Farming

Farming is a fundamental part of North Isles life and so was a significant theme throughout the interviews.
The Road Home: Robert and Davey Slater. (Jim and Rona Towrie)
The Road Home: Robert and Davey Slater. (Jim and Rona Towrie)

Farming is a fundamental part of North Isles life and so was a significant theme throughout the interviews.

Folk were keen to talk about significant developments over the years, including the changes from manual to mechanised tasks. This included working “wae horse”, the introduction of tractors – the “peedie Fergie”, the increased use of the large machines of the present day, the amalgamation of smaller farms into large ones and the impact of the roll-on roll-off ferries on farming.​

(Eday Heritage Centre)
(Eday Heritage Centre)

​“…the mainstay farming on Sanday is absolutely excellent.  And, more importantly, and I say this coming from a background of crofting, mainstream crofting, the co-operation level is phenomenal.”

Robin Calvert, Sanday
(Orkney Library and Archive)
(Orkney Library and Archive)

…we got a binder then and in 1948 we got wir first tractor…A grey Ferguson and I still hiv it. It was the biggest boon that ever was in farming when the tractor cam in and hid made life so much easier.  It also allowed folk tae keep more cattle wae no hivin the horses tae feed. It actually made the farm more profitable as you wad say.”

Irvine Miller, Stronsay
Jimmy and William Lennie taking in the sheaves at Leaquoy. 1958. (Sanday Heritage Centre)
Jimmy and William Lennie taking in the sheaves at Leaquoy. 1958. (Sanday Heritage Centre)

Well, I worked the horse.  When my father died I was just 17 and I was drilling with the horse and just working the land with the horse…It just got then, y’ken, that especially with Loganair, you couldn’t really work the horse. They had to go. I had the last pair of working horses in Sanday.

Jimmy Lennie, Sanday