We’re often told "where there’s life, there’s hope", but I never thought I’d have a chance to test the theory until a recent calf survived a hard birth against the odds.

Off TVR, a bull renowned for both his calf quality and calving difficulty, I was keeping a close eye on the cow due to him.

The cow was taken inside once she showed signs of calving being imminent and once I’d made sure two feet and a head were presenting correctly, I left her to herself.

A scant 10 minutes later, I heard a calf roaring from the shed and ran down to find the calf stuck at the hips.

A little luck

With more than a little luck, a big bull calf was delivered, though unfortunately no signs of life were to be seen, with the eye showing no reflex movement upon tapping it.

But after all that hard work getting him out, myself and dad weren’t giving up easily!

Lo and behold, after about a minute, he came to and took a breath

The calf’s legs were pumped, water thrown in his ear, his tongue was pinched and a full rub down was given to encourage breathing.

Lo and behold, after about a minute, he came to and took a breath and to make sure he was alert and would remain so, a couple of buckets of water were unceremoniously dumped on top of his head, which would surely wake anybody up.

Within minutes of his cold shower, he was looking like a different calf, and with a bottle feed later on to encourage him, he was soon sucking the cow.

While it was more hope and luck than anything special, it taught me a lesson about reviving calves, and our ‘Lazarus’ is certainly one calf I’ll remember.

New shed

The topic of building a new shed was brought up last winter when we found ourselves in need of more space than we had.

Between vintage tractors and everyday machinery, nearly every space was taken up, which meant our tractor had only the hayshed in our original farmyard to keep it under cover from the elements.

Unfortunately, this yard was not built for the modern tractor, with entrances and electricity wires more suited to an ass and cart than a Zetor 6441.

Despite going through the narrow entrance gates hundreds of times with it, I dreaded being the person who actually knocked the hundred-year-old gates off their hinges.

With this in mind, a dry shed is being erected on the side of our existing slatted shed, along with an unroofed stone machinery pad which will allow us to greatly reduce our need for using the smaller sheds around the old farmhouse.

The roofed shed will also be used for surplus cattle if needed, most likely pedigree bulls which have always taken up one of our calving pens in spring.

Though we had applied for an extension for the BEAM scheme, it’s looking like we’ll actually make the earlier target date now. Unfortunately, this is only because a heifer we’d kept for breeding proved to be unable to maintain a viable pregnancy, and her sale has allowed us to just squeeze under our target nitrogen (N) reduction with the cattle.

Currently, we have a break from calving, with the next due at the end of July, but as always, there’s never a lack of jobs to keep us occupied around the farm, especially with the exponential growth of buttercups in the last month.

A stranger to the county could be forgiven for thinking Leitrim had a surge in rapeseed farming this summer.