Thursday, 10 November 2011

Craigard, Croft 35, Ormsaigbeg.


Craigard is about as far west as you can get in mainland Britain, 10km east of Ardnamurchan Point and its lighthouse, in the parish of Kilchoan. www.kilchoan.blogspot.comThe hay park runs due south down to the sea on the Sound of Mull. Behind the house a hill park climbs up to the wall surrounding the Ormsaigbeg common grazing where I am allowed to graze 11 ewes, two cows and half a horse. Its a 180km round trip to Morrison's supermarket in Ft. William or 35 minutes on the ferry to a smaller Co-operative supermarket in Tobermory on the island of Mull.
The popular definition of a Croft is," a small area of poor land entirely surrounded by legislation" it is a peculiarly Scottish system of land holding and is confined to the Crofting Counties of Argyll, Inverness, Ross-shire, Sutherland, Caithness, Orkney and Shetland and the Hebridean islands. I should add that crofting legislation is a fertile feeding ground for lawyers. More on the history later, think of Craigard as a smallholding on a stony raised beach, exposed to the N. Atlantic weather with some hill grazing of coarse grasses and heather.
Crofting activities are very unlikely to provide a living for a family but they do provide a rural base in a supportive community for families with "multiple job holding". The tractor making hay belongs to Elaine, a neighbour who has more of a farm than a croft and who provides contracting services with her machinery; that way everyone wins, the cost of owning machinery is spread and we all benefit from a degree of mechanisation for hay and silage making.
I am retired so have an off croft income but the pension is supplemented by selling lambs and the fertile hatching eggs of rare breed, utility poultry, mostly on Ebay. The hens are Ixworth and Bresse Gauloise, beautiful white birds that lay quite a lot of eggs and are the best eating. The ideal smallholder's hen. The daily routine changes with the weather and the season now I'm up at seven to look the sheep and feed the hens. I come in for breakfast and read the Guardian online, the paper version doesn't arrive at the Post Office until lunchtime the rest of the day can be spent in the veg plot or the poly tunnel, dosing or moving sheep, making and mending stuff or just idling.

3 comments:

Velma said...

i'm just checking in, this is a lovely place to visit, not so very different from my north country.

Anonymous said...

Just found your Blog after searching la Bresse chickens. I too am a crofter on Scoraig, Wester-ross. Started with two pairs of la Bresse Gaulois last summer, lost one pair to a mink (along with all my ducks). Thankfully like you I was able to catch and despatch the offending critter. Out of the La Bresse hatch last year I only managed to get two Cocks having lost 8 Sasso and 7 La Bresse chicks to a fox somehow managing to open the bottom of the Brooder and wait as each bird walked out.

I also had Ixworth for my own consumption but found them too slow to mature although were great eating. What kill weight do you get from the La bresse and at what age do you.

Could you give me a price for 24 fertile eggs please and also how do I contact you.

Many thanks

Lee

Tom Bryson said...

I do sell Bresse Gauloise hatching eggs. My email address is tombryson@btinternet.com. The BG cockerels grow rapidly to 16 weeks then slow down. For the last two weeks they do need to be fattened on mixed grain. I agree, the Ixworth is a better bird for eating but not really economic to produce. I am trying a few BG x Ixworth this year. I may also have a few young stock to sell, off heat at the end of April.