WHAT would you do if you were 10 years old and won €1,000? For William Woods from Ballyconnell, the answer was simple: buy calves.

William spoke to The Impartial Reporter about his six calves, and his adventures in farming. Describing his exciting journey, he said: “It started off when I won €1,000 in Ballyconnell Credit Union's 12 Days of Christmas draw.”

While most children could be tempted by toys or technology with such a windfall, William had other ideas.

“I was thinking about whether I should buy sheep, or maybe I should save it, and then I came to the conclusion of buying calves.”

The next step for the farming-mad schoolboy was a trip to the mart.

He said: “We went to Carrigallen Mart and the viewing times were 10 to 11 in the morning, so you’re allowed to go in at 10 and I got in to each calf and checked its tail, checked that its ears were up, checked its navel to check it was soft, because if it’s hard it could have pneumonia or a different infection.

“I did a little bit of research myself, and daddy told me what to look out for, and then we bid.

"We bought 10 calves – I bought six, [my eight-year-old brother] Andrew and daddy bought two over a five-week period. All calves averaged about 250 pounds apiece.”

William got to work straight away caring for the calves. He said: “As soon as we got the calves we gave them a lactate for the first two days, and after that we mixed milk replacer into hot water, and then each calf got six litres a day. The milk replacer bag cost €40 for 20kg.”

The calves are called Andrew, Helen, Rebecca, Hannah, Toph and Trixie.

William said: “Audrey and Helen were the two names I got from All Creatures Great and Small, it was a programme I looked forward to every Sunday night, and two of the calves in it, one was named Audrey and the other was named Helen.”

William might grow up to become a farmer or a vet, he says, but he showed he has wisdom to impart on all of us when he talked to this newspaper about what he has learnt.

He said the experience of getting and caring for the calves “taught me that you need to work hard, and you can’t be sitting around all day and doing nothing – you have to be passionate about something, and if you get a job, you have to like your job, because if you don’t like your job, why are you doing it then?"

He added: “I thought with these calves it would just be throwing meal in the trough, but it’s actually a lot more.

"You have to dose them, and you have to change their feed, and make sure they’re healthy.”

William will have some time with his herd before selling them on. He said: “We will sell them in two years, I will sell two to daddy for recipients, and then keep two for myself to keep as suckler cows here on the farm.

"They are nice and quiet calves, so they might make nice sucklers, and I could rear the calves that they have.”

William and his proud family, parents Adam and Ruth, and brothers James (12), Andrew (8) and Robert (4) have been blown away by messages they have received since William was on RTE.

People from all over the world have been getting in touch, including Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture; astronaut Chris Hadfield; and many others.

Adam added: “If you can instil a love of nature and animals in young people, I think it’s a good thing, and it sets them up for life and to treat animals and nature well.”