joy­ing the ‘In­dian’ sum­mer that has en­gulfed the coun­try for the past 10 days. I sup­pose in a way it is help­ing us to park Storm Ali which was a storm and a half.

The county of Mon­aghan of­ten es­capes the ex­treme weather but Storm Ali didn’t spare us.

Like so many oth­ers, I trav­elled by bus to the Plough­ing Cham­pi­onships on that fate­ful Wed­nes­day two weeks ago.

On the way down I got the phone call to tell me that the power was off. I was glad to hear that the morn­ing milk­ing was all done be­fore we were cut off.

Once we ar­rived in Tul­lam­ore, we waited and we left. Sure it was dis­ap­point­ing, but un­der­stand­able. From my own ex­pe­ri­ences with our lo­cal show, you will hold out as long as pos­si­ble liv­ing in hope that the worst won’t hap­pen.

But un­for­tu­nately for the NPA the worst did hap­pen and Day Two had to be can­celled. Like ev­ery­thing in life you learn from it and move on. Roll on 2019 wher­ever it will be.

Trav­el­ling home that day, and es­pe­cially when we got back into Mon­aghan, it was plain to see the huge num­bers of trees that had fallen.

I ar­rived home at about 5pm and there was still no power and I had no gen­er­a­tor.

I checked with the Power Check web­site and it told me that it would be 10pm the fol- low­ing day be­fore it would be on. I didn’t get milk­ing that evening. Thank­fully mov­ing the cows into a fresh pad­dock of grass set­tled them quickly.

The next morn­ing, after a few phonecalls with a shar­ing neigh­bour and a loyal elec­tri­cian, I was up milk­ing again. It was in­deed Thurs­day night when power was re­stored to my area.

That was long­est spell with­out power in my mem­ory. Les­son learned: a gen­er­a­tor is on or­der and hope­fully it will be de­liv­ered soon.

We hear so much now about tak­ing stresses out of farm­ing and hav­ing a gen­er­a­tor is a must on all farms to re­duce stress lev­els.

Grass growth

Graz­ing con­di­tions are still ex­cel­lent. Grass growth has slowed up but it is Oc­to­ber.

I started to feed round bales of silage to the milk­ing cows on Septem­ber 22. Grass was be­ing grazed quicker than I had planned and the farm cover was drop­ping.

Last week the farm cover was at 1003kg DM/ha. The tar­get is around 1200 so I am a bit lower. The cover/LU is at 287kg DM and it should be 335.

Cows are stocked at 3.5 LU/ha. I had a first graz­ing of the re­seeded pad­dock last week. Con­di­tions were ideal to graze it. It had a grass cover of 1200.

I had sprayed it about 12 days ear­lier with Clover­max and Triad for docks and chick­weed.

At present the 76 cows are pro­duc­ing 18l at 4.22pc but­ter­fat, 3.88pc pro­tein giv­ing 1.5kg MS/cow/day, lac­tose 4.74pc, TBC 5000, SCC 138, Therm 100. Cows are getting 3kgs of a 16pc pro­tein, 4kg of silage and 10kg grass.

I see a few more cases than usual of cows getting lame. There are white line cracks and bruis­ing. They usu­ally need a shoe.

I don’t know whether it is the harder ground they are walk­ing on this year.

All the third cut silage was baled and made very well. I made about 180 bales from the 30 acres.

After bal­ing, all slurry tanks were com­pletely emp­tied. Fer­tiliser sow­ing is fin­ished for the year also with some of the cow pad­docks getting about 20 units of Urea/acre.

With the good Septem­ber the hedge con­trac­tor faced all the hedges on the home farm. They were in need of trim­ming as it has been a few years since I had an op­por­tu­nity to do it. It is im­por­tant to trim hedges prop­erly so that they will grow prop­erly and thicken out.

Also it cuts down on the trim­ming around elec­tric fence wires dur­ing the sum­mer.

I was de­lighted to re­ceive the text from the Depart­ment two weeks ago say­ing that the ANC pay­ments were is­sued. It means there were no queries on the BPS form. I made an ap­pli­ca­tion to the SEAI for grant-aid on dairy vac­uum pumps and mo­tors.

Mean­while, in the com­ing week I will be scan­ning all the cows and heifers. This will also co­in­cide with my an­nual TB herd test.

Ger­ard Sher­lock farms in Ty­davnet, Co Mon­aghan

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