Denis Lehane: The power of positive thinking

On Sunday last, Donegal man Ivan Scott set a new world record when he sheared 867 lambs in just nine hours.

The previous world record had been held by Don King of New Zealand. Back in 2007, he sheared 866 lambs.

How did the Irishman do it?

Well, simply by keeping the head down and working like the devil himself. Just like we all do in farming. 

While many have their heads stuck in pokémon, Ivan’s focus was on shearing sheep, and, of course, making a few bob on the side.

By my calculations, which I have to admit aren’t the greatest at the best of times, if Ivan was paid €10 a sheep, which I dare say would be a little on the pricey side (but there’s no harm in aiming high), he would come out with €8,670 after his day’s work. 

And if he had put in a 14-hour day like the rest of us farmers, he’d be on the pig’s back entirely from the height of sheep shearing.

Denis Lehane: The power of positive thinking

To put it into context, the €8,670 made from a single day of sheep shearing would surpass even the wage earned by Ryanair supremo, Michael O’Leary, who (it was reported last week) made only €8,657 a day in 2015.

I’m not saying O’Leary should look for a pay rise, nor am I suggesting that we should all switch to shearing sheep, all I’m merely pointing out is that with a bit of hard work, there’s no limit as to what we might achieve in farming.

Of course, one might argue, you couldn’t possibly shear 867 sheep every single day. But I say, why not?

When John F Kennedy was asked about going to the moon , he didn’t say, “Ah to hell with that.” 

He said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard...”

And it’s exactly the same in Irish farming.

We choose farming not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.

So shut up about the ‘why’ and just accept that it can be done.

It took Ivan only nine hours to do the shearing job.

That gives a fellow plenty of time for the bed, the odd pint, and to get to mass on Sunday.

O’Leary would laugh at a puny nine-hour day, and he up at the crack of dawn.

But again, fellows might argue, “Wouldn’t we run out of sheep in no time at all, if fellows sheared 867 a day, and besides, isn’t it only in the summer that the sheep are sheared?”

Well again, I would humbly suggest that we stop looking at the negatives of a given situation.

There would be plenty of sheep to go around, the country is full of them.

And as for the summer being the only time to shear sheep, isn’t it being said constantly that the world is getting hotter by the minute.

Global warming is heating up the planet to an alarming degree.

In no time at all, our winters will become our summers, and our summers like the beaches on Baywatch.

Make no mistake, soon we will be shearing sheep round the clock.

My point today is really to look at the bright side, to look at the positives, that’s how you succeed in life.

That’s how Ivan Scott succeeded.

He stared into that pen of sheep last Sunday morning and didn’t ask ‘why?’ but rather ‘why not?’

Fair play to you Ivan.

Well done.


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