"I had hoped to lead a Department," said a disappointed Dara Calleary following his omission from the Cabinet just three weeks ago. By now the new Agriculture Minister will have a far greater appreciation for the scale of that ambition.
The complexity and diversity of the Department's activities will have been laid out for the new Minister in the 800-page 'briefing' document he will have received on his appointment.
Secretary general Brendan Gleeson will have taken the new Minister through the brief; line by line, division by division, issue by issue. This is an intense process whereby an immense amount of new information will need to be absorbed.
Minister Calleary had a working knowledge of many of the issues as a rural TD, although he was not a prolific contributor to Dáil debates on agricultural matters. In many ways the Minister is expected to learn a new language and speak it fluently under the scrutiny of the opposition, the media, stakeholders, voters and, crucially, farmers. Not something for the faint-hearted.
From the conveyor belt of briefings, the next task for the Minister will be a gauntlet of meetings with EU Commissioners, counterparts in the Council of Ministers, farm leaders, CEOs of state agencies and industry representatives.
The briefings and the meetings are the easy part. There is business to be done and decisions to be made immediately. A €50m cheque to sweeten his relationship with beef farmers may look to some as the perfect opportunity to set off on a positive footing with this volatile sector, but the reality is that it will be the Minister's first exercise in imparting disappointment to farmers.
For every term, condition, reference date and maximum payment laid out in the new Beef Pandemic Scheme, there will be farm families the length and breadth of the country ineligible. Think of the enraged farmer from Achill who falls a week outside the reference period.
No shortage of grenades for Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesman Matt Carthy to launch. So begin the Dáil questions, the debates and press releases bemoaning the Minister's decision to ignore those excluded.
Suggestions that Barry Cowen had committed to an August payment date seem fanciful to say the least. New schemes take time. A pre-Christmas delivery would be a win.
The rising prospect of a 'WTO' Brexit looms large and demands micromanagement to prepare for 'Border Inspection Posts' and import/export protocols as well as market disruption.
There's the piloting of a new REPS scheme which runs the risk of having been oversold as a panacea, a CAP transition period with an apparent hole in the budget and a Climate Bill and carbon budget with demanding sectoral targets.
And then there are always surprises. August staycations at meat factory gates?
What is it they say about being careful for what you wish for?
Jonathan Hoare is a former government Advisor in the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine