RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Programme 2

Ear to the Ground

24,000 horses were slaughtered last year in Ireland. That figure has plummeted dramatically to 8,000 this year. Ear to the Ground is in Longford this week asking what has become of the other 18,000? In the spirit of National Giving Week, Ella McSweeney joins Hilary Robinson, founder of the charity Hungry Horse Outside and the ISPCA as they make their rounds and rescue abandoned horses and other equines. Ella finds horses and donkeys in shocking states of neglect and maltreatment including one foal that was cruelly left to die in a tiny cage. We ask what can be done in response to the national crisis of abandoned horses.

Can you imagine cutting an acre of silage in under a minute? Darragh McCullough couldn't until he took to the skies in a helicopter over Banbridge, Co. Down, to get a birds-eye view of 6 enormous silage harvesters as the imposing machines worked harmoniously. The spectacle was choreographed by John Dan O'Hare, the biggest farm contractor on this island. O'Hare inherited the family business founded by his grandfather and has since expanded massively, making himself the veritable king of the combine harvester! He employs twenty people all year round, including his seven sons and at harvest time that figure rises dramatically. The O' Hare family cut 15,000 acres of silage annually which feeds 23,000 cows for the winter! Memories of last year's fodder crisis are still raw and everyone is keen to avoid the hardship of last winter.

This week's Food Journey follows the humble flax seed from the field to your table. Flax was once a very common crop on Irish farms but with the decline of the linen industry it is now a rarity. Helen Carroll meets Jake and Kate Irwin, an enterprising couple from Co. Laois who are spearheading the flax revival. They're not interested in growing their own clothes, however. They grow and press organic flax seed on their farm to produce Adora Flax Oil. Veronica O' Reilly, proprietor of the Healthy Habits Raw Food Restaurant in Wicklow treats Helen to a feast in a field with everything from pizza to salad dressing created using flax oil and manages to convert Helen to the benefits of the once-redundant crop.

Ear to the Ground is produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ

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