Time, land and patience. Three things that all come in a finite supply on this earth. As we all work to try and catch up with tasks around the farm which have been postponed due to the abysmal ground conditions since last autumn, time is especially valuable these days.

Yet it remains one of the few commodities we have which can be freely given to anyone and the rewards received are often much more than expected from even a few brief minutes.

Be it stopping for a chat with a friend when passing by, helping stack bales for a neighbour or even a short céilí on a dark winter evening, the benefits are often not thought of because they aren’t visible.

One thing I try to spend a bit of extra time with each year is the handling of calves, which may not seem like much until you notice how much extra time which can be saved by having animals which don’t flee for the hills upon spotting a stranger, or what makes even the most placid animal wary, a vet appearing in the yard.

Most young calves’ first experiences with humans involve a set of taggers and a dehorner, and too often are only handled again when dosing or testing.

Just a few minutes each day with the young stock, even if nothing more than a scratch on the head while the pen is getting cleaned out tends to instil a natural trust towards the farmer and those precious few minutes offered could be repaid tenfold in the future.

Over the years we’ve weeded out the wilder stock, and these days most of our animals will follow a bucket of nuts to the moon and back instead of having to be rounded up with a quad and a plethora of helpers.

A recent example being a lost calf, whose dam needs her mothering licence revoked as she has a continual habit of leaving her calf fields away from her while she goes off grazing.

After letting them into fresh pasture, she took off for the upper hills, leaving her little bull high and dry on ground he didn’t know, bawling for the rest of the herd.

Clearly the cow has selective hearing as there wasn’t a chance of her leaving fresh grass for her troublesome little bull but without hesitation he was coaxed into walking through fields to reunite with his indifferent mother.

There’s a lot to be said for a cow who does her job by the book and one of those calved recently. As she’d needed some assistance last year, we weren’t happy to calve her outside, and she remained in the shed watching all bar one of her comrades get turned out, which by chance happened to be her sister who is also overdue.

One easy calving later, the calf was up and sucked within the hour, with one small mystery creating a couple of raised eyebrows.

Genetically, the calf is 75% Limousin and 25% Charolais, being bred off a pedigree cow one generation before. Yet somehow, just like her dam, she has come complete with a perfectly placed white splash on her tail, which certainly makes her stand out. Although I know it’s early to begin thinking of replacement females, she’ll certainly be high on the list.

With the dry forecast, it was also time to dust off some of the machinery and begin preparing our silage fields. Despite my apprehension that it would be unusable, a tonne of 18-6-10 stored very well over winter in an open shed, and this was shook in meadows we hope to cut first.

A couple of the worst affected meadows were switched to pasture (and vice versa with better quality pasture) until we can cut them properly after grazing, and these may then be aimed at cutting better quality silage later in summer after slurry is spread.

While it doesn’t look likely we’ll be making hay in May this year, just clearing off the worst of the rushes with the topper carried high was a start, and as they had already been treated, hopefully we won’t see any more growth in them until after mowing.