Farming Today

This is just a wee quickie…..

Last week we were visited by the lovely Moira Hickey from BBC Radio 4. Moira came to do a short piece on crofting in the Cairngorms.

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We had great fun recording a short interview and were very excited to hear that it went out live this morning!

We’re on about 3:50mins in. All we can say is eeeeeeeeeeeek!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qj8q

 

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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!

From talking to walking

We’ve been under snow, more or less continuously, since the end of November so it really is about time to sit down and write a bit of a catch up blog post.

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This is the default colour at Lynbreck since the end of November – white!

We’ve not been very good at this of late. It’s not because we’ve been twiddling our thumbs – actually the opposite – we haven’t stopped. In fact the whole of 2017 has been foot to the pedal but it’s involved a huge amount of behind the scenes work.

 

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Some of the work has involved this kind of thing (photo courtesy of John MacPherson)

Since we bought the croft we have had a massive amount of planning to do. This has involved growing new business heads, applying for grant funding, hiring and managing contractors, networking, the list goes on….

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Not to forget all our visitors. This little fella was definitely the big surprise of 2017. We’re still amazed he managed to get here!

 

2017 has seen us plant a new woodland, install 4km of new fencing, renovate our old byre (nearly…), write a new woodland and farm management plan and get our first pigs – and those are just the bigger highlights.

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There’s (literally) been miles of fencing installed – both deer and livestock (photo courtesy of John MacPherson)

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Our old byre, stripped down and ready for renovation

And 2018? Well, at the minute it’s looking like another 4km of fencing, 1,350m of hedging, a new barn, a new shelterbelt, 10 tree fodder plots all still to go in. Oh and then there’s all our livestock! Cows, more pigs, pasture hens and bees all arriving in Spring time and we still have a lot of prep work to do for them.

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Eggs won’t be the only produce for sale in 2018…. We’re definitely stepping up our game on that front

We know there will be many more tales to tell from Lynbreck Croft so we’ll keep blogging with stories from the Highlands. We do lots more on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if you want a regular catch up.

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And there’ll always be the odd tree to plant….

This is Lynbreck Croft

We’re really excited to share some footage that was recently made at Lynbreck. We’ve had a lot of people ask us what it is we are hoping to achieve here so we thought a short film might be the best way to put it across.

 

We’re new to crofting and as young farmers and new entrants, we want to invite you all to come on the journey with us as we try to build a diverse crofting business from scratch where all decisions have a positive environmental outcome across an integrated network of habitats. We know we’ll make mistakes along the way (and already have…) but we believe in the vision we have and through hard work, an open mind and a hand out for help we think we can achieve something really positive.

So pop the kettle on or grab some popcorn as for the next 5 minutes, This is Lynbreck Croft.