Travelling to South Tipperary last Friday it felt like a May morning rather than late March. The sun was making gallant attempts to break through a strong mist and the hint of blue in the fog was a sure sign that it had the makings of a great day.
At the village of Golden I met Alison de Vere Hunt and drove to a 158ac residential farm about 3km away at Ballyvada between Golden and New Inn. A long avenue led us past the dormer bungalow through the best of South Tipperary grazing ground laid out in neat paddocks under a lush green sward of grass.
We drove on to the concrete apron of an extensive and impressive farmyard, the nerve centre of this 300-cow dairy farm. The holding is coming to auction with a guide price of €3.6m.
Located 15km from Tipperary town and 11km from Cashel, the farm is at the heart of some of the best of Ireland’s farming country. Alison rightly describes it as a “turn-key operation”.
It is difficult to know where to start describing the modern farming facilities except to say that most of the buildings are practically brand-new except for a round-roof barn with lean-tos that is home to a new cubicle system complete with rubber mats and covered cubicle bars.
There is housing for 300 cows, and for up to 500 head of stock in total. The 14-unit milking machine has a 10,500 litre bulk-tank and a feed silo. The collecting yard is slatted and contains a long feeding trough where the cows can graze while waiting to be milked.
The biggest shed is a 12-column, double A-roof structure with 200 cubicles, automatic scrapers and feeding passages.
Another shed is home to 84 cubicles, while an open-air cubicle unit has 60 spaces on rubber mats with covered bars.
The calving sheds are spacious, comfortable straw-strewn units, while the calf sheds have smaller units for newly separated calves and automatic, electronically controlled feeders.
Other buildings include machinery sheds, fodder storage sheds, a smaller slatted feeding unit and two silage pits.
The house and yards are set in the centre of 145ac of land laid out in a series of paddocks serviced by a network of perfectly maintained internal roads giving easy access to all the paddocks. These are well-fenced and watered and under a fine sward of grass.
There is hardly an inch of waste to be found in the place aside from a few acres of lower land near the gate, which was a late addition to the holding.
A parcel of 13ac with cattle-handling facilities and up to 800m in road frontage is about 500m from the main farm on the road to Golden.
The land is all flat, well-maintained grazing ground with piped water.
The yard is a busy place when we visited with the last of the cows calving and the others in the process of being milked.
The owner took a break to tell me the story of the holding under his tenure.
“I moved in here on July 17, 2003,” he said. “It was a tillage farm at that time and cultivated from ditch to ditch.
“By January 2004 we were milking. We started with a herd of 50 cows and a quota of 50,000 gallons and by the time they were abolished in 2015 I had bought 200,000 gallons of quota.
“This is the driest ground you can find. The rain is often falling on the Galtees there behind us and here we mightn’t get a drop.”
Indeed the farm is in the shadow of the Galtee Mountains and as the mist lifted the views from the house were spectacular.
The house itself is on its own site between the road and the yard.
A modern dormer bungalow, it is in top condition with accommodation that includes three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, an ensuite bedroom downstairs, a kitchen/dining area, a television room and a large sitting room.
There is a large garage/shed beside the house set on a concrete apron.
According to the owner, who is relocating to a new holding, the farm can be bought with or without the stock of over 300 dairy cows, 200 followers and 200 Friesian heifer calves.
The farm machinery could also be included.
“If the price is right I will sell the lot but I am happy to take the stock and the machinery with me,” he said.
The place will be sold at auction at Cashel Mart at 3pm on Thursday, May 21.