'Invaluable book a must-read for farmers and farm families'
A Year on our Farm
'A year on our Farm' is a beautiful book by Ann Talbot and her husband Robin. It tells the real story of modern Irish farming in a practical, engaging and heart-warming fashion.
Illustrated with excellent photographs, taken by the author, the book traces a year in the life of the Talbot farm at Coole, Ballacolla, Co Laois. Month-by-month, it takes the reader through what happens on the farm from the arrival of Whooper swans to the harvesting of the grain and the departure of the year's stock to the factory or finishing farm.
The book begins with a description of the farm at Coole, detailing its size, layout and topography.
A lovely hand-drawn map shows how the farm is nestled between the rivers Erkina and Gully. It gives the names of townlands, the natural and built features on the holding, including a man-made nature sanctuary at Loughabarra charmingly known to the children as 'The Wild Place'.
From the introduction the reader feels at home at Coole and while there is a constant underlying thread of love for the place and the way of life, the book details the hard facts of the farming business. With disarming clarity the author outlines much of the science behind successful, modern farming.
After landing on the farm in January in the company of the wonderfully photographed Whoopers, Ann takes us straight to business and introduces their preferred breed of stock; calves from a Belgian Blue bull and a Limousin cow.
Ann describes Belgian Blues as the "ultimate muscle-men and women". "Because they have natural gene mutation known as double muscling," she explains, "(their) muscle fibres are associated with an increased ability to convert feed into lean muscle. The meat has a lower fat content making it highly desirable to the modern health-conscious consumer."
The Limousin cow is preferred "because they make the best mothers".