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Life on a Croft in Latheron in the 1930s

You went in the front door of the house and turned right into the kitchen sitting room. There was a peat fire that was never let out it was at night banked and peats were put under the fire where the ashes went. (Rhona Macgregor states: ďI have never heard of peats being put underneath the fire - usually a fire was rested with a thick heavy peat on top.Ē)  It had an iron swing out (called a sway) where the pots were hung on and then swung back over the fire.  There were two big barrels in the room, one beside the fire and the other one over the other side.  One held flour for baking and the other held oatmeal for oatcakes and making oat bread. They were pretty heavy barrels. (Most people had meal in kists. A lot of bere meal scones were made).  On the wall opposite the fire was the box bed built into the wall with a curtain in front.  There was a dresser up against one wall and a settle, which it was called then but it was made of wood. There was a door on the right of the bed which led into a small bedroom where Granny was in bed all the time I knew her, she got lifted out for her bed to get washed, but I never saw her up in the sitting room.  Her hands were very twisted with arthritis.  On the other side of the hall was a bedroom which had the usual furnishes and the bed.

Outside, the farm was built in a square or as I should say in a ĎUí shape because it was open at one end.  There was the house at the east side a gap then between the house and the stable with about 4 stalls in it and a hay loft above.  Next door was going west the byre for the cows then at the side of the U behind the house was the mill.  It was a threshing mill with a shaft that went out to the west side of the barn and there was a circular footpath where the horse that was yoked to the shaft went round, working the mill, which threshed the corn (oats).  Then there was the agricultural instruments shed where plough, harrow and various items of that sort were kept. Next was the hen house and next to it the pig sty. The south end of the U was open and the south end a few yards from the house was the peat stack. My Uncle Rob cut the peats at the far side of Achow. (Usually this required at least 2 people) They were cut out of the wet bog, set up on top and left to dry in the summer weather and then brought home loaded in the lorry.  The stack was built and that was the winter supply of fuel.  There was no coal used at all.  From the front door there was a reasonable sized garden where vegetables were grown and there were some fruit trees and berries in there.  But it wasnít cultivated to any great extent.

The house that Granny lived in, I understood was the second house to be built there, the ruins of the first house were a few yards behind it, and the stones from the first house were used to build the second house.  The house was whitewashed with of course a thatched roof, I also donít remember it ever being rethatched but it must have been during that time.  There was no running water in the house. There was a burn which flowed to the north of the building some distance away. The well for fresh water was taken from this burn.  You carried two pails and a hoop, it was wooden, sometimes round and sometimes square, that held the pails hanging straight down and so that water didnít overspill.  If your tried to carry pails in your hand the water would spill before you carried them back to the house. That was a daily trip and rainwater was used for washing.1

 1. Source: Internet Genealogy page on the Bain family, also links to Sutherland and Mackay.  The only other evidence re. the author is that the Great-Grandparents of the author of the page were Donald Mackay and Christina Sutherland, Donald was a crofter/fisherman.