Gavin Treacy explains how he balances his sheep farming with his work as a quantity surveyor
Gavin Treacy started farming for himself when his neighbour gifted him and his sister, Andrea, two suck lambs in 2008. Those surplus suck lambs from their neighbour helped Gavin start his own flock on the family farm outside Loughrea, Galway.
While the two pet lambs were Suffolk and Charollais, the majority of the ewes on the farm today are Texels and are due to lamb from St Patrick's day until the middle of April.
"We're not massive farmers, myself and my dad, Thomas, but we now have 60 ewes on our 35 acres family farm."
They both work off farm too, as does mum Patricia and it's been Gavin, a quantity surveyor by trade, who has been at home the most during the pandemic managing the farm.
With the ewes due to start lambing in three weeks, Gavin hopes most will be finished by mid-April, with most of the lambs sold at Loughrea Mart in August and September.
"Most will be gone by Christmas and we'll keep some of the ewe lambs for replacements."
"We never bought in ewes until the last four years when we had to start replacing some of the original flock. We introduced the Texel breed in the last few years and find they are very motherly and good for milk.
"They're easier to manage when you have a small-scale operation and we have good land for finishing them."
Work Life Balance
A recent Macra survey found that 53pc of those surveyed would like to work from home or from a remote working hub in the future, while 59pc identified spending more time with their families as a positive to Covid-19.
"I work for MEIC, an Irish construction company, and as my job is mainly a desk one, I only visit the two sites, where we're building schools, once a week. The rest of the time I've been at working from home.
"It has its ups and downs for many reasons. At first it seemed a nice change as the weather was good and there was a sense of freedom to working from home.
"But that soon wore off when the issue of poor rural internet had a big effect on the speed at which I was able to do my work compared to the high-speed broadband that I was so used to having in the company office in town.
"There is also the social aspect to it, you meet nobody, and everyone is virtual nowadays with Zoom meetings. It just doesn't have the real feel to it."
Gavin, who helped restart the local Macra branch, Grey Lakes Macra, and took over as Chair in September said the club has been forced to just hold Zoom meetings instead of actual events that were planned.
"We had a few meetings in the summer, and we thought coming out of the first lock down and had a mighty line up of things planned from September to Christmas and onwards to spring, but we got to do none of them. We had a few Zoom meetings and quizzes but it's not the same.
"We also felt there were other clubs doing big events, so we took part in them instead to support them."
Last winter Gavin and his father put the finishing touches to a Ford 2600 tractor they had spent a few years restoring. It was ready to be launched at the local St Patrick's day parade last year, but that never happened.
Instead of working on the tractor this winter, it was spent getting the farm ready for lambing.
"I usually take a week's holidays at the start of April for lambing and while working from home means he's there all the time, the day job still has to be done.
"I'm not sure I can do Skype calls in the sheep shed, but it should make things easier for us.
"We used the winter to get the sheds fixed up and ready for lambing, so we're ahead of ourselves and well prepared. I don't want to be putting up cubicles when lambing starts.
"So now there's not much to do except wait for them to lamb."