A small family farm in the Scottish Highlands, raising Hebridean sheep and Gloucestershire pigs, and using regenerative and sustainable practices – old and new – to bring the family farm back from 30 years of neglect. Share our journey with us!

1. Scottish a flock of sheep
2. Scottish the land grazed by a flock of sheep
– http://www.merriam-webster.com

The Hirsel:
A small family farm in the Scottish Highlands

We raise pure bred Hebridean sheep for their wool, meat, and conservation grazing benefits. An ‘unimproved’ breed, these sheep have survived near extinction, and are gaining in popularity again. We breed both the modern HSS registered (small black) lines, and the ancient colored (red, grey, and white) lines. In spring of this year (September 2020) our first white ram was born, and this autumn we’ll be adding a 4-horned ram to our flock. Future lambing seasons should be very interesting!

Our Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs joined us in the autumn of 2019. This docile and hardy breed is perfect for our mixed terrain farm, and for our style of animal husbandry. They are settling in nicely, plowing our fields for us, and making snacks out of unwanted thistles and reeds.

Still in the development stages, our fruit and veg fields are already supplying our home with yummy produce. We’re able to supply small quantities of tatties to local shops and neighbors, and soon hope to increase our ‘farm to fork’ activities.

Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the Hirsel enjoys stunning views across the farm to the Dornoch Firth. We’re doing all we can to allow that beauty to flourish on The Hirsel, including participating in a 5-year Scottish government Agri-Environmental scheme, which covers one of our largest fields, part of our ancient woodland, and our wetlands.

Our ‘softly softly’ approach to reclaiming the farm from 30 years of neglect means that we push the accumulated overgrowth back just as far as necessary to enable us to tend to our animals and crops, but leave as much ‘wild’ as we can to encourage many species of birds and small mammals to take up residence with us. The wild pheasants especially like cleaning up after the song birds at the bird tree.

There are many ways to farm the land. And many ways to be shepherds. Our animals aren’t pets, but neither are they purely ‘produce’. Even/especially those meant for the abattoir are given the best care and the most love we can, while they’re with us. We do our best to respect our animals’ natural behaviors, while nudging those behaviors in a direction that creates easily handled animals – whether they will be staying with our home flock, or being sold on.