Wednesday 23 October 2013

How to get a Croft : Matrimony, patrimony and parsimony

The SCF "Crofting Induction Course" was held in Kilchoan last weekend and the question most people wanted answered was, "how do I get a Croft?" I have heard it said that there are three ways on getting into farming, this probably applies to crofting too:

Matrimony -   Marry a Farmer's (Crofter's) son or daughter.
Patrimony   -  Get Daddy to buy one for you
Parsimony  -   Don't spend, spend, spend!  SAVE, SAVE, SAVE!

This presupposes that there is a market and that there are crofts for sale but they rarely come on to the market. Many unused crofts still belong to absentees who have a range of motives for hanging on; it was Granny's home, they might go back some day, they have forgotten about it or there has been the possibility of decrofting some of the land and selling it for building.

Things are changing. The new Crofters Commission is committed to dealing with absenteeism and to ending speculation in crofting land.  This could eventually bring more crofts on to the market for young people with energy, ideas and commitment to the way of life and the highlands and islands.

Bringing crofts held by absentees back into use is a slow process. Last year, according to the Crofters Commission Annual Report only seven crofts in Argyll and Bute we re brought back into crofting use and throughout the Crofting Counties a total of 22 crofts or 172 ha.

Forty per cent of us (Crofters) are over 60 and of those five per cent are over 80. But don't hold your breath we are tough and hardy and will hang in there.

Here's a strategy for getting into crofting
  • Learn all you can about crofting, keep up to date by reading the Crofters Commission website from time to time, join the Scottish Crofters Federation they have a register of  aspirant Crofters.
  • Acquire skills in; livestock husbandry, growing food, building, fencing, walling.
  • Be realistic, it rains a lot, winter days are very short, you need 365 day a year commitment when you keep livestock you need another source of income become multi-skilled or have a readily transportable skill such as IT, or guiding tourists in the Antarctic summer like my neighbor Trevor.
  • You need a partner, its even tougher on your own
  • Give up consumerism, you need capital, parsimony is still a necessary condition for a crofting way of life.
  •  Search solicitor's, estate agents and auction mart websites, when crofts come on the market they will be advertising them.
  • Find out about woodland crofts 
  • Be single minded, determined and lucky.
         This should provoke some comment. I haven't had any for a while.


Jon said...

Lack of comments doesn't mean we're not thoroughly enjoying your very informative posts. Please keep up the good work.

Michael said...

I agree. This is a great blog. I just wish I had the space in my garden here in Sheffield for a couple of goats, a few sheep, some chickens and some geese.