Farming & Crofting

 

Potatoes

 

In earlier times throughout Badenoch, most of the farmers and crofters could only grow enough oats to keep them going for about 6 months of the year.  They were heavily dependant on potatoes.  Potatoes and milk being the staple diet of many ordinary folk.

In 1847, the crop of potatoes failed due to potato blight, something which devastates potato crops today.  Then, it was catastrophic.  Many people died of starvation, whilst others tried to gather what little they could and move on elsewhere.    After quite some time the church stepped in with a Poor Relief programme, but this was too late for many folk and there were many years of terrible hardship.

 

Run-Rig System

 

The run-rig system is an ancient form of joint tenancy of an area of ground.  The ground was divided up into strips, or 'rigs'.  The ground closest to the houses was known then as  in-bye land.  Being the better tended ground, and more fertile, it was generally used to grow oats and barley.  The land further away from the house was used for pasture.  There is evidence today, when you look from afar, of the fertility and quality of the ground around the ruins of a crofter's house.

The 'rigs' were the raised strips of ground on which the farmers and crofters grew their crops.  There were only hand-tools to tend the ground and the crops were harvested by hand.  The furrows, would shed any excess water.    Manuring and draining the land whilst this system was in operation was impossible and it was only ever the in-bye land that received the main attention.  An ox-team, and a plough would be shared as was the work, the costs, and the fruits of their labours. 

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