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TITLE
A Caithness crofter remembers life on the croft
EXTERNAL ID
QZP40_CAITHNESS_CROFTING_01
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
CAITHNESS
PERIOD
1980s
CREATOR
unknown
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
41328
KEYWORDS
crofting
crofters
crofter
croft
crofts
farms
farm
Hydro-Electric
tractors
crofthouse
crofthouses
croft house
croft houses
audio

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In this audio extract a Caithness crofter remembers crofting life in the first half of the 20th century - before the advent of electricity and piped water - when crofters had a greater degree of self-sufficiency. Electricity reached most of rural Caithness in the later 1940s and early 1950s through the work of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. Ninety per cent of crofting households were connected to the national grid by the early 1970s.

'I wis born in 1912 at Aimster in e parish o Halkirk an my father wis a - worked on farms an we were at Lynegar then, for eleven year an Ah left the school then, started work on the farms, ye know? Then Ah came here as a crofter in 1940. An I've been croftin ever since.

There been a lot o changes in crofts in my lifetime. In 1930s you could live on a croft of thirty acre or less. You lived by the produce of the croft. You kept two or three cows an reared the calves; one cow for milk, for the household. You made your own butter an cheese. You grew your own potatoes, turnips, an you kept a score o hens, so you had eggs for your own use. You also hatched your chickens; the females you grew into hens an the males made a nice pot o broth. You had a pig which you fed on kitchen waste. It was killed an salted, an you made your own ham. Your fire was peat from the - you cut from, an dried an cut from - the hill. The houses were all but n bens with thatched roofs, warm an cosy, no mod cons, no bathrooms.

The womenfolk did the work on the - at home, the men got part-time work on bigger farms; ditchin, drainin, no machinery, it was hard graft. You had a horse which you shared with a neighbour, an your light wis oil lamps. In the fifties the Hydro Board power came to the country. With power an light, you got washin machines. Before that the washin was done by hand on the scrubbin board. The watter had to be carried in an out - no sinks. Then the Regional Watter Board put watter all through the county an life became easier on the farm, or the crofts. Tractors replaced horse, an everythin became mechanised. Crofts still remains as crofts, just as a home. The man all ave to have other jobs. You could not make a livin on a croft today'

Caithness crofts were very similar to those in the other crofting counties of Scotland: Argyll, Inverness, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland, Orkney and Shetland. The crofter kept a few animals - usually one or more cows, some sheep, poultry and a pig. The horse was important as a beast of burden until it was largely replaced by small tractors from the end of the 1940s onwards. The usual crops were oats (always called corn in Caithness), potatoes, turnips and hay, with varying amounts of vegetables. Up until the 1950s crofters with access to larger amounts of land showed a considerable degree of self-sufficiency, but it was quite usual for members of the family to have jobs off the croft. Many crofters had a skilled trade that enabled them to find work away from home. The croft's water supply was usually a nearby well, spring or burn; the most ready supply of fuel for cooking and heating was peat, which had to be cut and processed on the moor in summer

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A Caithness crofter remembers life on the croft

CAITHNESS

1980s

crofting; crofters; crofter; croft; crofts; farms; farm; Hydro-Electric; tractors; crofthouse; crofthouses; croft house; croft houses; audio

Highland Libraries

Caithness Recordings: Crofting & Farming

In this audio extract a Caithness crofter remembers crofting life in the first half of the 20th century - before the advent of electricity and piped water - when crofters had a greater degree of self-sufficiency. Electricity reached most of rural Caithness in the later 1940s and early 1950s through the work of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. Ninety per cent of crofting households were connected to the national grid by the early 1970s. <br /> <br /> 'I wis born in 1912 at Aimster in e parish o Halkirk an my father wis a - worked on farms an we were at Lynegar then, for eleven year an Ah left the school then, started work on the farms, ye know? Then Ah came here as a crofter in 1940. An I've been croftin ever since.<br /> <br /> There been a lot o changes in crofts in my lifetime. In 1930s you could live on a croft of thirty acre or less. You lived by the produce of the croft. You kept two or three cows an reared the calves; one cow for milk, for the household. You made your own butter an cheese. You grew your own potatoes, turnips, an you kept a score o hens, so you had eggs for your own use. You also hatched your chickens; the females you grew into hens an the males made a nice pot o broth. You had a pig which you fed on kitchen waste. It was killed an salted, an you made your own ham. Your fire was peat from the - you cut from, an dried an cut from - the hill. The houses were all but n bens with thatched roofs, warm an cosy, no mod cons, no bathrooms. <br /> <br /> The womenfolk did the work on the - at home, the men got part-time work on bigger farms; ditchin, drainin, no machinery, it was hard graft. You had a horse which you shared with a neighbour, an your light wis oil lamps. In the fifties the Hydro Board power came to the country. With power an light, you got washin machines. Before that the washin was done by hand on the scrubbin board. The watter had to be carried in an out - no sinks. Then the Regional Watter Board put watter all through the county an life became easier on the farm, or the crofts. Tractors replaced horse, an everythin became mechanised. Crofts still remains as crofts, just as a home. The man all ave to have other jobs. You could not make a livin on a croft today'<br /> <br /> Caithness crofts were very similar to those in the other crofting counties of Scotland: Argyll, Inverness, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland, Orkney and Shetland. The crofter kept a few animals - usually one or more cows, some sheep, poultry and a pig. The horse was important as a beast of burden until it was largely replaced by small tractors from the end of the 1940s onwards. The usual crops were oats (always called corn in Caithness), potatoes, turnips and hay, with varying amounts of vegetables. Up until the 1950s crofters with access to larger amounts of land showed a considerable degree of self-sufficiency, but it was quite usual for members of the family to have jobs off the croft. Many crofters had a skilled trade that enabled them to find work away from home. The croft's water supply was usually a nearby well, spring or burn; the most ready supply of fuel for cooking and heating was peat, which had to be cut and processed on the moor in summer