COURTMACSHERRY farmer and Cork Central IFA chairman Harold Kingston had to follow his own advice and seek help when the pressure of the long winter began to take its toll.
Harold has been very vocal in advising IFA members to speak up if their mental health was being impacted by what was one of the worst winters in history for the farming community. ‘It was something I had to take on board myself,’ he told The Southern Star.
‘I just found that there wasn’t enough days in the week and that the constant workload, despite cutting back my herd last year, the one bit of luck I had, was taking its toll on me. I was struggling to keep things ticking over.’
The leading IFA figure recognised he needed help and spoke to a supportive neighbour to lighten the mental load and also visited his doctor.
‘The problem wasn’t necessarily the fodder crisis – I could source fodder and ration and could deal with that expense, but it was purely not being physically able to do all that needed to be done; it was putting the cattle out and having to bring them in again; it was the weather that just never cleared and not being able to get any job finished. I knew that there were people far worse off than me but I still found my situation tough suffering from complete exhaustion,’ he said.
Harold said he was now ‘on the right road’ even if it was ‘a long road’ and he said seeing a doctor was essential in such a situation.
‘It’s like an injury and you have to look at ways of dealing with that and getting to the cause of it – in this case the workload.’
He has now employed farm labourers to help out and has thanked his family, IFA colleagues and Barryroe Co-op for their support.
‘The cows look surprisingly healthy – your focus is entirely on the animals and what happens is that you completely forget about yourself,’ he said.