The Woodside Farm Group on WhatsApp has five participants. It includes my husband Tim and our son Colm – the full-time farmers – and our other son Philip, his fiancée Aileen and myself, who are all part-time farmers! It is a great learning forum and you could find anything on it. This morning a question appeared from Philip: “Is there a trick to getting internet to work on the desktop?” Then Colm answers: “Off and on again!” Philip replies: “Very high tech. Roger!”
Then Colm gets funny and instructs: “Turn the PC upside down for 27 seconds. Then whistle a G sharp into the scart cable!”
Philip continues: “I whistled an F instead and got fibre optic speeds!”
The desktop computer lives in the farm office in our house. As I write, the three men are inputting grass walks and making pasture comparisons. They are planning how much silage will be needed and cut and how much fertiliser needs to be spread. Figures are tumbling out of them and voices are raised then mellowed then raised again. It’s a healthy, hard-working farm office.
Then there are days when nothing works. Rebooting at the source is futile
Tim spends a couple of hours there every morning updating, researching, ordering supplies, paying bills and so on. Colm often drops by to work alone or with Tim. Some days, their best-laid plans grind to a faltering halt. The printer in the office goes offline and forms can’t be accessed. I’m periodically called upon to print something from my laptop. That’s when the internet is weak but still functioning.
Then there are days when nothing works. Rebooting at the source is futile. Sitting with the laptop in hand almost on top of the router yields nothing. These days should just be written off when it comes to doing work that requires internet.
I’ve seen him give up in exasperation with our internet service and head for home to Bishopstown in the city
When Tim sees a wet forecast ahead, he often allocates that day to office work. It should be his prerogative or choice, but it is not. Colm takes charge of registering the calves and movement of animals. I’ve seen him give up in exasperation with our internet service and head for home to Bishopstown in the city where the service is much more reliable and faster.
Zoom cookery called off
In the last year, poor internet service has exacerbated dealing with lockdown. I’m still doing YouTube videos for school so that the pupils can access them in their own time.
Over the Easter break, we went several days without service
I cannot make a video and upload it seamlessly. It could take several hours tying up my phone during that time. So, I opt for the bewitching hours!
This is not an acceptable service. Over the Easter break, we went several days without service. One morning I had a class of students lined up for Zoom cookery. We were to make a yoghurt cake. I had absolutely no service. I could imagine the faces of my students and their moms or dads with the ingredients laid out and waiting for me to launch the class. I had to abandon it.
I love to communicate with the students and their families and quite frankly students need this interaction
I was sad for my students and properly frustrated myself. I love to communicate with the students and their families and quite frankly students need this interaction. Diarmuid has also had to abandon some of his much loved drama classes due to poor connectivity.
Last week, the Government announced Our Rural Future Rural Development Policy with 150 incentives over five years. One is to increase connectivity in rural Ireland and attract people back to live in and work from rural Ireland. A move to 20% home or remote working in the public sector is promised for this year, with further annual increases over the five years of the plan.
To my mind everything hinges on the success of the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan.
The amount of time I waste trying to connect is ridiculous. The Government needs to get moving
The fibre optic broadband cable that Philip speaks of comes within 1km down the road from us to Tower village and also comes within 1km up the road. Apparently there are no plans for it to join up.
We are now within Cork’s city boundary so maybe that’s the problem. The amount of time I waste trying to connect is ridiculous. The Government needs to get moving if they are serious about encouraging people to live in and work from rural Ireland. The plan has to work for everyone including the folk that reside there already. People won’t risk a move without proper broadband service.