IT’S come around all too soon. The final episode of this season’s Rare Breed – A Farming Year will air tonight (Thursday, April 9) on UTV.
It’s December and we’ll get a final look in on five of our farming families as they keep as busy as ever during the winter, making preparations for the New Year and the continuation of the farming cycle.
We’re off first to Clogher, County Tyrone, to the McGovern’s farm where Eimear is preparing the cattle herd for the winter. She’s vaccinating and tagging young animals.
She comments: “You need to keep on top of it, you want healthy calves, and just like us, they need vitamins and minerals.”
We also see her recent surprise present from boyfriend Terence, a flock of sheep, which she’s thoroughly enjoying looking after, despite the differences between them and cattle.
In Crossgar, Robbie Neill is loading up the last batch of pigs in peak condition headed for slaughter.
He comments: ‘That’s farming at the end of the day.”
He talks about the farming circle, being respectful to the animals, spoiling them rotten and giving them the best life. He hand delivers his produce with children Connie and Angus to various restaurants in the area, and is looking forward to some downtime in January when he plans a few trips away with the family.
We’re off down the country to Lisnaskea to Stephen Maguire’s farm, where he’s in the process of loading up all his in calf cows to go for sale at Clogher mart.
He’s changing his style of farming to be a contract beef farmer.
He has mixed emotions about parting with his herd but knows it’s the right thing to do, as he’ll have certainty over his prices working on a contract basis.
He’s glad, too, of not having to get up in the middle of the night to tend to calfing cows! We get to see the foundations of his new shed which he hopes will be ready by March time.
We then head up to the north Antrim Coast to the Chestnutt’s farm outside Bushmills. Victor and David have a new arrival in the form of a bull bought in Roscommon.
Victor worked a visit to the mart in with a two-night stay at the Killyhevlin Hotel in Enniskillen, commenting: “I can only do 24 hours away from farming!”
He talks about the price paid for the bull but feels it was well worth it. He’s looking forward, too, to his Spring Bull Sale in March.
David, meanwhile, is renovating the calf house with the help of ‘interior designer’ Victor who, pointing at his head, laughs: “The design’s all in here!” They are both glad to be working inside on such a wet December day.
Finally we head to the Christmas market at St George’s Market, Belfast, very early on a Sunday morning where Valentine Hodges is putting up and decorating her stall. Husband Chris watches on, commenting for the sake of his marriage he’s better out of the way! While the bees are tucked up for the winter, feeding on their special fondant in the hives, Valentine is setting out all the products to sell.
She loves to get dressed in the beekeeper’s suit and show off all the foodstuffs and beauty products. She’s glad that despite the poor summer the bees survived to make all these amazing items.
And there we leave it till next year, where there will be more farming families sharing their year with us.