The Isle of Whithorn Agricultural History

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Baling Hay near the Isle of Whithorn
The Isle of Whithorn

The Isle of Whithorn

The Crops


At one time farms were fairly self sufficient in feeding and bedding for their stock and to this end every farm grew corn (mainly oats), made hay, and grew turnips and sugar beet for winter feed.

Boyach, Isle Farm and Cutreoch also grew potatoes that were sold to merchants in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and usually went by rail from Whithorn station. “Gaffers” from the west of Ireland brought their squads of “Tattie Howkers” over every year to the same farms to lift the early potatoes.
The late potatoes were a smaller crop in this area, so the school children had time off in October to lift them - remembered by the fact that the school October holiday was for many years nicknamed the “Tattie” holiday.

Cutreoch also grew carrots. When Sydney Cummings was in Boyach during the war vegetables were grown which were sold mainly to Burrowhead Army camp. All these crops were very labour intensive and weather dependent, and so as time has passed the main crop grown for feed is silage - which is grass, finely chopped and pitted or baled into a sealed environment where it ferments and produces a highly palatable feed which is fairly easy to work with.

In the early days each layer of silage was sprayed with a solution of treacle and water before being rolled. The cattle loved the extra sweetness, the farm kids loved licking the treacle barrel - and the best ever gingerbreads were made with that molasses!

Some of the grain such as barley and maize, now grown at Stannock and Isle Farm, is also made into an arable silage, and Cutreoch grows barley as a cash crop. Extra feed and bedding is bought in by all the farms as required.


 

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