April 15, 2015
Earlier this morning while taking the dog for a walk, something about the field behind our house made me want to go and have a closer look. The sun, still at a low angle was shining across the soil, highlighting the long furrows created by the ploughing that took place yesterday.
There was an almost palpable sense of expectation coming from the ground, a sense of readiness and anticipation. Soon the crop will be planted and growth will begin.
Jesus’ story about a sower sowing seeds provides a wonderful description of those who allow his words to take root in the fertile and receptive soil of their minds:
“… And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
How good and receptive is our soil? Perhaps a bit of weeding is needed, perhaps there are some rocks to be cleared away!
September 9, 2012
If the Eskimos have many different words to describe snow, so here in West Cork there are many words to describe the numerous types of rain that we enjoy in this part of the world. One of my favourites was stated by a wise old farmer who greeted me earlier today with the words:
Grand soft day.
And that was it, no more needed to be said. The rain today was not heavy, it was not that awful sideways stuff that blows in off the Atlantic, it was gentle, misty and slightly swirling; in a word it was most definitely ‘soft’.
I had been invited to come along ‘and show my face’ at a vintage threshing day near Pedlar’s Cross (halfway between Clonakilty and Bandon). Although I brought my camera with me I left it I the car (due to my not wanting to expose it to the ‘soft’ conditions). So I only had the iPhone to take pictures with.
I really love these community events, enjoyed by all ages, farmers and non-farmers alike. There is something here for everyone to enjoy and appreciate and everyone has time to talk, whether it’s about the weather, the price of milk, the hurling final or anything you like.
A grand soft day it was.
August 22, 2012
In what must be the answer to many a farmer’s prayer, the sun is shining at last. The large number of combine harvesters and tractors on the narrow roads are making driving around the parish a hair-raising experience, but it is great to see the work being done. Perhaps the upcoming season of Harvest services will be a time of thanksgiving after all, even though this year has been one of the worst in living memory for all those involved in agriculture.
The Bible verse that came to mind as I was taking this picture, was from John’s Gospel in the old King James version:
“… behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”
The Lord Jesus is comparing a field ready for harvesting to the many people who are (after centuries of waiting for the Messiah to come), ready to hear his gospel message and to know Him as Lord and Saviour.
Photo Notes: I used a very wide angle lens for this shot (a Tokina 12-24mm f4). I set the aperture to f22 and thankfully it was bright enough at that aperture to get a shutter speed of 1/50 at 100 ISO. The unusual colouring is a Lightroom preset called ‘Coldtone.’ See the picture on Flickr here.
June 13, 2012
The annual Clonakilty Agricultural Show was as big and busy as ever this year. Here’s a selection of photos from the day:
For larger versions of these photos, the set on Flickr can be found here.
February 2, 2012
This was the view from the other side of our garden wall at 8 o’clock this morning. Now that we are officially in to Spring, it seems that Winter is reluctant to bid farewell just yet…
August 31, 2011
Driving around the Dordogne region of France it is inevitable that you will sooner or later come across some Geese, lots of them! One day we stopped the car for a better look at these birds who seem to have a wonderful life. They have plenty of space, lots of shade, water to drink and bathe in and of course more food than they can eat. The catch is of course that these Geese are made to eat more than they are naturally capable of.
‘Foie Gras’ literally means ‘Fat Liver’! These geese are force fed by hand or machine (read about it here), so that their livers will be as large and fatty as possible.
I’m afraid to say that I was unaware of just how intensive the process was until reading about it upon our return home. I wish now that I had not bought a jar of Pâté (€12 for 100g) that now sits on a table in our dining room along with lots of other food that we bought back – actually not much of the other food left now!
Perhaps I am just being naive; there are of course many things involved in food production that I and many are uncomfortable with, such as with intensive egg and poultry production, pigs who live their entire miserable lives in dark concrete sheds, veal and farmed fish to name but a few. Our response to this is to try to be aware enough of the issues so as to not buy products where we are not happy with the method of production involved. Perhaps if I knew more I would end up being a vegetarian – something I certainly could not stomach!
June 1, 2011
Well it’s got to that time of year again; no sooner have all the Calves arrived than the farmers have to turn their attention to Silage cutting. The above picture is the field behind our house, but it could be anywhere in West Cork or rural Ireland at the moment. Late into the night tractors, trailers and giant forage harvesters are hurtling along country lanes and boreens (as I discovered coming back from Dunmanway yesterday evening)!
Today the above field is bare except for hundreds of crows – I’m not sure what they are all so excited about so if anyone would be able to tell me that would be great.
Of course we are all affected by the seasons and routines of the year and all the ‘interesting’ weather we have here, but none more so than the farmers. It must be very stressful for them at times and it is interesting to see how among all the farmers I know how well they cope with that stress. Those that have a strong faith and trust in God find a help and support that I would think is absolutely essential for dealing with such demanding work. May God bless and be with them all at this time.
December 2, 2010
Many of the Parishioners here are Farmers or in some way connected to Agriculture. Having spoken with a couple of dairy farmers in the last few days I am getting a greater understanding of how tough this cold, icy weather can be. Their work takes much longer in these freezing conditions, as they do everything to stop the water pipes from freezing, keeping the yard from getting too slippery and trying to prevent the cows skating around! Then there’s loads of other stuff which to a layman like myself I wouldn’t get or understand, but nevertheless farmers have both my sympathy and my prayers at this time.
Yesterday I was driving (very slowly) through Kilmalooda on my way to a visit. I had set out too early and had some time to spare so I took a few pictures. Firstly the one at the top of the cows, (which got me thinking again about the farmers), then one of the church (or rather 21 pictures merged together to form a giant picture on the computer),
then one of the icy road
and finally one of the old raiding Castle in the valley. For all its harshness, the snow and ice is at the same time, quite beautiful…
August 31, 2009
Panasonic LX1, 1/320 sec, f4, ISO 80, 52mm equivalent (click to enlarge)
A farmer said to me recently that for every day the rain continues to prevent him from harvesting his crops he is losing hundreds of Euro. It must be incredibly frustrating watching your ripened fields get increasingly worse and not being able to do a thing about it.
Let’s spare a thought for farmers at this time and pray that they will get the weather they need very soon. (Of course, now that the children have gone back to school the sun is sure to come out!)
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”