How he overcame depression to land the Farmer of the Year Award
ON’T bury your head in the sand there is no problem too big to deal with,” said farmer Peter Hynes as he addressed the hundreds of farm families gathered to see the achievements made on the 104ha farm at Aherla in Co Cork.
Since openly discussing his own bout of depression that caught him offguard around 16 years ago, the Zurich Farm Insurance Farming Independent Farmer of the Year has had others reaching out to him in the farming community seeking help.
“If you just find someone you don’t know and have a good chat or finding a good counsellor — that is the cure to those problems,” said Peter, who along with his wife and childhood sweetheart Paula, and their three girls, now call the Co Cork farm home.
“If you have financial or agricultural problems in the farm, Teagasc are there to help and the banks are there to help.
“Don’t bury your head in the sand there is no problem too big to deal with,” he said.
“It is very easy to deal with problems, they can be made very small, very quick and you can move forward from there.
“You realise that no matter how bad things are there is a bright side to things too.”
He explained that was why the family had selected Aware and Breast Cancer Ireland as the two charities that would benefit from the roughly €15,000 raised by farm-farmers and the many companies that attended and supported the walk on their farm. Many of the familiar faces included Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, MEPs Mairead McGuin- Dairymaster kindly offered a MooMonitor + base station worth €4,500 plus VAT to be auctioned off for charity. Anyone thinking of ordering the system for heat detection and monitoring their health traits such as grazing, rumination and activity can put in an offer. The auction money will be split between Aware and Breast Cancer Ireland. In addition, the Hynes family have a Cork jersey worn in a match, signed by all the Cork hurlers, up for grabs. Peter can be contacted for auction bids at email@example.com or his Twitter handle is @Peterhynes15. ness and Sean Kelly, Dairygold’s Jim Woulfe, Dairymaster’s Edmond Harty, Lorcan Harding from Zurich Insurance, AIB’s John O’Doherty, Goldcrop’s John Murphy, Cormac Tagging’s Ursula Kelly and rugby and GAA stars.
Neither Paula or Peter grew up on farms but when Peter’s stepfather Geoffrey Good wanted to step back they took up the reins in partnership.
Mental health is a huge issue in farming globally, Peter pointed out. “Around 16 years ago I started to have a tough time, it was probably a combination of a few things. I’d been working 90-100 hours a week, wasn’t getting out enjoying myself, lacked a bit of confidence and a couple of other issues all combined to really get me down. I suppose you could say I was depressed, everything seemed in my eyes to be going downhill.
“It got to the stage where I would just break down crying — all due to over-thinking life.
“Eventually it was impacting on my work and everything else. I went to the doctor, he gave me the number of a counsellor called Mary. So I rang.”
Peter recalls that it waswas nerve wracking working up the courage to go in the first day.
“I was told it was totally confidential once I wasn’t planning on harming myself. An hour later I felt relief.” He went home longing for the next appointment as he found the relief lasted a short time. “I met Mary a few times a week and we chatted about life in general and what was bothering me.
“As the good days began to outweigh the bad, I began to meet her less and less.
“Eventually she said that if I felt ready I could take a break and return if I ever needed.
“I’ ll never forget Mary, she transformed how I felt in such a simple friendly way.”
Peter admits it can still be tough standing up in front of groups to talk. “I would always question myself too — is my work, our farm and our herd performing well enough,” he says, admitting that sometimes it can be difficult to keep his levels of confidence up.
“I manage it by trying to have a laugh every day. I find life is too short not to laugh.”
Peter describes how winning Farmer of the Year gave the whole family a lift, as they realised that a panel of judges and their peers could see
Paula and Becky Hynes show Ruth Creed one of their calves