When things aren’t going great, I always remind myself that the rain always stops sometime. There’s been days recently where I was questioning that.

Since June last year, January at 80.9mm has been the driest month recorded on the Met Éireann station on Sherkin Island. It feels like, aside from a few sporadic hours of sunshine, that we’ve been locked in rain and mist for most of the last nine months. A bit of sunshine can do a lot to lift the mood.

We had three days a fortnight ago where strong northeasterly winds blew hard across the headland and were a major help. Unfortunately, the rain from last Wednesday onwards has cancelled out any improvements those stinging winds made. Whether the north winds due over the next few days have a similar effect is to be seen.

With all this wet weather, I’m factoring in we could have a very dry summer to balance it out. That’s all ahead though and managing the current weather is a priority.

Controlled improvisation is probably the best way of describing the management system for now and all plans are extremely flexible at the moment. It’s a win some, lose some approach.

Flexibility is key when the weather is so unpredictable

Some of the yearling heifers were let out last Sunday week as slurry pressure was coming on. They had a washout and were back inside for St Patrick’s Day.

A few older head might have settled them and while they found shelter, they did more walking than standing.

It could easily be April before all of them are back out again. To balance this out a bit, it means ration is now part of their daily diet. I want at least some of them to go in calf in May and June and at this stage with some grass walked in and not enough dry matter in more of it, this is the option I’m taking.

The calved heifers came in last Wednesday morning ahead of the downpour. As they won’t see a bull until June, I’m not taking the ration option for the first calvers, for now at least.

They could be in for a while yet too. A decision was made to hold them at home this year and send older cows only to the out farm.

Our senior stock bull has proven to be a serious operator and sending the older cows there with him means we could hopefully get another year or two from him. All the cows know the ropes at that farm too which will make management easier.

What that means is the calves going there are the priority to get out and have them toughened up a bit.

There’s only a small number of cows and calves out and keeping shelter to them has been tricky as winds have hit from north, southeast and west over the last 10 days and sometimes within 24 hours.

Extra ration is an added cost, another potential unplanned expense is fertiliser. If silage ground doesn’t dry up sufficiently, that means the slurry option is pushed off too.

The usual routine there is dung in late January or early February followed by slurry in early March. It’s been too wet to take any of those options so far.

As a result, if slurry doesn’t get out before the end of the month, it will potentially mean an extra run of a compound fertiliser along with the usual urea application.

Flexibility is key when the weather is so unpredictable.