New Chooks on the Block

The two-legged workforce of the feathery kind has just been trebled at Lynbreck. We’re happy to announce that we now have 9 chickens keeping us on our toes!

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Two of the new arrivals behind bars before being issued the ticket to free range

The first three have done a brilliant job supplying us with fresh eggs every day and as we haven’t yet exhausted our egg-based recipe options we decided to up our game. Something tells me we’ll have to install a farm gate sales box soon…

It will take the newbies a few weeks to get settled and enter production phase, so by then we should be ready to start supplying passers-by with croft eggs fresh from the range (which is extensive).

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The crew out exploring the croft

And when they’re not busy laying they’re just plain fun to have around and regularly provide us with loads of entertainment …

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Spa day – can’t beat a dust bath

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Grain please

Are 9 enough? Stay tuned…

Who do you think you are?

So please excuse the shameless title pinch of the well-known BBC TV programme. But since we moved to the croft, it’s been a bit like we’ve been in episode of Who do you think you are? It has been a journey through time where in 4 months we’ve been hearing stories of the past and meeting the people who knew Lynbreck a long time before we were even born.

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Lynbreck many years ago – the byre on the left, the croft house on the right.

We hope to pull together stories of the past as one thing is for sure, this place has got a tonne of stories hidden in the many nooks and crannies of our meagre 150 acres. Local folks talk of it as a hive of activity. In recent memory there were 11 people who lived in the croft house (it’s tiny…) – mum, dad, kids, extended family, and maybe even a few animals thrown in for good measure – with always an open door and chair ready for anyone else who might call in.

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The wee croft house. Somewhere we would love to bring back to life

 

There have definitely been sheep munching away on this ground and before that, we’re sure there must have been some trees. In fact have a look at this – http://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=14&lat=57.2834&lon=-3.5279&layers=3 – it’s a map from a series that show the area between 1747 and 1752. In the middle you can see ‘Lynbreack’ with the forest of Craigmor (still there, great RSPB nature reserve) very close to the left. But what we do know is that when translated from its original Gaelic it means ‘speckled field’. Therefore folks must have been farming round here for many years. But why speckled? Don’t know yet…

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This is our Byre as it stands today. We aspire to give this a make over and make it a working agricultural byre again in the near future

 

And what’s the deal with the name? We call it Lynbreck (it’s on our entrance sign), but recent OS show it as Lynebreck (we reckon it changed to this around the 1900’s ish) and the old, old map shows it as Lynbreack. Locals pronounce the ‘b’ as a ‘v’ and change the ‘k’ at the end for an ‘ht.’ Therefore phonetically it’s spelt ‘Lynvrecht’, which in its original Gaelic form may have been spelt Loinn bhreac. So take your pick how you want to spell it and how you want to say it….

We want the future of Lynbreck to re-ignite the days of its past – a place of family, friends and living off the land – with a way that can survive in the 21st century. Sometimes that will mean going back to the ways of ye olde days, whereas other occasions may call for the technology of now (as green as we can get it of course) but either way, keep it simple.

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Grass cutting, croft style

Trees are so last week

So the title of this blog is to be taken with a wee pinch of salt. But it’s kinda accurate at the same time. Last week it was all about the trees – submitting our first grant application and attending a rather excellent conference put on by the Cairngorms National Park Authority on the future of woodlands in the area. But this week trees are on the back burner (please don’t take that literally). For now it’s all about our new agricultural business.

We’ve got some great fields on our croft that we have decided we would like to work. We want Lynbreck to be productive. That’s productive, first and foremost, environmentally i.e. improving habitats, increasing diversity of plants, bugs and beasties and secondly from a financial point of view i.e. making the money.

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The 2 big green fields in the foreground are ours. The land below them could also take a few grazing animals

 

Earlier this year we invited a friend Diana out to do a vegetation survey of our site. Flowers and plants can tell you a lot about the history of management and what could grow if the conditions were right. We hope to do a more detailed post about this at a later date but it was important we had Diana out right at the start so that in 5/10/15+ years we can look back, document the changes and see if what we are doing is the right thing.

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This is Chickweed Wintergreen. We have it popping up all over the place and it’s often associated with pine woodlands

 

As we’re not quite as experienced in the agricultural side, we’ve decided to work with a consultant and we’re lucky to have the best in our area, Jenny, now on our side. We’re navigating our way through the grants – pulling together our short and long term aspirations and figuring out how those and what we need to fulfil them, match with the support we can get from grants -without these our project starts and ends in one breath. Imagine looking at a massive spider web, trying to figure out where it starts and ends, how it all links together and then stick your face in it. Yep, that’s us right now.

But we have completely immersed ourselves in it. Our lives revolve around the following;

  1. Figuring out what we need – asking local farmers for lists of kit, talking tractor specifications, measuring metres and metres of fencing, discussing types of stock for grazing
  2. Figuring out where it will go – walking around with fencing contractors, looking at sites for a new barn, figuring out how to store everything in our current byre
  3. Getting quotes for everything – barns, byre renovations, polytunnels, fences, feeders, tractors and anything relating to stock handling
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This might look a wee bit different in years to come

And that’s the shortened version. But as things evolve we’ll share more and write more. Until then we continue semi blindly along the path of ‘what are we doing….?’