Posts Tagged ‘county borders’

Has anyone else noticed all the recommendations for city folks to move to the country?  Every day on the radio someone is discussing it.

I’ve heard politicians talking about upgrading the ‘rural resettlement‘ policy and other such schemes.  (The rural resettlement policy encourages city dwellers to consider moving to the country).

I guess as we come to the end of the year, and people start thinking of the New Year, and new beginnings, it is a good time to consider, ponder and reflect.

So I thought I’d share some of our learnings over the past 11 years:

  1. Transport costs…. no matter what your ‘food bill’ is in the city, no matter how high it is, trust me your transport costs in the country will be your biggest bill.  Despite the fact that diesel and petrol do tend to be slightly cheaper in the country, the distances involved in doing everything make it your biggest cost.   A 40 minute commute to work will cost you (depending on your car, etc) in and around €80/€90 a week.  Your repair bills will also probably be higher…. country roads are appalling.  You will learn to plan your journeys but even so be warned.
  2. Public Transport….  while on the subject of transport costs….. forget about public transport when you live in rural Ireland.  There is none, zilch, nada.  You are left to your own devices.  If you have children you will be doing an AWFUL LOT of ferrying them about to games, school, etc.  And possibly sitting about too, because it is not worth your while to go home to come back to collect them!
  3. Supermarket shopping…. now this one may come as a surprise… be prepared to spend longer in the supermarket.  Why?  Well, you will meet people you know and you’ll have to stop and have a chat. Even if you don’t know people, strangers will talk to you, you’ll have a conversation with the folks at the check-out …. so add at least an extra 30 to 40 minutes to your normal weekly shop.
  4. County borders…. they are critical!  Believe me once you get to height of summer and county finals, etc., even though you just live 2 miles inside the border of whatever county, it is of critical importance.  Brush up on your GAA knowledge!
  5. Death Notices….if you’ve lived in the city all your life, the first time you hear the Death Notices… you will probably balk.  Every local and regional radio station pauses after the news, the newsreader puts on a very serious tone, and reads the list of local Death Notices.  It always astounds city visitors!  Funeral attending is also a very big part of the ‘social’ aspect of rural life.
  6. Broadband….. a thorny issue.  We are quite lucky with our coverage.  Our speeds drop once the kids come home from school, and that’s about the worst we experience.  However, our neighbour, across the road, and technically closer to the telephone exchange has very very dodgy coverage.  Ask the ‘soon to be new neighbours’  about broadband issues, especially if you are hoping to run a business from home that relies on internet access.
  7. Turbary Rights… this was something we didn’t learn about until years after we moved. So with the benefit of our hindsight, I am advising you to get your solicitor to check it out.  Being able to cut and harvest your own turf/fuel is a nice little bonus, and traditionally most rural houses had a patch of bog to claim as their own.
  8. Church-going…. now here you need to forget about any ‘religious’ angle.  Going to church in the country is all about being social. Yes, of course, there are those that attend for their believes, but trust me most just go to meet with the neighbours, and catch up with what is going on in the ‘parish’.
  9. Nights out…. we still haven’t got used to this aspect of country life.  People do not go out until 10.30 p.m. at the earliest!  I’m just not good at this.  By 10.30 p.m. any night of the week I am ready for bed!
  10. Power Cuts…. we get lots of power cuts.   They are just part of our life. So my advice would be consider dual cooking and heating options.  Our oven is both gas and electric, and we have a stove that can be lit when the central heating can’t be operated.  Be prepared.
  11. Cooking…. you will become so adept at changing recipes because you cannot get whatever mighty ingredient is recommended. While the availability of unusual things has become better, I still struggle to get lemongrass for instance.  So visiting city dwellers always bring me a supply!  Also when it means a 10/12 mile journey for something simple – and harking back to no. 1 above – you start to get inventive.
  12. Dining out…. this is the thing I miss most about city living.  In rural Ireland lots of places don’t open during the week, and because of the distances involved in getting there, impromptu dining out is a thing of the past.  If you don’t feel like cooking on a Monday evening????  Better just go root about in the freezer and see if there’s something pre-cooked in there that will take very little effort.

So those are my thoughts for you to ponder.

Even though we love our life in rural Ireland, I don’t think it is for everyone.

If you’ve got children integrating into your new neighbourhood will be easier.  If you’ve not got school-going children, it will be up to you to join clubs, groups, associations.  Trust me there are plenty, and everyone is generally very welcoming.  They are especially welcoming if they know you plan to live in the community, and not just come for the weekend!

I’m sure these thoughts will probably apply no matter what country you live in.

Has anyone else got any tips?

Is anyone thinking of uprooting and moving to the country?


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To introduce you to my next Local Food Hero I had to be careful to make sure it was a Tipperary based hero!  Trust me living in the country, county borders are of grave significance – especially at this time of year when we are in the thick of the All Ireland Hurling and Football finals.  I would surely run the risk of excommunication if I did not introduce you to a Tipperary Food Hero.

Michael Seymour of Sheepwalk Farm was probably one of the first local producers we met when we moved here 10 years ago.  Michael sells organic beef and lamb at Nenagh Market and directly to customers.

The first thing that strikes you when you arrive at Michael and Olive Seymour’s farm is the fact that it right in the centre of town.  Literally – right smack bang in the middle of Borrisokane.  Walk less than 100 yards and you are on Main Street!

Sheepwalk Farm

Sheepwalk Farm

I spent a couple of hours with Michael recently, and he explained to me that originally (and when he was growing up) the farm house was on Main Street!  A number of years back he sold the house on Main Street and built a more modern home for his own family just behind  the original house.  The farmland still runs from the back of Main Street down to the river and beyond, which as Michael said “makes life very easy, if you’re out fencing and realise you’ve run out of nails – you just have to walk a few hundred yards to get some more”.  So true!  We’ve been there ourselves when it has meant a 10 mile round trip into town!

Slevin's Callow

Slevin’s Callow

Walking the farm is almost like a ‘who’s who’ history of Borrisokane.  I loved listening to Michael give me the names of the different fields – there’s Slevin’s Callow, Gannon’s Callow, Mikey’s field and oh, and this one is ‘our’ field!   That’s the Ballyfinboy River over there…. and there’s the Millrace that was constructed in the late 1800’s….. we built this bridge last year, it makes it much easier to move the lambs and sheep.

Michael’s great-grandfather (who originally came from our  own neighbourhood village, Lorrha) bought the farm on his return for America in the 1800’s.  It is so unusual to hear of people returning, but he did and the land has been farmed in a traditional way by Michael and his ancestors, ever since.

The farm has been fully organic since 1999, Michael explained that he didn’t like what he was seeing with the sprays and chemicals that were being used, and felt it just couldn’t be good for either the land or humanity.  He has often been asked why he doesn’t have a denser stocking level, but he works with nature and knows what his farm will sustain.  As part of the farm is ‘callow’ land it is not suitable to be used in certain weather.  Michael has 20 suckler cows, 80 ewes and their respective offsprings on his 130 acres.

With endless patience, Michael explained how his rotational system works.  Lambs are grazed from March to July on same fields  but from then on they graze on different fields, where lambs have not grazed before.  As lambs graze fields the worm population grows but moving to fields not grazed previously by lambs should be clean grazing, that’s usually after grass.

The sheep on Sheepwalk Farm

The sheep on Sheepwalk Farm

The cattle are generally moved indoors onto straw bedding by mid-November where they are fed farm cut silage.  The sheep stay out most of the year  only being brought indoors for lambing.   However, their grazing is supplemented with organic nuts and silage over the winter.

Fields are cut and grazed on alternate years, using a rotation system like this helps to naturally build up the soil fertility which in turn contributes to the preservation of the traditional grasses, clovers and herbs.

As we walked and chatted, I was struck by the array of gorgeous sloes, blackberries, crab apples and haws in the hedges.  There were tons of mushrooms and Michael said there are lots of damsons in the hedgerows on the farm too.

I asked about challenges, like all other farmers, Michael said buying in feed and fodder this past year was extremely costly.  He balked when he totted up the total!!!  However, when I asked would he have chosen another life other than farming – his answer was a very definite No!

We also chatted about ‘social media’.  I know Michael uses Twitter.  Why?  Well, as Michael said, you have to know about these things – everyone else is at it so you need to keep abreast.

I asked if he thought people’s shopping had changed in recent times?  No, was Michael’s answer, he felt the shopping pattern changed seasonally….. more burgers and chops in the summer, more traditionally roasts and stews in the winter…. but business is generally remaining the same.

Michael and his delicious organic lamb and beef can be found at Nenagh Market in Quintin’s Way, Nenagh on Friday afternoons and Saturdays 10 – 3 pm, or just give him a call to arrange delivery.

We came home from our visit to Sheepwalk Farm with some lamb and beef…. we’ve had the roast lamb – it is delicious…. the beef is being saved for a special occasion.

Contact details:

Seymour Organics,  Sheepwalk Farm, Borrisokane, Co. Tipperary.

Tel:   Michael on 086 400 0680

web:  www.sheepwalkfarm.com

email: seymourorganic@gmail.com

Twitter: @SeymourOrganic

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