FARM was exhibited as part of an exhibition Hybrid 2 the second exhibition arising from an exchange between artists in Ireland and Colorado USA as a photographic and text installation in Donegal Regional Cultural Centre. On both sides of the Atlantic the struggle to continue farming in the face of climate and market changes are clear. While in the USA for the first exhibition in 2013, at Redline Contemporary, Denver, I visited farmers and ranchers specialising in livestock production, carrying out interviews and photographic research. Similar research took place in Ireland and the UK with small producers who use an environmental and health-based lens to distinguish and differentiate grass-fed beef and lamb to survive in increasingly competitive marketplaces.
The surprisingly stark differences between these agricultural sites are cleverly disguised by O’Mahony’s carefully composed shots and the serial arrangement of photographs in a style reminiscent of conceptual art in the late 1960s – 70s. The allusion of a visual closeness between these distant places works in harmony with the shared environmental concerns. Kirstie North, “Hybrid Ireland, Donegal Regional Cultural Centre Letterkenny”, Enclave Review Issue 13, 2016.
The guest part of the ranch business is something I am promoting to keep it in profit. People want to spend time here and help out on the ranch, that plus the camping, and beef, it’s all good.
Elin Parker Ganschow, Sangrias Beef, Westcliffe, Colorado.
I started pedigree breeding about 40 years ago. The problem with farming in Ireland is the average income is too low to allow farmers to get a full time income and they are struggling all the time to increase the number of cattle.
As well as that there’s a kind a disconnect between those that give the grants and farmers on the ground. There is a lack of education and a lack of understanding of what exactly you are supposed to fulfil even though you are getting the money for it.
Joe Kileen, Corofin, Co. Clare
The great plains should never have been ploughed under. Mechanised man is a menace and then on top of that we play God. We think we are smarter than the man upstairs.
Alex Lasater, The Lasater Ranch, East Colorado.
When we bring the cattle down to the lowlands to graze in the summer is decided, not by the calendar, but by the weather. And the weather pattern has changed…it has become much wetter, for more prolonged periods.
At the moment the turlough is at one of its highest points, the last time it was as high as this was in 2009 when it flooded our house and now it is right up to the house.
Hugh Robson, Glencairn Farm, Carron, Co. Clare.
I farm about 10,000 acres, it’s not enough this year. No rain.
I got about three weeks extra grazing left, three paddocks the cattle have never been in, and I think I can get 2 - 3 weeks out of each one of them. If it would cool off and rain just a little bit.
It’s kinda like rearranging deck chairs on a titanic. Your just going down. And well, which part, which part are you going to cut off first and throw overboard.
Matt, Sun Prairie Beef, Yuma, Colorado.
I always had a great love for the sheep … Tis often and the sheep coming off the mountain and there was a ewe missing I could describe the kind of ewe she would be … I would know the area of the mountain where they would be grazing, if they don’t come the day you go to collect that part of the mountain you know there is something wrong, unless there is a variation in the weather.
Michéal Horan, Ring of Kerry Lamb, Co. Kerry