The Glenkens in the New Statistical Account - Agriculture

The Glenkens in the New Statistical Account (NSA)

NSA (1845) Statistical Account of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh – under the supervision of a committee of the society for the benefit of the sons and daughters of the clergy.

Parishes

Balmaclellan (1844)Rev Gavin Cullen & Rev George Murray (pp 98 – 107)

Balmaghie (Laurieston) (1844) Rev Alex. Gibson (pp 178 – 189)

Carsphairn (1839) Rev David Welsh (pp 273 – 281)

Crossmichael (1844) Rev John Whitson (pp 190 – 200)

Dalry (1844) Rev George Paterson (pp 369 – 373)

Kells (New Galloway)(1839 & 1844) Rev James Maitland (pp 108 – 117)

Parton & Corsock (1844) Rev W.G. Crosbie(pp 282 – 286)

Agriculture

Balmaclellan: Until recently the sheep were almost entirely black-faced, more recently crosses have become popular. A few Cheviots had been tried by the crosses were better suited. Galloway cattle were much esteemed, a few people kept Ayrshires. Pigs used to be scarce, but at that time there were many more and 350 were fattened annually for Dumfries market.

The 6 best arable farms in parish were entirely under pasture and the tenants were non resident. Those under tillage were generally over-cropped although this evil was on the decline. On some estates the houses and fences were far from good. On some of these estates sub-letting was carried out for years producing miserable results, but on the whole there was progressive improvement. Landlords on the whole were indulgent, liberal and enlightened.

About 4000 acres was occasionally under tillage. Grain of all kinds, potatoes and turnips were grown. There were about 300 acres of plantation woodland.

Balmaghie: Rent was 15 shillings per Scots acre. Galloways were reared over the whole parish, and some kept a number Ayrshires cows. Highlander cows were grazed on the higher ground, where Black-faced sheep were also the norm. On the richer land Leicester x Mug (Wensleydale) and Leicester x Cheviot were also reared. Cottagers generally kept a couple of pigs, and the farmers were accustomed to allow potato land for the manure thus produced.

Farm steadings were mostly in good repair, as they were all rebuilt at the beginning of the century. A good deal of drainage carried out each year, and as stones were plentiful, tiles were not required.

Oats, barley, potatoes and turnips were the main crops. Bone meal (dust) was used as a turnips fertiliser and about a third of the land was arable. A seven shift rotation was usually followed and cultivation was extending onto lands that could reasonable be expected to make a profitable return. There were about 5472 acres of arable land and 12,046 constantly waste or pasture.

Plantations were doing well, but he thought that they could do with more. Young plantations were of larch, older ones of oak – (these may have been the native woodlands).

Carsphairn: Surface drainage had been carried out foe some years and had improved the sheep walks, but, he thought, generally the appearance of the district had not changed. It would be wrong to say that no improvements had been carried out, for example, a number of farmers had laid down a considerable quantity of lime on the parts of their farms most suitable for ploughing, and as a result had excellent crops. In April 1838, a ploughing match took place on Holm farm, under the auspices of the Glenkens Agricultural Society, where 30 iron ploughs of the most improved construction started, affording an exhibition such as Carsphairn had never before seen. Silver medals were given, one by the Highland Society and one by the Glenkens Society.

The farmers had generally succeeded their fathers and were accustomed to the same mode of farming. The landlords were inferior to none, in his opinion, for their intelligence, and his thinks that because of this, the farmers would not have benefitted by any change.

Expense was not spared in improving the black-faced sheep, but attempts at introducing a white-faced breed had not been successful. The improvements in the sheep had been qualitative, as numbers had not increased since the OSA report. The numbers of black cattle, however, changed frequently, and there were a large number of Highland cattle kept during the winter; these were usually sent to English markets in the flowing summer.

Crossmichael: Much of the parish was susceptible to improvements, but apart from the expense, it would have needed to have been carried out by the landowners. Mostly this would have been drainage, and he thought that because of the soil, main would have been needed. He also remarks about the practice of corn being grown continuously on the same ground, saying that it should be abandoned, and that the land should have been more carefully cleared of weeds and stones.

In spite of this, he says that much improvement has been done and that many had carried out drainage. The practice of feeding turnips to sheep was by then common, and bone meal was being used extensively and improving the ground. The new manure, called guano, had been repeatedly tried and found in almost every instance beyond expectation.

He comments that, Galloway ponies were becoming rare (they subsequently went extinct). He describes them as being 12 – 14 hands high, light bay or brown in colour with black legs. The heads were unusually small, but the whole form of the animal indicated a capacity to endure great fatigue.

Fences were often insecurely built, which he thought must be very annoying, but thorn was often planted in the dykes which protected and perpetuated them.

Rents were 18/- an acre on arable land, and 5/- an acre bog & hill ground. Encrags – (probably Erncrogo) had a meal mill to which almost the entire parish was thirled.

Dalry: The main crops grown were barley, oats, turnips, potatoes and some rye. Surface drains had considerably improved pasture and hay meadows. Most farmers reared sheep and black cattle, but did not fatten them Fences were stone and dykers and road makers were numerous. Farm houses had generally been renewed recently and were chiefly slated.

Kells: The amount of oats produced did not exceed annual consumption. Rent by New Galloway was £2 an acre, but as in other parts of the parish, to arable land was part of extensive stock farms, so that it was difficult to specify a value.

The fences in most cases were exceedingly bad and he thought that there was great scope for improvement in fences, drainage, collecting manure and general farm management. Improvements not as far advanced as other areas due to expense and distance to get lime, this was no reflection on the intelligence, activity or industry of the farmers. He felt that turnips husbandry might be more extensively adopted.

More attention was paid to the stock. He calculated that there were 17,040 sheep in the parish, worth 2/9d a head. There were 565 Highland cattle, grasses nine months of the year and worth £1, 5 shillings a head, 316 Galloways, kept a year on average and worth £2 a head, and 421 cows with followers. There were a great number of pigs kept which were very profitable and almost every cottager was able to fatten one, either for his own use or for the market. Numbers of stock had not really increased, but the quality was much improved.

Parton & Corsock: Most of the cultivatable land was in the interior of the parish and the want of roads was a hindrance to agricultural improvement. He thought that about there were about 500 or 500 acres capable of improvement

The average rental did not exceed 7/- an acre.