Every year I'm surprised by how quickly autumn creeps up on us unawares. One day you're slapping on factor 50 and eating a magnum for dinner, the next you're eating a pound of blackberries on the way to look at the livestock in an early morning mist.

The latter end of summer has been fantastic for grass growth here, all we need now is for the dry weather to continue as we have enough grazing to last us until November for the majority of cattle.

In speaking with other farmers online, it appears to not just be in the northwest that there’s a grass surplus, with many others further south lauding the continuing warm, dry weather for establishing late grass covers.

Social media

It’s occasionally said that using social media is the bane of modern life, taking up too much time and allowing silly videos to spread like wildfire. However, there’s a lot to be said for it also.

With the click of a few buttons I can talk to farmers all around the world, ask their views, look for advice, offer sympathy or simply alleviate boredom. The main problem I find with it, is that it allows everyone to voice their opinion or belief, be it right or wrong.

A good example recently was the furore around Geronimo the alpaca and his positive TB test.

Rightly or wrongly, he was put down, but the fact that the owner could rile up such support behind one animal testing positive is astonishing. When you consider that thousands of cattle each year are slaughtered because they show up as reactors in routine testing, yet show clear results in the lab afterwards, it’s frankly quite bizarre.

I mention this as we had our annual test early last week and as we’ve had a couple of adjoining farms go down in recent months, there’s always a worry it could be our turn to get a reactor.

This time around we had a vet who was unknown to us, though this was an unfounded worry as she had a fantastic manner with the cattle.

In fact, it was quite possibly the fastest and least stressful testing I’ve ever been involved in and naturally I assumed she had grown up around cattle due to the ease she moved through the cows.

Out of curiosity, as we chatted over the cows' backs, I asked if she was from a farming background in any of the surrounding counties, and nearly fell off the gate in surprise when I learned she was from Tallaght. It certainly goes to show that it’s a profession you can be born for as there’s people who spend a lifetime around cattle, yet can’t come into a shed without roaring like a bull and waving a stick around like they were in the All-Ireland hurling final.

Fortunately we passed with flying colours, which means we can plan for autumn sales.


As we’d noticed some of the older calves with slight coughs and loose dung, these got their first worm drench straight after the vet checked them over for lumps and bumps. Some years back, we had gotten into the habit of only using an ivermectin-based pour-on in the field, a great way to avoid stressing the cattle, but not so great for anthelmintic resistance. These days we vary between a drench, pour-on and injection, in order to avoid using the same product every year.

Sale time

I was also delighted to hear that the Carrick fatstock show and sale will be returning this winter, and with that in mind I have my eye on two heifers to enter into it.

Though this will depend on how well they take to a halter and walking as they both showed signs of an independent streak on testing day.