RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Programme 2

Ear to the Ground
Ear to the Ground

A tax on your toilet is bad enough news for homeowners, but the bigger shock for up to a million people in Ireland is the prospect of having to shell out up to ¤5,000 to sort out your septic tank. For many people in the country, once they flush their waste away, they don't need to give it another thought. However, over a million people in Ireland are responsible for getting rid of their own waste via the old reliable septic tank.

New legislation that's on the way will mean that families will be facing septic tank inspections and could end up paying out thousands to bring their tanks up to compliant standards. With almost half a million tanks in the country serving over a million people, Darragh McCullogh investigates the options available to homeowners and how this will impact on your bathroom and your pocket.

When is a bale of hay not just a bale of hay? When it's a piece of glamorous Carlow farmer Sasha Sykes' artwork. Artist and farmer Sasha Sykes has been using various everyday items from the family farm to create contemporary art, from a rural standpoint. The idea was born from a straw packed plexiglass cube that she gave to her father as a 60th birthday present.

Now her range of cubes packed with organic material such as straw, twigs, and leaves are exhibited all over the world from the National Museum to as far afield as Japan. Her natural approach has generated worldwide interest and her work has featured in top fashion magazine Vogue as well as The New York Times and London Telegraph. Helen Carroll meets the lady behind this rustic farm art at her studio on her farm in Carlow.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, this summer Ella McSweeney headed to the Golden Vale in Co Tipperary with high hopes of trying to learn the art of sheepdog trials. For anyone with a flock of sheep, a sheepdog is an invaluable tool on the farmyard when it comes to rounding up the flock!

With the help of sheepdog trialist Danny O'Sullivan, Ella aims to master the skills of the sport and compete in local competitions. Will she conquer the shepherd's whistle and voice commands or will she discover that there's a lot more involved in becoming this dog's mistress?

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