Walking through some of the fields around here which had cattle grazing a year ago, the dry February of last year is nothing but a distant memory.

Although, judging by the relentless wet weather we had for the rest of the year, perhaps it’s better to be looking at wet fields now instead of in summer.

As stock got housed fairly promptly at the back end of last year, grass covers are better than we thought and hopefully once the weather picks up we can let out a few of the older cows and calves.

Though we have a couple of dry fields we could let them out to, the nights are too cold to leave calves outdoors for the moment and the thought of bringing them in each evening sounds like unnecessary hassle.

We have a lower stocking rate than usual and for the first time in a few years it’s a relief to not be eyeing the slurry tank under the cows each morning with trepidation.

This is also partly due to discovering an area where water was flowing into the tank after heavy rain, meaning that in a wet winter the tank filled up at an alarming rate, regardless of cattle numbers.

With no rush to empty it and no scheme restrictions on the time of year we can cut meadows, we’re having a more leisurely spring than usual, along with a break of roughly six weeks between calving our last cow and our next arrival, meaning we’ve no broken nights’ sleep checking stock either.

I must admit I was rather sneaky about the insemination of this next animal. Even though I’ve been choosing the bulls for many years at this stage, I don’t stray much off the beaten path of Belgian Blue, Charolais or Limousin bulls.

For some reason, I chose a Blonde d’Aquitaine for this cow and knowing my father’s liking, or lack thereof for them, I kept the cross quiet until a month ago.

Thankfully, he took it in good grace, though if it doesn’t work out with a decent calf, I’m sure my ears will be burning when he’s talking cattle to others.

When my father inadvertently purchased our tractor on a whim a few years ago, it came with a front loader. Having never used one before, there was a debate on whether we should keep it or not and we came to the decision that we’d try it out for a while and decide after we’d worked with it for a time.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s become one of the more indispensable bits of machinery around the farm, as it not only makes bringing in bales easier but the scoop is an absolute game changer when it comes to cleaning out pens.

Recently it was sent away to get a new plate on the bottom and we felt absolutely lost without it to remove waste from the feeding and bedded areas.

I don’t think we’d ever go back to the wheelbarrow and tractor box days, although they did mean there was little use for a gym membership.

As one of many thousands of female farmers across Ireland, I’m delighted to also be part of the National Women in Agriculture Action Plan.

You only have to step inside a mart any day of the week to see the large gender bias, which still exists to this day, despite major improvements in gender equality in recent years.

Having been involved in agriculture for the majority of my life, it’s a topic which is very important to me and I’m looking forward to working with this group on a 12-point action plan which was mentioned in last week’s Irish Farmers Journal.