Last week I was considering how we might reduce stressful days by being ready for various inspections on the farm.
As I stripped the Christmas tree of lights and baubles and packed them away, I was actually glad that Christmas was finished.
To be honest I usually feel nostalgic and regret the end of the festivities but this year has left me weary.
There was one other time that I was glad that Christmas was finished and it was the year my mother died in 2004. We just went through the motions. This year was a bit like that.
Still, we had some nice family time. Santa came to my grandson Ricky
While we remained free of the virus, the extended families on both sides had cases that caused them to isolate and this resulted in a quiet Christmas without visits or visiting. We were not as nervous as last Christmas but it was nowhere near normal.
Still, we had some nice family time. Santa came to my grandson Ricky. He brought a John Deere tractor and a kitchen. Imagination is a gift and pretend-play facilitates all kinds of learning.
Ricky’s kitchen came with glasses, cutlery, plates, a saucepan and some utensils. It also had three white ice cubes for pretend ice making from his fridge. They pop in at the back and out at the front. This morning those three ice cubes were two sausages and some scrambled egg! I duly ate my fill and Ricky moved onto my husband Tim; the same three ice cubes fulfilling the role of Tim’s breakfast. Then it was time for tea. I was presented with a glass that contained an ice cube and told to drink my tea.
Children find it so easy to imagine all kinds of possibilities. Conversely, adults are constrained by responsibility, earning an income and getting things done.
It is a real gift to be able to cut the cloth according to measure
We pile the stress on ourselves, thinking that we can still call up as much energy as we did in our thirties. It is a real gift to be able to cut the cloth according to measure, allowing time for planning and evaluating. Executing a plan is far easier than trying to firefight and get through tasks without rhyme or reason. Very quickly you are missing things and sometimes even messing up. Then the stress begins to mount and it is a difficult spiral to exit.
So, if I was to concentrate on changing one thing this year it would be to avoid getting into that spiral.
As farmers we need to be in command of our farms. We need to be able to plan and budget for the year and at least five years ahead.
Nevertheless, the excitement of calving and grazing, beginning from 1 February 2022 eases my stress
That way spending will be kept in check and stress levels will stay controlled. There is no doubt that the last few weeks and the next few months are going to be difficult as our society navigates its way through the Omicron wave. Nevertheless, the excitement of calving and grazing, beginning from 1 February 2022 eases my stress.
Tim and I are taking this weekend off and chance staying in a hotel in Dublin
Being busy is good. There is a chance at this time of year to prepare for the busy time. If you can; take a real break. Tim and I are taking this weekend off and chance staying in a hotel in Dublin. Are we mad? Time will tell. We will choose our activities carefully, have our evening meals in the hotel and there will definitely be no shopping. It feels rather boring but it is how we have to be for now. It will still be the pause necessary before the rush of work begins.
Grass is growing better than expected with a growth rate of 8kg which is about double what is normal for early January.
This is good for the environment and necessary given the high prices of fertiliser currently
Slurry was utilised carefully last year resulting in a reduction in fertiliser usage. We hope to reduce this further in 2022. This is good for the environment and necessary given the high prices of fertiliser currently. The cows are dry and in good condition. They too are getting ready for the big event of calving. Man and beast are in total harmony at the moment, resting and waiting.
We will sit down next week and decide what we need to do to be really ready for calving and calf rearing. Planning will ensure that stress levels are controlled for the humans, enabling us to keep on top of the work so that our animals are safe, well fed and content.