“Another year over and deeper in debt” my father used to say. A slight variant of a line from Johnny Cash’s song Sixteen Tons, I believe.

While I hope that is not the case for most of us, it was most definitely one hell of a strange year.

COVID-19 has remained the main topic of conversation worldwide in a year where the cost of everything seemed to spiral upwards as securing the availability of even the simplest of things became difficult.

From a farming point of view, it was very much a year of weather extremes, in this part of the world anyway.

The year got off to a wet enough start, but things proceeded okay. My breeding season went well in the months of January to March.

Change from the norm

The land was dry enough in February to get slurry out with the pipeline, which took the pressure off the tanks. I sold the remainder of my yearling heifers in February, as I wanted to make sure I would hit the 5% reduction target for the BEAM scheme by the end of June.

This was a change from the norm, as I usually try to graze them for a couple of months and sell them in mid-April.

As we slowly ambled through March and towards April, I was really looking forward to getting stock back to grass and getting away from the daily grind of feeding, as well as looking forward to making good use of my new quad and fertiliser spreader.

Unfortunately, we had a late spring and while all stock were at grass from mid-April, they were only out for two to three weeks when half of them had to be rehoused due to bad weather. It was almost June when the shed was emptied for the final time.

There was an abundance of grass growing and stock were happy and content

However, when the weather did come good, it really did come good! There was some really lovely warm, dry, sunny weather right the way through June, July, August and September.

Silage was harvested in ideal conditions and I had my second cut finished by 27 July. There was an abundance of grass growing and stock were happy and content.

Serious nosedive

We definitely had a great summer, but come the beginning of October, things took a serious nosedive and the rain started again.

I remember housing a batch of cows in early October in preparation of calving thinking to myself that they had only been out for four months. I was hoping to get them back to grass as they calved, but sadly that was not to be.

I had built up a lot of grass for the autumn, but, unfortunately, stock trampled as much as they consumed. I was grazing a batch of young bulls and for every week in October I wondered if I should have been housing them.

September too was the month when we started to hear about the price of fertiliser and how it was heading for highs never seen before.

Since then, of course, things have only gotten worse and show no signs of getting better any time soon. Things are never simple when you’re dealing with the Chinese and the Russians and, of course, we are all experts now when it comes to the price of natural gas!


The Omicron variant raised its head in mid-autumn and case numbers have gone out of control since. All the negatives aside, I think we can look forward to 2022 with positivity.

Anyone who wants a vaccine has got at least two shots at this stage and although the numbers are crazy, the amount of people who are getting very ill or being hospitalised is not as high as it once was.

Prices in most livestock sectors are good and will hopefully continue to stay that way. Please God for an early spring, a good, long, hot summer and a serious reduction in fertiliser prices, St Jude intercede - whatever that means.

And please God someone will win the Irish Lotto. My mother is starting to get very sceptical about the whole thing! Happy new year everybody.