A “real” farmer would despair at the quality of the thin, rocky soil. He would mock the third-hand, obsolescent machinery and shake his head in disbelief at the size of these agricultural units – an average croft has just 5ha of arable land and a share in common grazings out on the exposed heather hills.
The informed observer would also conclude fairly quickly that Scotland’s crofting system has little in common with modern agribusiness. Sheep and lambs appear to wander at will and graze randomly by the side of single-track roads, a herd of cattle might comprise just three cows. The infrastructure is often rickety or non-existent and the nearest markets or abattoir can involve a long ferry trip or a trek of hundreds of miles. In many areas there appears to be no productive land-based activity at all.