I’ve been grumpy all week. A personnel problem is in the foreground. But it’s one of those phases where it feels like nothing is going my way.
Eath Leader confirmed to me last week that they would not have funding for my farm shop for at least a year.
I’ve been holding off on the €200,000 project in hopes they’d do some magic since their funding dried up last February.
Apparently, Heather Humphreys’ Department of Rural Development believes that actual rural development can be put on hold for a year or two while the rest of the world sails by.
Other government agencies also cause me grief. Meath County Council’s planning department is dragging me through the wringer to get a fire certificate for one of my sheds while ESB Networks was processing an application that I paid in full over four months ago.
When ESB first told me it would take up to 12 weeks for them to get out to me, I couldn’t believe it.
I then received the text informing me that while they are “making every effort to meet (their) target timeframes…a backlog due to high volumes…means your connection could be delayed by (another) 6-8 weeks”. Mother of the Divine!
In the background, our Ukrainians, who arrived in March, did not make any headway to settle into accommodation on their own.
There was never a bad word between us, but it created a little extra pressure. For example, our old septic tank was getting a little pressurized and I found myself in a rented excavator doing my best to redesign the infiltration area for the tank.
I digress here, but you’ll never really appreciate machinist skills until you try it for yourself.
If, like me, you’ve seen backhoe drivers in the past and thought it must be some handy number, turning in their cabs as they deftly move dirt and rock from one spot to the next, think again think about it.
I had scarcely tossed the bucket into the ground when a gush of water emerged from the ground, heralding the first water pipe burst. Cursing my luck and the long-forgotten whistle, I got the well turned off and a carpenter on the whistle.
Determined to get the job done before the end of the day to get the machine back from the rental, I jumped back in the excavator to continue with the original work.
Until I hit the next pipe. This happened to be a ¾ inch water pipe paired with heavy duty electrical wire. I was so lucky not to have punctured the power cord that it took me a few minutes to gather my wits. ‘Who runs a damn electric cable across a seepage zone?!’ I raged at myself.
This is of course in the nature of the decades-long gradual development of a farm.
Two days later the excavator was still rented out. Next to a CAT scanner that can detect underground cables. A bloody wonderful yoke for less than €50 a day. Too bad no one told me about it before!
The near miss made me question my tactics. Does it make sense to try to do the job yourself and risk screwing up the job, or pay through the nose to have a handyman come in and fix it?
At over €40 an hour for anyone with the tools and skills, the latter gets expensive very quickly, but it may be the cheapest solution in the long run.
Back to our Ukrainians. It was only in the last month that the urgency of finding alternative housing began. But with each passing week it seemed less and less likely that something suitable would be found.
And then, within a few days, everyone left. Apparently, it was said on the street that the influx of Ukrainians is not going to stop any time soon and that the housing crisis will get worse before it gets better.
Her best hope of getting into the system to find housing of her own was to present herself to Citywest for registration and take her chances.
The whole experience left us with mixed feelings. We were glad we opened our home when we did, but we’re even happier to have it to ourselves again. However, with some guilt about shifting the problem onto the state.
But the plight of our Ukrainian friends also offers some perspective on the everyday nagging I blame for my irritation.
As my grandmother used to say, there’s nothing wrong that can’t be worse. It was her diplomatic way of telling me to go ahead and cheer up.
Darragh McCullough runs a mixed venture in Meath, elmgrovefarm.ie
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/comment/digging-myself-into-a-series-of-deeper-holes-41976605.html Darragh McCullough: Digging myself into a series of deep holes