Farming in the Peninsula
In 1900, even Danna at the foot of the Tayvallich Peninsula, some 7 miles South West of Tayvallich itself, and remote even by our standards, had a population of some fifty people almost all engaged in agriculture. The census of 1881 reveals that the population from Tayvallich South to Danna was 493 and very many of these were farmers or farm labourers, employed in over twenty holdings.
At the start of the 21st Century there are only six farms employing only seven or so people in the entire Tayvallich Peninsula. As a result of modern farm machinery and new technology these seven people can now run more sheep and cattle than all those engaged in agriculture a century ago.
Today, suckler calves and lamb are produced in quantity but milk production has been reduced to zero due to more efficient and higher density dairy farming in other parts of Scotland. There are over 230 cows and nearly that number calves, in the area but today these are all crosses and there are no pure-bred herds. There are also a number of Charolais, Limousin and Saler Bulls used for rearing beef, and later this year Highland Cattle will be reintroduced such as the beast shown in the photograph on this page. Often these beasts will be seen by – or on - the roadside on the road to Keills. Sheep farming is possibly the most visible aspect of farming to the visitor as we have 2,500 sheep in the Peninsula, and they do seem to have a particular interest in grazing by the roadside and playing “dare” with passing cars. The most common breeds are Beulahs, Black Faces and Scotch Mules.
The local weather conditions and a relatively high rainfall, together with acid shallow soils, dictate which crops can be profitably grown in the area. Grass for ensiling is all that is grown now, whereas only 20 years ago barley combined with oats were viable crops. Alas, the economics of the situation mean that these days are long past, and even barley-feeding and straw are now imported into the peninsula.
Since much of the peninsula is owned or managed by Scottish National Heritage there are a number of restrictions on land use in order to protect an abundance of rare insects, animals, birds and plants in SSSIS or sites of special scientific interest. As a result, some former farmers have diversified into ‘farming’ tourists with caravans and cottages rather than tractors and harvesters! In fact several of the properties featured in the accommodation section of this website were either built on the sites of former farms or are themselves conversions from old farm buildings.