Farm Ireland

Friday 15 December 2017

Paying the price for hard labour as a boy

Michael Cahalane from Ballymacowen, Clonakilty, Co Cork, has been working on the farm since his father passed away when he was 12 years of age.

After 14 years of farm work, the 26-year-old has been diagnosed with worn discs in his back.

"They tell me it was caused by wear and tear," he explains. "Basically, I killed myself working when I was young and I was doing things at 12 that a 19-year-old would do."

An accident three years ago also affected his back -- he slipped while standing on a cubicle rail onto the flat of his back.

"I've been told that if I have to get the disc removed, I can say bye-bye to farming," he says.

However, retirement from farming is not on the agenda for Michael, who has rented a neighbouring farm and is in a milk production partnership.

"I started out with 12 dry cattle and I'm now milking 120 cows," he explains.

"My plan is to get to 170 cows next year and up to 200 cows by 2012.

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"The idea is to get to a level where I can hire someone in and take a step back myself," he says.

In the meantime, he struggles to cope with his back pain from day to day.

"Milking is hard. I have a 10-unit parlour and 120 cows take a long time," he says. "Standing around on concrete is tough."

Calving cows, feeding and bedding calves are other painful exercises, he adds.

"But I think I've got a bit better to mind myself in the last 12 months since I had the discs diagnosed," he maintains.

"I have someone working with me two days per week so I would wait for help to roll out round bales for bedding or jobs like that."

Irish Independent

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