Thursday, 5 March 2015

Still haven't found what you are looking for?

“The STFA continues to suggest that there are tenants being treated unfairly by landlords. own survey into landlord-tenant relationships showed the 
“If it is the case that there are examples where tenants are being treated unfairly we want to root out the problem but the STFA needs to produce evidence of this and we urge them in the strongest possible terms to do that.
Quote from the Scottish Land &Estates publication. Read it and try to ignore the mental image of a Billy Idol style sneering twist of the mouth by the author/ authors.
"IF it is the case". *sneer*

I know that we are able to freely read about the wonderful relationship that 'tenants' have with their landowners but firstly, let us be realistic about the type of tenant. Let's concentrate on 1991 Secure tenant farmers in Scotland. I have yet to meet the Secure tenant who is happy in his relationship with his landowner, never mind the alleged 80% who are utterly ecstatic with theirs.

We Secure 1991 tenants are experiencing an extremely vulnerable stage in our lives; proposals have been put forward by the Agricultural Holdings Group after extensive meetings/ talks etc with both farmers and landowners. Some of the proposals are very worrying indeed for the farmer and have created feelings of deep insecurity. Some of us feel demoralised, others are angry.
Who can afford the £10,000 per day for the land court and legal representation? Certainly, none of the 'ecstatic', happy Secure tenants that I know.

The Scottish Farmer warned last week of landowners using evasive action hence the spin from the SL&E. The faux shock in the SL&E publication at the fact that there may still be problems and issues between laird and (Secure) tenant is demeaning, dismissive and evasive. How ironic.

What did the C.E.O. of the S.L&E not see when he came to visit our farmhouse? Did he fail to see the thick green mould on the walls, did he not see that I could not offer him a cup of tea as there was no electricity? Did he see a bottle of clean water to drink rather than risk his health with the erratic and frankly, filthy water we are provided with?
Did he see a house which people in 2015 Scotland are expected to live in? Was he unaware of a  seven year old child who has never in his life drunk water from a tap on the farm?
Did he not understand the stress of human beings being excluded from their own homes due to the evasive actions of their landowners?
Did he conveniently 'forget' the issue of fields being taken from agricultural use - fields which would provide income and food - for pheasants to roam on? Did he forget about the compensation or the legal paperwork whereby the farmer agreed (or disagreed) to release the land YET is still being charged rent on a field which is padlocked.

Did he forget the reason that GentleOtter began to write about? She wanted a roof for the family farmhouse but had to ask. She wanted the 150 year old roof, which her husband's family had maintained for well over 100 years but through fair wear and tear had come to the end of its life, she wanted it made wind and waterproofed. Did he feel she was being unreasonable to ask for such a basic thing which belonged to another man?

It has been a year and a half since that visit. What was achieved, apart from a bit of P.R. spin for SL&E?
Absolutely nothing.

What has arrived is a whopping electricity bill and another water failure notice.

We had a small fire in the agricultural shed in November which affected the electricity supply to the entire farm. My husband had sustained an injury whilst working which rendered him incapable of mobility. I took over his work, the care of our family, the care of the livestock and this was done with no power, no access to hot water unless you lit a fire outside to boil a kettle. No access to clean water for washing in unless it was from a barrel of rainwater - just like they did in days of yore.
Yes, we have all ingested the water and yes, we have all been affected. You get used to it.

When the abnormal becomes the norm, then it is time to worry. When you become used to such primitive conditions, it becomes a form of institutionalisation. The base of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs isn't so much chipped at, it is utterly demolished.

This may be uncomfortable for some but try ploughing a field whilst menstruating. Try lighting a fire, boiling a kettle then finding a secluded area of an open field in an attempt at keeping dignity and personal hygiene. Basic needs which could and ought to be available on the farm we have rented for 125 years. One hundred and twenty five years.
Ignore the utter exhaustion that occurs at that time of the month and push yourself to the limit, in the dark. You do it as you are fully responsible for good husbandry to your livestock and family, yes, in that order.
The fire in your soul fuels you with energy, the injustice of those who have gone before you or those who live like you push the bellows which provide oxygen to the furnace. This injustice has gone on for too long. Scotland in 2015 looks no different to Scotland 1715.

We tried to communicate with the estate regarding the reconnection of the electricity, we employed men to come and dig a new trench (despite an appeal to the estate who were employing digger operators working on neighbouring farms....they could have come and done some work to help us), we bought and laid a new electricity cable which is ready for reconnection and has been ready for some time.
Phone calls to the estate have been dismissed with haughty messages that the person in charge is in a meeting. Yes, that old chestnut again. Email replies have been tardy. My appeal for reconnection was met by a stinging reply that 'They would get back to us in due course".
 Fine if you are sitting in a warm office with electricity and a clean water supply, not fine if you are desperate for the luxury of washing your hands in warm water on the farm.

Evasive is not a strong enough word. Rude, arrogant, ignorant, yes. Uncaring, inhuman, negligent, dismissive. Controlling.
Feudal. There now, I've said it. The 'Eff' word.

So, SL&E dudes. If you still haven't found what you are looking for, your CEO knows the road to our farm. It lies forgotten at The Back of Beyond, out of sight, out of mind but there are human beings trying to live and work here, trying to raise a family and care for animals. In hellish conditions. I have only ever asked for a roof, clean water and our land back. Now I am adding an electricity connection.
 Sell the farm to us if this is too difficult for you. Sell us it anyway, we can do a better job with it than you are doing. We are working people with basic needs and will achieve our needs if given the freedom to do so. We have bought and paid for this farm many times over yet are treated like dirt - our difference being that we cherish the dirt, improve it and make a living from it to provide others with food.

Just because we cannot wash our hands in warm, clean water does not mean you can wash your hands of us.


  1. It's really unbelievable how badly you're treated for maintaining and working the land that belongs to some absent dude who doesn't give a shit except about how much money he can rake in. What a blood-sucker he is.

  2. Thank you, Sarah.

    It surely has to be easier than this?
    I will admit to days of bleak despair but you have to just plod on to get as much done as possible in daylight.
    Scotland needs to waken up at realise that some parts are still stuck in medieval times.

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  4. Thank you, pancake. All is well after all not being well for a while and I hope to get back to my blog soon :)

  5. good news, I miss reading it :)

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  7. The post is really great and it is very nice to read and getting information.