Saturday, 3 September 2011

Our neighbours.

I would like to introduce you to our neighbours, not out them, of course, just show you around what is left of our community.

The farms in our immediate area or 'parish' in Scotland, are all tenant farmers. The majority of them are third or fourth generation so have been here a long time. The surrounding area is that of stunning beauty and testament to the care and work which has gone in to respecting the land.

We are a remote community, the one that people have never heard of. When you tell people where you live, it is usually followed by "Where's that?"
We rarely see others, rarely socialise as there is always work or looking after our children or some other issue which fills the day and leaves you quite tired in the evening.

Somehow, and I am always convinced it is by osmosis, you hear how others are, you catch murmers of the latest difficulty, the latest hassle by the landowner, how well livestock did at the mart and who has died.

When The Farmer had his heart attack, we had not seen anyone else except the postman for a few weeks.
My son and I carried on with the running of the farm while The Farmer was in hospital, we continued with the children's routine so they were reassured while their Dad was away. It was the first time he had ever been away from the farm on his own.

We still do not have a phone up at the farm and no mobile reception so there was no way of telling people. The Farmer had his heart attack at the temporary accommodation we had for winter.

There was a knock on the door one morning, just two days after my husband had been ill. Our neighbour, an enormous mountain of a man, shyly stood on the doorstep and asked if everything was ok.
I told him what had happened and how the Farmer was in hospital. Our neighbour said he would "Keek in roond the farm and see what he could see". He was going to assess what was what.

Now, I have no idea about cattle and have always been wary of them. My son was a singer in a rock band. We knew to feed and water the cattle but they were all in the process of calving and this filled us full of The Fear.

Our neighbours rallied together and came up every day. They expertly helped calf, settled the cows with new calves, sorted the cows who were in the wrong pen (some cows are very greedy and eat more than their share so deny newly calved cows feed).
Our neighbours tagged the new additions, kept records of the dates of birth and organised the ones which had to be sold.

Our cattle were bought by one of our neighbours and live contentedly only a few miles away. They had realised a very good price.

Somehow, Spring turned into a sort of blur of activity, fields needed ploughed, crops sown, drains sorted.
The neighbouring farmers showed my son what to do and helped him get started. They watched as he ploughed and praised him for making a good job of it.

When my husband returned from hospital, they dropped in to see him, kept him up to date with news, asked what he needed them to do.

Our farming neighbours are the essence of this community. They have lived through harsh winters, bitter disappointments, births, deaths.
They are hardy yet gentle, they do not ask for anything in return for their astonishing support.

Every single one of them has been treated like dirt by their landowner. Every single one has spent a fortune on legal fees, trying to help them keep their farms or asking for sheds where the old ones have fallen down.

Every one of them is angry and upset at the way they have been dealt the bad card, the get on with it and shut up card, the card which says 'complain too much and we will find some discrepancy in your lease', or the card which resumes their hard worked land for sport.

These are our neighbours.

I think they are worth helping.


  1. They do indeed - amazing people.

    I got a reply from Thomas Hastie, assistant to Mr Salmond telling to expect a reply to my email soon. Very keen to see whether it'll be a casual brush off or contain something worth reading.

  2. Like Sarah, I've had the official response...

    I'm glad to know your neighbours through your description of them...they remind me of my grandfather's farming neighbours...never intrusive, but always there to give a hand...but those were better times.

  3. Serious matters told in simple terms, god bless these gentle folk, they are an inspiration to us all.

  4. When the chips are down... few of us are fortunate to live in a community such as yours.