Birchwood Croft

Our 35 acre croft backs onto the Monadhliath mountains in the Highlands; which includes a small herd of mostly Shetland cattle, chickens, pigs and bees. We have had sheep in the past but have been taking a break from them. We also manage a polytunnel, veg garden and an orchard which help give us a lot of fruit and veg and with that, often make chutney, jellies, and relishes. 

When we bought the croft there were no boundary fences, no outbuildings and no house. Over time the place has developed into a full working croft with fences, sheds (never enough), machinery, and a house (14 months in a caravan was enough, never again thank you). Having a croft means you quickly become knowledgeable about a lot of things and always seek out people who can teach you more (why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from others).

The antics of the croft usually kick off when Tim, my husband, is away at work (off shore) leaving me to manage everything (akin to plate juggling; yes, I’m being serious, I am not making it up or being over dramatic, I have the pictures to prove it). In the past we both worked full time in paid employment with the croft ‘on the side’. The term ‘on-the-side’ can be misleading, it is a fair amount of work that goes on and there is never enough time to do the jobs you want to do. The arrival of the Mini Crofter changed a lot of things (such as how we work things; not the level of work needed on the croft) and the fun of overseeing the croft suddenly had the additional challenges of working the croft with the Mini-Crofter (such as selling lambs at the mart with a baby in a sling because what else was I supposed to do…).

Having briefly returned to work after a year off on maternity leave, I am now on a career break (which I am very grateful to my boss for allowing me to). While some ask me what I do with all my spare time (really, I have been asked this; I usually invite them to come for a visit, but bring wellies and no, I won’t put you in with the bull, honest!), it can create some challenges being a sole Crofting Wifie. But not just with a Mini Crofter in tow (especially lambing and calving), but now two Mini Crofters.

When the Crofter is away, I have had to learn to accept all forms of help (from collecting animal feed that has been delivered to the wrong address to babysitting so I can load animals to a trailer) and with that I have several good friends, neighbours, and some wise local farmers who have all stepped in when I do need an extra pair of hands. More recently, Coronavirus has added a new twist to the mix. The workload is the same so it seems in some ways that very little has changed. However, the Crofter is now away for a lot longer spells (quarantining due to travel) and therefore the chance to write has been even less. Don’t worry, we are all still here, just the time to think on my own is few and far between (all parents of a four year old will know exactly what I mean). 

From the croft we are often able to sell on some of the produce. This can change frequently so feel free to have a look at the ‘Produce’ page which will have an up to date price list of what’s available.


Beth Rose