Denis Lehane: Rearing calves is very challenging

If you have trouble keeping your calves happy, switch on the radio.

Without wanting to be crude or upsetting to the more delicate reader, between feeding and scour, trying to get food in one end, and prevent it from leaving the other, a fellow can have his hands full. 

Calf rearing is for the young, energetic farmer, it’s no business for an old man.

Fortunately for me, I have youth on my side. At 46 and a half, I’m really only getting into my stride as a farmer.

Even so, I’m still fit for nothing when I come in of an evening, with the calves happy for the night. I can’t even wash myself, I’m so tired.

“Bring the water to me!” I sometimes holler at my missus, when I hear the call to go and wash myself.

Oh, the sacrifices made by the hard working farmer in his quest to rear a handful of Friesian bull calves.

Honestly, ’tis enough to make a grown man cry.

Anyhow, all a fellow can do is make the best of it, and drive on, regardless of the suffering.

And for the past few weeks, that is exactly what I have been doing.

One night, about a fortnight ago now, is pure desperation, I turned on the radio of my jeep, in an effort to subdue the noise coming from hungry and impatient calves who were looking for their supper.

Sometimes you can’t mix the milk replacer fast enough for the devils.

Anyhow, ’twas RTÉ Radio I came on, with your man John Creedon at the mic, and whatever way he was talking, didn’t my few calves stop all the bawling and fussing and cock their ears in wonder at the voice coming from the wireless.

Don’t ask me what John Creedon was talking about, nothing vital to the survival of the human race, I imagine, but ’twas more in the way that he spoke that got the ear of the hungry calves.

And then, didn’t he play some old tune or other, and the calves kept on listening, for it wasn’t anything too mad or loud.

It was a lovely old song, to be honest, sung by a fellow we were told was dead with years.

And then, once the deceased singer had finished performing, ’twas back to Mr Creedon himself, and sure the calves couldn’t be happier.

I have never seen the likes of it.

The radio host has the perfect pitch to soothe the mind of the agitated beast.

He was born for such a role.

And so, for the past fortnight, as regular as be dammed, I’ve turned to Creedon, and he has done the business for me in keeping the calves entertained, while they wait for their feed.

Then, at half nine each Monday, Wednesday and Friday night, I leave Radio 1 for ten minutes, and tune in to the mart report on 103fm.

This I believe is also beneficial to the calf, for I feel it gives him an idea of the potential that is there within his grasp.

Potential to make good money in the mart in the years ahead.

I dare say it gives him something to aim for.

And what harm is that?

We all need a goal in life.

But, once the mart report is over, ’tis back to the dulcet tones of John Creedon again for me and my calves of an evening, and a more contented yard it would be hard to find.


Frits Potgieter is General Manager with Muckross Park Hotel and Spa.You've Been Served: Frits Potgieter, Muckross Park Hotel and Spa

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