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Country Living

A green ‘encounter’ that the Leitrim farmer will never win

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

Like a lot of others dabbling in the world of farming, I’ve something of a bell in my ear for the last couple of years listening to EU pontifications about turning our agricultural enterprises into greener entities.  All this despite the fact that here in the West of Ireland most of our sheep and cattle are primarily fed from the green grass that they eat on our fields often for nine months of the year.

In terms of animal welfare, the cattle and sheep are out where they want to be . . . in the fields with plenty of West of Ireland hawthown, blackthorn and hedging for shelter.

But we’re still not green enough and the message from our own agricultural commissioner, Phil Hogan, is for farmers in the West of Ireland is to start growing trees instead of growing cattle.

All very well up to a point, one might say, but then over the course of the last couple of weeks, we get wind of an EU deal with the Mercosur countries  of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay involving billions of euro of trade.

So, we tell a farmer in Leitrim with 30 acres and 16 suckler cow to cut down his cow numbers by half and to plant 50% of his paltry holding with trees. A dot on the landscape . . . but maybe if it’s happening all over the world . . . well then he too is playing his part.

But, there’s a catch here and a big one. The EU in their wisdom do a deal with the Mercosur countries that will allow them to export almost 100,000 tonnes of beef annually into Europe.

For a start, the distance to be covered across a huge span of the Atlantic Ocean is of the order 10,000 kilometres, or nearly 6,000 miles (and then there’s the return journey), to transport beef to a block of European countries that are already self-sufficient in that product with a surplus of about 4%.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

‘For better or worse’ it’s a case of ‘til death do us part

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

It doesn’t happen too often but every now and again when I leave the mobile phone behind me on the desk after leaving for home or realise that a change of jacket or pants has robbed me of this link with the good and bad of the planet, I wonder how did we ever manage without them.

I was a reluctance inductee into the ranks of the mobile believing at first, they were a serious sign of someone believing that they had risen above their station. Even on the farm, there was always merit in having a good knife in your pocket (for practical purposes of course such as cutting the twine off a square bale), but mobiles in their early days did not have a macho ring to them.

They still annoy me greatly at times such as when suddenly awakens from a little doze on the armchair and the resultant escape from the chair sends the mobile flying across the floor but thank God for an otter cover which has proven to be much indestructible.

There are the times when the mobile needs to be retrieved from a trouser pocket in the middle of a car journey and in the end a large dose of patience is required to stop the vehicle and stretch out before rescuing the device from its ridiculous location in the first place.

When it rings 15 minutes into an early night of sleep, it’s hard not to utter a few expletives before grudgingly pressing the answer button and I’ve never quite forgiven the device for wakening one Friday night, just at the time of the Late Late Show quiz result, when I thought I had landed the jackpot.

Alas, it turned out to be a familiar voice on the phone asking me if I had heard the news that some elderly acquaintance had moved on to more heavenly pastures. But at least for about 20 seconds in that world between sleep and awakening, I had imagined hearing the voice of Ryan Tubridy asking me how I intended to spend the €20,000 cash prize.

Then there’s the scam callers that I seemed to get a rash of a couple of weeks back telling me to ring social protection as a matter of urgency or informing that I had won some international lotto which required a phone call back to verify.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Country Living

Never fun when one animal is isolated from rest of the herd

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No man (or woman either!) is an island.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

A few weeks back one of the heifers strayed from the herd and made an opportunist visit into a neighbour’s field. She wouldn’t have been known for her rambling ways, but a gap in the wall compliments of a windy night, presented the opportunity of a visit and the red heifer couldn’t resist the temptation.

All year, she had been a very reserved member of the small herd with pretty close to impeccable behaviour . . . well that is by the standards of any athletic Limousin.

The day of reckoning came when she had to be brought home after her wanderings and, in the process, isolated in a pen before being loaded onto a trailer.

Isolation did not suit this beast. From being a perfectly settled member of the herd (whether it be her own or the neighbour’s), she transformed into something of a raging bull when isolated on her own.

Only for the solidity – and height – of the neighbour’s pen, she definitely would have made her escape but when she was returned to her own gang, civility was restored, and she barely raised her head the next evening when the daily count and inspection was made.

It made me wonder about social interaction not only in the bovine world but in the space us humans occupy as well.

I don’t know how many times over the past few months I’ve remarked that, ‘I haven’t seen such-a-one for ages’, but of course there have been ‘such-a-ones’ all over the place for the best part of the last two years.

Admittedly, our escapes from Covid ‘house arrest’ have gradually evolved into more prolonged and less restricted   interactions with other humans (I hope I’m not tempting fate!) but still, a face that hasn’t been seen for a year or two, seems strangely unfamiliar.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

 

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Country Living

One of the real joys of winter: hot soup on a cold evening!

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A time to savour the more relaxed pleasures of winter

Country Living with Francis Farragher

So, it has happened, and we have to get on with it . . . winter, at least in terms of darkness if not weather, is upon us – with journeys to work now requiring full headlights; torches with dead batteries having to be replenished; and a little bit of a chill returning to the early mornings even though we haven’t really got any harshness from November just yet.

In a strange kind of way, when the time changes and the acceptance grows that our ‘longer days’ are just memories, there can be a certain calmness about winter. After all, if you doze off on the couch at around 8pm, there’s no feeling of guilt that you should be outside, involved in some kind of gainful work or exercise in the great outdoors.

For some reason, I’ve always found the transition period of September and October to be that trifle more mournful, maybe because we realise that another summer has passed and that our brighter days are gone for another season.  For those of us on this side of the great Atlantic Pond, that will always be autumn, but the Americans always refer to it as The Fall.

The origins of that latter title, though, are apparently not of American creation. The use of ‘The Fall’ term for those later transition months of the year can be traced back to the 1600s and 1500s and is, in all probability, linked to the departure of the leaves from the trees through September and October, another great irritant as we try to keep paths and driveways reasonably tidy.

I could be ‘on the side’ of the many great poets who were always touched by the beauty of Autumn, like John Keats, who wrote so beautifully about the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ being the ‘close bosom friend of the maturing sun’ but as the light declines and the suns slips lower into the sky, I find it a more difficult time than normal to keep up the spirits.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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