Family army saves first cut with military precision
My week: The Phelan family
They had a great first cut at the Phelan farm before the holiday weekend and yet another great family reunion at the dairy, beef and tillage enterprise in Clogh, outside Castlecomer, in Co Kilkenny.
"We were texting each other in the run up to the cut on the week before the June bank holiday waiting for the off. The routine is that we get the tractors hosed down and oil up the machinery at the end of April or start of May then clean out the pits and get going before June," explains Mary the youngest of the Phelans this week.
All of the family members usually come back to the home farm for the week despite working off farm in various careers from marketing to engineers
Mary (22), a Carlow IT graduate in marketing now working with IFAC, spends as much time as possible on the farm simply because she loves farming. "I go back to the farm at every opportunity. People say I am mad because I am literally going from work to work but I love it. It's the same with all eight of us," she says.
The home farm, which covers 500 acres with some rented land, contains a herd of some 120 Friesian-Holsteins supplying milk at 3.4-3.5pc proteins to Glanbia along with a herd of Limousins for slaughter. Over 100ac are reserved for tillage where wheat, barley and beet are grown for on farm livestock rations.
The Clogh farm is run by Liam (38), the second eldest, who is married to Kathleen. They have three children - Sarah (4), Billy (3) and Nichole who was born last January.
It falls to Liam to do the texting to bring back Team Phelan to Kilkenny for the first cut in June and the second cut in August.
Parents, Nicholas ( 72), -who remarkably has been farming all his life despite losing most of one arm when he was hit by a plough while sleeping in a meadow when he was only two years of age - and Noreen (62) don't have to do any texting when it comes to the third annual family get together, the Christmas dinner.