Say it loud, say it strong.

OK, so normally I just sit and type out whatever has happened during the day. These posts are not in-depth research posts, nor are they necessarily informative. They just cover the highs and lows of life. The wind swept hair and the gale force category four pose.

But this post is a little bit different. It’s something that has occurred, something that affects other crofters, tourists, and hits at the heart of a community. What am I talking about? Buth Bharraigh is a community cooperative run on the Isle of Barra, next to the ferry port which allows local producers and crafters (and a lot of them too) to come together; it runs the tourist information, has WiFi, good turnover, can get coffee, they have had awards, and they have plans for the future. The concept in itself is something many of us within our own communities are envious of. So what’s the problem? They have been told they have to move, away from their hub, away from where feet pass. That’s not all bad, I hear some say. But, distance is important. Location can be critical. Don’t believe me? How many people do you know who don’t need a remote control for their TV? Difference of ten steps can make or break it. Would you like it if your remote control was taken off of you? This may seem a petty way of explaining this but it highlights that location really is key. And the reason given by the council and their responses have been eye brow raising. It’s back to a battle of David and Goliath.

In today’s day and age, people often harper on about intensive farming, avoiding certain products, climate change, etc. Which is great, except, why then buy from a supermarket? Get orders from amazon? We all do it; it can be useful in our busy lives. But are we supporting the individuals? The independent businesses? Those working to invest in their community?

We recently did a Christmas Fayre. The majority of the stalls were women, quite a few had to watch children while running the stall. We don’t always get time to ‘showcase’ our work. Craft fairs can often be at weekends and over lunchtime. Add in for those of us who work the land, we have cattle to care for. Just because the weather is bad doesn’t mean we plonk in front of the TV, we don the waterproofs. And the children come too. Having a hub like this one is so beneficial to those producing. It provides the old fashion marketplace. The same concept to Notonthehighstreet. But this one is on the Barra equivalent of the High Street; it’s next to the ferry port. We can’t just sit back and say, oh well, it was good while they had it. Let’s see what we can do.

It’s at times like this I wish we could blow a bugle and get a call to arms. Individual people are up against The Council. So, want to be a part of a wider community? Shout this from your roof top (ok, not literally). But please, visit Sign the petition. Share this post on your own Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites; the more people see and share, the better. Based half way round the globe and saying how does it affect me? You may go on holiday to Barra, they have the tourist information (the beaches are stunning, why not go?). Do we want to loose the Crofting culture? Want to let just the big firms and farms rule the roost and push over the wee ones?

Now, I’m not looking for a social media warpath. But we can campaign with coffee, cake and chat. Like and follow their Facebook page, share it, tag someone else. And let’s find out what we can do for Save the Buth.

P.S., Nicola Sturgeon and Fergus Ewing: if you could just send me a PM (no, not a Prime Minister, just a Private Message) to arrange a chat with the directors on this to sort this, I would be most grateful. Because, the underdog may not always win, but some battles are worth fighting for. The Scottish Government has been looking at Women in Agriculture. Let’s see the Crofters in that too.

All photos can be found on the Facebook page, Buth Bharraigh.

Cows and cars

Ahh, amazing. Lewis Hamilton and his team have done really well in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (information via the currently beloved BBC…). His research team must have converted his car onto the new fangled ‘cabbage rocket fuel’. Did his spinach burgers make him like Pop-eye and he has miraculously been able to push his car over four and a half thousand miles to get it half way across the world?

See, Hamilton is taking on a fight to cut his carbon emissions (or in his words, ‘to be kinder to the world’). So I decided to watch and learn. So far, he has opened a restaurant and he has been maintaining his ‘ day job’ from what I can see. But he seems to have taken a great dislike to our cows, and all the other cows in the UK.

Meanwhile, on the croft, 8 of our 11 cows have never been off the croft and have never been on a plane. They don’t do laps of the field just for the sake of it, not do they need gold plated helmets. They have helped improve the fields so we now get wader birds. Their manure gives our soil nutrients to enable our fruits and vegetables to grow by enrich the soil. Do we use equipment to help work with the cows? Yes, but I don’t do laps of the field for the sake of it. There is a reason (and yes, you can always ask to find out). Can Hamilton start putting a seed sower or plough behind his car to help provide local veg for his restaurant?

So Hamilton, you keep going with saving the plant, one courgette fuelled lap of Formula One at a time. I’ll go back to looking after the livestock and land, one mince and tatties portion at a time.

So long Chunky


You have been with us since our adventure with sheep began. You saved your ‘bacon’ countless times by being a Sheep-sheep, helping countless other sheep through gates and other scary trials. You always came to the whistle whether I had a bucket or not. However, you have now grown old. If you were an NHS patient you would have been provided with dentures, knee replacements and needing routine pedicures. But the croft can be harsh, the winter is turning its wet, windy and cold hand towards us and this is no place for zimmers and denture pots.

Your carbon footprint has been tiny. Your hooves have been able to explore the whole croft. You have been able to sit amongst the trees under the hot sun, you have taken refuge in the field shelter when the weather has thrown it’s wrath. You have meandered through the green, green grass; and, you have trudged through bog but we’ll ignore that point (and we are working on drainage).

So we bid adios and we will see you in a different form in two weeks. May A & I Butchers return you with a full array of roasts so we can raise a toast to you.

In the still of the night

The twinkling stars, the silver moon, the heavy frost giving a white carpet, the occasional owl hooting. Ahh, the tranquility…Well, as long as you block the echoing bawl of one of our cows. And why? Well, the new hay shed was finally completed, hay was finally shifted out of the byre and in went bedding straw, water switched on and the hay feeder filled. The cows didn’t really think twice. That is, all bar one. A calf from this year. And with that, a spritely young thing that can prance across a large field with minimal effort. The mission was finally aborted and the decision was taken that he would stay out and we would try again in the morning. Did the mother seem to notice? No, she seemed to be enjoying her freedom, her spa like treatment and the new wine and dine menu offered in the byre with all the mod cons. That is, until about 10 o’clock at night and she decided she better let him know where she was. And not just him, and us, but the whole glen would have heard her! Aghh.

But that wasn’t all. Jonny decided he still didn’t want to follow the herd after a night of noise. Answer? The two of them have got the whole field by themselves.

We all need sleep!

Slow boat to China

No, I am not on a boat. No, I’m not headed to China. I am still here. I am still shifting cow and watching sheep. And shifting a Micro Crofter and watching a Mini Crofter. But other than that I sit about watching daytime TV and drink Champagne. No, wait. That should have said I watch wildlife and drink coffee (pretty hard to watch day time TV with no TV; also difficult to sip imaginary champagne).

However, things have been ticking over and in fact, a few changes. Including a new shed. That is correct. Another shed. But a fairly important one that the cows will get the benefit from. But, if you want to know about the new shed before the next post, feel free to pop out and bring wellies (i.e., lend a hand). What better time of year than now, the wind is sharp, the rain is cold, but you’ll enjoy your dinner at the end of the day.

Wet wet wet

The Crofter left this morning on the Aberdeen train. Seven hours later I call him:

Is there a tap on the water pipe that comes from the burn? (Said pipe supplies water for cows troughs and polytunnel).

Him: No, why? (N.B. Background noise means he’s sat at the airport)

Me: It’s got a hole and there’s a high pressure water foundation coming from it which I need to fix.

Him: A hole? How?

Me: Hmm, I shot it. Why didn’t you bury that pipe way back? How was I supposed to see it under the grass!

I hate to think what that conversation sounded like on his end. Two phone calls trying to problem solve and I found out there was no tap to turn the water off, the sediment tank was near busting, I couldn’t get the pipes to unscrew at any join and not only that, the next door neighbour who’s good with plumping wasn’t back from work yet. Can I also say I was soaked by this time having tried to get tape over the hole. And it was cold.

Note to all future plumbers to the croft: can you all please put in taps above the point where I could be shooting for pest control? My step count for the day suddenly rose when I had to sprint up the hill to take the pipe out of the burn before sprinting back to turn the supply over to the bore hole. I could have done without the sprint training although I am wishing to improve my fitness.

Wake me up when September ends.

It’s not me that needs woken up when September ends, but my writing. I have been working, honest, I’m now just a month behind, so I’m on par with the overdue library books I recently discovered.

So, a few episodes ago; way back at the beginning of September, the Crofter returned home after a 32 day stint away. Believe me, I hit the wall on day 28. The last four days are killers. I often feel that I could do with a week off to recover. However, the to do list would get even longer and the time shorter. And besides, this time, I had shared the to do list with the lovely film crew who were coming back. Aye, back. I had wondered if I had done enough to drive them demented and they would decide there was little need to come back. But they did. Dirk and Sebastian were here the first time, but this time Babette was with them. What a fab team again. Easy going, not pushy in agendas and helpful with everything. Now, I am no Hollywood actress wannabe. Nor was drama high up my favourite subjects at school. In fact, it was one of my least favourites. Not that I would need to act for a documentary, it was just I am well aware that I may not be the most expressive in my speech. In fact, I’m good at the stereo typical dour Scottish approach. And this will potentially be aired for German TV (I say potentially, I still think of the film producers sitting in their office with head in hands at my wanderings and mutterings and deciding to scrap the bit on crofting). I wasn’t sentimental when sending off Hrossey. I had a kitchen in desperate need to being on a horders anonymous show (the chutney I made that day is only for home consumption, honest, I have varying standards). I shifted a bull with the sound of my youngest not being too happy (really hoping that didn’t get picked up) and, I had a microphone on while driving (let’s hope I didn’t make any sarcastic comments). I drove along the A9 with one of the kid’s sun visors stuck out the door. I hit a massive rock when I pulled over to wait for them. And the list does on. So, how they will work with it, I have no idea.

Having never been involved with a film crew, I am so glad of how they worked. Now, I’m not saying I will be putting myself forward for more filming, but if they ever wanted to return, I’d be happy for them to come back for the craic.

So next time you’re sat watching something on TV, have a wee thought for how many hours went into it. Camera, sound, production, the amount of hours is huge. Just wake me up after it’s been aired…