The Croftless Crofter: Nic Goddard

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After eight years as a crofter on the isle of Rum I returned to the mainland in 2019 with my husband and our teenage children.

Island life was no longer able to provide all the social and educational opportunities our family needed but having fallen in love with the west coast of the Highlands we wanted to retain as much of that lifestyle as we could.

We now live in a rented house with a fairly small garden in the middle of croft land and the Sunart oak woodlands near Strontian.

Once a crofter, always a crofter though and that way of life has stayed with us with a heavy emphasis on rural skills, countryside crafts, making and baking and spending time outside.

One of our first tasks once we had settled in – and got our landlord’s permission – was to bring a small flock of our chickens across from Rum.

We had a large flock of poultry on our croft and selling our eggs to locals and visitors was one of our income streams.

Now we only need eggs for our own consumption but we missed having chickens roaming around the place so we constructed a house for them and bought them over. I attracted a lot of attention standing in Mallaig with a dog crate full of hens and a cockerel, with several people queuing for the Skye ferry taking photographs.

Our chicken house is more robust than the shelters on Rum needed to be as our chickens now have to deal with predators they had not met before – foxes, pine martens and badgers.

They are used to looking out for danger though. We lost birds to eagles
and buzzards on Rum so they are well used to keeping an eye on the sky while free ranging.

We cobbled the house together with donated off-cuts of scrap wood in one of the midgiest weeks of last spring. It turns out midge-induced rage is a great motivator for building projects.

The flock has happily adapted to mainland life. We had five chicks hatch last summer. The resulting three cockerels were rehomed across the peninsula once they were no longer so welcome to co-exist with their father.

And we are enjoying a great supply of freshly laid eggs which even continued through the winter.

 

NO F14 chicken release

NO F14 chicken house