I was filming last week when I got a mayday to report that the internet was down in the shed.
It was a time when a bit of fresh baler twine and a permanent water connection were the technological feats required to keep a shed functional.
It was already a long day from a 4.45am start to get into the heart of North Tipperary by 7.30am.
Dense fog all the way through the darkness of the freeways and country roads had me cursing the lack of fancy LED or Xenon lights on my old pickup.
We did a story about Rickard Deasy’s grandson, who created what is perhaps Ireland’s most sustainable beer.
Not only does he grow all the grain himself using conservation agriculture techniques, the brewing is done entirely with heat generated by his own coppices. Even the spent grain is recycled into high-quality baking ingredients.
But it’s hard to throw yourself into someone else’s world when there’s trouble at home.
We’ve been taught for years that we’re now in the digital age, but I’m still amazed at how dependent the day-to-day functions on a farm are now on internet access.
All the data collected from the cows’ collars is only accessible via the internet.
The fridge for my flowers and the solar panels on the roof both rely on the internet to let me know if there is a fault.
The accounts package, payroll system and almost all of our invoices are now only accessible via the cloud or email, which depends entirely on an internet connection.
It was a fairly fundamental change that led to the system blackout.
After months of hesitation, I finally grabbed the nettle to move our little flower shop from its high-profile but somewhat dangerous roadside location to a more spacious spot around the corner where more than two cars could park comfortably.
All printers, Wi-Fi boxes, cameras and chargers were cleared out along with everything else to avoid a mess as I carefully towed the normally static trailer across the field to its new location.
Luckily I didn’t get stuck, shattering the glass windows or shearing off a wheel that got stuck in the same spot years later.
But once everything was reconnected, the Wi-Fi box seemed dead.
It was unplugged and tested upstairs in the courtyard office, where it seemed to work with just the main modem power supply.
So the power supply for the WLAN was confiscated and rebuilt in the workshop. Except there was still no internet as of course by removing the main supply we had inadvertently cut the supply for the entire site.
When I got back to the store today I tried the store’s modem and in fact no lights would come on when plugged into a power supply.
I knew I had another one on top of the farmhouse closet and figured I could live without Netflix and RTÉ Player for a few days to keep the store open.
It wasn’t until I sat on top of the stool and fiddled with the cupboard in the dark that it dawned on me that the modem’s activity indicator was so dim that it was quite likely that it had always worked, but the staff in the workshop could do that Simply do not see the light of the power pack in the daylight of the field!
So I trundled back into the store, pocketed the gizmo and bingo, and the wonders of the internet began pouring out of the PC’s speakers.
It reminded me of the value of experience. Whether you’re changing a wheel, lambing a ewe, or digging a hole, there’s an easy way and a hard way.
It’s just basic know-how that takes time to acquire. In the meantime, all you need is a lot of patience.
Darragh McCullough runs a mixed farm in Meath, elmgrovefarm.ie.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/comment/who-knew-wi-fi-would-become-so-vital-to-farming-42162160.html Who knew Wi-Fi would become so important to farming?