What's Happening on the Farm in May
May is the month when the generosity of summer begins to take shape in the arrival of much fresh produce. A few warm days gives crops a spurt of growth. From now on till late September and early October, we will gradually see more and more seasonal produce coming on to the market.
May is a busy month for Irish farmers. Here’s a round up of our farmer members and what they are doing on their farms in May.
Soft fruit is the big news of the moment. For our fruit growers, this is the start of a hectic time, as they pick the early crops and continue to care for plants to promote a long growing season. Berry growers are already seeing results with the first of the season’s strawberries being harvested. Look to Malone’s Fruit Farm, Green’s Berry Farm, Kearn’s Fruit Farm and The Apple Farm for new season strawberries.
Some of our farms also grow other berries, which are not quite ready yet. As the season progresses, they will harvest gooseberries, raspberries, loganberries, tayberries and even some cherries and plums.
In Wexford, Des Jeffares of Mr Jeffares Blackcurrants is busy planting new bushes for next year, plus tending to his existing plants which will bear fruit in the height of summer. Read our blog on The Blackcurrant Harvest with Des Jeffares, to learn more about this third generation blackcurrant farmer. You can buy homegrown soft fruit in season from Malone’s Fruit Farm Shop, The Farm shop at The Apple Farm and The Stall and Shop of Green’s Berry Farm.
If you live in rural Ireland, your year will no doubt be dominated by what happens in the countryside around you. Even if you’re not involved in farming, it’s impossible not to see the changing of the seasons as it happens when you’re a country dweller. This is particularly noticeable in areas with dairy farming, when the fields are bereft of cows during the cold months as they overwinter indoors ready for calving. When the cows appear in the fields again in early spring, it’s almost like a signal that the winter months have finally passed and we can all breathe a sigh of relief.
For most dairy farms, calving has now safely taken place and the young calves are already in the fields, getting bigger and bolder by the day! Dairy cows are back outdoors, happily grazing on the lush sweet grass which makes beautiful milk for dairy produce. Great quality Irish yogurt comes from Glenilen Farm and Killowen Yogurts both have their own dairy herds. Good Irish butter is made the old fashioned way by Cuinneog in Co. Mayo.
Silage is also being cut for the first time on most dairy farms in May. This is the grass that will be preserved to feed the cows as they shelter indoors in the winter months. Residents of rural Ireland will be familiar with farmers cutting silage at all hours, using the tractor headlights to help them see what they are doing! It wouldn’t be unusual to see a field being cut at midnight or to be woken from your sleep by a tractor going by as dawn breaks.
This is a very busy time for silage cutters! If you holiday here in the country in summer, you’re bound at some point to get stuck behind a tractor pulling a trailer load of grass. Be patient behind the wheel – this is just the farmer going about his work, making hay while the sun shines, as the saying goes!
In the lowlands, lambing has already taken place and the young lambs are now gaining weight as summer grass becomes more available. But on higher ground lambing can be later in the year.
If you’re interested in tasting this delicious new season lamb reared naturally on the mountains of Achill, get your order in now!
Beef farmers with pedigree herds generally breed their own calves which will form part of the ongoing herd. So this is a busy time as young animals are born and gradually introduced to the great outdoors. Our beef farmers at Killenure Dexter and Irish Piedmontese Beef breed their own livestock which helps to secure consistency of quality of the meat and protects the genetic heritage of the herd.