Stories

Life as a modern crofter
Portrait of Ealasaid Dick
As all islanders know, life in the islands often means life on the croft and life looking after livestock and animals. Ealsaid Dick is no stranger to croft life, in fact she lives and breathes it at home and in her work.

Ealasaid is a vet currently working on the mainland but living in North Uist. She spends two weeks in Ross-shire and then in her two weeks off she returns to Uist, working her own croft and attending to the plethora of animals she keeps in Carinish.

Ealasaid has always had a passion for animals and the family kept pets all through her life. “I’ve always loved animals. We grew up with a Jack Russel and we also had a parrot, which I used to feed Lego bricks to!” She always knew that her career would take her in the direction of caring for animals and in 2014 her dreams became a reality, graduating as a vet.

Ealasaid holding a chicken

Today, Ealasaid has a menagerie of livestock which she cares for and you can keep updated with them online. Her stock began with pedigree Hebridean sheep, but since then 18 chickens, a gaggle of geese, muscovy ducks, a greylag, a cat and a dog have joined her animal family in Carnish. Her flighty friends give her more variety than a Dulux colour card in her egg basket.

While Ealasaid splits her time between her island home and the mainland she finds that the contrasting landscapes fit her work-life balance. “There is a feeling in Uist, the air is clean and clear, and the landscape is open and exposed. You can hear the birds. We’re so lucky to live here. It’s a magical place” Although in the islands we are blessed with beauty in our environment, we’re often subjected to the rougher side of the forecast “you have to work with nature, rather than against it and work with the elements, the weather and the seasons. It’s part of the charm of North Uist”

Ealasaid is a passionate crofter and sees a huge value in the old traditions of our islands both to the environment and to her own well being “Crofting is about sustainability and using the land. Nature and the animals are so important. They don’t judge, they need you and they give you routine, purpose, and a sense of belonging.” Her year revolves around the routine and the schedule of nature and the indigenous animals of the croft with the season beginning with lambing. “Rolling through the year into the winter can be a challenge, but there is always the brighter and longer days of the spring and the summer to look forward to.”

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