National Geographic : 1968 Mar
Since most Gairloch folk are MacKenzies, and many of them Kenneths, I had some dif ficulty in locating a certain other Kenneth MacKenzie, wed to the daughter of still an other Kenneth MacKenzie. This particular Kenneth, I'd been told, was the most ambi tious crofter in the region. I found him at last, a lithe and lively young man with a red beard (page 422), living in a new croft house with electricity and plumbing. His dark-eyed wife Isabel had an electric stove. They had a radio, new furniture, and coal (not peat) for their fireplace. Both had jobs in Gairloch. But Kenny also worked seven crofts of four acres each, and ran some 260 head of sheep. "There's abandoned land here," he said, "and I'm asking to take over more of it. Extra crofts would get me extra soumings so that I might get 600 sheep on the hill. Then I'd have a fairly good living." In the old days Gairloch men supplemented crofting with fishing. Most have now given up the sea, but I found one Gairloch lad who Awash with purple, a field near Loch Maree wears its fall garment of heather in bloom. The heath is not only beautiful to look at, but its nectar is transformed by bees into a distinctive honey. Wall of rich brown peat means winter warmth for a Sutherland crofter. Men cut "peats" in the spring and the women stack them to dry. In the fall the fuel is carried to the homestead. Families take pride in having a large, neatly stacked supply in their yards.