'My days of hunting cattle and calving sucklers are over'
My week: Ivor Clegg, Mountrath, Co Laois: Forestry plantation owner
Ivor Clegg is nothing if not adaptable and resilient. The same can be said about his family's 90ha farm in Mountrath which, across three generations of the Cleggs, has been variously run as a dairy enterprise, a beef operation and now has been transformed into a forest plantation.
The farmer from the Queen's county has just collected his €2,000 prize as the RDS best new plantation owner -his second RDS prize in three years - and is currently carrying out routine maintenance work on his award winning enterprise.
"But I am not killing myself," he quickly adds.
"I'm clearing the access to the wood, pruning and thinning and going through the mechanics of measuring the plots. I am using a tractor forwarder which I bought recently. It's a great machine even if it's a bit of an antique," Ivor says.
The decision to transform the farm into a forest was forced on Ivor when his brother Wayne, with whom he shares the farm, got a job as an ambulance driver in the early 2000s.
"Once that happened my days of hunting cattle and calving suckers were numbered. It was a tipping point because the workload had doubled overnight and I became a one man band. And anyway things were not great in the beef sector at the time.
"So I planted 20ha under forestry near one of the two bogs on the farm and it progressed from there.
"The farm is now been totally afforested."