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Tuesday 22 August 2017

How this agri sales man manages his 300ac sheep and suckler farm

My week: Gerry Langen

Gerard Langen pictured on the family farm at Castletown, Co Sligo. Photo: Brian Farrell
Gerard Langen pictured on the family farm at Castletown, Co Sligo. Photo: Brian Farrell

Ken Whelan

Gerry Langen is heading off for a weekend in Iceland at the end of the month - courtesy of Massey Ferguson Tractors - which likes to reward its best tractor salesmen on these islands with a New Year's break.

He's off with a fellow Massey salesman from Clare and "three lads from England".

While away, he will leave the heavy lifting on his family's 300 acre suckler and sheep enterprise at Castletown in Co Sligo to his parents Anne and Paddy, with whom he farms with on a partnership basis.

It will probably be Gerry's only break in 2017 because "busy, busy, busy" does not adequately sum up the 31-year-old's working life.

Apart from rearing and selling an average of 60 Texel sheep and a similar number of Limousin sucklers, he is a salesman with McHale machinery in Kilmaine, Co Mayo.

The job involves selling McHale balers and the Masseys from the company's main outlet - a 60-mile commute.

In the evening and weekends he is helping run and expand the family's 150ac (owned) and 150ac (leased) farming enterprise. The self-confessed "machinery head" is currently concentrating on the farm and is busy supervising the build of a new three-bay shed on the farm for the suckler herd.

"It should be finished in a few weeks which will be good for the herd. We are also busy reseeding. The land on the farm is good but the grass is old so we have to do this job," Gerry explains.


"Then there is lambing in February and calving later in the spring and then it's my busy time with McHales. The summer is the busiest time for machinery sales.

"My sales break down roughly 50-50 between the balers made by McHale's and the Massey Fergusons - and I am responsible for making sure all this machinery works correctly so I would be on call most evenings during the busy summer season.

"I am also part of the McHales' team at the various agricultural shows in the west and at the Ploughing."

So how does he manage to combine both jobs, I ask.

"Very simple," he replies. "I get great help from my customers at McHales and great help from my neighbours at home."

The Langens have been farming at Castletown since his grandfather began with 20ac in the area and they have incrementally build up the farm from there to what it is today.

And they plan to expand further. "I bought an extra 20 acres about two years ago and intend over time to add to that," he says.

Gerry was born to agriculture. He passed his green cert at Mountbellew while he was still a teenager and then went on to complete an ag science degree at GMIT.

Partnership

He has been with McHales for the past 10 years and has been in the farm partnership with his parents for five years.

He is unsparing in his praise towards his mother Anne, who is the driving force behind the Langen enterprise and a farming award winner herself.

His dad Paddy is part-time retired as is the case of most Irish farmers in their 70s, while younger sister, Marie is married and now off farm and rearing two young children.

Asked if there might be nuptials in the offing for himself, Gerry goes no further than stating that he has a girlfriend.

"I am a typical young farmer and I am definitely in farming for the long haul. I intend to develop the home farm over the next few years and keep my interest going on the machinery side."

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