The Croft

It has turned out to be a very special adventure actually staying on a croft in the Outer Hebrides. I decided I needed a whole blog post to explore this with a fair warning – if you aren’t all that interested in sheep you may want to skim this one! I will explain what I have seen and learned – Jonathan, please chime in with comments to correct me as needed!

According to the Scottish Crofting Federation, a croft is “a small rented farm, especially one in Scotland, comprising a plot of arable land attached to a house and with a right of pasturage held in common with other such farms.”

That is a bare-bones description which I will give life to through my photos of this particular croft on the island of Eriskay. A little history, prior to 1886 crofters did not have many rights. In the Crofter Holding Act of 1886 Parliament granted the security of tenure to crofters, meaning they could not be arbitrarily removed from the property. It also assured them fair rents and the right to pass on their tenancy to their heirs.

Before anyone thinks this would be a lovely retirement or change of place, crofts are very hard to get. You have to show that you are a good fit for the local crofting community and, of course, one has to be available.

Most crofters have other occupations as well as maintaining their croft and, even today, it can be a challenging life. There is a beautiful little sign across from the cottage on this croft, explaining what Jonathan and Denise do.

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The original house is still on this croft, built in 1868, the first or one of the first on the island.

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Historical AND it makes a suitable backdrop for these special sheep.

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I was lucky enough to be here while there were still little lambs – following their moms around…

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…catching a snack…

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…or just hanging out.

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Besides sheep, there are chickens and geese here. I really like seeing inside the chicken house – and may take back some ideas for home! The roosts are elevated…

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…as are the nesting boxes. With about 100 chickens between here and their other location by where Denise and Jonathan live, there is never a shortage of eggs. I have had some and they are very good!

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The house into the coop operates on a light sensor, and sometimes a timer, so that the chickens can be shut in safely at night and be let out the next morning.

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Jonathan mixes his own feed for the sheep and poultry.

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And even during feeding time (the chickens are fed separately in their coop but manage to get some here, too) they all mostly get along.

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The geese get a little treat.

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And, of course, the bottle babies, Bill and Ben, need to be fed. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it! (The red on their horns is a marker paint so they can be easily identified in the flock, although from what I saw of their behavior, they found us quickly enough at feeding time!)

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Jonathan and Denise work very hard to make this a beautiful and productive croft. I was very lucky to experience a little bit of it. Next blog- more of Denise’s work!

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Published in: on May 21, 2015 at 7:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

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