‘Rare Breed’ farmers continue to prove a draw with UTV audience

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‘Rare Breed - A Farming Year’ was once again the most watched programme in Northern Ireland at 8.30pm last Thursday night with over 150,000 viewers tuning in, equating to a 27% share of the entire NI viewing audience.

Rare Breed – A Farming Year continues tomorrow night (Thursday) at 8.30pm on UTV where the farmers are enjoying the lovely June weather, with some literally making hay while the sun shines!

For others, trees are topped, sheep are sheared, slurry is spread and orchards are opened to the public.

The summer heatwave means that the Wilsons in Fermanagh can harvest a bumper crop of hay. Even a broken down tractor, and Robbie’s exams don’t stop the work, which is just as well, given that the harsh winter has meant that all the reserves are depleted, so a good crop of silage is needed for the following winter. Cindy’s 85 year old father also lends a hand to bring in 244 bales of hay!

Victor Chestnutt is far from home in Bushmills this week, as he attends a dairy event in Hillsborough, finding out about fertilisers and the environmental impact of ammonia. He points how all those attending value finding out about the latest in fertilisation techniques and their environmental impact. He points out how all farmers want to be part of the solution.

The McGilligans in Dungiven are shearing the 600 strong flock, who are happy to get the wool off in the hot weather. Young Cahir is in the thick of it, helping gather up all the wool.

He said: “It’s a mixture of hard work and good fun, but I like it!”

Caron McGeough is slurry spreading in Loughgall and happy at it. She loves her red tractor, and talks about her lifelong interest in the machinery. She chats about the friendly competition between friends saying: “You always get a bit of craic... my tractor’s better than yours….”

Also in Armagh, the McKeevers have opened their doors to the public as part of the Open Farm Weekend Scheme, giving people from the town an opportunity to see how they operate and where their food comes from.

Catherine talks of the value in getting people on site: “We do so many shows and functions, it’s lovely for people to come and see what we’re talking about – it’s fantastic!” she says.

In Dundonald, Tony Johnston is shaping trees to ensure they grow to the proper shape for Christmas. The strong winds don’t help their work, but it’s the first chance he and his team have had to be out, as they have just finished a long contracting season.

This episode finishes off with Alex Lyttle in Newtownards probably the only farmer looking for a bit of rain in the good weather. He’s irrigating the vegetables, using a tanker that was only used once last year, hoping that the vegetable leaves don’t go yellow in the sun.

He says: “It’s been good for nearly too long, we’d just like to see a bit of rain.”

UTV’s Mark McFadden narrates the series, sponsored by Dale Farm, Rare Breed – A Farming Year continues on Thursday, February 21, at 8.30pm on UTV.