I’m working on my next article of the Scottish Crofting Federation’s Crofter magazine, which I think is due out in March. Here is the piece I wrote for the December edition:
This might come as a bit of a surprise, but going to the fank is a real social highlight for me. That statement might say more about me than I care to admit, but it’s true! I know people reminisce of days gone by, when everyone helped each other, but these days haven’t gone completely. Our wee village still come together quite often and help each other with dipping, shearing, gathering etc. We recently dipped all the sheep in our village, and I can’t describe how much I was looking forward to it!
I know it’s one day when the work isn’t too strenuous, there will be plenty bodies to help out and we’ll have a good laugh at all the stories from the bodachs. This year was no different; almost perfect weather, sheep all doing as they were supposed and lots of young lads on hand to help out – and the best thing was the help from the youngsters. At 29, I’m still classed as a youngster myself, in crofting terms, but we had several teenagers giving up their Saturday morning lie-ins to help out. I think you can go on all the courses you want, but there is nothing that can beat hands-on experience in a real working environment. No sterilised work-place here; you are told exactly what has to be done, go ahead and do it, while under the watchful eye
Communal activities like this are a window back in time, particularly for the younger lads. Stories about the arguments and characters that used to frequent our fank are common – as are the unrepeatable stories of what they go up to! Young people have so many distractions these days, but I really think communal days like this help crofting lose any fuddy-duddy image it may have. For people like myself, who are employed full-time, it’s not always easy to make time for communal days and it is often easier to soldier on alone, but the long-term benefits are incalculable. Roll on next year!