Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Farmer

I want to shine a light on the man I married.

He is older than me and we have not been married very long. He had lived alone on the farm for fifteen years after the death of his parents and while I had a smallholding further down the glen, I never knew of his existance.

We met when I was helping another farmer with shepherding and whiles, cow herding so it was on a cow herding day that he appeared into my life. He was so shy that he could not make eye contact, never mind talk and I remember laughing quietly and inwardly with joy as I knew immediately that this was the man I was going to marry.

Dating was painful as he had such a job with conversation. He was so used to being on his own and rarely had to attend social events (apart from the mart twice a year) so genial chat was difficult.
I helped him out on the farm for a year and grew to love his quiet determination, gentle way, his ability to manage the seemingly impossible tasks that spring up on a farm, his strength and humour.
He liked the fact that I could drive a tractor, weld, and only ever drank water.

He took me to the mart down in Stirling one day and it was a lovely day out. The other farmers all teased him in a very earthy way but were secretly pleased that he 'had a lass'. We drank big mugs of tea and ate rolls the size of a farmer's bunnet plus he did well that day and his cattle fetched a good price.
When returned to my house, I opened a bottle of sloe gin and we celebrated. He kissed me for the first time and never left.
We married a few months later and our son was born six weeks after our wedding.

I often look at my husband in the evening or when he comes in for food or a heat by the fire. He is only three years older than me but is often mistaken for being our son's grandfather. It does not bother him.
He is so good with the children and takes time to read to them or explain things properly and he never ever raises his voice.
I once heard him say, very quietly, to a stockman at the market that the cattle he was selling had never heard a raised voice nor had seen a stick and that he would stand and make sure that this practice would continue until they were loaded into the lorry as he had done the best he could for his herd.

He told me recently that the hardest time was a few years ago when the Foot and Mouth scare restricted movement to the farm and it was compounded with a very hard winter. He saw nobody for weeks and he told me the loneliness almost drove him mad.

His farmhouse shocked me when he finally got round to letting me in. It had stone floors, stone sinks and was heated by a single fan heater. No fire, no comforts.
The water supply was fed to the house by a lead pipe and was contaminated by eColi and various other nasties.
The house was so damp that the ceilings in various rooms fell down. I have never seen anything like it. He had resigned himself to the fact that this was how it would be as it was too difficult to get the landowner to do anything.

Well, since then, I took up the fight for him. We have fought hard to have the house brought up to 21st century standards but it is rather like wrestling an eel in a bucket of oil.  My Goodness, these multi millionaire landownery type do not like to spend their money!
We, as tenants, have to ask permission to use our own money on repairs. When an article is absolutely done, 'Through Fair Wear and Tear' (Ag Law) it is the landowner's responsibility to replace but they won't.
When the old shed roof finally caved in, we received a snippy letter to say that we had to ask permission to undertake 'home improvements'..........The landowners had known for years that it was dangerous but would not fix it....... God, I could go on, and will in a later blog but what on earth can you do when faced with this mindset?

It takes a very unique type of person to cope mentally and physically with all these things plus to work the 'wee bit hill and glen' that provides a family with an income and also act as a custodian for the land.

So a little bit of snow and no water are merely a drop in the ocean, if you excuse the pun.


  1. Your blog is very inspiring - good luck to you!

  2. That is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read about another person, you clearly love your husband so very very much :)
    The treatment of tenant farmers is appalling and the fact you have had threats for speaking out sickening. Is is at all possible to gather a group of tenant farmers in Scotland to create a pressure group to the Scottish parliament giving you strength in numbers and the ability to be one of a crowd to protect yourselves from your landowner, the way you have been treated is blackmail, from the sound of things it would kill your husband to leave his family farm and the landowner knows that and is using it against you, there has to be a way to stop it.
    I hope things are going okay and you are managing to get water without killing yourself, I feel a bit of a joke in the fact I am classed to live in a 'rural' community, yes as a small village and largely farming community we have different issues to those in towns and citys but in comparison to you our Oxfordshire village just 6 miles from the nearest town and a mile from a major A road is anything but rural!
    I am enjoying reading your blog very very much, please keep it up!

  3. The description of how you came to be married to your husband was lovely :)