It’s not often that we have perfect conditions for hay and silage season and it’s even less often that we can get all saved without rain at some point.

As I mentioned earlier in the year, we put out very little fertiliser along with our slurry. Instead, we spread a small cover of granulated lime in late spring and as a trial, it has certainly exceeded my expectations.

We have over 30 more bales than usual, most of which we baled as hay. This extra feed, along with a month's worth of fodder left over from last year, means we have a nice buffer in case of a long winter.

This same hot weather is causing some farms further south of us to suffer from drought, but our wet Leitrim land has turned into a grass-producing machine and we now have growth far surpassing what our cattle can eat.

Normally we’d think about buying in a few extra stock to eat this surplus, but the price of cattle at the moment means that we’re going to try to take in extra bales of some pasture, which isn’t in the Low Input Permanent Pasture (LIPP) in GLAS.

With input costs across the board seemingly going in one direction only, it may be the smarter plan, as we can aim to keep less fields for meadow next year.

Breeding going well

So far, our AI has gone well and while I’ve heard reports this year that many cattle are not holding in-calf and breaking at six weeks or later, so far all of ours have proved in-calf or are waiting to cross their three-week mark after service.

All bar two have been covered and as those two have yet to calve, it’d certainly be a disaster to find either one in heat at this stage.

Looking towards calving in 2023, if next year’s crop of calves are half as mischievous as this year’s batch, I’ll have my work cut out for me.

In previous years, to DNA the calves for the BDGP scheme, I’ve used a mix of hair samples and tags, depending on how quiet the calf in question was.

While I managed to get most of them tagged in the field this year, one calf eluded me until I had to bring his dam in for AI.

He had different ideas about his new earring and managed to get himself stuck in the feed barrier in a thwarted escape attempt.

Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I tagged him while he was stuck, before freeing him with a bit of encouragement and brute force to go create havoc elsewhere.

While they’re too old now to wander into drains and require a shove to get them out, the calves appear to have mastered the art of limbo dancing under the electric fence, with the young twins being the ringleaders each time and usually managing to coerce a ragtag bunch along with them.

Recently I had some extended family staying in the house and, of course, the calves decided to break into my back garden the morning after my visitors arrived.

Though I’m not sure who had more fun, the wandering calves or my bemused Estonian guests watching me run around in my pyjamas at six in the morning.