Thursday, 1 March 2012


Today was one of those days when the sun comes out, things go well and you sing the same song as your surroundings.

The Farmer and I made a critical tour of the farm this morning. Pen and paper to hand, noting all that we intend to do, which fields to plough, which will be given grass, which ones to oats.

The sun was so warm that a thin mist of evaporating moisture hung over the first ploughed field, perfect for drying out the waterlogged soil and ideal for breaking the ground up so it would be soft and crumbly for seed. A little more work and soon the field will become a grass pasture for a few years.

It is good work, sandwiches and a tartan flask work, music in your ears work, lunch with the red kite wheeling overhead, listening to it mewing like a kitten, a good tired and proper sleep sort of work. You dream of furrows and the dreams are sepia coloured.

The countryside surrounding the farm slowly turns into little patchwork squares of brown (or green if winter barley was planted.) Perthshire's beautiful trees throw up a contrast with their bare and elegant forms. You can still see the countryside through them, devoid of leaf but waking rapidly from the winter dormancy.

The old drystane dykes grin toothlessly, a coping stone fallen here and there or a bigger gap where cattle have knocked some of the stones over and then used the hole as a new throughfare, the fieldstones scattered in their wake.
I think of the people who built the dykes, miles of dykes. Sometimes an old lemonade or milk bottle appears from an old hiding place; a rusty tobacco tin left by the dyker. What skill and strength made these stone dykes.
They mark boundaries and offer protection for many animals. They say 'This marks the Farm at the Back of Beyond".

The builders of the dykes are long gone but certainly not forgotten. Their work an object of beauty, practicality, boundary and protection.

What legacy will The Farmer and I leave when we hand the farm to our children one day?

We hope we can offer clean water, maybe even a roof for the farmhouse!

My husband has worked and respected this tiny area of Scotland, never harmed it and has worked to the heartbeat of the land and seasons. He teaches the fifth generation the same respect.

It is not organic here but fertilizers and chemicals are rarely used; some areas have never had anything other than help by sheep or cattle.

How sad then to see disrespectful people pollute wantonly on areas which were unpolluted by Man.

The work put into this farm was often done on a shoestring. Respect and manners cost nothing, common sense would advise that loutish behaviour and newly turned out cows with calves do not mix well especially when their grazing and territory has been marred by clays, cartridges and environmentally unsound shot.

We want to hand over something lasting to our children, a farm which has been tended with care, a respect for the land, our animals and the wildlife. A farm which is not tenanted. Where bullies do not exist.

It could happen.

Then we have a legacy to pass to the next generation.... With respect.


  1. Let's hope you get there in the end. My fingers are crossed, anyway.

  2. I pray each day that Scotland's government/s will come to see our love and respect for the land that we tenant and farm, it is as you say common sense and good husbandry, this is what the law asks of us and this is what we do, the only cloud on our horizon is the bullyboy tactics often employed by our lairds.
    One day maybe not in our time, those looking back will see what we strive every day to make better.

    We ask for nothing but common respect, a sense of belonging, of understanding, of co-operation, of compassion in times of crisis. We ask for little, we custodians of our land.
    It's the 21st Century, sooner or later things will get better.

  3. Thank you, Sarah. It is my belief that we will.

    At home in Wellies - your comment is like a prayer that is often on the thoughts of many a farmer and crofter.
    Farmers and crofters are not aggressive people and our tacit approach to life is so often abused by the lairds and their toadies.

    I have a feeling that the Scottish government are going to have to listen and act soon as the level of disharmony and injustice is too great. How can this country become independent when the minority create the laws for themselves?