Opinion: Spring arrives with a flurry of slurry and a bevy of birdlife
Spring is springing. But how do I know? Is it the snowdrops stirring, daffodils dancing or weeds awakening? No, it's because of the slurry hurry. And other poopy stuff!
The majority of farmers were permitted to spread fertiliser from either January 12 or 15 and, in the blink of an eye, faded pastures were covered wall to wall with a heavy brown underlay of slurry, the hope being that this will quickly give way to deep-pile carpets of lush green grass.
The picture that comes to mind is Formula 1 cars on the starting grid, with the drivers fidgeting and gunning their engines, stealing surreptitious glances at the opposition.
I actually wonder if some farmers load their tanks the night before the closed period ends - and even go to bed in their overalls - so they can get out spreading as early as is humanly possible, or at least neighbourly acceptable.
Of course, one of the best signs of spring is the strengthening of the dawn chorus, as birds either defend a breeding territory or try to attract a mate.
This has been happening over the past few weeks and it brings a welcome sense of freshness, energy and hope to the new day.
I'll leave talk about birdsong to those more talented in such matters and move instead to what comes out birds' other end.
Local birdwatching circles have been aflutter recently with news that a small flock of waxwings have been spotted eating berries on the mountain ash trees opposite the Killeshin Hotel in Portlaoise.