Thursday, 1 August 2013


"I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall the buildings of concrete are; but rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man"

Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe

We were happy to have the company of our MP, the CEO of the SL&E plus a representative from our estate round the table at our farmhouse yesterday. It was the first time in years that we had folk in and despite the lack of electricity so no tea, it was good to meet the faces behind the emails or phone calls.

Communication was first on the agenda and whether it is due to a new estate representative or something else, I have noticed an improved communication between estate and ourselves.
As it should be.
It should not have to take several years of legal battles, blogging, etc in order to sit round the table as equals and have a say on what will affect your home, family life, business and other issues. It has only taken 123 years but we finally discovered who actually owned our farm and farmhouse. The landowner himself, apparently.
This ought to be obvious but not necessarily so as the estate is owned by various trusts, individuals and others. A bit of a burach, in my opinion, but at least we know who is responsible for our bit.
The estate representative is able to approach the landowner directly and request our farmhouse receives a new roof, external building repairs and windows to make their house wind and water tight.

I thought about the people from Applecross and Mount Stuart on the Island of Bute estates where the tenant is excluded from decision making on issues which affect their lives. I thought of the tenants who want to speak but are afraid to speak, so great is the divide between them and their lairds or hurt by high handed land agents. Inclusion is paramount for so many reasons but it brings an equality and balance to discussions. Nuances, body language, eye contact all bring a discussion to life.
The tenants sometimes have no idea who the people are who make the decisions which are so vital for their future, some have discovered that the people on these boards do not live locally or indeed, do not even live in Scotland. Exclusion breeds contempt, creates barriers and negativity.

The crux is that we are offered some hope that our farmhouse will indeed receive a new roof and fairly soon. I cannot say for certain as the landowner must decide then legal documents drafted up, read and considered, yet, we are hopeful.
We will hopefully be meeting the new shooting tenant and estate next week in order to address some of the conflicts of interest that shooting/ farming bring plus addressing the resumed land which used to be our barley field - ten years of bad management by inexperienced game keepers has rendered the soil sterile. We did ask why an estate of some 28,000 acres needed two acres of our best land for a few weeks shooting and if I am not mistaken, the estate are willing to move this game strip. I hope they move it off the farm completely and utilise the 28,000 other acres more efficiently.
Guns and family homes do not mix. Best there is a lot of distance.

It has not been easy this past seven years, watching the decline of our home, treated poorly by past factors and estate agents whilst plodding on with our daily work and trying to raise a family but with hope and a new inclusion of sorts, we look forward to the future.

We have gathered around our kitchen table and had a decent discussion with various people who have differing political opinions and aims yet the outcome was one of calm and agreement.

Which is as it should be.

We are all Jock Tamson's bairns; each of us have something valuable to bring to the table. I ask other estates to consider what I am saying here and begin to include the tenants, not exclude them. Estates wonder where the animosity stems from or why things get out of hand and communication breaks down....ask your tenants. They are the ones who know the very ground the best.
Reply promptly to your tenants if you receive a letter, listen to the issues which are upsetting people, do not make the mistake of remaining silent, aloof and as untouchable as the English royal family who appear to be role models for certain lairds.
Life is a struggle enough without added complications and burdens.

I will still shout from the rooftops about the need for the Absolute Right to Buy and equality. Some of our guests will disagree completely but that is their choice in a free world. We can agree to disagree but that is the beauty of a democracy.

I will shout from the roof top when there is a roof top but in the meantime will extend our family's thanks for the first moves towards progress and agreement to our MP, estate spokesperson and to the CEO of the SL&E. It was a big step forward for all, I think you will agree?
If this a new era in the SL&E then Luke Borwick must consider that he has made a good choice with Douglas McAdam. I liked the man even although our points of view are polar opposites. He is energetic, intelligent and keen to make amends, admirable qualities.
Those around the table who have clout are going to work together to try and get a public water supply to our area; a very positive aim indeed.

There are a good few hundred tenants who will serve up something more palatable than water and a dish of biscuits  (the best chocolate ones wolfed by the youngest bairn before guests arrived).
Listen to them, include them and get to know them. Here are the people who have worked the land you own, some for generations. Feelings run strong, especially just now; some may refuse to talk for various reasons and this has to be considered too, what has happened to create such a barrier? Were they included or excluded when the decisions were made? Were they made to feel unwelcome and inferior by their lairds? Do they feel ripped off and cast aside when they had given the best years of their lives to their farms?

"“Any situation in which some men prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence;… to alienate humans from their own decision making is to change them into objects.” 
― Paulo Freire
See the human. See the family. They have a Soul, they bleed when wounded, hurt when excluded.

I don't know what will happen in the future, when land reform will bring in changes and where the Scotland of old finally blows the stour of past away but right now the scent of change is in the wind and it smells sweet.
It won't happen overnight but it will happen.

I think there are five and a half million of us in Scotland and I doubt there is a single one of us who does not agree that our country is worthy of change by the people, for the people.

All Jock Tamson's bairns.

1 comment:

  1. Great news. Well done for persevering and may your hopes be realised, especially for the new roof.