To be confronted with fields full of reeds and rushes would deter any young man who hoped to build up not only a viable farm business, but a thriving one – and one with rewards better than in industry.
This is what faced Ian Martin of Cornamucklagh, Dromore, Co Tyrone, when he left school about five years ago.
Those were years of hard work, but matched by good management, and more recently co-operation with a neighbour, they have gained him the success he wanted.
The success he has made of the farm co-operation venture – by good management and intelligent use of fertiliser – is open for all to see at a demonstration on his farm on Thursday, August 28 at 7.30pm. Ian was always very keen – he proved it by setting about draining the land – “25,000 pipes went into 16 acres and it wasn’t a pipe dream for that land is now fully productive,” he pointed out.
While he worked others were noticing the transformation of his 40-acre farm, and noting Ian’s obvious desire to expand – at low cost – and be as profitable as possible, Mr John Chambers, whose 40 acres is separated from Ian’s only by bogland, suggested that they could co-operate. And co-operate they did!
John Chambers supplies the machinery and one man, while Ian supplies buildings, does the milking and is responsible for the general running of the amalgamated farms. Each supplied 20 cows at the outset.
“Ten acres of my land is waste,” said Ian. “I couldn’t have hoped to have expanded so soon – and at low cost.” As John Chambers has other interests outside farming, he is virtually a sleeping partner – everything is left in Ian Martin’s hands. Mr Chambers’ farm also has 10 acres of waste ground.
“This gives us 60 acres of good land,” said Ian. At the moment stocking rate is one cow to 1.2 acres and the target is to have 60 cows by next year.
Three years ago Ian sowed seven acres of tall fescue – grass well-known for its great bulk on heavy land. “Never did I get such production as I am getting now,” Ian said. “The paddocks are responding tremendously.”
The grazing area consists of 24 acres. Last March it got 2½ cwt Two Sward per acre and the cows were out by April 23. As soon as the cows move to the next paddock the previous day’s paddock gets 1½ cwt Two Sward per acre in order to provide grazing in 21 days’ time.