The Farming Year

See how a traditional Irish farming family's time was organised around monthly tasks associated with the land.


Winnowing corn at Rosapenna, Co. Donegal, c. 1900

Saint Bridget’s Day, 1st February, was seen as the start of the new year on the land as days become longer and the first signs of growth are evident.

Apart from daily routine tasks, such as milking cows, the main tasks of the traditional farming and fishing family were the following:

January

  • Repair farm equipment
  • Clean ditches and drains
  • Feed animals

February

  • Begin preparing the ground for crops
  • Attend fair to buy or sell animals
  • Feed animals

March

  • Plant potatoes
  • Harvest seaweed
  • Assist animals during calving and lambing
  • Feed animals

April

  • Plant vegetables and cereals
  • Harvest seaweed
  • Assist animals during calving and lambing
  • Fish for mackerel and herring

May

  • Cut turf
  • Put cattle out to pastures, sheep onto hills
  • Dock tails and castrate young lambs
  • Weed crops
  • Attend fair to buy or sell animals
  • Net for salmon

June

  • Weed crops
  • Shear and dip sheep
  • Cut hay
  • Catch lobsters
  • Dry turf

July

  • Cut hay
  • Spray potatoes
  • Harvest cabbage
  • Fish for mackerel

August

  • Harvest cereals and flax
  • Dig potatoes
  • Attend fair to buy or sell animals
  • Fish for mackerel

September

  • Harvest cereals
  • Dig potatoes
  • Bring turf home
  • Fish for herring, mackerel
  • Pick blackberries

October

  • Pick apples
  • Dig potatoes
  • Pull turnips

November

  • Attend market to sell buy or sell animals
  • Plough fields
  • Make and repair hedges, ditches and drains
  • Bring cattle in from pastures
  • Feed animals

December

  • Repair farm equipment
  • Lay in seed
  • Feed animals