We as a nation are slightly weather obsessed, partly because the weather changes here more quickly than a Love Island contestants romantic interest and partly because a lot us of us are only a generation or two removed from a farming background. It’s ingrained into our unconscious psyche to be weather obsessed because the weather forecast affects few people more than a farmer.
Summer here on the dairy farm can certainly have those idyllic moments. On days when the sun shines down upon the verdant green pastures, there is no place in the world you would rather be. The grass in the fields sways gently to a symphony of cows grazing, birds singing and tractors humming along the back roads. After the manic dash of spring season calving, Summer brings a harmonious rhythm to our working day on the farm.
During Summer, the twice-daily milkings are in full flow and it is the most productive season for us. A major factor for this is the amazing grass growth that happens. While it’s not so great for topping up the tan, our soft temperate climate is exceptionally suited to grass growth. It’s the goldilocks combination of sunshine, rain showers and mild temperatures that provide the perfect conditions for grass to flourish. Managing this growth is extremely important. We walk the farmland on a weekly basis to measure the grass. The reason for this is if the cows graze the grass at the correct stage of growth, they gain the maximum nutritional benefit leading to that high-quality creamy milk that’s perfect for those Summer ice creams and smoothies!
Summer is also silage season, which is hugely important to our farm. Essentially silage is cut grass which is dried, gathered and stored on the farm in bales or a covered silage clamp. This is used to feed the herd in the depths of winter when it’s too cold for the grass to grow and conditions too harsh for the herd to be out on the open pastures. Most of you who live in more rural area’s will have experienced the very particular type of road rage that comes with being stuck in traffic behind a silage operation crew also! That’s life in the country, all these minor inconveniences are for a very important reason.
Family life on the farm during Summer is the stuff of childhood memories. Although the workday can be as long as the sun in the sky, (which during Irish summer is approximately 5 am to after 9pm) the farm is an exciting place to be for a small child! My kids love to hang around by the garden fence, eat their ice cream and watch my husband driving around the fields in his tractor. They adore visiting the paddock where the baby calves frolic and play. They love to walk through the fields, lost in the long grass searching for bugs, wildflowers and adventure. I love that they have the freedom to explore and develop a love for the land. After all, they are the farmer’s of the future and the next generation who will be custodians of the land.