Farm & Yarn
Discover the heart of Northern Ireland farming and gain an insight into a rural life that flourishes. This sustainable working farm is nestled under the shadow of Slemish Mountain. We are surrounded by lush landscapes and rich agriculture heritage. The countryside showcases stunning and diverse natural beauty within a tranquil setting. You will get the opportunity to see some of the very best of Northern Ireland agriculture.
This is an authentic farm tour experience on a real working stock farm with your guide Rae and farmer Tom. This is a perfect day out with a difference! Visitors will be reconnected with a knowledge of where food comes from and how a working farm functions. We aim to provide an enjoyable experience and lasting memory.
Meet our 2 and 4 legged family in the this truly unique opportunity to find out what daily farming life is like in Ulster. Our friendly farm animals includes cows, sheep, goats, donkeys and free range hens. Hear about our farming family of 6 generations at The Caseyend Farm. Tom will inform you of past and present farming methods, where the past feels as close as the present! You will get the opportunity to see farm machinery and implements and hear about their role on the farm.
Each season varies on the farm, so depending on when you visit, experiences will be diverse.
COUNTRY HOUSE FAYRE
Experience a true authentic treat in Rae’s Kitchen. Enjoy the yarn and craic known customary to the Braid Valley area. As well as a welcoming atmosphere you will experience the smell of home baking on a traditional farmhouse griddle. You will have the opportunity to watch or participate in making 100 per cent natural soda bread and potato farls on a charming AGA stove. Tasting the warm breads with Northern Irish butter is a must!!!!
After your farm visit you will return to Rae’s kitchen for another culture trip to sample Northern Ireland cuisine. The menu will consist of Ulster produced beef, lamb, potatoes and free range eggs fresh from the Caseyend farm. A culinary delight not to be missed!!
Traditionally lambs are born in the Spring but at The Caseyend Farm lambing has been extended and begins in late December. This practise is to aid cashflow to catch the Easter market when lambs are normally at their best price. After a short break lambing will re-commence in March. Most ewes will give birth without assistance but a few will require a helping hand from the farmer. Ewes may have single lambs, twins or even triplets – twins are ideal as the ewe has 2 teats.
Triplets may cause problems as the ewe finds it difficult to feed all three. A ewe with a single lamb will be encouraged by the farmer to adopt a surplus lamb giving all a better chance of survival.
Lambs are tagged and recorded accordingly. Most of The Caseyend Farm lambs will be fattened over the summer period on lush green grass. By the end of August they will be on the menu in European homes and restaurants where most of Northern Ireland lamb is exported. Ulster sheep farmers focus on lamb meat as their main source of income. Wool production is a by product.
February marks the start of the main calving period at Tom’s Farm.
From February to May it is an interesting busy time working around the clock to ensure the safety of the new born. Difficult calving, calf losses causes many a sleepless night at calving time for the farmer.
Calves are preferably born outside in a healthy environment if weather conditions are appropriate. As daylight hours lengthen and weather improves the calves grow in a pleasant environment with leafy lush grass. Calves are tagged at birth and monitored by the farmer. Usually at 8 or 9 months old the calves are weaned. After further feeding for a period of time steers, heifers and young bulls can produce beef of the highest quality.
Northern Ireland livestock farms depend on grass silage for winter feeding with approximately 8 million tonnes of this fodder made locally each year.
At Tom’s farm it is important to plan and manage fodder all year round. As grass does not grow in winter, we must harvest surplus in the summer season. This is done either by drying the grass into hay or pickling grass to form silage.
It is important to have good grass managed in the right way to make good quality silage, weeds will decrease the yield and quality. Although weather dependent the afternoon is the best time to mow the grass when the pasture is free from rain or dew.
Silage is made by placing cut green vegetation into a silo in a large heap and compressing it down to expel as much oxygen as possible. It is then covered with plastic to keep air out to enable the conservation process to occur. Silage can also be wrapped in large round bales tightly in plastic film. The wrapped bales can last up to 2 years but once opened it is best to have it eaten by the animals in 2 to 3 days. Good quality silage should be light brown and palatable with a sweet smell.
In August the Northern Ireland grain harvest begins. At the Caseyend Farm the straw is purchased and is used to bed expectant mothers and new born calves and lambs. Straw provides a healthy environment, is comfortable, warm and helps to reduce disease. Straw is not only used by livestock farmers but dairy and sheep farmers also and can be used for both bedding and feeding animals during the winter housing period.