The second episode of Rare Breed – A Farming Year was the most watched programme in Northern Ireland at 8.30pm last night with an average audience of 140,000 viewers and a 29% share. 

Rare Breed

Rare Breed – A Farming Year continues on Thursday at 8.30pm UTV with a look at March 2018. With the bad weather dominating the farmers’ activities, we get a reminder of last year’s ‘Beast from the East’.  Ewes, lambs and trees all need protecting, in all corners of Northern Ireland.

We return to the Wilson’s farm in Fermanagh where the weather is making even the most simple job dangerous.  They’ve brought in 30 ewes and lambs from the cold, worrying that they could smother in the snow drifts.  They also check for dead lambs and sheep as the ramifications of any loss can be serious. They’d ‘far rather the sun (was) beating down’ but the work still has to be done.   The boys both talk about combining their studies with work.

It’s back to Armagh to the McKeever’s orchard, where the frozen ground is actually helping rather than hindering the work.  The hard ground means a tractor is able to work between the trees, taking the tops off the prunings, without damaging the soil.

We are introduced to Caron McGeough, also from Armagh.  She farms cattle, sheep and pigs with her brothers and Dad at the family farm outside Loughgall. She has her hands full with lambing, with 350 ewes to feed and water twice daily.  She’s worried about possible infections with the sheep being inside and feeds them treacle to keep their energy levels up. She speaks of her passion for farming, saying, “I’ve been farming since I was out of nappies!”

Richard Beattie is in Draperstown at one of his four marts. The snow has thawed and he’s hoping to sell a record number of cattle. It’s a real social event for the farmers attending.  He talks about the importance of good relationships with the farmers saying, “If the farmers are away happy, I’m happy myself.”

Our final farmer in the programme is Christmas tree grower Tony Johnston.  He’s trying out a new method of growing trees in pots on his land outside Dundonald, Belfast.   It’s a small venture with 500 planted in this batch, compared to the 20,000 trees he plants in the traditional way.  It’ll be seven years before the potted trees will be ready for sale.  We see how labour intensive the planting is with Tony saying, “it’s all manual labour……..but where we can mechanise, we can.”

UTV’s Mark McFadden narrates the series, sponsored by Dale Farm, Rare Breed – A Farming Year continues on Thursday 31st January 2019 at 8.30pm on UTV.

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