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How he over­came de­pres­sion to land the Farmer of the Year Award

Irish Independent - Farming - - ANALYSIS -

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 pe­ter­hynes1979@gmail.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

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