As always there’s no shortage of jobs to be carried out in the shed. With our damp climate and daily battering from hungry cows, our feed barriers have started to come under pressure at the weaker points, though after 22 years, this is to be expected.

While I have attempted to spot weld them before, my efforts were consistently on the more rough and ready side of repairs and never lasted very long.

After arriving down one morning to find a bar completely gone and a weanling happily prancing about between the bales, we decided to get someone in who could actually do a proper job, the only issue being that we would have to carry out the welding with the cattle in the shed.

I’ve mentioned before that we have a policy of keeping cattle which are easily handled and not prone to getting excitable and this was certainly put to the test as the angle grinder and welder were put to good use in front of the pens.

I certainly did not expect a row of cattle lined up watching with interest, even going so far as to use the leaky drinker right next to the work being carried out, showering the poor welder in a spray of water.

January also means I start to train any pedigree bulls we have on hand. This year is no different, though we’ve only one 10 month old chap by Gamin. So far he’s been very accepting of the rope, managing to halter him for the first time while he was standing in the pen being combed.

I normally try to have them trained before they get a ring in their nose at a year old, as over the years I’ve found them to be more accepting of training before the ring is inserted. Though as I learned halter training on commercial weanlings, perhaps it’s just myself who prefers this method.

As the bull is our only animal outdoors with a companion heifer, they have access to our calving pens, where they’re fed in one pen and are allowed to walk up the crush to a bedded area for lying in if they wish.

Not only does this keep the pens cleaner, but gets them used to walking up the crush with no fear. Lately at each morning feeding I found that the lights had been left on with them at night and thinking it was my parents forgetting to turn it off when giving a late night check, I thought nothing more of it.

Confusion arose when they also brought up the fact that I was forgetting to switch off the lights. Worried that there was an issue somewhere we took a look over the wiring, yet found nothing obvious.

The mystery was solved however, when the lights were turned off on me one evening as I was scraping the slats.

With an indignant shout I went to switch them back on, only to find the guilty party being the heifer who has learned to switch on the lights with her nose. Perhaps she’s just wary of being alone with the bull in the dark each night!

Some of you may know that my father has been living with Parkinson’s for many years now and at the end of last year, he underwent pioneering deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery in Beaumont hospital with positive results.

A minor setback recently meant his surgical team requested a return stay in the hospital as a precaution. Ever the stoic farmer, he was hesitant to go, but common sense won out in the end.

However, to his horror, on Thursday he discovered there was no Irish Farmers Journal to be found in the hospital shop. Being of the older generation, he has no time for smartphones or technology, so reading online was not an option. Thus began ‘Operation Journal’ in order to procure one by any means.

To the rescue was one Niamh Hickey who was a patient on the same ward. The wife of Patrick Hickey, from the well known Hickey’s Home Farm in Ardee, if anyone could source one, it was them.

Sure enough, they duly obliged, with a paper delivered by hand in short order much to Dad’s delight. Though perhaps it’s time to begin those smartphone lessons after all.