How to make sure you're game ready to face the busiest time of the farming year

Peter Hynes

The festive season is upon us and there has been lots of preparations around the house in anticipation of the big fella's arrival.

Thankfully Santa still visits and our five-year-old daughter Georgie is full of excitement. We have all the cows dried off now so the daily routine consists of feeding stock and liming cubicles.

It gives us a chance to disinfect all the calf sheds, make sure everything is prepared for calving 2019 and the milking parlour will get a good servicing.

All stock have been dosed for fluke and worms and we’ve treated everything for lice. Speaking to a cattle man recently he told me that lice seems to be an issue lately on some farms, possibly down to the mild damp weather we’ve been having so the plan here will be to keep a close eye on the youngstock and treat them once or twice more during housing.

A good dose can be the same as a few weeks' feeding, the most important thing is to know the weight of the animal and treat accordingly. I saw a farmer a few years ago underestimate the weight of his stock and ended up with high fluke readings the following season even though he used an effective product.

It’s also a chance to get out and soil sample the whole farm as we are starting to look at a fertiliser plan for 2019. Interesting to see a recent article saying that a fertiliser price hike is on the cards.

We’ve been looking at forward purchasing so hopefully we will avoid this. January will creep up on us fast and we usually start blanket spreading the farm with Urea in the second half of January. Spring grass is high value and we will be out grazing from February 1 onwards with the milking herd.

Myself and Paula are ambassadors for TackleYourFeelings ,which is a mental wellbeing campaign run by Rugby Players Ireland and Zurich. The campaign aims to breakdown stigma and encourages people to be proactive in looking after their wellbeing.

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It has many ambassadors who have shared videos with tips on how they manage their mental wellbeing. There is a website full of useful information as well as an app which is free to download.

Now I know some will read the this and say “Ah sure I’m grand” but keep reading, hopefully you might take something out of what I say .

Well we’ve all seen how impressive Irish rugby has been performing but do you know that professional athletes put as much emphasis on their mental game as they do on their physical game. This is something us farmers need to embrace, no matter what sphere of farming we work in the spring time always becomes extremely busy, for us here on the farm we have 140 cows due to calve in the first four weeks.

Now that in itself may not be a six nations championship but it certainly is a huge challenge for us and it's important we’re in a good place, fit, healthy and ready to roll.

This year has been a hugely challenging year for farming, we’ve seen two extremes in weather and this has taken its toll on farmers.

This is why it’s vital we all prioritise our mental wellbeing and one of the big reasons myself and Paula are glad the whole herd is dried of now. There is time for a few well deserved lie ins, extra opportunities to head out on date nights with Paula enjoying the festivities and some fun family days with our three girls out and about enjoying ourselves.

How does one prioritise their mental wellbeing? It can be as simple as getting a good night sleep, eating well, making time for yourself. It can’t be all work and quality time with family or friends is important, focusing on the present and making an effort to share whatever is worrying you.

It’s also important to keep an eye out for each other. Having someone to talk to, someone who is willing to listen is so important and there is always someone out there in need of a good team mate. I consider myself very lucky that I’ve plenty of good team mates, myself and Paula always make an effort to talk through issues.

Thankfully, I can say “Ah sure I’m grand “ but I’m very proactive in how I manage my mental wellbeing and I would urge each and everyone of you to do the same on a daily basis, don’t wait until the workload gets hectic or we have another episode of disastrous weather.

Online Editors

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