A good thunderstorm is something you either grow up in awe of, or hide behind the curtains after switching off every socket around the house.

Thankfully, I am one of the former and love to hear the roll of thunder in the distance, though I am less eager to see the usual heavy rainfall accompanying it.

With the humid weather recently, we were struck with a storm which seemed to go on for hours, on the day we’d decided to tag and dehorn the latest calves to arrive.

While many would dislike being in a metal roofed shed while thunder and lightning arrived almost simultaneously, there’s truly nothing like it to make a person feel insignificant when faced with the wrath nature can provide.

At least the cows weren’t bothered, however, we hit a small snag when checking for the horn buds on the calves, with two of the three having next to nothing showing after clipping. With that in mind, they were left off until last week when one of the same group was taken in for calving.

Wielding a new dehorner, which took some getting used to as it’s the ‘pistol grip’ type instead of the smaller one I’ve been using, they were quickly worked through and released to fresh pasture, leaving one rather disgruntled cow behind in the shed. It’s our first time crossing a Belgian Blue cow with a bull of the same breed, and while we’re hoping all will be well, as it’s scanned to be a heifer off an easy-calving bull, one never knows when it comes to Blues.

Before this lady, our last venture in breeding a Belgian Blue cow was back in the early 2000s and out of three calves, two required caesareans. While they were super quality calves, the risk involved seemed too great at the time and with much more data now available for bulls, let’s hope the online statistics prove correct. Hopefully in a fortnight, we’ll have a positive result for everyone.

Thankfully our early calving cows have started to show heats at last, though one lady is playing a risky game, having shown signs of being in heat, yet not enough that we’re confident to AI her. Having dropped in the stars and being one of those obstinate Salers which won’t lead nor drive, she could find herself on the cull list before too long.

Although our silage fields are ready to mow, ground conditions remain soft and with a belt of rain forecast this week, it’s not likely that we’ll begin before the second week of June.

One heavy shower would leave things sticky, so it’s best to wait until we have a few drying days to work with before hopefully attempting to cut. Though we’re hoping to get hay at some stage this year, it certainly doesn’t seem likely until we get a fortnight of good weather as there’s nothing like Leitrim ground to retain water.

Regardless of how many years’ experience I have with cattle, they still never fail to surprise me at times.

Late one evening through an open window, I could hear one of our cows kicking up a ruckus down the fields. Thinking a calf had escaped or, even worse, a dog had gotten into the field, the wellies were hastily pulled on and a quick jaunt to the pasture about 400m away was undertaken. Walking towards the herd, with one cow stubbornly roaring away every so often, I spotted nothing, until I moved in the direction the cow was staring.

With little fuss from behind a clump of rushes, out hopped a pine marten, which vanished quickly though the hedge, causing all the cows to gather together in the opposite corner of the field.

At least I don’t have to worry about their maternal ability when that little thing created such a fuss.