The tremendous adaptability of so many Irish farmers is a trait they very rarely get full credit for.

Thoughts of this nature were very much to the fore in my mind on a very wet day last week, when I helped a friend fix a gap in a barbed wire fence.

The need for the repair was created by the flirtatious endeavours of a certain heifer, who thought it was time to pay the bull next door either a late night or early morning visit.

What happened next constituted, for me, one of the most important lessons in practical farming that I have ever received.

The farmer in question produced the three strands of wire required to carry out the job. So far, so good.

But the real question on my mind was - how are we going to get a bit of tension into the repair?

The adaptability of Irish farmers

I didn’t have long to wait for an answer.

A fork was produced from the back of a quad, the two strands making up the wire were gently separated at the end furthest away from the initial point of attachment and one of the tines pushed through the hole created.

This meant that the fork could then be placed behind the end post with the required tension created by me levering against it.

No words were spoken that morning. I got a sense of what was happening and I just went with the flow.

The entire job was completed in 10 minutes - it was all brilliantly simple.

Had I been left to my own endeavours, I would probably have spent two hours flapping around and coming up with a final result that was a pale shadow of what was actually achieved that day.

I am not going to mention the name of the farmer involved; it would only cause embarrassment. However, I am pretty certain that he is a regular reader of my opinion pieces.

But to say that I was given food for thought on that very wet morning would be an understatement.

One name that I will mention though is that of Co. Down cereal grower Allan Chambers. Back in the days of the Focus Farms programme he would always make the point that the chance to visit different farms provides a unique opportunity to get a real sense of how other people actually think.

He was so right - every day really is a school day.