Life of a Farm Animal

When looking at Ireland one of the first things I questioned while driving across the countryside was the amount of unused land and the habitat of the farm animals that inhabited them and why farmers allowed this. In the countryside it could be seen that people owned a lot of land, as homes were generally not close to each other at all. The animals on these properties have room to roam and be free to feed wherever they please on the property. This is something that is much different in the United States as farm animals tend to not have the same amount of freedom and are locked in small pens so they can have as many as possible ready for sale.

While visiting the Killary Sheep Farm, we were able to see how the farmers tend to their land and the animals on them. Tom Nee, the farmer who owned the land demonstrated how his sheep are free to roam around these fields and how he keeps track of them. He has 3 Border Collies that he uses to herd the sheep into pens so he can take care of them. Watching Tom and his dog Sylvie, I saw how he cared for the sheep as he trained his dogs not to bite and to only to direct the sheep to where he wants them to go. When asked about the dogs being happy Tom told us that, “Sylvie is only happy when she’s working and gets upset when she’s not with me.” This was something that made me realize their more than just work animals; they love to be with him.

Sheep are something you will see everywhere in Ireland and which initially made me believe wool must be a major export for these farmers. I always thought the reasons farmers sheared the sheep was to sell the wool to create clothing, which I later found out was not the case. Tom said, “this wool is worthless, you can only get $.25 for this one sheep’s wool, I shear them because they would die if I didn’t.” This explanation is something I was not expecting to hear because I didn’t understand why the farmer cared that much for all the animals he has on his property if these sheep in particular were all meat exports.

One example we saw from Tom that showed us how his animals are treated and have the ability to live a good lives was when he showed up an injured lamb he found in the fields he walks every morning. Tom and his brother were nursing him and two other injured lambs back to health instead of just letting them die. This is not traditionally the same reaction in the United States as the government has more relaxed farming laws allowing animals to not get treated the same way. From what I have seen so far in Ireland, It’s easy to conclude that animals are treated much better than we currently see in the United States.

Eco Friendly Village?

While traveling around Ireland, I took interest into the dynamic of the Eco-Village and how their community worked. The first place we stopped while in Ireland was Cloughjordan. What was interesting about this village was the construction of the eco village and its relive location towards the center of the Cloughjordan. This eco village could have been located outside Cloughjordans main strip, but even though it was created well long after the village of Cloughjordan was founded it looks like it belonged there. Some interesting things I learned while staying at the eco village is that there is no one in charge of the village and that everybody their makes joint decisions. Mary, one of the residents, told us, “You learn love and hate everyone here”. That really stuck with me because in a community where everyone makes decisions instead of just one person being in charge things tend to get done slower. This was something I noticed about this community as they claim to be self-sustainable; however, they have not been able to use their solar panels they as a community purchased due to technical problems dating back 10 years. This is something I thought was interesting because that meant they got their electricity from somewhere else even though their motto is that they are:

  • Building
  • Sustainable
  • Community

When looking at their motto I found that their vision wasn’t being 100% achieved due to relying on outside energy. One thing I picked up on about the community is that everyone was there for a specific reason, and that was that they wanted to reduce their carbon footprint on the environment. This is something I saw throughout the village as they as a community tried to reduce waste, farm their own food, and reduced water usage. Seeing a community that truly believes that as a whole they could help make a difference was inspirational. While staying in the hostel, we came across apple juice that was for sale and asked about it. Pa, the owner of the hostel we stayed at, told us that they are sold by a member of the community and could also be bought up at the store ran by the hostel’s cook, Johanna and their husband. I thought it was interesting finding out that they tried to shop locally for their food unlike in America where majority of people shop at the supermarket. Overall I believe that if the eco-village wants to grow they need to fix their solar power issue to be fully self sustainable and work towards electing someone to make decisions for the community.



Food Blog

Spar and Centra, two names I’m not truly familiar with but will have to get used to if I want to buy my own food while in Ireland. These are two of the more popular markets you will find in Ireland. These stores remind me a lot of IGA’s in America; they are small but have essentially everything you need without the variation of brands. One type of food in particular caught my eye, the eggs. They were on the shelves! My first thought was that they accidentally put them there while the workers were making room for them in the fridges. There was so many boxes of them though and they were organized so I really had to think about it to myself. Suddenly a worker walks by so I decide to ask, “excuse me MS, are these eggs still good to eat, they are warm and on the shelve?” She looked at me with a more puzzled look than I was probably giving off and said, “the eggs do not go in the fridge, they go on the shelves” and then she just walked away. It was then I realized that common food storage in America is not the same everywhere in the world.

I decided to buy the eggs regardless of how they were stored because I love to have my two over easy in the morning; however, it prompted me to do some research when I got back to the Hostel. I did not realize how Irish eggs were mostly farmed locally while eggs in supermarkets in America were farmed on bigger corporate farms, with upwards of 3,000 chickens laying eggs each and every day. After reading this fun fact I decided to look at the box holding my eggs I just purchased for 2 euro. It read “freshly laid by hens with freedom to roam freely on organic pastures”

Local Eggs in Ireland

This made me think about egg cartons I see in stop & shop and how I tend to buy the 30 pack of eggs each week, it made me realize that there was no way the farmers in America let their chickens roam free each and every day to feed the United States population. I began to realize that the eggs I buy in America aren’t the same quality I’d be able to get in Ireland because the chickens in America weren’t treated the same. This made me think about where else I could buy eggs from that the animals were treated better and it made me think about the Farmers Market on Metacom Ave in Bristol, RI. When I get back to America, I’m only getting locally farmed eggs!


Powering Ireland

Ireland is an interesting place when you look at the way they consume and create their energy. In America the main source of energy is oil and natural gas which are also burned to create electricity. This is something that so far from what we have seen in rural Ireland is not regarded as the same way to keep a home warm. Turf is a popular source of energy because it is virtually everywhere in Ireland. Turf is harvested from bog lands, which over the course of history compresses and creates a carbon based product that can be burned for energy. This is not a very environmentally practice, as doing so releases carbon back into the atmosphere, which is not good for our o-zone or life on Earth. Ireland, stores about 3% of the world’s carbon. Preserving these fields are in our best interest because when carbon is burned it releases a toxin call Carbon Monoxide. Turf farming isn’t a large scale problem created by farmers in the countryside burning it for personal use on their property, the problem is the large corporations that come into Ireland and buy up land to farm the turf from the bog all at once. A farmer in Ireland traditionally uses around 3-4 turf bricks every 15 minutes when trying to keep the fire going. This doesn’t seem like a lot but when you multiply that by the hour they use 384 slabs an hour and 140,000 a year. This seems like a lot but that is if they keep the fire constantly lit throughout the whole entire year, which is not true for everyone in Ireland. Turf farming is a cheap way to heat homes in Ireland and with trees not being abundant on the island, residents do not have many other viable options to use to heat their homes. Traditional farmers using this source of fuel will never be able to clear a field in their lifetime, but corporations can tear up a 50 meters by 35 meters field in under a day according to our friends in the Killary sheep farm.  This practice has pushed Ireland to try and push back on corporations having the ability to harvest turf from bogs. One type of clean sustainable energy  that can be seen as an alternative is wind turbines, in specific we saw the models known as kw3 and kw6’s.  The smaller model, the kw3, gives out an average of 4,000kW/hrs while the larger size the kw6 gives out around 8,000kW/hrs. This is the greenest way to create energy because winds is natural and abundant in Ireland and the creation and use of these devices are not harming the environment while turf farming is. Most of the turbines we saw were along the Wild Atlantic Way but they were also seen  inlet from the coast. These are great examples of clean energy because they have a low carbon footprint which is great for the environment and allows people to realize there are alternatives to traditional practices still being used today.

Transporting the Fresh(Water) Goods

Ireland is a country that is surrounded by water, also known as an island but there are parts of the Country that still don’t have a steady supply of water even though this country is known for their rain. In Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands of the coast of Western Ireland, we were made aware of the fact they are completed reliant on the mainland to get fresh water. This island has one freshwater lake on it called Loch Mör. The people on this island have one major problem with Loch Mör  and that is because it is a dead lake. This means the water is stagnant, and has no streams or fresh water spring running into the lake. This is problematic as the water begins to smell because it is stagnant and also acidic. These are all factors on why the loch can’t be used as a viable source of drinking water for natives. This lead to people having to be reliant on other sources of fresh water. Before the more recent practice of shipping their freshwater in from Galway, the Islanders on this Island were completely reliant on the rainwater which one local described as, “dirty water” which we were unsure if he meant polluted or that the water had a salty taste to it. Everyday there is a water boat that makes two trips from Galway to the port here on the island where they then proceed to pump the fresh water from the mainland into storage containers located near the center of the island. When we were talking to a local resident named Eoghan (Owen) we learned that this island did not get electricity on the until the year 2000 when they laid a optic cable across the bay.. This is something he was happy about but he then mentioned the Irish government didn’t think about making that a joint project to also provide water to the island. This means that the Island will not get water if the boat is unable to make it one day which means that they are completely reliant on the mainland to survive on this island. While staying on the island we were told to conserve water the most we could and to only flush when necessary. This is something that I was not used, because in the United States my home has a well and my parents never told me not to flush the toilet or to make sure you rinse your dishes in the sink instead of keeping the water running the whole time. This was eye opening to me because I didn’t realize that even in a developed country that is known for its rain could still have the same water problems of third world countries

Dear Ryan…

The following is a work of fiction based on recent events and experiences in Ireland.

Dear Ryan,

At last, the final sunrise of the season approaches overhead the River Shannon, it is that time of the day to herd the sheep in the far mountain field with our youngest border collie you have yet to meet, Christopher. I hear Ma calling from downstairs, “Tá sé in am éirí” which if you forget your Irish roots from the last time you were home seven years ago, means it is time to get up. Today is my last job of the summer before leaving to head back to the University in Dublin. Before I leave, father told me I must herd the remaining 400 lambs on property to the pens to be sheared before we send them to the abattoir in Limerick. This had to be done early in the day today since the summer heat has been that bad this year; it actually reminded me of the heat you get in Florida. Anyway, Da always told me not to get attached to the sheep but it’s still hard to see the lambs taken from their mothers knowing what is happening to them. Once I finish up here later I have to start packing since I leave tomorrow morning with Ma for Dublin to finish my degree in Marketing and Web Development. I am looking forward to leaving the farm again to head back into the city. Ever since I visited you at school three years ago and we went into Boston, I really wanted to experience the urban way of life on my own.

Farm life was something I thought I would never grow tired of but visiting you and studying in Dublin, changed my thought process. The one thing I’m not looking forward to is leaving the dogs, since they are only happy when they are with me in the field working. I am going to miss them a lot but I think I need a change of scenery. You know how Ma always stresses, “Cha d’dhùin doras nach d’fhosgail doras” (No door closes without another opening if you forgot). Leaving the farm is something Ma and Da are proud of me for deciding to do. They understand how I have been introduced to a different lifestyle while studying in Dublin and visiting you and Da was happy for me. They raised us well and now I will get to live the best of both worlds with having a place I can come home to that I grew up on but also live in a place where my lifestyle clicks. Visiting you and seeing the city made me want to get into business and I thank you for that. I now know I belong in an office building highlighting my new love of Marketing and Web Development. I hope you will have time during your winter or spring break this year to come and visit me in Dublin. A lot has changed since you last visited and I definitely owe you a pint of Guinness.

Hope to hear from you soon,

About Ryan

I come from the state full of surprises, also known as the state of Connecticut. I live on Candlewood lake, a place that was actually man made and not created naturally by nature. It is a place of beauty. Wilderness surrounding the man made lake with communities and towns that are knit together to create a great atmosphere to live around. A place where you are secluded from the chaos of New York City, but only a train rides away from it as well. A place that experiences all four seasons in full effect with blizzards in the winter, blooms in the spring, sunny and 75 in the summer and picture perfect fall evenings. A place I like to call home.

My hometown, Sherman is named after one of our founding fathers, Roger Sherman. A man who was instrumental to founding the country we now call the United States of America. I was born in Raised in Fairfield County bouncing around between two towns where I have a summer and year round home. I refer to the lake as my home because no matter where I was I could always see the lake. It reminded me that everyone in the area had one thing in common and that was that we lived by something people outside the area came to see because of its beauty and endless fun. My winters consisted of snowmobiling on the frozen lake, driving around getting pulled by tubes. We could ice fish and go sledding. When the weather changed we could still have fun in this place, shifting from snow to water activities. I would wake up early to go wakeboarding, spending my whole day on or near the lake. I could have fun playing sports in the surrounding fields or go for a swim. I could hang out with friends and never get bored because their was always something to do.

I found my love for sports while playing lacrosse and football at a young age in New Fairfield. I would travel around for games at all levels from youth to high school. I would encounter products and promotions for different affiliates of the sporting events. I became fascinated with why they would invest their time and money in sports that were not directly related to their products.

Thats when I realized that my passion for sports was something I could carry on beyond my athletic life. I could use my love for sports and apply it into the marketing field. People market at these type of events because they have the ability to reach new clientele and create a new following. This is when I realized that the best way for me to continue to stay around what I loved was to get into the marketing field.