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TITLE
Traditional Farming Methods at Burnt Hill, near Thrumster
EXTERNAL ID
QZP40_CAITHNESS_CROFTING_100
PLACENAME
Thrumster
DISTRICT
Eastern Caithness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
CAITHNESS: Wick
PERIOD
1980s
CREATOR
Peter Stewart
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
41381
KEYWORDS
crofting
rope making
haymaking
making hay

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Peter Stewart was born in 1944 and brought up on the family croft at Burnt Hill, near Thrumster. In this audio extract he talks about traditional farming methods. He refers to a hay or straw rope as a 'simmon'. He also refers to hay stacks as 'scroos'. In some parts of Caithness, scroo would be reserved for a stack of corn; a stack of hay would be called a gilt. He also describes building cut hay into coles; these are small heaps, up to about six feet high, usually secured with a hay-made rope to keep them from blowing apart before the hay is fully dry.

'Well, we worked iss, we worked iss, jist the two of us, ma father an maself. Ah left e school when Ah wis fourteen an Ah worked here. And Ah've done a hunnnerd percent, Ah've worked e land since Ah wis - Ah left e school when Ah wis fourteen an when Ah was goin e primary school Ah used til work on e land, here, with livestock as well. We've got e sheep an cows. Ah've got, ma sheep's up at two hundred at e moment but Ah've no cows at iss moment in time; Ah've not cattle because e cattle all went doon wi brucellosis. Ah went intae e sheep. But Ah was brought up tae it, Ah was brought up tae it, ye know. But if ye ask me a bitty more aboot machinery Ah couldnae tell ye much aboot it [?] it's auld fashioned machinery, ye know?

What we do, Ah do, is cutting e corn wi e binders an Ah do the thrashin wi e fork [?] metal - that's yer harvest. An e summertime, this year is e only year at Ah've baled e hay, an Ah've lost a lot. We always used til cole e hay. E owld-fashioned way, ye know? Ye cut e hay an ye leave it, ye cole it in three days. Ye dinna leave it as long as ye leave for a baler. Ah put it in little coles, jist loose hay, what they call little coles o hay. Ye tied them oot - d'ye mind, d'ye remember at? - an tie them all doon. Ye make a sim-, a rope oot o hay an tie it doon, e cole doon. An then ye build it in bigger scroos then an it does for e wintertime. Ye've got far better quality stuff. Ye'd different quality o hay alltaegither.

An when we, then when we go tae the plough an at, e ploughin land an Ah sew e, it's all sown broadcast; Ah niver use any modern machinery at all. E corn is all sown broadcast. An Ah use no fertilisers. They used til look doon, ye know, on ye for a lot o years but now - Last year when I sold my cattle in e Thurso mart e auctioneer did say that the cattle, this cattle, had never been force-fed or - what's e word he used? Organic farming, was it? Organic farming, aye. Oh yes, an ye can see e difference if ye, if ye - Ah hid, Ah'd fattened up pigs here, an ye keeped e difference on e pork. They were niver fed wi - they're just fed what grew on e croft, like e corn and e potatoes on e croft. Nothing bought in. Totally different pork alltaegither. And e beef is totally different too. There's a different taste wi the flavour o e beef, ye know?'

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Traditional Farming Methods at Burnt Hill, near Thrumster

CAITHNESS: Wick

1980s

crofting; rope making; haymaking; making hay

Highland Libraries

Caithness Recordings: Crofting & Farming

Peter Stewart was born in 1944 and brought up on the family croft at Burnt Hill, near Thrumster. In this audio extract he talks about traditional farming methods. He refers to a hay or straw rope as a 'simmon'. He also refers to hay stacks as 'scroos'. In some parts of Caithness, scroo would be reserved for a stack of corn; a stack of hay would be called a gilt. He also describes building cut hay into coles; these are small heaps, up to about six feet high, usually secured with a hay-made rope to keep them from blowing apart before the hay is fully dry.<br /> <br /> 'Well, we worked iss, we worked iss, jist the two of us, ma father an maself. Ah left e school when Ah wis fourteen an Ah worked here. And Ah've done a hunnnerd percent, Ah've worked e land since Ah wis - Ah left e school when Ah wis fourteen an when Ah was goin e primary school Ah used til work on e land, here, with livestock as well. We've got e sheep an cows. Ah've got, ma sheep's up at two hundred at e moment but Ah've no cows at iss moment in time; Ah've not cattle because e cattle all went doon wi brucellosis. Ah went intae e sheep. But Ah was brought up tae it, Ah was brought up tae it, ye know. But if ye ask me a bitty more aboot machinery Ah couldnae tell ye much aboot it [?] it's auld fashioned machinery, ye know?<br /> <br /> What we do, Ah do, is cutting e corn wi e binders an Ah do the thrashin wi e fork [?] metal - that's yer harvest. An e summertime, this year is e only year at Ah've baled e hay, an Ah've lost a lot. We always used til cole e hay. E owld-fashioned way, ye know? Ye cut e hay an ye leave it, ye cole it in three days. Ye dinna leave it as long as ye leave for a baler. Ah put it in little coles, jist loose hay, what they call little coles o hay. Ye tied them oot - d'ye mind, d'ye remember at? - an tie them all doon. Ye make a sim-, a rope oot o hay an tie it doon, e cole doon. An then ye build it in bigger scroos then an it does for e wintertime. Ye've got far better quality stuff. Ye'd different quality o hay alltaegither.<br /> <br /> An when we, then when we go tae the plough an at, e ploughin land an Ah sew e, it's all sown broadcast; Ah niver use any modern machinery at all. E corn is all sown broadcast. An Ah use no fertilisers. They used til look doon, ye know, on ye for a lot o years but now - Last year when I sold my cattle in e Thurso mart e auctioneer did say that the cattle, this cattle, had never been force-fed or - what's e word he used? Organic farming, was it? Organic farming, aye. Oh yes, an ye can see e difference if ye, if ye - Ah hid, Ah'd fattened up pigs here, an ye keeped e difference on e pork. They were niver fed wi - they're just fed what grew on e croft, like e corn and e potatoes on e croft. Nothing bought in. Totally different pork alltaegither. And e beef is totally different too. There's a different taste wi the flavour o e beef, ye know?'