My name is Brendan O’Reilly and I live on a family dairy farm in Mullahoran, Co Cavan. I have a real grá for all things farming. We milk 60 cows in an eight-unit herringbone parlour and operate a spring-calving system. From a young age, I have travelled the region with my father, Padraig, who is a scanning operator.

Along the way, I have gained a wealth of knowledge about farming. I enjoy seeing all the different farming setups and enterprises. I have spent many an hour sitting in the passenger seat of the Land Cruiser jeep, wondering where we were going next.

In September, I gathered up my bounty from my summer job at Abbeylara Garden Centre, and purchased my first tractor (I emphasise the word ‘first’ as I doubt it will be my last).

I love vintage, so a David Brown 995 was my tractor of choice, as it is a lesser spotted brand of tractor around these parts. Waterford has the highest percentage of Case/David Browns registered in Ireland (see machinery page 20), but I have the highest percentage of David Browns in our lane.

St Bridget brings the spring and she also makes use of the rushes scattered around our bottoms. A cross is hung in the calving pens. The old byre is limed, bedded, and sectioned off into pens for the new crop of calves. The remnants of the Christmas turkeys are still to be seen in the form of a stray feather or two.

The cycle of life continues, nonetheless.

They hung lifeless in this shed just a few short weeks ago, but now the cycle will rejuvenate. A brand new crop of black and white calves will now prance and play about in their straw beds.

They too, will serve their duty on the farm, and join the milking herd one day, mothering many calves themselves.

The evenings are slowly but surely getting longer and we’ve been blessed with a mild winter. People say that it is too good to be true, and that a late winter may yet come.

We’ve no control over the weather, but we can only take what we get. My father always tells me that when you fill your nostrils with the pungent scent of a bale of hay on a cold wintery day, you will always be reminded of the glorious summer days when the hay was made. So, for now, we can only look forward to the summer and the year to come.

There are many uncertainties in agriculture at present. It’s no secret at this stage that prices are increasing in all sectors. While unrelenting costs of diesel, fertiliser and steel are a cause of concern in agricultural communities throughout the country, one certainty at this time is that springtime will come and go.

Just as the daffodils bloom and the buds unfurl on the trees, having done so for millennia, springtime will bring a new generation of livestock to our farmyards.

To conclude, I’ll leave you with the words of Seamus O’Rourke: “This year please God - Like the lamb or calf, we too will rise and stand.”

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