Monday, 3 June 2013

Rural rogues.

You know those sort of days where you waken up, stand on an imaginary rake and it hits you so hard on the face that you do not quite know what is going on? Well, today has been that sort of day.

We are still flitting between the farm and the temporary house, the human sludge is still making us sick and burning our eyes, we dare not open our windows even in this heat.

We were up at the farm until about 9pm last night and left to come back here to the temporary house so the children could be showered in clean(ish) water for school.

When we returned to the farm and up to the little wooden house today, we found shotgun pellets on the decking where the children had been sitting or playing last night. These were lead pellets, according to the Scottish Police Force. Lead pellets where my lovely friend brings her babies to play. So easily ingested by an infant. Our safe place now felt violated.
The water supply had also been turned off.

The Farmer and I had a look around for empty cartridges but we were also looking for the other red kite; feathers, anything unusual- we saw the kites together over the weekend. Only one today. There were seven here and we wonder what happened to the others. We will never know.

I will give you some idea of how remote we are and how vast this estate is. I think there are about 36,000 acres but I will stand corrected if I am a few out. We are surrounded by vacant or derelict houses and very few neighbours, here on the farm. Add the two together and you have several thousand empty acres (which were once all farmed) - why the hell would anyone shoot in the direction of the one wooden cabin which is surrounded by toys, obvious family life, pet animals and forgive my Highland sensibilities but on a Sunday.- nobody shoots on a Sunday.

Look - here is our 'hood. Not exactly teaming with anything other than wildlife and ONE family.

Another question I have for the shooting lot is if a shotgun is capable of shooting, what, 150 or so yards, why is the law permitting people to shoot 50 feet from a home? If you peppered someone's decking in, say, the middle of family homes in Birmingham, questions would be asked, wouldn't they.

Not here.

The last time this happened, the police told me that "It was an Estate matter". Since when were estates above the law? .....
This time, the police were different, they were actually patient and amazing to our family. They stayed a while, we were reassured by them and this lawless glen will be carefully watched.

Between the human faeces fiasco down the road, the bullying, harassment, water or lack of today, no roof, stolen land and I could go on, you would think the group who are supposed to support Scottish tenant farmers would be itching to help because they have known about this and taken our money for ten years.

No help here.

What is going on? Is Scotland now one giant shooting gallery? Are the traditional farming tenants, aye, the Secure Tenants (clue in first word) just filed away at the bottom end of the subsidy payments, left to accept the crumbs off the table by the Upper Crust? - The hard bits on the bottom of a loaf were for the staff, those upstairs got the upper crust, the nice bit. Hence the term.

We are not 'Slipper farmers', we are 'Welly farmers'. We work OUR land. No input from the landowners, just grief and hassle on tenanted farms all over Scotland. Our modest annual subsidy covers our modest piece of land and we have budgeted our living, the diesel, feed, seeds every damn thing on this farm for a fraction of the cost of a modest family car. We would rather there was no subsidy, just realistic prices for our produce.

The Secure Tenants like us who have endured feudal and hellish conditions for generations - we have had enough. We want to buy our own farms and ONLY our own farms. We don't want to be forced into giving the laird a cut if we diversify. We want to be able to bequeath our farms to who we want, not just a spouse, child or grandchild as the law dictates. We have brothers, sisters, step-children, nieces and nephews and they are all barred from inheriting a tenancy.

For ten years, the STFA have done nothing yet they knew what was going on. The NFU sit next to useless in the tenant's dictionary and I refuse to recognise the TFF (Tenant Farming Forum) who we are now answerable to. Read lairds for that lot.

Some us are going to have to go this alone and it is a bit scary, jumping into the unknown but what other option do we have?

Please, hold our hands as we take a bit of a step forward. One day, it could be you running a farm if the land was freed, if agriculture was taught in schools, if urban and rural worked together.

Please support the Scottish traditional, secure tenants who own no land yet who have shaped the land.


  1. All tenant farming issues have been incompetently handled by the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, they have let us down. I urge you to write to Richard Lochhead to urgently review the conditions that many of us find intolerable.
    We are being completely ignored by the Scottish govt and the media. We cannot live like this - there is only so much that people can take.

    Thank you, the fly in the web. It has been an awful day and it means a lot to know there is support.

  2. Oh GentleOtter, I am RAGING on your behalf. Who would do such a thing?!