Denis Lehane: Going thirsty for sake of the calves

Fellows often ask me, “How do you survive in farming at all, for you seem to be the greatest fool that ever put a foot on the land.”
Denis Lehane: Going thirsty for sake of the calves

Well my secret, I’m proud to say, is the humble calf.

Yerra, I can rear a calf like nobody else. It doesn’t matter to me if he’s a Jersey, or a Shorthorn, if he has a bent back, three legs, one eye, or two backsides. It’s all the same to me. Once he gets on this farm, he’s away.

All calves will thrive once I get hold of them.

And the secret to my success? Why, it’s nothing more complicated than milk replacer, and plenty of it. Keep the drink coming thick and fast has always been my motto.

However, there is a downside to the abundant use of milk replacer, and it is the price. To my mind, milk replacer is grotesquely overpriced. Having to regularly fork out almost €50 for a bag is the cause of great distress and discomfort to me.

With milk prices for dairy farmers supposedly at rock bottom levels, “Why,” I cry, “is the price of milk replacer still so recklessly high?”

Back in April, when dairy farmers were getting handsomely rewarded for their produce, I was able to purchase a bag for €2 cheaper than I do at present.

Now, I’m no genius at mathematics, but something doesn’t add up here.

Naturally enough, the crazy money I’m pouring out for milk replacer is having a detrimental effect on me. For you see, because of lashing out on milk replacer, I have no money left at the end of the week to indulge in a drink or two myself.

Only the other day, one of my youngsters asked, “Papa, why do you not drink anymore?”

Even the children have spotted the problem.

The twinkle has gone from their old man’s eye, he has lost his rosy hue.

Sadly, I’m a pale imitation of the man I used to be.

Bluntly put, this calf rearing business has me broke.

Last weekend, I had €50 in my pocket. A fine sum of money, it has to be said. And in the old days, a sum that would have put a handsome volume of stout into my belly.

Alas, last weekend, instead of a merry night out, I was forced to part with it for yet another bag of milk replacer.

This I found was the last straw. A shameful state of affairs to find oneself in. No man I felt should have to endure such torture.

And so that is why today I am calling on the Minister for Finance, as he prepares for next Tuesday’s Budget, not to forget the thirsty farmer.

Michael, in the name of God, we in the calf rearing business desperately need the opportunity to go out for a few pints, before we seize up entirely. So I beseech you to remedy our plight in next week’s budget.

Invoke some class of a law whereby the farmers in my position might be able to obtain five or six bags of milk replacer each year free gratis, thus ensuring that fellows like me could go and have a few pints, and would then not be shuffling around the place like a camel in the Sahara with a dry tongue hanging from his mouth.

It’s vital, I feel, for the well-being of the nation that we always ensure the wheels of Irish agriculture are well lubricated.

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