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Country Living

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

Francis Farragher

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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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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.

 

Country Living

A short list and the odd nap could ease our daily woes

Francis Farragher

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

At this stage of my existence on this earth, I suppose that it’s a bit late now to try and work out a personal conundrum as to whether I slip into the lazy or hard-working category.   It probably all goes back to childhood days when I’d make a song and dance about bringing in a bag of turf for my mother and then maybe the next day receive the height of praise for cutting a half-field of thistles with the scythe.

The old pendulum between doing too little and too much never seemed to stop oscillating in my younger days but probably like the vast majority of ‘country stock’ we all knew that we’d be treated as a lower class, if we didn’t pull our weight.

I often feel the dose, of what I’ll categorise as ‘laziness guilt’, when friends of mine tell me how many books they read every month; or how many yards of turf they footed in one evening; or maybe closer to the bone, how they managed to write far more newspaper stories in one day than I did.

What sparked my interest in this was a Psychology Today column that I happened to speed read (too lazy to read it all diligently) in which the author, Daniel Marston (Ph. D. if you don’t mind), posed the simple question: “Are some people just lazy?” His conclusions are worth a bit of scrutiny.

He points out that while many people have very genuine medical and psychiatric disabilities that prevent them from participating in the workforce, there is another very distinct cohort of people with no such legitimate excuse, but who just seemingly can’t be bothered to do anything much.

Dr. Martson contends that there is such a state of ‘true laziness’ which has a relationship with our friends in the animal kingdom, but the root cause of it, is the motivation or the need to spring into action.

He points out that the dog who sits lazily on the rug for hours can spring into the most vigorous action when there’s a knock at the door, so his theory in summary is, that motivation is the only real antidote for that section of the population suffering from ‘true laziness’.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

It’s no fun when ‘the joker’ takes over as the real boss

Francis Farragher

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Bumbling Boris knocks over a 10-year-old boy while playing 'tough rugby' in Japan.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

One of the jokes doing the rounds about the CV requirements for being a British Prime Minister is that the applicants must be over-educated, under-intelligent, be naturally mendacious and prone to bullying, so maybe why we’ve ended up with Big BJ in the hot-seat across the water from us.

We all could pretty much have a laugh the situation were it not for the fact, that whether we like it or not, our fortunes and future as an Irish people, are to a large extent dependent on the stability of our nearest neighbours.

God knows, the history between the two countries is pock-marked with wars, repression, colonial dominance and famines, but for the last 20 years or so, since the Good Friday peace deal, there has been a major settling down in the relationship between Ireland and the UK.

The all-embracing umbrella of the European Union and the freedom of living in a borderless island brought about a change for the better in Ireland that could not have been contemplated through the height of ‘The Troubles’ from the early 1970s right through to the 1990s.

Britain has always been our biggest trading partner and over recent weeks while farmers quite rightly make their case for being more for their cattle, the doomsday scenario of things getting an awful lot worse rears its head, especially if a no-deal Brexit comes to pass.

Close on half of our beef exports end up in the UK – almost 300,000 tonnes each year – of if huge tariffs were to fall into place for imports into Britain, the situation could be close to catastrophic for our agri-food sector.  Agri-food is of course far more wide-embracing than just farming. According to Dept. of Agriculture, there are 173,000 people employed in the Irish agri-food sector, or almost 8% of the total working population while the total value of food exports is pushing up to €14 billion, with almost 50% of that (€5.2 billion) going to the UK.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

Pessimistic vibes about trying to be an optimist

Francis Farragher

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

I’m kind of worn out with every Tom, Dick and Harry telling me that I should have a more positive and optimistic outlook on life’s travails. This optimism ‘kick’ is kind of hard work especially on days like we had last Friday when the lashing rain reduced by motorway by at least 20km/h to 100km/h such was the intensity of the rainfall.

We did get a bit of a raw deal this August. All of the meteorology buffs tell us that out eighth month is the last one of the Summer, but this time around August made it very clear to us all that it wanted nothing whatsoever to do with the Summer season. By the middle of the month it had plunged into the midst, and mists, of the Autumn season.

Despite a reasonably settled routine of sleep, it is that little bit harder to maintain the same ‘get-up’ time when the mornings start to close in and when a 6.15 curtain pull reveals a very grey and gloomy backdrop on an eastern sky. As the saying goes: “it’s probably all in the head”, but once the change in the seasons arrive, the snooze button on the phone alarm clock tends to get pressed that bit more often.

Of course, there is a medically well documented condition known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is now estimated to affect one out of every 15 people to different degrees, or something that we might more commonly refer to as the ‘Winter blues’.

This condition is practically non-existent in what we might call ‘Middle-Earth’ namely those latitudes with 30 degrees of the Equator, where daylight hours are long, constant and bright. But as you push further north and south, the prevalence of the SAD syndrome increases dramatically during the Autumn and Winter periods of the southern and northern hemispheres.

The trick is of course is to bottle this thing they call optimism and we can all help to do this by listing out all the things that are good in our lives like family, health, a modest level of income over expenditure (now that’s a tricky one), and probably not worrying too much about the things that we will never be able to change.

We have the old health rhyme well off by this stage: don’t smoke, drink less alcohol, eat healthy food, take regular exercise, laught a bit more, and don’t get into a tizzy when a driver hogs the outside lane of the motorway while never passing 100km/h. All kind of basic stuff. For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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