I had a nice simple plan for autumn grazing, with the cattle going into certain paddocks and the calves going into other certain paddocks.

In a week or two, I’d start putting the cattle into the shed at night while leaving them out to graze the last of their allocated paddocks during the day.

I had plenty “days ahead” of grass, according to PastureBase, so the calves would be fine for another month. I was strolling around with my hands behind my back, smiling at the good of it all.

Then the gods started smiling too. And they are still giggling since the heavy rain started one Sunday afternoon two weeks ago. The evening before, we were watching television with the young lads. Out of habit, I checked the forecast on the phone app. Rain coming. The cattle had been unsettled the last few days as the grass was a little wetter and the days were getting a little colder. They had already trampled half a paddock into the ground.

Right, I said, that’s it so. I’ll put them in tomorrow morning and leave them out if the opportunity arises later in the week.

That was grand, but the cubicle shed wasn’t ready. A few hours pulling and dragging on Sunday morning, however, and it was nearly there.

The eldest young lad and myself ran them in as the first big drops hit us at dinnertime. They have a round feeder and a temporary straight feed barrier to keep them eating and confined. I will admit, there was some rope and twine involved.

Thankfully, they have settled well. It’s my first time putting bigger cattle into a shed and feeding them inside, but it is reassuring to see how easy-going they are. They eat, poop, and lie around.

The odd one gives a start when you walk among them, but most will hardly get out of your way and you have to walk around them.

They had two days back outside to graze off a few paddocks beside the shed, but other than that they are in for the duration now.

The aim is to sell in small bunches as they come fit from here on. All going well, there won’t be too many left to turn out to grass next March. But I hear the gods sniggering again, so I won’t go too far with that plan at this stage.

The calves are a bit easier. They are still outside full-time and are getting barley straw alongside the grass and 1kg of meal. Putting the cattle in earlier than planned means the calves have more grass ahead of them and hopefully this gives the fodder rape, where they will be out-wintered, more time to grow on.

Despite the late sowing, it is doing well and from a distance there’s a nice dark green colour in the field. It is not as full-looking up-close, but the animals will go on it anyway when the grass runs out.

Extra clover

Once the weanlings are finished with it, we will reseed next April, with extra clover.

If the weed situation stays in check, we might even stitch in some multispecies grasses the following year.

It has become a two- to three-year project, rather than the eight-week reseeding turnaround advocated by some in the industry.

But these days I respect natural timelines more than industry timelines. And I’m sure all will be fine, just as long as nobody calls it a plan.