Fetlar Museum Digitisation Project

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Agriculture in Fetlar
Crofting has been the mainstay of Fetlar's economy for generations. A croft is like a small farm, but is subject to specific law since the Crofting Acts at the end of the 19th century. There are, in legal terms, six crofting counties in Scotland, and Shetland is one of them. A crofter pays a small rent to a landlord or laird, but has the right to buy out his croft at any time. In reality most crofters retain the rented option as it opens to way to more grants for maintaining the croft.

In the 1890s, Crofting Acts were passed to ensure the rights of tenants in the Crofting counties after the period of enclosures known as the Clearances. In Fetlar, from 1820 onwards, the laird removed tenants from their land and houses to create sheep grazing, which he saw as more economical. There was a mass exodus from the island, and population levels have never recovered to this day.

An important part of the summer agricultural work until the 1950s was cutting, drying and transporting home the peats, which were used for fuel. In Fetlar, this was done using ponies and boats, and there is a good documentary and photographic record of the work. For further information, see Fetlar Interpretive Centre's booklet on "Flittin Peats in Fetlar", priced 6.00.

During the 20th century, most crofts kept cattle, sheep and poultry, as well as horses and Shetland ponies which were indispensible to the croft work. Nowadays, crofting is highly subsidised, but livestock prices have dropped to such an extent that most crofters have a job outside the croft to make the income viable. There are no longer so many cattle in Fetlar - sheep are the main livestock - and subsidies include environmental measures to encourage the preservation of the island's unique bird and wildlife populations.

Agriculture:

Click on a thumbnail picture below to view a larger image and a full detailed description.
Working with corn flail Transporting cattle Loading cattle Rooin sheep Hay work Hay work
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Click on a thumbnail picture below to view a larger image and a full detailed description.
   
Ploughing Cattle auction Children's kishie
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Peat Flitting:

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Bends Klibbers Flittin peats Peat boat Peat house Peat house
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Funded by:
Heritage Lottery Fund
Heritage Lottery Fund

© Fetlar Interpretive Centre
Beach of Houbie, Fetlar, Shetland, ZE2 9DJ
Tel: 01957 733206 email: info@fetlar.com