Dear Amii,

I saw with interest your email from a lady about being fed up of feeding contractors.

I can see where this lady is coming from but I come from the other side having been married to a contractor for over 30 years and I can’t express how grateful I am to those ladies/gents who feed our lads.

There aren’t that many that do so, but it takes such pressure off me to get a small reprieve in the relentless drawing of food practically every day for the silage season.

You are literally tied to the job for the season. You can’t go anywhere or make any plans. The lovely fine days are the busiest times on farms.

And we do make allowances when it comes to paying the bill.

It’s difficult all round and maybe it’s time to drag the food operation into the 21st century in line with all that big shiny machinery that goes with silage season now.

Kind regards,

Regular Reader

(Name with editor)

Results to our survey on feeding silage contractors at www.ifj.ie/feedingcontractors will be published next week.

Growing wild

with Dr Catherine Keena, Teagasc countryside management specialist


Look out for elder, called bour tree in northern parts of the country. This is now very conspicuous in hedges everywhere, with large heads of fluffy creamy white flowers. Used in cooking and wine making, elderflower cordial can be added to sparkling water or white wine. Elderflowers can flavour ice-cream or be dipped in batter and deep fried as fritters to serve with ice-cream. Leaves are similar to ash with less leaflets. Hollow branches provide nest chambers for bumble bee larvae, and shelter for hibernating insects. Homemade flutes or whistles were made after removing the soft pithy centre. Elder is a very good wildlife species – part of our native Irish biodiversity.

Home management tip

Farmers and gardeners and people who like to be outside take note!

Skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in Ireland. It can kill you but it can often be prevented. As a home manager, take charge of making sure that there is sun screen in the house and located where everyone can see it and use it.

Get the children to make a sign to draw attention to it. The kitchen table or a unit near the back door or even the bathroom are all good locations. Set a good example yourself. Use it daily. Use at least SPF 30 and SPF 50 for children. Read the label, make sure it has UVA and UVB protection. Both are necessary. Always avoid long exposure and re-apply sunscreen every two hours.

It is really important to protect children from the sun. Listening to a leading dermatologist recently, she said that children and teenagers could probably get away with one bad sunburn but subsequent burnings will almost always cause skin cancer in later life. Apply sunscreen under your make-up and wear a wide brimmed hat and sun glasses.

Quote of the week

If it doesn’t work for farmers, it’s not going to work for nature – and we’re clear about that

Minister of state for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan.

Tweet of the week

Number of the week

Picture of the week

Blast from the past: Liam Maher taking a step back in time to farming in the 70’s. He proudly restored this historic tractor to its originality. It's Liam's pride and joy.