The focus on the farm at present is calving and early grass. We expect to calve down 85-90% of the 240 cows in six weeks. This means for the last few days of January life will be busy. It is also a good time as calving on a dairy farm means the beginning of a new year and new hope for the year ahead.

The cows have been vaccinated against rotavirus and salmonella and giving these vaccines at this time of the year means anti-bodies will be passed on to calves through colostrum.

The 12 January is our permitted date for spreading nitrogen and we spread 23 units of urea/acre over the whole farm. The target is to get as much slurry as possible out over the next few weeks, weather permitting. Research in Ireland has shown this is the best way to use slurry and with nitrogen prices still staying high, it is necessary to use slurry as best we can.

Our yearlings on kale have been growing well. The animals on round bale silage and kale don’t seem to have the same condition as the animals at home on kale, round bale silage and 2kg citrus pulp.

Christmas gave us a break from farming, heading away for 10 days of winter sunshine. This is important as we came back fresh and are able to face the real world again.

There is a lot of doom and gloom at present and I always feel it is important not to get caught up in this. Things are bad in the Irish economy and it looks like we will be getting a bad milk price in 2009. But we must look at what we can do inside our own business and see how we can manage these challenges facing us in farming.