Friday, 2 January 2015

The Year of Change. Bring it on.

Happy New Year!

I have not written for such a long time, my apologies as there is no excuse but the New Year always begins with fresh hopes and ideas.

The Old Year is one I've been glad to see the back of. It started off well, no complaints about weather, etc but as the year progressed, we were hit by a series of misfortunes which added to the workload considerably.

The Farmer had an accident in the Big Shed, he fell over a piece of machinery and ruptured his Achilles tendon so was rendered immobile with a large knee to ankle plaster cast. I think it happened in October, the months have morphed into a blurry frenzy of farm activity; we moved back to the farm, where I tried to look after all in Chez Otter - Rosie, who has now left school and needs full time care, Young Otter who is 7 and full of energy plus The Farmer... vexed at his inability to do physical farm work during a hectic season or two .......also a herd of cattle, small flock of sheep, farm collies, farm cats, a million hens, the guinea pig and Bob the duck. All are well and thriving.

We managed to get into some sort of routine, a bourachy guddle of a routine but with an eventual  semblance of order, things were ticking over until a fire in the mains electricity box saw zero power to the entire farm. This was compounded with an intermittent water supply and things just got A Bit Much so we had to leave again and return to the temporary house.
The power is still off and it is going to be a big task to have it replaced and reconnected. I've taken to lighting little fires outside to boil a kettle and warm frozen fingers which hurt like mad from being bashed on all the things you can bash your hands on in a dark cow shed.

On the positive front, we were very fortunate to have good new neighbours move into the farm next door and we look forward to working with them over the forthcoming years. Young Otter is delighted as they have children his age so he has a new pair of best friends and we have a huge amount of respect for this very hard working, honest family. The New Farmer has a wealth of knowledge and experience with sheep and it has been an education to pick up snippets of advice or general chat about breed types, etc and we wish them every good luck on their new venture.

We have also been helped by a cheerful bunch of Fifers - hard workers, grafters to be honest, who carried out some of the very heavy work with great humour, excellent swears, music,  flasks of steaming hot coffee and cigarette breaks. They shifted grain, plumbed in a new trough, built the rickety, antique bull pen, plus many of the wee footery jobs which needed doing - all with enormous energy and good nature. It brought a lungful of fresh air and joy to the almost depressed, Cold Comfort Farmesque scenario we lived/live in.

This year is the year of Land Reform.
There are so many of us eager to see positive change in Scotland, change which will bring a fairer distribution of land, opportunities for many, hopefully. There is an energy brewing and swirling from a cauldron of frustration but the time is ripe for radical change. The old 'system' dying a death as it has become untenable and unfair.
I would love to see an improvement in rural housing, rural water supplies, investment in ramshackle farms, opportunities to diversify and expand without having to pay the 'laird's share', better rights for Crofters and much of the stagnant, redundant grouse moors utilised for the benefit of the majority rather than the plaything for the few, the countryside opened to the people from towns and cities. I also want to see our unique culture respected and acknowledged.

We shall see. It is an exciting year and here on The Farm At The Back Of Beyond, we have managed to cope with pretty grim conditions so things can only move up locally and further afield.

I wish you all good health, happiness, fairness and positive change.


  1. After all you've been through let's hope that you get the changes you looks as if Scotland is shaking itself awake from a long sleep...

  2. Good to see you back and look forward to hearing more about the farm. What improved rights for crofters are you hoping for?

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Good to see you, the fly in the web and Neil!

    The fly in the web, yes, Scotland has been in a state of hibernation for several hundred years but the Referendum has woken the collective consciousness and far from a drowsy sonambulistic stumble, people have woken refreshed and are raring to get to work.
    Those who benefitted from our land whilst we slept are now the ones who show fear and are preparing to hide under the bed whilst the storm gathers.

    “Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

    Neil, as 1991 Secure Tenants, we show solidarity to the Crofters. I suggest you read the last paragraph of the excellent Applecross Life blog, the gentleman articulates some of the issues far more eloquently than I; issues which never reach the mainstream media yet have to be lived out every day by real people.

    (My original reply just vanished into the ether hence the deletion!)

  5. Dear Gentle Otter. I was so happy to see that you've posted again... I am the most devoted of lurkers. Happy 2015 to you and yours, may it be a positive one that we will all look back on fondly.

  6. Thank you for your kind words, Joan and I hope this year brings all you wish for :)

  7. I have been following your blog for just a wee bit yet, but I so hope and pray that things will change for you for the better soon. Take care!

  8. Thank you, Dessa. My biggest worry (literally) was bringing the bull in for the winter but he is very couthy and came in no bother - he was lured in with a bucket of cow concentrate and has two elderly cows for companionship.
    I have an inherent faith that things will turn for the better this year - between an incomplete roof, an intermittent and iffy water supply, no power and a Farmer on one leg, things can only get improve!

  9. Glad to hear from you and wishing you a Happy and Prosperous New Year

  10. Fingers crossed things are looking up. Happy New Year, and here's wishing you a healthy, and much fairer 2015.