Riding the croftingcoaster

So we’re conscious we’ve been rather quiet of late on the blogging front. We just thought we’d reassure you all that it’s not because we’ve been twiddling our thumbs, staring at the beautiful view and drinking tea (although sometimes the latter do come as standard…).

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Cue inevitable ‘view’ image. This was taken last night when the light was doing some crazy things

 

So what’s the update? Well we think we’re getting there with our first agricultural grant application (don’t worry we’ll keep this short). This one is for something called a Young Farmers Start Up. In essence it’s for anyone under the age of 41 who is starting up farming or crofting for the first time. We fit the bill perfectly so we’ve been working really hard, drawing up plans and crunching numbers. It’s all about balancing the environmental decisions with starting up a viable business. Tricky enough!

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This field could do with a good old graze

 

BUT if it does all go to plan, we should have the quintessential crofting model – a few cows, pigs, bees, hens and grow some produce. It’s pretty aspirational and we’re still finalising the plan (that’s our caveat for ‘by the way this could totally change’) but we are enjoying the challenge and learning all the time.

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We’ve not done too bad on our experimental veg growing this year. As well as lots of potatoes, onions, kale, salad and swede we’ve managed….

 

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tasty carrots

 

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yummy beetroot

 

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and lots of radishes

 

The best thing though? The more we’re here, the more we realise how lucky we are to have some fantastic people around. We’ve got the most supportive, genuine, hardworking, generous, friendly neighbours we could ever have dreamt of.

And in other updates….. The tree planting project is up, then down, then up, then down, and currently down more than up (i.e. the croftingcoaster and our emotions with it!) but we are doing everything we can to make it happen.

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This tree really does need some more friends. It must happen!

 

We’ve had a busy period of friends and family visiting, all of whom have been well and truly won over by the Lynbreck effect! Our chicken numbers have now increased to 15 and we have officially started trading in eggs.

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The eggs must be good as we keep selling out! Surely that means we need more chickens….

 

But be aware of those wee chicken scamps, they’ll pinch your afternoon snack if you’re not careful……

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Yep….. they pinched our melon straight from the plate….

Patience is a virtue (and in this case a necessity)

Seeing as we’re definitely planning on staying here for the long-term, we thought it would be very interesting to document changes on and around the croft. Having an idea what’s here NOW in terms of plant life will be very useful to help us monitor the impact of our management on the land in years to come.

As we mentioned in a previous blog post, a friend of ours conducted a really thorough vegetation survey in late spring. We then went on to do some fixed point photography this summer to document tree regeneration on the property.

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The gully will be a good spot to watch – a nice variety of trees there already (birch, hazel, aspen and eared willow) and hopefully a lot more soon in the form of planted trees

As you can probably gather from the name, fixed point photography is a type of survey whereby one takes the exact same (more or less) picture from the same location at regular intervals.

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All the photo locations on a map (maybe more than needed, but it was a handy excuse for a good old dander around the croft!)

As trees of course grow very slowly it is difficult to get an idea of how tree cover changes (and hopefully increases) over the years. So a growing archive of fixed point photos is a great way to spot differences and document change.

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Our favourite example of a fixed point picture, taken of Alan Watson Featherstone from Trees for Life with a champion tree in Glen Affric

We’ll have to go out and pick our own champion tree to stand beside every few years – and look forward to the day when it overtakes us in height (and circumference, as long as we don’t eat too much Haggis).