21st Century Croft

On Your Farm pic

Over the last couple of months we’ve been interviewed by BBC Radio 4 for a programme called On Your Farm.

The programme called 21st Century croft will be aired this Sunday at 06:35am and should be full of us chatting about trees, bees, pigs, hens and cows and how they form part of our croft team where mother nature is the boss.

And for those of you who don’t want to miss out on a lie in, there’s always catch up on iPlayer

We’d be grateful for any shares around your networks and hope you can listen in!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09zt495

 

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The Crofter

We were delighted to be invited to write a short piece for the Scottish Crofting Federation magazine ‘The Crofter’. We’ve included a copy below which we hope you will enjoy.

We feel like proper crofters now…

 

Crofter article March 20180005

 

Trees for the Croft

Croft Woodland 31 March 2018 Poster Template.jpg

Last Saturday we were really chuffed to host our first course at Lynbreck – the first of many we hope.

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No missing us with this at the top of the track!

 

In partnership with the Woodland Trust and the Scottish Crofting Federation we welcomed a planting army of 16 people to our croft to talk about one of our favourite topics – trees.

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Our byre was transformed into a croft café

 

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And we were determined people would stay well fed for the day. In fact these goodies were made for us by one of our wonderful neighbours!

 

In the morning, Donnie kicked off the event with a great introduction to the basics of tree planting.

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Exciting to see our byre full of people!

 

Then after a little presentation by us, we all headed outside to see how it’s done.

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Rose (chief hen) insisted on helping….

 

After a cold morning in our new byre and an even chillier session in the field, hot soup and plenty of food and cake was just what was needed.

Full of fuel (and sugar!) our army took to the task in hand with impressive energy and vigour – just under 500 trees were planted in around 90minutes. That’s just over a tenth of the total of our new hedgerow to be planted so it was a massive boost to us.

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We really enjoyed the day and look forward to welcome more folks to the croft in future for learning, chatting and cake eating. Thanks so much to everyone who came.

We’re not telling porkies…

Well to say we’ve been delighted with the sales of our free range, rare breed pork is an understatement. We have had such a positive reaction whilst out and about delivering to new folks and existing friends of the croft. There have been long hours and late nights but we are very much enjoying delivering our local produce to local people.

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Getting ready for a delivery – we even have our Lynbreck clothing range now!

 

We like to be honest about our journey here at Lynbreck and it’s fair to say that the whole ‘pig’ process from start to finish has been a HUGE learning curve for us new crofters.

Once we got the pork back from our butcher, we stock checked what we had before deciding on how to sell it.

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We have some very kind neighbours who let us keep our meat in their chiller for the first few days

 

We did a bit of market research and worked out what we thought would be a fair price for our meat to keep it affordable. We then added up what it cost us to have the pigs – initial purchase, feed, butchery and abattoir costs mainly. The prices we ended up charging will allow us to simply break even once all the boxes are sold. Well sort of. We didn’t include things like our bigger croft costs; insurances, fencing, fuel, wages for example. But that, we’ve now learnt first-hand, is the challenge of farming and local small scale food production today – making things pay to cover their whole true cost.

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Top quality meat. Every delivery came with a little leaflet with more information on the animals that it came from

 

And now? Well if anything we feel even more up for the challenge and so excited about the future than we did before – we’re absolutely full of ideas for the next time, and the next and the next. And my goodness we have learnt so much.

We have aspirations, one day, for Lynbreck salami’s, cured hams, smoked meats, bacon, the list is endless. Might even squeeze a bit of artisan cheese in there if we get a milking cow…. And each time we’ll make tweaks to improve things, all the while helping us to build the foundations of a viable, local croft business where nature friendly farming rules the roost.

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We’ve already started practising for the future. We kept some meat behind to practice making our own Lynbreck homemade……

 

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SAUSAGES. These ones are garlic and black pepper. One day we hope to butcher and prepare all our meat ourselves

 

Ultimately we feel very supported by our local community and we simply can’t thank our first customers enough for taking the leap of faith with us and believing in us and our way of stewarding the land. We hope you enjoy what we do, like what we produce and look forward to the next instalment.

If you’re interested in any of our pork, check out our website for what’s available and how to order 

This one’s for the oinks

This week we said goodbye to the first instalment of ‘Team Lynbreck Pig Division’. Our 3 Oxford Sandy and Black boars were with us for over 4 months and apart from our chooks, were the first livestock we’ve welcomed on to the croft since all the new fencing, tidying up and planning we’ve been doing.

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Busy snuffling (day job)

They were due to leave on Wednesday but as luck would have it a rather impressive snow storm was heading for us on the Tuesday before. Therefore in order to avoid trailers and trucks getting into all sorts of snowy conundrums trying to get us all out of our far field, we walked them out and set up a new paddock in another block of woodland closer by. We got them used to the trailer that they would be leaving in to minimise stress on the last day and then set them up with a cosy bed of straw for the night.

 

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Even in the winter…… still snuffling….

 

Come Wednesday lunchtime, we loaded them into the trailer, checked they were comfortable and then headed off the croft. We are very lucky that our local abattoir is only 10minutes away and once we arrived, we walked them off the trailer at the other end.

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And where they definitely snuffled at their happiest – the woodland!

 

To say the whole experience was difficult for us first timers is an understatement and we’ve been doing a lot of thinking, processing and reflecting. And yes, a few tears were shed…. It’s been a week of emotions and we are learning ever more the highest highs and the lowest lows of crofting and living this close to the land.

And the croft is a quieter place without them, but it is a better place for them having been here. The work that they did for us has prepared the ground where we have nearly finished planting 320 trees. This will be an important shelterbelt for our future livestock as well as providing a haven for wildlife.

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The fruits of their labour (ie snuffling)

 

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The area is marked and planting has begun (snow causing current delays….)

We know that every animal that comes here will help to make our croft a better place for nature, as well as providing healthy, nutritious food for us and our customers. With more pigs arriving in the Spring, along with bees, cows and an army of hens, it won’t be long before the place is buzzing again.

So a heartfelt thanks oinks – you were ace!