WHATEVER and whenever hardships come their way, the people of rural Ireland tend to pull together well and this was in evidence again last week when farmers helped one another out with the milking of cows when many of them were without electricity to run their milking parlours after the exceptionally stormy weather.
Animal welfare is at the top of every responsible farmer’s agenda and dairy cows cannot be allowed to go without being milked for more than 36 hours, otherwise their health could suffer. In several parts of West Cork, farmers who had their own generators either allowed neighbours’ herds into their parlours for milking or loaned out their generators so that other farmers could do the milking on their own farms, which is better in bio security terms.
Luckily, the accuracy of the advance weather forecasts had given farmers plenty of opportunity to find shelter for their animals before the storms, Ophelia in particular and then Brian. Because of the more remote locations many farmers live in, it took the emergency crews longer to get around to them to restore power. There were other problems on farms with trees and fencing brought down and buildings damaged, so there is still plenty of clearing-up work to be done.
In the meantime, we saw another commendable example of local farmers getting together with the official launch of West Cork Farm Tours last weekend by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed. Five farm families will be opening up their farms to visiting groups to show them how they operate and to illustrate the high standards they bring to their end of the food production chain.
They will be conducting the tours with the co-operation of three West Cork family-run hotels – the Celtic Ross in Rosscarbery, Fernhill House and the Emmet Hotel in Clonakilty – and, as with farming, family is a big thing and, no doubt, the initiative will boost tourism locally and add new income streams for all the participants. West Cork Farm Tours has the potential to extend the tourist season for the various providers and is, therefore, getting enthusiastic backing from Fáilte Ireland.
Ní neart go cur le chéile.