“Charlotte was born on 3 March 2021. On St Patrick’s Day, I went down to Eamon Sheehan’s in Callan, Co Kilkenny and bought Charlotte off him. I gave him €200 and he gave me €20 back as luck money.

I had that money because Dad gave me a sheep for my birthday and she had two lambs, so I sold the lambs and put that money towards Charlotte, along with money I got for mowing the lawn.

I went with Charlotte because she was ready to go; otherwise, I would have had to wait two weeks for a Belgian Blue. She is a Charolais-Friesian cross.

Arriving home

We had made a pen where the old crush had been. It had been concreted and we put up two gates, so she went in there when we got home.

Grandad bought the first bag of milk as a present and then Dad bought me another bag to get me started. She got nuts out of a horse bucket, but that didn’t work out well, so we put the nuts into half a barrel and she would have gotten hay too.

She was definitely more fond of the milk. She’d come running up when she would see the milk.

One time, I went in to feed her, and I didn’t close the gate; I just didn’t latch it – and didn’t she run right out!

She ran around the side of the shed and jumped into where the other calves were. Dad ran in and caught her, saying, ‘don’t let that calf escape again!’

She just wanted to be with them. She got bullied by them when she went out with them; she never got any nuts.

We were watching her once with the suckler calves. While they were eating, we gave her a bucket and brought her out onto the lane where she could eat on her own.

Growing up

I wanted to put Charlotte in calf to an Aubrac, but there were no AI straws. I like the Aubrac; how they look, and I heard they are easy to calve.

We had an Aubrac here called Peach. She was so nice; we grew so fond of her. We’d always give her an extra fistful of nuts and extra hay for a treat.

We went for a Shorthorn sexed straw then. The funny thing is, we didn’t think she was in calf, but then she started showing signs: her udder was getting bigger and her pin bones were loosening.

She took forever to calve and – when she did calve – I was in school!

It was funny. Charlotte was born on 3 March and her first calf, Matilda, was born on 3 March too.

I was saying that I didn’t care what Charlotte’s calf was going to be like, I said I was going to sell her. But then when she was born, I was like, ‘Oh, I am not going to sell her, I am never going to sell her, she is so nice.’

When we weighed Matilda first, she was heavier than any other calf we’ve had – about 10kg over any of the others.

A difficult arrival

Charlotte had a stiff hip and couldn’t get back up after calving. We had to get the tractor to lift her back up. We gave her some anaesthetic; after about five days she was fine.

Charlotte will be going in calf again this year; we might not go for the sexed semen this year. I have a fairly limited budget.

I would like to try the Aubrac if I had the chance, but I don’t know if there are any AI straws for an Aubrac. I’d say I will end up going for an Angus. I might go for an Angus and then a Limousin the year after.

To be honest with you, I’m not sure I’ll be buying another calf. I rather the sheep!

There is a quicker turnover out of the sheep. It is easier to get them, then you can have more of them and sell them quicker too.

I have to get up at ten minutes to six every morning to do the feeding, and after school as well. I like doing that, but the sheep are cuter. And if you’re sad on a day, you can just go up to the sheep and they make you so happy.

I definitely will hold on to Matilda, but I will probably have to sell the next one. Otherwise, I’ll be running dry out of money.”

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