I sat in our car in the middle of nowhere on my holidays somewhere near Ballymena.
My husband had disappeared into a monstrous shed. I could have stayed at our friends’ house relaxing. Instead, I opted to accompany the hubby, Tim, on his mission as he said he’d like my company.
It’s only a farmer would get away with this; a machine was spotted in the Irish Farmers Journal. It might well do an important job on the farm. In fact, it might just solve a particular weed problem. It had to be seen.
“I have indeed been duped!” I thought. And so I waited. It wasn’t that long at all before Tim emerged with a guy called JP. They parted company. Tim was happy with the machine he had found.
The machine in question is a weed wiper. We have quite a lot of weeds in some fields such as docks, nettles and ragwort but we also have valuable clover that we want to protect
“Will we be purchasing it?” I asked. Well obviously the discussion would have to take place at home with our son Colm and so on. “Would you like to see it?” Tim asked. I was out of the car in a shot for a look inside the big shed that is Blaney Engineering. The machine in question is a weed wiper. We have quite a lot of weeds in some fields such as docks, nettles and ragwort but we also have valuable clover that we want to protect.
We are concentrating on increasing the clover in the grass so that the nitrogen use can be reduced overall. This is good for the clover, good for the environment and good for our pockets. Colm has used a half rate of nitrogen on the clover swards in some fields and the return has been phenomenal with a really good crop of clover. The cows love it.
Meanwhile the clover is nitrogen fixing and so doing its own job for the soil. So far, it seems like a win all round.
How it works
Weedkiller is not good for clover. A weed-free pasture with no clover is not what we want. This is where the weed wiping machine comes in.
It moves along the field like a mower out to the side of the tractor.
The weeds get taken out and the grass and clover remain untouched
Underneath, it has two carpet rollers turning against each other applying a dose of chemical to the weeds in grazed fields. A sensor on the machine picks up the weeds ahead and the right amount of chemical is dispensed.
The weeds get taken out and the grass and clover remain untouched. A huge bonus is a 95% reduction in the rate of chemical necessary. This is hugely beneficial for the environment. All will be discussed when we get home.
We decided some time ago that our break would be to visit friends in Donegal. Our first stop was to Therese and Colm near Donegal town. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that people are far more important than place. To sit, eat and chat with Therese and Colm was utter bliss.
The country is rugged, beautiful and largely unspoilt
It was the same meeting with Rosemary and Gerry. We had a scrumptious meal outdoors at The Red Door Country House overlooking Lough Swilly in Inishowen. The country is rugged, beautiful and largely unspoilt. It’s Kerry with icing! The people are really friendly and their melodious accents are soothing. As Delta case numbers were rising, we kept away from crowded areas and continued to take the now-routine precautions.
Hospitality in recovery
Our next stop was the Galmont Hotel & Spa in Galway. The impact of COVID-19 is cruel on hospitality. The only slot available for a swim was 7am to 8am in the morning. Everything had to be booked.
After the swim, I chatted to one of the leisure centre staff, Dave Connolly. He was upbeat and friendly. The quota for the pool area was 33 but there is a big problem with “no shows”. And they can’t risk adding a few more because if it rains, everyone arrives!
The hotel was such an eerie place with its nearly 300 bedrooms all empty
He said the Galmont was built never to close. It was a huge shock for staff to have to shut up everything. Yet, the hotel had to be maintained down to testing the water in the pool. Dave worked in security while the hotel was closed. The hotel was such an eerie place with its nearly 300 bedrooms all empty, corridors hollow and bars and restaurants devoid of chat. There are so many stories from this pandemic. Then it was up for the pre-arranged breakfast where Dessie couldn’t do enough for us. That personal touch is all important.
Next stop Bantry.