Uradale Farm covers 750 hectares of mostly heather moorland with some 'green' land and fields for growing crops on the lower land. It is all Organic.
We moved here in 1995 and started to plough and regenerate the inbye land. A new byre was built along with various houses for my extended family.
It carries 700 Shetland ewes and 30 Shetland cows. We sell our lambs and beef to Lidgates of London during September to November each year. We have supplied Lidgates for 10 years now in a successful arrangement. When we started to try selling Native Shetland meats none were wanted, none were available and it was recognised as an inferior product by modern outlets.
Our answer was rather unique back then, but we sought to highlight the differences as benefits.
We have been involved in carrying out extensive scientific investigation of the healthy fats and nutritional analysis of the meats. This has helped explain just how different our produce is from conventional red meats.
More recently we have commenced spinning our own Native Shetland Organic wool in an effort to break into another rather closed market. Our group now offers the only Organic and authentic Native Shetland wool on the market.
Typically, I feed and tend stock myself plus a plethora of other physical work.
I am also Chair of the local Mart and new Abattoir, which is run as a coop for the benefit of the community. This takes up quite a lot of time daily.
When I first bought crofts and started working the land things have changed completely. I was a conventional producer for this area selling store livestock to Scottish farmers and chasing subsidy payments. I reached a nadir around 2000 when Shetland lambs were unsellable and cross breeds could in no way pay.
I myself had worked night and day for so long I could only change totally or give up.
I changed and so did my business. Since then I have been invited to London to address the Food Writers Guild and our lamb has won 2 Gold medals at Smithfield. Now we have made our type of produce an option for others to follow.
Nowadays my sons are seeking to take a hand in the farm and although I still work long hours my focus is on 'sustainable' agricultural systems embedded in their own eco-systems - a bit lofty perhaps, but it makes me feel there is a worthwhile job being done. I am scunnered with moaning farmers/crofters chasing daft subsidies and disingenuous politicians/civil servants, who simply do not care.