A tweet up and ploughing 2015. 

    
It’s not long now till one of the biggest if not the biggest event in the farming calendar . The National Ploughing championships are on next Tuesday 22nd, Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th of September in Ratheniska , Co Laois . 
This is a yearly three day event which showcases all areas of agriculture in Ireland from machinery to food , dairy to sheep , farming organisations to sheds and lots more as well . It is a great day or couple of days out for the whole family because there is something for everyone there . 
We go every year and some years we go two or maybe even the three days . This year we are going on the Wednesday and on that day I am going to be tweeting from the @IrelandsFarmers account for the day . This Twitter account is curated each week by a different Irish farmers to give people an insight into farm life on all types of farms . 
This year the three days of the ploughing is covered by three different farmers my day is Wednesday . The fun thing this year is you can come meet the tweeting farmers at the ploughing . Each day in the IFA tent there will be a meet up , one at 12pm and another at 3pm . It will a chance to meet us and have a chat . So I am asking you all to come along if you are at the ploughing Wednesday and say hi at 12pm or 3pm myself and Sid will be waiting . 
Our hashtag for the ploughing is #ploughing15 and here is the @IrelandsFarmers account so go follow and see what will be happening over the three days . We will be there to answer farming questions , Twitter questions or in my case if anyone wants to know about blogging or vlogging I will be happy to start you off that day . 
So spread the word guys about the meet up and I hope to see you all at the ploughing there might even be tea 🙂 
Elaine x . 
Here is a vlog from last years ploughing 🙂 

He is a little man now.

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The day arrived when the youngest of the farmers headed off to big school , where does all the time go !!? . It seems like no length ago he was only a baby and then a toddler but they the time just seemed to speed up and now when I look at him I see a little man looking back at me not a little boy anymore .

He started his big school on Thursday and we had no tears thank God  , we were there early and all the parents went into their new class and got settled . The littlest farmer was happy enough to sit at his desk and his teacher gave him some blocks to play with  . He knows a couple of the boys in his class so at least that made it easier on him for his first day . He was finished at 12 and I treated him to Mc Donalds for his lunch for his first day in school .

The second morning which was Friday I did nearly have tears because I didn’t get to stay as long with him as the first day because I had to go to school to welcome my new kids to their class . He was ok going in but when he sat down and I had to go he wanted to know could some of the other teachers not take my kids and I could stay in school with him . His eyes filled up when I told him I had to go but no tears came so I hope he is ok tomorrow because the farmer has to bring him because I am back to school full time again with my 7.00am start  .

This morning just to make me feel worse about how fast he is growing up he lost his first tooth  , his first baby tooth , he is only four !! . He was so cool about it  , it fell out early this morning and he said he just took it out and left it on his bookbeside hsi bed and he thought no more about it  . When the farmer came in after checking all the stock he noticed the gap and when we asked he just said that fell out its upstairs  , no excitement or nothing arent boys funny creatures :).

The whole house is nearly gone back to school after our summer off , the middle little farmer went back on Thursday as well he went into fifth year  . The eldest little farmer is starting his second year of his Agriculture science course on the 8th September so he will be gone next weekend and I am back to school again tomorrow so the farmer will have to house to himself again in the mornings at least .

Did any of your little ones start school ? How did it go ? well I hope  .

 

I Haven’t Forgotten About My Blog .

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Hi everyone *waves* , I haven’t forgotten about my blog its just there seems to be no time . As I think I told everyone I had the pain of going back to college in March and of course I thought I would be able to do it all but no I wasnt able . This blog started to be left out and everyone knows I love blogging so I missed being here a lot so after watching some Youtube vlogs and after thinking about vlogging for a while before it seemed like the right time for me to start .  I could still blog just with the camera on my phone rather than the computer which was then and still is taken up with college assignments .

I am still busy with college and won’t be finished till January but at least then in the evenings I will have time to write some posts because I won’t have study and the computer wont be busy with assignments . While I love vlogging I have to admit I do miss writing my posts all about the farm and what is going on at the minute . I try to vlog most days and show what I am at all day so come over and see what I am up to when I am not here .

The farmers are all gone big the eldest one is going into second year in college, the middle one is starting fifth year and the littlest one is starting school on Thursday !!!! . We are planning a wedding for August next year and we are trying to decorate the house at the minute before I am back to school for another year . The summer has gone by so fast and I very seldom get near the farm any more because any time I have I have to study for bloody college but all the sheep and bulls are still there we haven’t changed any of it only grown it a little this year.

I will try to post a little more here and upload more of the vlogs here as well so you can all see what I am up to  . Here is today’s vlog :).

I Have Lost My Place On The Farm.

With the two older farmers off from school I have lost my place on the farm. Now if you were to tell me this during the height of the lambing I would have jumped at the chance to have a little farm break. Now when I have one as such I feel a little left out .
When the boys are in school all the work is divided as such between me at the farmer but now the boys are off there is more hands than work. So I find myself doing the runs to co ops, factories and tyre shop or standing around nearly in the way while they do Sheep feet or fencing or bulls. I still do the morning and most evening bull/ calves feeds and sheep checks but the rest has been taken by the boys.
It is great that the boys have such an interest and without them we would be lost , they are great boys to work and never complain. This free time does give me a chance to focus more on my horses but I never thought I would miss the farming , the good days and the leave your feelings at the gate days :).
It’s funny how something I swore I would never do is in the last year really starting to get under my skin . If I am honest it won’t ever hold the same love I have for my horses but it will I feel come a very, very close second . So now to settle myself into my new summer routine , where I get to watch all my farmers do what they do best and get a little rest before one goes back to school and the other fingers crossed to college .
Here are two video clips of today one is an Irish countryside traffic jam I came across on one of my many trips in the jeep today . The other is over the eldest little farmer who will be 18 yrs tomorrow mowing our second round of hayledge .

Schmallenberg Virus Talk.

On Tuesday myself and the farmer had a date night of sorts , we went to a talk all about Schmallenberg virus and the new vaccine they have for it. Schmallenberg virus was first noticed in a town in Germany in 2011 and since then it has spread all across Europe. The first case of the virus or first reported case was in Cork in a calf on the 30 / 10 / 12. Schmallenberg causes mild to severe deformities in all ruminants e.g sheep , goats , cattle , it does not effect horses or people. The deformities that can be seen are deformed limbs , faces , backs and brain development . Some are aborted at an early stage while some are born alive only needing to be put down shortly after birth.

The virus is spread through midge bite , there are 25 different types of midge in Ireland and it is the females which spread the virus as they suck blood to survive. Midges travel by wind they don’t really fly which is why they can cover such a large amount of ground and are most active in Ireland between April and December but if there is a wet , dark , damp house midges can bite and transmit the virus all year round. It has not been proven yet but they think the midge is able to pass the virus to their offspring so when they hatch they are already carrying the virus ready to infect more animals. A midge can lay over 1000 eggs each time . There is no evidence that the use of dips , sprays or pour ons will have any effect on stopping the spread of the virus. The flocks and herds that showed the highest rates of the disease were those that use compact calving or synchronised lambing and calved or lambed before March but there have been cases reported up to end of April.

This year  there were 79 confirmed farms with the virus , Kilkenny had 9 cattle and 9 sheep farms , Wexford had 5 cattle and 8 sheep farms , Wicklow had 2 cattle and 3 sheep farms while Cork had 23 cattle and 5 sheep farms with cases. The vet speaking there were probably a lot more cases but they were just not reported as it is not a notifiable disease.The East, South East and some of the midlands of the country has so far been the worst effected it is hoped these will have the least amount of cases this year. They are expecting from the Midlands across and up will be the worst effected as the infected midges move across the country. A vet spoke to us who had nothing to do with the vaccine company and while he said they did see cases of deformities in both cattle and sheep this spring he couldn’t say for certain the deformities were entirely down to the virus. He used an example of a dairy cow who aborted her calf , he took blood tests from the cow and sent to calf away. The results for the cow showed that yes she had the virus but she also had other illnesses which would also cause both abortion and birth deformities and the calf came back clear . He feels that like we blamed Chernobyl a few years ago for any problems we are now blaming Schmallenberg for all deformities when it might not be the case.

The clinical signs of the virus are drop in milk yield , fever , diarrhoea and loss of appetite these are for both sheep and cows but they are also symptoms of lots of other illnesses as well so would be hard to tell which it was. There is no risk to a ewe or cows fertility after having Schmallenberg and these are the stock that should be kept so long as no damage was done to the animal trying to give birth to a deformed calf or lamb. The reason these should be kept as they will have natural immunity to the virus, this is the point that is making us hold off for the minute on vaccinating our ewes. If 50 % of your ewes / cows show they have had the virus it does not mean the other 50 will have immunity as well . A midge could bite one animal but not another one that is only a foot away. Your sheep  / cows could all have been bitten and have built a natural immunity but never shown any clinical signs as in deformed calves or lambs. The only way to know your flocks immunity level would be to get them all blood tested for dairy farmers the tank test is not enough .

Here is another reason we are not sure if we will vaccinate but hope we have natural immunity , they have not found out yet if rams or bulls will be able to pass the virus through semen . They have done studies which have shown that even after a bull or ram are showing natural immunity they are still shedding the virus from their testes into the semen for months and months afterwards and could be a lifelong infection. In lab trials they have been able to infect tissue through semen but in field trials it hasn’t been seen to spread through breeding.

Now to the new vaccine , it is only available on prescription from your vet and will cost 3.50 per ewe and 7.00 per roughly cow to vaccinate it is not available for rams or bulls. Each ewe gets 1ml under the skin while cows are given 2ml under the skin.The risk period of infection in sheep is between days 28 – 56 gestation  and days 62 – 170 in cows. After you vaccinate immunity is not there for three weeks. When they are vaccinated the company so far can only guarantee immunity for one year with a possible booster needed the next year so at the minute it is looking like a yearly vaccine. The whole way through the night we were waiting for the vaccine company to stand up and tell us all we have to buy this but not once did they force the vaccine on anyone.

We came away from the night much better informed about the virus and where they have gotten to with the study of it so far. We left undecided as to vaccinate or not and mainly due to the fact we lamb late , natural immunity is much better than the vaccine if you are one of the lucky ones that are not effected badly with birth defects and the fact that all the experts including the vaccine company feel that through natural immunity the virus will eventually burn itself out. Over the next few months I will be keeping a close eye on any new information about the virus before we decide to vaccinate or not.