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Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
On the Agriculture of the County of Sutherland


By James Macdonald, Aberdeen.
[PremiumThirty Sovereigns.]

Excepting Caithness, Sutherland is the most northern county in the mainland of Scotland. It is situated between 57° 53' and 58° 33' N. latitude, and between 3° 40' and 5° 13' W. longitude from London. It is separated from Caithness on the east by a winding range of hills, and from Ross-shire on the south and south-west by the Dornoch Firth and the river Oikel, and some smaller streams. On the south-east it is washed for a distance of about 32 miles by the Moray Firth; on the west, for over 40 miles by the Minch, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean; and on the north, for about 50 miles by the waters of the Northern Sea. In form the county thus presents five sides, the longest, about 52 miles, being the south and south-west side, and the shortest, about 32 miles, that on the south-east. The extent is variously estimated—in the Return of Owners of Lands and Heritages, at 1,299,253 acres; and the Board of Trade Returns at 1,207,188 acres, or the seventeenth part of the whole surface of Scotland.

From the Parliamentary Return of Owners of Lands and Heritages in Scotland, compiled in 1872-3, it is seen that in Sutherland there are 433 owners of land, the total area of whose property is estimated at 1,299,253 acres, and the gross annual value at £71,494, 7s. Though, according to this estimate of its size, it is exceeded in extent by only four counties in Scotland, Sutherland has the smallest number of proprietors, with the exception of the small divided county of Cromarty. It stands thirtieth in regard to gross annual value. Of owners of land whose property extends to or exceeds 1 acre, it claims 85, while of owners of 100 acres and upwards (excluding railway proprietors) it has only 23, the total area of whose property is estimated at 1,297,301, and the gross annual value at £65,949, 7s. Eleven proprietors exceed 1000 acres in extent; the gross annual value of six exceeds £500; while only three Sutherland owners draw over £1000 a-year from land in the county. These latter three are:—

It will thus be seen that while it is not absolutely correct to say that the Duke of Sutherland owns the whole of the county whose name he bears, His Grace's dominions in the far north have wide limits. He in fact not only owns by several times the largest landed property in the United Kingdom, but possesses more than nine-tenths of the fifth largest county in Scotland.

The Valuation Roll for 1878-79 shows that the gross annual value of the county, exclusive of railways and the royal burgh of Dornoch, was £87,795, 3s. 2d.; that the annual value of railways amounts to £7144; and that the annual value of the burgh of Dornoch is £874, 10s.; making in all, £95,813, 13s. 2d. The Board of Trade Returns for the present year (1879) state the area under all kinds of crops, bare fallow and grass, at 29,441 acres;—wheat, 27; barley or here, 2268; oats, 7809; rye, 87; peas, 44;—total under cereals, 10,235 acres. The acreage under green crops was—potatoes, 1929 acres; turnips, 3232; mangold, 1; rape, 19; vetches or other green crops, 46;— total of green crops, 5227 acres. The area under grasses in rotation is 7617 acres, and of permanent pasture, exclusive of heath or mountain land, 6102. Of bare fallow there were 260 acres.

The Norse Teutons who, prior to the twelfth century, had settled in Caithness, and frequently plundered farther south, gave the name of Sutherland to this county, from the fact that it formed the southern limit of their possessions. Indeed, it is barely a century ago since it was separated from the sheriffdom of Caithness and formed into a sheriffdom by itself. It contains thirteen parishes, and, in addition, part of the parish of Reay extends across the Caithness boundary into this county. It sends one representative to Parliament, the sitting member being the Marquis of Stafford; while the royal burgh of Dornoch joins with Dingwall, Tain, Cromarty, Wick, and Kirkwall in electing another. Mr John Pender at present occupies this latter seat.

Dornoch is the only royal burgh in the county. It was created so by Charles I. in 1628, and is mentioned frequently in ancient northern history. The circumstance which, according to tradition, gave to Dornoch the name it now bears is so peculiar as to deserve notice. Dornoch is derived from the Gaelic words Dorn-Eich, which signify a horse's foot or hoof; and a writer in the "Old Statistical Account of Scotland" says—"About the year 1259, the Danes and Norwegians having made a descent on this coast were attacked by William, Thane or Earl of Sutherland, a quarter of a mile to the eastward of this town. Here the Danish general was slain, and his army beaten, and forced to retire to their ships, which were not far distant. The Earl of Sutherland greatly signalised himself upon this occasion; and appears, by his personal valour and exertion, to have contributed very much to determine the fate of the day. While he singled out the Danish general, and gallantly fought his way onwards, the Thane, being by some accident disarmed, seized the leg of a horse, which lay on the ground, and with that despatched his adversary. In honour of this exploit, and of the weapon with which it was achieved, this place received the name of Dorneich, or Dornoch, as it is now called. This tradition is countenanced by the horseshoe, which is still retained in the arms of the burgh." Dornoch boasts of a beautiful cathedral which, according to Sir Robert Gordon's "History of Sutherland" (1630-32), was founded by St Bar, Bishop of Caithness, in the eleventh century. Gilbert Murray, consecrated Bishop in 1222, transformed the original church into a magnificent cathedral, which unfortunately was reduced to ruins by fire in 1570 by John Sinclair, Master of Caithness, and Iye Mackay of Strathnaver, who, taking advantage of the minority of Alexander, Earl of Sutherland, besieged and plundered Dornoch with a small army from Caithness. Fortunately the old tower was saved, and so also were some fine Gothic arches, but the handsome stone pillars that supported the latter were destroyed by a terrific gale of wind on the 5th November 1605,—the day, by the way, on which the Gunpowder Plot was discovered. The Earl of Sutherland partially repaired the cathedral in 1614, so as to make it suitable as a place of worship, and in 1863 the late Duchess-Countess of Sutherland re-erected the edifice, and embellished it with even more than its former grandeur. The Sutherland family have a burying place within the cathedral, and in the east aisle are a beautiful marble statue of the first Duke of Sutherland, by Chantrey, and a tablet to commemorate the many virtues of the Duchess-Countess of Sutherland, both of whose remains lie in that aisle. Sir Robert Gordon states that all the glass required for the church erected by St Bar was made by St Gilbert, at Sidry, two miles west from the town of Dornoch; and that adjoining this church Sir Patrick Murray, between the years 1270 and 1280, established a monastery of Trinity Friars. Since the commencement of the present century the town of Dornoch, like the whole of the county, has been vastly improved. Little more than fifty years ago there were a good many feel or turf houses in the burgh, and now the buildings are as a rule neat and commodious, built of stone and lime and slated. Several of the more important buildings indeed are very handsome, and would do credit to a much larger town. Situated as Dornoch is in an out-of-the-way angle of the county, its trade is limited, and in 1871 its population was only 625. The scenery around Dornoch is very beautiful, and regarding its links Sir John Sinclair says—"About the town along the sea-coast there are the fairest and largest links, or green fields, in any parts of Scotland, fit for archery, golfing, and all other exercise. They do surpass the fields of Montrose and St Andrews." The thriving modern village of Clashmore lies about three miles north of Dornoch, and near to it stands Skibo Castle, the handsome residence of Mr Evan Charles Sutherland-Walker of Skibo. A castle with garrison, under the charge of a general officer, formerly stood for centuries on the site of this mansion, and history and tradition tell us that around it many a bloody conflict took place. In 1650 the brave but ill-fated Marquis of Montrose, after his defeat by the Presbyterian army near Bonar Bridge, and capture and betrayal by Neil Macleod of Assynt, lodged two nights as a prisoner in Skibo Castle.

Twelve and a half miles along the coast northwards lies the beautifully situated prosperous village of Golspie, with a population (1871) of 1074. As in Dornoch, the majority of the dwelling-houses in Golspie were, at the beginning of the present century, of the most primitive description, and the inhabitants were chiefly fisher people. Now, however, its houses are all substantial and comfortable, many of them very large and handsome. It is entitled to be ranked as the most prosperous village in the county. A convenient pier, accessible at low water, constructed by the Duke of Sutherland at Little Ferry, about three and a half miles distant from the village, has proved a great acquisition. Both by road and rail Golspie is also well-appointed.

Dunrobin Castle, the chief seat of the Sutherland family, and, without doubt, the most magnificent of all the many mansions in Scotland, sits majestically on a beautiful spot on the sea-coast about a mile north of Golspie. Part of the castle is said to be the oldest inhabited house in Britain, but a great portion is of modern construction, having been erected between 1845 and 1851 by the second Duke and Duchess. The style of architecture is chaste and elegant, while the interior is, if possible, still more grand, the paintings and other works of art being numerous and of great value. The policies are extensive and beautiful; and the wardens lying between the castle and the sea, "remarkable alike for their extent, beauty, and productions." From the higher windows of the castle the view is extensive, varied, and picturesque. Overlooking the castle stands the romantic Ben-Bhraggie, on the top of which there is a monument 70 feet high, surmounted by a colossal statue 30 feet high, of the first Duke of Sutherland, who died in 1834. This monument, erected by Her Grace's tenantry and friends, is said to have a higher site (1300 feet) than any other monument in the kingdom. Nearer there are handsome monuments of the second Duke and Duchess and other members of the noble family of Sutherland, all of whom have served well their day and generation.

At Brora, in the parish of Clyne, there is a prosperous growing village, fostered mainly by improvements and various works carried on by the Duke of Sutherland. The village of Helmsdale, situated at the mouth of the river of that name, has a larger population, chiefly dependent on the herring fishing. There are numerous other small villages throughout the county, that of Tongue on the west coast being snugly situated amidst the most charming of Highland scenery.

The general configuration of Sutherland is wild and mountainous in the extreme. Along the south-east coast there is a flat fertile border, varying from little more than half a mile to over two miles and a half in breadth, laid off in well-appointed farms, and yielding profitable crops. The coast on the west and north, on the contrary, is bare, bold, and precipitous, abounding in rocky promontories and numerous inlets of the sea; while "the whole of the interior," says one writer, "is mountainous, varied with elevated plateaus covered with heath, vast fields of peat bog, some pleasant straths of average fertility, watered by considerable streams and numerous lakes, embosomed either in bleak dismal regions of moorland, or begirt by a series of hills of conglomerate, whose naked and rugged sides have no covering even of heather. Wildness and sterility are the great features of the landscape, the dreary monotony being seldom relieved by tree or shrub; and this uniformity of desolation is only occasionally broken by some glen or strath presenting itself as an oasis of verdure in the bleak desert." This picture, rough though it be, is in the main correct; but it barely does justice to the straths, some of which, considering their high northern latitude, are of more than average fertilitv, while a few of the lakes are girt by beautiful fringes of natural wood, which have a wonderful softening effect on the general sterility around.

Ben-More-Assynt reaches a height of 3235 feet; Ben-Clibrig, 3157 feet; and Ben-Hope, 3040 feet; while Ben-Laoghal (Loyal), Ben-Horn, Ben-Bhraggie, and others follow, at lower elevations. Ben-Loyal, viewed from the west or the north-west, is considered one of the most beautiful mountains in the British Isles, and has engaged the brush of not a few noted artists.

There are "literally hundreds" of lochs in the county, and in all they are estimated to cover close on 34,000 acres. The -larger are—Loch Shin, 16 miles long and about 1 mile broad; Loch Assynt, 8 miles long and 1 mile broad; Loch Naver, Loch Hope, Loch Loyal, and Loch More. Naturally, from the narrow limits of the northern peninsula, of which this county forms the southern portion, the river courses are short, but some of them —those that flow through lakes—discharge more water than many rivers that run over twice as great a distance. The four larger rivers—viz., the Oikel, Fleet, Brora, and Helmsdale rivers —flow eastward into the Dornoch and Moray Firth sections of the German Ocean. The Oikel, flowing out of Loch Ailsh, and receiving its tributary, the Shin, at Invershin, is an excellent salmon and trout river, and forms the boundary line between Boss and Sutherland for close on 30 miles. The Fleet is formed by some small streams in the parish of Rogart, and after a short run expands into Loch Fleet, which joins the firth at Little Ferry, a few miles south of Golspie. Brora has its source in the parish of Lairg, and, including the loch, it is about 24 miles in length, or about 4 miles more than the course of the Helmsdale river. The principal rivers on the west coast are the Halladale, which rises in the heights of Kildonan, and, after threading through a beautiful strath close on 20 miles in length, empties itself into the North Sea at Melvich; the Naver, which has its source in Loch Naver, which is about 24 miles in length, draining the most beautiful and valuable strath in the county; the Dionard, Kirkaig, and Inver. The smaller streams are innumerable.

So high an authority as Mr J. Watson-Lyall asserts that Sutherland is, "without exception, the best angling county in Scotland—especially for trout......Many of the lochs of Sutherland are splendid sheets of water, and many are nameless mountain tarns; but even those least inviting in appearance hold lots of trout. No one who wants really good trout-fishing should hesitate to penetrate into Sutherland." The greater number of the lochs and streams can be fished for trout by strangers who are guests at the hotels on the Duke of Sutherland's property. On many of the lochs and rivers there is also good salmon-fishing, but in most cases it is let to shooting or other tenants. The Duke of Sutherland has for several years carried on at Brora, under the management of Mr Dunbar of Brawl Castle, extensive experiments on the breeding of salmon; and, by introducing into the streams of Sutherland the salmon of such rivers as the Tweed, the Tay, and the Thurso, he has very greatly increased the value of the salmon fishing on his property. To those who prefer the gun to the rod there is also strong attraction in Sutherland. It contains many excellent grouse moors and a few good deer forests. The largest of the latter is Reay Forest, rented by the Duke of Westminster at £1290.

Sutherland stands twenty-third in Scotland in regard to the area under wood. In 1853 that area was estimated at 10,812¾ acres, but according to a Board of Trade Return in 1872 it was then only 7296 acres. The natural clumps of shrubbery along the straths in the interior have been gradually disappearing, and it may be that a greater area of these was included in the estimate of 1853 than in that of 1872. About the beginning of the present century, the extent under plantations of fir and hard wood was estimated at about 936 acres, and under natural wood or shrubbery, in the straths of the several rivers and rivulets, at 1350—making in all, 2286 acres. Between 1836 and 1842, new plantations, extending to 2091 acres, were formed under the direction of Mr James Loch, commissioner to the Duke of Sutherland, at a total cost of £2344; and an interesting report on the improvement will be found in vol. i. 3d series, of the "Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society," p. 36. Since 1872 the area under wood has been considerably increased by new plantations formed in connection with the land reclamations. These plantations will be referred to hereafter.

When it is mentioned that, according to a liberal estimate, barely one-twenty-fifth part of the county is capable of being-cultivated, it will easily be understood that Sutherland does not occupy a prominent position from a strictly agricultural point of view. In regard to the total area under crops, bare fallow, and grass, it stands twenty-ninth among the Scotch counties— Nairn, Bute, Selkirk, and Clackmannan ranking below it. Nairn has a slightly greater area under regular cultivation, but, on the other hand, Shetland has a less area under rotation, so that, likewise from that point of view, Sutherland is still left twenty-ninth in order. In reference to the proportion or percentage of the total area of the county occupied by "crops, bare fallow, and grass," it is lowest on the list. Another illustration of the mountainous and sterile character of the main portion of Sutherland is supplied by the fact that the total valuation of the county, as returned in the Valuation Boll for 1878-79 (including railways and the royal burgh of Dornoch), is equal to only about 1s. 7d. per acre—the lowest by far of any of the Scotch counties. Limited, however, as is its arable area, Sutherland has, in regard to the system of management pursued on most of its farms, pushed itself, with commendable spirit, fully abreast of the times. Indeed, on the larger and better arable farms of Sutherland, the modern and improved systems of farming are carried out with as much success and perfection as in the Lothians, or in any of the other better favoured regions of Scotland. The wealth and reputation, however, of Sutherland lies chiefly in its sheep farming, for which its long-winding straths and wide mountain ranges are admirably adapted; and which is carried on, not only on a very extensive scale, but also in a most advanced, systematic, and successful manner.

As shall be afterwards shown, Sutherland was the last county in Scotland to be opened up, as it were, to free intercourse with the outer world. Indeed, up to the commencement of the present century, it may be said to have been locked up by water and mountain. But now, both internally and with the world beyond, it enjoys ample means of communication. By the liberality and enterprise of the Duke of Sutherland, the Highland Railway was extended to Golspie in 1868, and to Helmsdale three years later; while in 1874 the same line was continued to Wick and Thurso. The active laudable interest His Grace has taken in the conferring of the inestimable boon of a railway system on the Highlands of Scotland is well testified by his contributions towards that object, which are stated at £301,000. The line from Bonar Bridge to Golspie cost him £116,000, and from Golspie to Helmsdale, £60,000, while he contributed other £60,000 towards the extension of the system to Caithness. It is worthy of mention, that in the formation of the line from Golspie to Helmsdale, the Duke acted as his own contractor, the work having been carried out under his own personal supervision.

Population.

It is not the writer's intention to discuss what are known as the "Sutherland clearances." Fitly termed a " vexed question," it is outside the legitimate scope of this report, inasmuch as the operations so named occurred about sixty years ago. It may just be explained, in a word, what these clearances really were. Previous to 1811, the various straths that intersect the county were peopled more or less densely by a class of small tenants, who were dependent for their sustenance mainly on potatoes and inferior and ill-fed cattle and sheep. Through severe winters, which sadly thinned the ranks of their cattle and sheep, these tenants and their families were frequently reduced to absolute dependence on their landlords and other superiors for food sufficient to sustain life. It was thought desirable that some change should be made in the condition of the people, both for their own interests and with the view of properly developing the resources of the county. The subject was remitted by Lord Stafford, the first Duke of Sutherland, to eminent agriculturists, who reported in effect "that the mountainous parts of the estate, and indeed of the county of Sutherland, were as much calculated for the maintenance of stock as they were unfit for the habitation of man;" and that it seemed "as if it had been pointed out by nature that the system for this remote district, in order that it might bear its suitable importance in contributing its share to the general stock of the country, was to convert the mountainous districts into sheep-walks, and to remove the inhabitants to the coast, or to the valleys near the sea." The movements thus indicated were carried into effect about the time already mentioned,—between 1810 and 1820,—the great bulk of the small tenants and their families having been settled near the coast, where a limited piece of land was allotted to each at a merely nominal rent. It is stated also that a few, who preferred that step, were conveyed to Canada at Lord Stafford's expense; but it is denied that the population of the county was reduced to any appreciable extent by emigration due to these "clearances." As to what extent the removing of these small tenants from the interior to the coast has affected the population of Sutherland, I shall not hazard an opinion; but it may be observed, in treating of this portion of the subject, that the manner in which the county is mainly occupied, as sheep-walks and deer forests—chiefly the former—naturally implies a "maximum of territory, with a minimum of industry and population." Captain John Henderson, in his admirable work on the "Agriculture of Sutherland," published in 1812, calls the county "a nursery of brave, hardy Highlanders," but they have now become scarce; and in bringing about the change there have no doubt been more agencies at work than emigration and the introduction and extension of sheep-farming,—such, for instance, as the abolition of private or "family" regiments, and the high rate of wages in the south.

The inhabited houses in 1871 numbered 4814, so that there is rather more than an average of five persons to each house. Of the population in 1871 there were 11,408 males and 12,909 females. The present population is equal to about one person for every 50 acres, the proportion of land to each person in Boss and Cromarty being exactly one-half of that extent. What may be termed the natives of Sutherland, the descendants of the "ancient inhabitants," like those of Boss and Cromarty, belong to one or other of the branches of the Celtic race, and have pursued similar habits in social life. Sutherland, too, has had a full share with its neighbours in regard to invasion and plunder, the fierce Norsemen and the Danes having made frequent raids on the county, leaving behind them indisputable traces of their presence, as well as of the character of their mission. In the parish of Golspie there are the ruins of three "Pictish Towers," built and used, it is supposed, by the Danes. One of the three is situated near Dunrobin Castle, and is in a wonderfully good state of preservation. The north and west coast abounds with these ruins. One in Strathmore, in the parish of Durness—"Donnadillee"—is the most perfect in the county, the walls still standing to a height of 20 or 30 feet above ground. Interesting, however, as they are, space cannot be devoted to these points. Gaelic is still the "every-day" language of the older or bona fide natives of Sutherland, not a few of whom understand very little English, and can speak still less, or even none at all. But, under the bracing current of national education, and the ever-increasing intercourse between the inhabitants of the Highlands and other parts of the country, the Celtic language is fast dying out, and perhaps, except from a philological point of view, is doomed to extinction at no distant date. Since the commencement of the present century, more particularly during the past twenty-five years, a large number of farmers and others from the south and north-east of Scotland have settled in Sutherland, and these fresh infusions have materially modified the habits of the people, as well as tended to hasten the demise of Gaelic. The dwelling-houses of the smaller tenants have been greatly improved during the past quarter of the century, chiefly by the proprietors; and there are now comparatively few of those low, black, uncomfortable "feal" houses that were to be seen everywhere throughout the county, even in villages and the royal burgh of Dornoch, at the commencement of the present century. These small tenants hold their lots of land at low rents, are as a rule sober and of good moral character, and are more industrious, better educated, better fed, and better clothed, as well as better housed, than when they were scattered along the straths in the interior. Sutherland was long ill-provided with educational machinery. About the commencement of the present century it is stated that it had a Gaelic teacher in each parish, paid at the rate of from £15 to £27 a-year, and that the number of scholars was about 1012, or in the proportion of about 1 to every 21 of the population. The Education (Scotland) Act, 1872, however, has supplied all wants in this direction; and, though the school rates are high at present, great advantages must flow from the superior education now being diffused throughout the county. With parishes of so large an area and so thinly spread a population, it has been found to be no easy matter to carry out the Education Act properly in Sutherland, but the School Boards of the county have displayed much care and ability, and have, as a rule, done their work well. One difficulty was to know how to extend the benefits of the Act to the families of shepherds who reside away among the mountain ranges, perhaps 12 or 20 miles from the nearest school. This is now being satisfactorily accomplished by female teachers, who "go the round" of these outlying houses teaching a week or a fortnight in one family, and a like period in another.

Climate.

The climate varies considerably in different districts of the county. On the east coast, that is to say, on the narrow irregular stretch of country that lies between the mountain range and the German Ocean, the climate is dry and mild. Captain Henderson says, "Though the east coast of Sutherland is 3° farther north than East Lothian, there is much less difference between the two in regard to climate than could well be imagined. The spring may be two weeks later, and the winter may commence two weeks earlier, but the summers are equally warm, if not warmer, and the winters not colder." Snow seldom lies long on the ground in this part of the country, and the rainfall cannot be said to be heavy, about 31 inches, or little over the average for Easter Boss. The prevailing winds blow from the west and north-west, but the moisture they absorb in their long course over the Atlantic Ocean is mostly deposited among the broad range of hills and dales which are passed before the east coast is reached. These winds, indeed, bring only occasional showers over upon the east coast. The easterly winds, next in frequency, as a rule bring rain and cloudy weather, sometimes very heavy falls of rain; but these gales and rainfalls are usually succeeded by a period of mild dry weather. The southerly winds, which are not frequent, are seldom accompanied by rain. The land in some parts of the east coast, in a good season, is ready for the seed by about the middle of March, when several farmers commence sowing; and on the earlier farms harvest commences about the middle of August, being general all along the east coast by the middle of September. Among the hills in the interior of the county the climate, as would be expected, is cold, boisterous, and wet, the winters being long and severe, and the springs late and cold. Though a good deal of snow falls during winter, it does not, as a rule, lie long to a great depth on the ground. Last winter snow lay in the greater portion of the county to a depth of nearly 2 feet for about four months, but it was one of the most severe winters that have ever been experienced in the Highlands of Scotland, and, excepting along the west coast, showed little partiality in its visitation. In the straths which intersect the county the climate is wonderfully mild. The valley of Kildonan, inland and mountainous though that district is, is almost as mild and genial as along the east coast; and, on the few irregular fields by the river side, oats are usually ready for the sickle at least two weeks earlier than on an average farm in the counties of Aberdeen and Banff. Frosts, however, visit the straths early in the autumn, while, especially in those towards the west coast, a great deal of rain falls. In the Assynt district the climate is moist, the annual rainfall being about 60 inches. Owing to the sea breeze and the influence of the Gulf Stream, snow does not lie long excepting on the more elevated parts. Towards Durness the temperature becomes colder, more particularly northwards from Cape "Wrath, where the influence of the Gulf Stream is less felt than south of that bold promontory. Around Tongue the climate is surprisingly dry and mild, the rainfall being only about 36 inches, and the mean temperature 45°. Snow seldom lies long near the coast, and the winter, as a rule, is comparatively mild and open, spring being generally more severe than winter owing to the prevalence of cold northerly, north-easterly, and easterly winds, which often seriously retard vegetation. In favourable seasons the grain is usually harvested by the middle of September. On the higher lands near the west coast a great deal of rain falls; but a heavy covering of snow seldom continues long.

The climate of Sutherland is generally regarded as very healthy for both animal and vegetable life; indeed, Captain Henderson states that "it is so healthy that one medical man is all that can earn a livelihood from his profession in the county;" while it has been said that, even as late as about 1840, apothecaries' drugs were almost never called for. But now Sutherland has a larger share of both than in these more primitive times. As already stated, the annual rainfall at Scourie, in the Assynt district, on the west coast, is about 60 inches, and at Tongue, on the northern coast, about 36 inches. The following table shows the amount of the rainfall at the Dunrobin Castle Gardens in each of the past ten years:—

Geology.—Soils.

The relations between underlying strata and surface soils are generally so intimate that, rule, a report on the agriculture of a county or district would be incomplete without some sketch of the geological formation; but, in this case, there are circumstances which make it undesirable to occupy space with such an account. In the first place, the subject has already been ably dealt with in the "Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society" by Mr E. J. Hay Cunningham, M.W.S., whose admirable "Geognostical Account of the County of Sutherland" appears in vol. vii., 2d series, p. 73. Again, the exceptionally small portion of the soil of the county that is worked for agricultural purposes makes a lengthy sketch of its geology less desirable than it otherwise would be. A few sentences will therefore suffice. Generally speaking, it may be said that the underlying strata of the county belong to the Primitive and Transition systems, the Primary rocks consisting chiefly of coarse granite, gneiss, syenitic gneiss, and mica-schist. Sir Humphrey Davy examined the east coast of the county, and from his manuscript report, which is treasured in Dunrobin Castle, lengthy extracts are given in the "New Statistical Account of Scotland." He states that the Primary hills in the neighbourhood of Dunrobin are composed of felspar, quartz, mica, and horneblende; that the only veins he had seen in the rocks were quartz, in which there were no indications of metallic foundations; and that the highest Secondary hills in that district, extending in a line from Loch Brora to Strathfleet, are composed of hard silicious sandstone and pudding stone, containing large fragments of the Primary rocks. The Transition rocks of Sutherland, he says, are not numerous nor wide-spread; but some of the hills in the immediate neighbourhood of Dunrobin and Strathfleet, Ben Bhraggie, Ben Horn, and the Silver Hill, for instance, are composed of red transition and breccia, the sandstone being in some parts white, in some grey, and in others iron-brown. The Secondary rocks, which he says are more interesting, occupy but a small space, and are probably incumbent on the red sandstone and breccia referred to. "The true Secondary strata of the east coast of the county occupy an extent of 6 or 7 miles, filling up a sort of basin between the Transition hills in the neighbourhood of Dunrobin and those in the parish of Loth. The upper stratum is a sandstone of different degrees of hardness and composed of silicious sand cemented by silicious matter. Below this occurs an aluminous shale containing pyritous matter, carbonaceous matter, the remains of marine animals, and of land vegetables. Beneath this shale, or rather alternating with it, a stratum occurs, containing in some of its parts calcareous matter and passing into limestone, but in general consisting of a silicious sand agglutinated by calcareous cement. The coal-measures occupy the lowest part of this Secondary district which has yet been exposed. The hard sandstone is principally composed of pure silicious earth. It is not acted upon by acids, and is not liable to be decomposed by the action of air and water. The shale contains no calcareous matter near its junction with the coal. The limestones found in the Secondary strata contain no magnesian earth, and are adulterated only with aluminous and silicious earths and oxide of iron. They differ very much in purity in different parts." Another writer says that gneiss composes at least four-fifths of the whole surface of the county, and that the Old Bed Sandstone occurs in patches both on the northwest towards Cape Wrath, and on the south-east along the Dornoch Birth. In the last portion he says it is succeeded by one of the most remarkable geological formations in Scotland, the Brora coalfield, in connection with which there are strata of lias and oolite found in no other part of Scotland, except a small patch on the west of the town of Campbeltown in Kintyre and a few patches in the Western Isles. On the north-west the rocky headlands consist of the Laurentian gneiss, while above it "lie isolated mountains of Cambrian sandstone." There are also strata of the Lower Silurian system, the limestones of which are wrought for estate improvements, by the Duke of Sutherland, at Eriboll, on the west coast, and at Shiness, on Loch Shin, in the interior.

As already stated, the arable land in the county is confined mainly to a narrow fringe along the south-east coast. Here the most general soil is a light sandy loam that yields liberally under generous treatment. Between Bonar Bridge and Dornoch the soil is light gravelly loam. In the parish of Dornoch it is clayey inland and sandy near the sea, with an irregular belt of black loam intervening. The soil on the arable land in the Golspie district varies from very light sand to medium clay, the most general and best being loam with a slight admixture of clay. Sir H. Davy says that the soils of the coast-side lands between Little Ferry, a few miles south of Golspie, and Helmsdale, seem to be formed principally from the decomposition of sandstone rock, which in some parts approaches in its nature to shale. The soils in Strathfleet appeared to him to have been produced by the decomposition of Transition sandstone and breccias. Around Brora the soil is light and gravelly, but in Loth there is some excellent heavy land; one hollow on the farm of Crakaig, in particular, being covered with deep bluish clay. "Prior to the sixteenth century," says Captain Henderson, "the river of Loth, as it emerged from the mountains, turned due north, running parallel to the sea, at the distance of about a quarter of a mile from it, through what is now called the Yale of Loth, and there formed a swamp or marsh, divided from the sea by sandy banks, until an enterprising Countess of Sutherland caused a course to be cut for the river to the sea, through a rocky eminence." By this means about 100 acres of excellent carse land were reclaimed, and being well drained, it yields good crops of wheat, barley, oats, turnips, and grass. Around Helmsdale the soil is light but fertile, while along the Helmsdale or Kildonan Strath there are several small haughs of similar soil, with rather less sand, that yield good crops of oats and turnips. The soil on the higher banks along this strath consists of reddish gritty sand and peat-earth, in which are embedded numerous detached pieces of granite rock or pudding stone. In Strathbrora and Strathfleet there are also several good small pieces of haugh land, some being of medium loam; while in the parishes of Rogart and Lairg there is a considerable extent of light gravelly loam, mixed with moss, and lying on a clayey subsoil. Perhaps nine-tenths of the interior, however, is covered with peat-earth, and there are many broad swamps of deep moss. The surface of the Assynt district is so rough and rocky that, with the exception of a few spots consisting chiefly of moss, it contains no land suitable for cultivation. The same may almost be said of the parishes of Eddrachillis and Durness, although there are several good patches of mixed gravel and moss, and a few small pieces of fair loam. In Durness there are three farms—Balnakiel, Eriboll, Keoldale—with arable land attached—150 acres to each of the two former, and 100 acres to the latter. It is also a good grazing parish, the limestone which underlies its surface-soil proving a valuable stimulant to its pasture. The arable land in the parishes of Tongue, Parr, and Reay lies mostly along the coast, and the soil on a few spots is good black loam, on other parts sandy loam, but on the greater portion a varying mixture of moss, gravel, and clay, which yields good crops under liberal treatment. Along Strathnaver, the finest strath perhaps in the county, there is a considerable extent of good haugh land, a mixture of sand, gravel, and moss, which was for many years previous to 1820 cultivated by over 300 families. On the banks of the river Strathy there are some patches of thin fertile sandy land. In Strathhalladale there were at the beginning of the present century about 300 acres of light soil, similar to that in Strathnaver, cultivated in small holdings.

Condition of the County Seventy Years ago. Sutherland was the last county in Scotland to throw off what may be called the thraldom of the dark ages. After the other counties in the Highlands had enjoyed improved communication with the world beyond, Sutherland still lay in a manner locked up by sea and mountain; while devoid as it was of what could be called roads, and consisting as it does almost entirely of "one uninterrupted succession of wild mountain or deep morass," the intercourse between the different districts within the county itself was "confined exclusively, or nearly so, to the exertions of those who could travel on foot, and even this mode of communication, except to the natives who were brought up to such toil and exertion, was almost impracticable," not to say dangerous, "in passing precipices or struggling through swamps." The proprietors and other leading inhabitants of Sutherland, however, early availed themselves of the Act passed by Parliament in 1803, giving aid in the construction of roads and bridges in the Highlands of Scotland;—they even took the lead of their brethren in Ross, Cromarty, and Inverness in the matter—and with commendable spirit set to work to open up the county. The two main obstructions were the Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet but at last both were successfully overcome. Across the former at Bonar, a very handsome bridge was constructed by Mr Telford at a cost of £13,971. It consists of two stone arches of 50 and 60 feet span respectively, and one iron arch of 150 feet span; while on the Ross-shire side an extensive embankment had to be made. The work was begun in July 1811 and completed in November 1812. Mr James Loch, commissioner on the Sutherland estates, in his interesting account of the Stafford improvements, published in 1820, states that the iron portion of this handsome bridge "was cast in Denbighshire, where it was first put together, and then taken to pieces and re-erected in the furthest extremity of the Highlands of Scotland, and exhibits in that remote district a striking monument of national enterprise and liberality, and of the public spirit of the county of Sutherland." The other arm of the sea referred to,— Loch Fleet, or the Little Ferry,—lies between Dornoch and Golspie. A mound, 999 yards long, 60 yards wide at the base, 18 feet in perpendicular height, and sloping to about 20 feet wide at the top, was formed at a narrow part of the channel, and at the north end was constructed a substantially built bridge, 34 yards long, consisting of four arches of 12 feet span each, and fitted with strong valve gates. The total cost of this important undertaking amounted to about £9000, of which £1000 was subscribed by Lord Stafford, and which Mr Loch estimates as the probable amount by which the estate of Sutherland might be benefited by excluding the flowing of the tide over some good land, and by obtaining about 400 acres of beach, which may in time push out a rough herbage, and thus gradually fit itself for culture." "While these gigantic works were going on, the foundation of roads throughout the county was pushed forward with much energy, so that "in the space of twelve years," says Mr Loch, "the county of Sutherland was intersected in some of the most important districts with roads, in point of execution, superior to most roads in England." Previous to 1819 the mails were conveyed on horseback from Inverness to Tain, and from thence across the firths by foot-runners; but in July of that year a daily mail diligence commenced to run between Inverness and Thurso. The counties of Ross and Caithness, and the Marquis of Stafford on behalf of the county of Sutherland, contributed each £200 for two years in aid of this establishment; and, commenting upon the movement, Mr Loch says, that "in the history of the country there is no parallel of so rapid a change as has thus been effected in this distant corner of the island. Passing at once from a state of almost absolute exclusion from the rest of the kingdom to the enjoyment of the incalculable advantages of the mail coach system, at a distance of 802 miles from the capital of the kingdom, and 1082 miles from Falmouth—the farthest extremity in the other direction to which this establishment extends; joining as it were by one common bond of intercourse the two most distant parts of the island,—the one situated at the extremity of the English Channel, the other on the coast of the frozen ocean."

The county having thus been opened up, it may be interesting to glance back at the condition in which, in an agricultural and social sense, the explorer would then have found it. Captain Henderson estimates the area of the arable land in the county in 1808, that is to say, land under wheat, bere, oats, pease, potatoes, turnips, and sown grasses, at 14,500 acres. It appears that by far the greater portion lay on the south-east coast, in the parts that form the main centre of the arable farming at the present day, while along the straths intersecting the county, and now under sheep, there were several thousands of acres under cultivation. The total annual produce of these 14,500 acres was estimated at £62,781, 2s. 8d., or a little over £4, 6s. 7d. per Scotch acre. The yield per Scotch acre of wheat is stated at 7 bolls, worth 30s. per boll or £10, 10s. per acre; bere, 5 bolls, worth 20s. per boll or £5 per acre; oats, 5 bolls, worth 15s. per boll or £3, 15s. per acre; pease, at 4 bolls, worth 20s. per boll or £4 per acre; potatoes, 12 bolls, worth 8s. per boll or £4, 15s. per acre; turnips, worth £6 per acre; sown grasses, 200 stones, worth 8d., or £6,13s. 4d. per acre. A thousand acres of natural meadows, haughs, &c, are estimated to be worth £1, 6s. 8d. per acre, while pasture for 4291 horses is estimated at 10s. each or £2145, 10s.; ditto for 17,333 cattle at 10s. each or £8666, 10s.; ditto for 94,570 sheep at 2s. each or £9457; ditto for 1123 goats at 1s. each or £56, 3s.; and ditto for 270 swine at 3s. each or £40, 10s.;—in all for pasturage (exclusive of £150 charged for 500 red deer in Reay Forest), £20,365, 13s., which brings the total value of what is called the agricultural produce of 1808 up to £84,630, 11s. 8d.

The same authority states that the farmers of Sutherland at the period referred to were as diversified as the size of their farms. None of them were bred to farming in a regular manner from their youth,—the more opulent class were gentlemen who had been in the army, navy, or some respectable line abroad, who farmed partly for pleasure and convenience, and derived their profits from what they subset to the lower class of cottars or small tenants; by far the most numerous class were those whose fathers and grandfathers for many generations had followed the plough, or the black cattle and the goats in the mountains, men who never thought of changing or improving their condition, and whose means and professional knowledge were too limited to admit of change or amendment. The soil, climate, and short leases discouraged them, and, until the sheep-farming circumscribed the extent of their hill pasture, they were chiefly dependent for a bare subsistence on the rearing of black cattle. As a rule they were "frugal and temperate in their habits in spring and harvest they laboured hard, and the summer and winter were passed in ease, poverty, and contentment." In these times land was let not by the acre, but by the quantity of bere it required to sow it. A boll of bere usually sowed an acre; and arable land was thus let by the boll sowing, while the rent of pasture was calculated by the number of cattle it would maintain in the summer months. The arable land is reckoned in penny land, farthing, and octos. The penny land is generally allowed to contain 8 acres; an octo, of course, is 1 acre or a boll sowing, but this varies in proportion to the quality of the land— when of a superior quality the quantity is less, and vice versa.

The wadsetters prevailed on the south-east coast, while in the straths in the interior and on the western and northern coasts the arable land was mostly let in small lots of from 1 to 30 acres or boll sowings, each occupier having a proportion of intown pasture, while "the mountains and moory hills were pastured in common by the cattle of the nearest tenants." The wadsetters took an extent of ground equal to about £200 Scots of valued rent, and occupied themselves from 30 to 50 bolls' sowing, letting the remainder to sub-tenants in farms of from £3 to £5 rent, besides services which Captain Henderson says were in some cases, unlimited. Mr Loch states that these wadsetters "exacted from their sub-tenants services which were of the most oppressive nature, and to such an extent that if they managed well they might hold what they retained in their own possession rent-free. This saved them from a life of labour and exertion. The whole economy of their farming—securing their fuel, gathering their harvest, and grinding their corn—was performed by their immediate dependents." In illustration of this statement, Mr Loch gives in his volume an interesting account of the rent payable by the sub-tenants of the farm of Kintradwell for the year 1811, from which the two following specimens may be given:—"Leadoch,—Angus Sutherland—6 hens, 6 dozen eggs, £4 in money, and 1 cover kiln-drying, clearing hay lands, shearing 48 stooks, threshing 12 stooks, 30 horses for a day leading ware, 4 days' work in harvest in cornyard, 1 spade and 3 spreaders of peats, and 2 days repairing peat road. Cottertown.—John Bruce—3 hens, 3 dozen eggs, £5, 1s. 3d. in money, and shearing 24 stooks, threshing 12 stooks, 2 days' work in cornyard, 1 spade and 1 spreader of peats, 1 day at peat road, thatching houses, clearing hay lands, 12 horses for 1 day leading ware, and half a cover kiln-drying. The total amount paid as rent by sub-tenants on this farm was,—in money, £145, 19s. 7d.; victual, £21, 11s. 3d.; hens, £3, 18s.; eggs, £1, 7s. 6d.; servitude, £56, 10s.;—making, in all, £229, 6s. 4d." Mr Loch explains that Kintradwell "had been granted in wadset or mortgage for the sum of £800. In 1811 the wadsetter granted the residue of the term then unexpired, being eight years, to the late sub-tenant, Mr MacPherson, for a fine or grassum of £800, and the annual rent of £150. The value of the land in Mr Macpherson's own occupation amounted to £200 per annum, thus making the whole income derived by him from the farm £429 per annum. In this case there were three gradations between the landlord and the occupier of the land; in some instances, four." This obnoxious system became less popular as the present century advanced, the chiefs or landed proprietors found that they had more complete control over their people if they were made their own immediate tenants, and in many cases the proprietors remanded the wadsets or mortgages, leaving with the farmers what they had retained in their own possessions, and letting the remainder directly to the small tenants who were formerly the sub-tenants. Captain Henderson states, that about the year 1808, the rent of the arable land on the south-east coast was from 15s. to 21s. per boll sowing or acre, while, in some cases, 30s. or 35s. was charged for pasture attached to the arable land. In the straths, and on the western and northern coasts, rent was paid in accordance with the number of black cattle that could be reared on the farm, and its amount per acre could not, therefore, be ascertained. Wadset leases at one time frequently extended over two nineteens, but after the commencement of the present century, few of these were given. The duration of leases between the proprietors and principal tacksmen was generally nineteen or twenty-one years; and between tacksmen and sub-tenants (but leases between these were rare) three, five, or seven years. The implements in general use at the commencement of the present century were of the most primitive description. The better-to-do farmers and proprietors had begun to use the modern Scotch plough, which cost from £3 to £4, 10s., but the small tenants still employ the old Scotch plough, made of birch or alder, with a thin plate of hammered iron on the bottom and land side of the head. "This plough," says Captain Henderson, "exclusive of the ploughshare, and sock, and plates, costs from 5s. to 15s., and is often made by the tenant who uses it. In the parishes of Assynt, Eddrachilles, Durness, and Tongue, and in other parts, the caschrom, a sort of spade, was in general use, while the clumsy old-fashioned home-made wooden harrows were worked by the smaller tenants all over the county, only those farmers who had improved ploughs having had harrows with iron teeth. On the larger farms there were a few of the modern horse-carts, which cost then from £12 to £16, but among the smaller tenants, the well-known old basket cart was still in general use. Its cost was from 20s. to 25s. Fuel, manure and other commodities were also sometimes conveyed in baskets attached to a clubber or saddle, on horseback. Only one threshing mill is spoken of as being in the county (at Mid-garty) in 1808, and very few even of the larger farmers could boast of a winnowing machine.

Captain Henderson states, that "along the coast side of Sutherland the more opulent farmers plough their land with a pair of horses without a driver, and in some cases with four oxen abreast, with a driver. The smaller tenants, both along the coast and in the interior of the county, use four small garrons (horses) abreast in their plough, or perhaps two small ponies and two cows, all abreast, with a driver; and in cases where their lots are small, two of them join and furnish two ponies each, and plough their land jointly, the one ' holding' and the other 'driving.' These people have their land all in crooked ridges, broad in the middle and narrow at each end, in the shape of an S , and a green bank or cairn of stones between every two or three ridges. The course of cropping pursued on the southeast coast was, as a rule, first, pease or potatoes; second, here or big, manured with ware or seaweed or farm yard dung; third, oats, and then pease, &c, again." Bere and oats were grown alternately in the interior and western districts, the former being as a rule sown in lazy beds with abundance of manure, which secured from 10 to 14 returns. Oats and rye were sometimes sown together, generally on land in poor condition, and the mixed grain was manufactured into a sort of coarse meal. A little wheat had been grown on the better farms on the southeast coast, chiefly at Dunrobin and Skibo, and it is said to have yielded from 8 to 10 bolls per acre; but Captain Henderson states, that "owing to distance from markets, the variable climate, and want of manure, the culture of it was given up." Bere gave from 4 to 7 bolls per acre, oats about 5 bolls, and pease from 5 to 6 bolls. During the first ten years of the present century, turnips were on their probation in Sutherland. Only a few small patches were grown by some gentlemen farmers, but they stood their trial well, and soon increased in popularity: the white and red top varieties were first sown. Potatoes played a very important part in the economy of Sutherland in these olden times. More than 1500 Scotch acres were planted with them every year, and they formed a very large part of the food of the inhabitants. The yield varied from 6 to 20 bolls per acre; and, in a favourable year, the quality was excellent. Only on a few farms on the south-east coast were artificial grasses sown, and these were clover and rye grass. The Argyle or West Highland breed of cattle had been adopted at Dunrobin before the advent of the present century; and so well did they thrive there, that in 1807 eight milch cows were valued at £18 each, and the stots and heifers, from two to five years old, at an average of £15 each. The general breed of cattle, however, was the small black cattle of Skye and Assynt, "well shaped, short legged, and hardy; the colour in general black, with some exceptions." When mated with West Highland bulls these native cows produced excellent stock, and Youatt says that, though smaller than the cattle of Caithness, these black cattle of Sutherland were "far more valuable, requiring only to be crossed by those from Argyle or Skye to be equal to any that the northern Highlands can produce." Captain Henderson states that the four year old stots at Dunrobin farm weighted from 5 to 6 cwts. in the carcass, and the cattle of the country tenants from 240 to 400 lbs. avoirdupois.

Up to the winter of 1806-7, when they nearly all died of rot and scab, the old Kerry breed of sheep was almost the only variety of the fleecy tribe in the county. A few blackfaced sheep had been introduced before then, but, until the disastrous winter referred to, the ancient breed maintained its sway. The Kerry sheep were " small with good wool, some horned, others polled, some black, but the greater number white, and some of grey colour." They weighed from 28 to 36 lbs. in the carcass, and "the wool of from nine to twelve of them made a stone of 24 lbs." The introduction of Cheviot sheep, which began in 1806, will be referred to afterwards. Goats were kept in great numbers then, but, like the Kerry sheep, they were almost annihilated with scab and rot in the spring of 1807. The most general breed of horses was the native garrons—a thick low-set hardy breed, at one time reared all over the northern counties. They cost from four to ten guineas, were from 44 to 52 inches high, and were black, brown, or grey in colour.

The social habits of the inhabitants were, in these days, very primitive. Their food and mode of living are thus described by Captain Henderson—"The inhabitants near the coast side live principally upon fish, potatoes, milk, and oat or barley cakes. Those in the interior or more highland part feed upon mutton, butter, cheese, milk, cream, with oat or barley cakes during the summer months. They live well and are indolent; of course are robust and healthy. In winter the more opulent subsist upon potatoes, beef, mutton, and milk; but the poorer class live upon potatoes and milk, and at times a little oat or barley cakes. In times of scarcity,—in summer they bleed their cattle, and after dividing it into square cakes they boil it, and eat it with milk or whey instead of bread."

The real condition of those small tenants, who up to 1820 cultivated the glens or straths of Sutherland, is a matter of much interest in connection with the agricultural history of the county and therefore an extract on the subject from Mr Loch's work may not be out of place. He states—that "when that hardy but not industrious race of people spread over the county they took the advantage of every spot which could be cultivated, and which could with any chance of success be applied to raising a precarious crop of inferior oats, of which they baked their cakes, and of bere, from which they distilled their whisky; added but little to the industry, and contributed nothing to the wealth of the empire. Impatient of regular and constant work, all heavy labour was abandoned to the women, who were employed occasionally even in dragging the harrow to cover in the seed. To build their hut or get in their peats for fuel, or to perform any other occasional labour of the kind, the men were ever ready to assist, but the great proportion of their time, when not in the pursuit of game or of illegal distillation, was spent in indolence and sloth. Their huts were of the most miserable description; they were built of turf dug from the most valuable portions of the mountain side. Their roof consisted of the same material, which was supported upon a wooden frame, constructed of crooked timber taken from the natural woods belonging to the proprietor, and of moss-fir dug from the peat bogs. The situation they selected was uniformly on the edge of the cultivated land and of the mountain pastures. They were placed lengthways and sloping with the declination of the hill. This position was chosen in order that all the filth might flow from the habitation without further exertion upon the part of the owner. Under the same roof, and entering at. the same door, were kept all the domestic animals belonging to the establishment. The upper portion of the hut was appropriated to the use of the family. In the centre of this upper division was placed the fire, the smoke from which was made to circulate throughout the whole hut for the purpose of conveying heat into its furthest extremities,—the effect being to cover everything with a black glossy soot, and to produce the most evident injury to the appearance and eyesight of those most exposed to it's influence. The floor was the bare earth, except near the fire-place, where it was rudely paved with rough stones. It was never levelled with much care, and it soon wore into every sort of inequality according to the hardness of the respective soils of which it was composed. Every hollow formed a receptacle for whatever fluid happened to fall near it, where it remained until absorbed by the earth. It was impossible that it should ever be swept, and when the accumulation of filth rendered the place uninhabitable another hut was erected in the vicinity of the old one. The old rafters were used in the construction of the new cottage, and that which was abandoned formed a valuable collection of manure for the next crop. The introduction of the potato in the first instance proved no blessing to Sutherland, but only increased the state of wretchedness, inasmuch as its cultivation required less labour, and it was the means of supporting a denser population. The cultivation of this root was eagerly adopted; but being planted in places where man never would have fixed his habitation but for the adventitious circumstances already mentioned, this delicate vegetable was of course exposed to the inclemency of a climate for which it was not suited, and fell a more ready and frequent victim to the mildews and the early frosts of the mountains, which frequently occur in August, than did the oats and bere. This was particularly the case along the course of the rivers, near which it was generally planted on account of the superior depth of soil. The failure of such a crop brought accumulated evils upon the poor people in a year of scarcity, and also made such calamities more frequent; for, in the same proportion as it gave sustenance to a larger number of inhabitants when the crop was good, so did it dash into misery in years when it failed a larger number of helpless and suffering objects. As often as this melancholy state of matters arose, and upon an average it occurred every third or fourth year to a greater or less degree, the starving population of the estate became necessarily dependent for their support on the bounty of the landlord.....The cattle which they reared on the mountains, and from the sale of which they depended for the payment of their rents, were of the poorest description. During summer they procured a scanty sustenance with much toil and labour by roaming over the mountains; while in winter they died in numbers for the want of support, notwithstanding a practice which was universally adopted of killing every second calf on account of the want of winter keep. To such an extent did this calamity at times amount, that in the spring of 1807 there died in the parish of Kildonan alone 200 cows, 500 head of cattle, and more than 200 small horses."

The removal of these small tenants has already been briefly referred to, and it will now suffice under this head to say that the improved system of sheep-farming, which dates in Sutherland from 1806, had by 1825 spread over the whole county, including the straths formerly occupied by the small tenants; that by the latter date an improved system of husbandry had been introduced on the arable farms, and that a spirit of advancement had sprung up among all classes of the inhabitants, which has raised the county into its present highly creditable position in regard to both arable and pastoral farming.

The Progress of the Past Seventy Years.

Having perused the foregoing somewhat disconnected notes regarding the social and agricultural condition of the county about the advent of the present century, the reader will be the better prepared for a brief account of the progress that has been made since the spirit of improvement first took practical form in the county. This important event may be credited to 1806, in which year the modern system of sheep-farming, which has gained so wide a reputation for the county, was founded in Sutherland by Messrs. Atkinson and N. Marshall, from Northumberland, who, in that year, took an extensive sheep-walk from the Marquis of Stafford near Lairg, and stocked it with Cheviot sheep. The development of the sheep-farming will be more fully dealt with afterwards. Here it will suffice to indicate very briefly the rapidity of its growth and the enormous dimensions it has now reached. The county was found admirably adapted to the Cheviot sheep, and they fast drove out the Kerry and Blackfaced breeds. In 1811 they numbered about 15,000, while during the next nine years they increased to no fewer than 118,400. The next decade added about 38,000, and between 1831 and 1857 the number rose to about 200,000; while, since the latter year, they have exceeded that by from 16,000 to 40,000. It will thus be seen that during the first thirty years of the present century the occupation of the straths and mountains of Sutherland was completely revolutionized, and that the industry which has in later days so highly distinguished that remote part of the United Kingdom had, in little more than the short period mentioned, attained, so to speak, almost to its full manhood.

While the first thirty years of the present century wrought a great change in the interior of the county, that period also brought about considerable improvement in the districts in which arable farming prevailed. Captain Henderson states that, during the years between 1807 and 1811, "a general reform had begun in the management of land on the eastern coast of the county and that several farms were getting under the most approved rotation, in so far as the occupiers (intelligent farmers from Morayshire) believed the soil and local situation would admit of it; and perhaps better farm offices are not to be found in Scotland " than on some Sutherland farms. The reform thus spoken of spread gradually through all the arable districts of the county, wiping out all relics of the darker ages, such as wooden ploughs, basket-carts, primitive systems of rotation, and feal houses, and introducing in their stead an order of things entirely new. Better attention was bestowed on the rearing of cattle, and the stock of cattle, as well as that of horses and sheep, was very greatly improved. Fields were squared, fences erected, new houses built, service or local roads made, and other improvements effected, so that by 1830 the face of the country had become wonderfully changed. The late Mr Patrick Sellar, who visited Sutherland along with other Morayshire men in 1809, and found it entirely devoid of roads, harbours, farm steadings (excepting one or two), or any other signs of modern agriculture, wrote as follows, in 1820, to Mr James Loch, commissioner on the Sutherland property:—"At this time (1809) nothing could have led me to believe that in the short space of ten years I should see, in such a country, roads made in every direction; the mail coach daily driving through it, new harbours built, in one of which upwards of twenty vessels have been repeatedly seen at one time taking in cargoes for exportation, coal and salt and lime and brick-works established, farm steadings everywhere built, fields laid off and substantially enclosed, capital horses employed, with south country implements of husbandry, made in Sutherland, tilling the ground, secundum artem, for turnips, wheat, and artificial grasses; an export of fish, wool, and mutton to the extent of £70,000 a year; the women dressed out from Manchester, Glasgow, and Paisley; the English language made the language of the county; and a baker, a carpenter, a blacksmith, mason, shoemaker, &c, to be had as readily and nearly as cheap, too, as in other counties." About 1809 Mr Sellar entered on a lease of the farm of Culmaily, in the valley of Golspie, and about a mile from that town, at a rent of 25s. per acre, with an advance at 6½ per cent. of £1500 to assist in improvements, the extent of the farm being 300 Scotch acres. This enterprising gentleman at once set to work, and in a few years had the whole of the farm reclaimed, a considerable portion of it from moor and moss and rough pasture,—had erected upon it an excellent dwelling-house, farm steading, and thrashing mill,—and had it brought to a high state of cultivation. He also took on lease the adjoining farm of Morvich, and between the two he had reclaimed over 250 acres before 1820. On the neighbouring farms of Kirkton, Drumroy, and Dunrobin Mains, and at Crakaig and Skelbo, similar improvements were executed about the same time; while at different parts along the south-eastern coast smaller reclamations and improvements were carried out, partly by the tenants and partly by the proprietors.

The want of reliable statistics makes it impossible to give even an approximate idea of the number of acres of land reclaimed in the county during any given period of the first half of the present century. It has already been stated that in 1808 the arable area was estimated at 14,500 Scotch acres, or about 18,125 imperial acres, but, through the removal of the small tenants from the straths in the interior during the second decade of the present century, and the turning of their crofts into sheep pasture, that area must have been reduced by a few thousand acres—the exact extent cannot be ascertained. The first properly organised inquiry into the agricultural statistics of Sutherland was made in July 1853 by the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland at the desire of the Board of Trade. According to that inquiry the arable area in 1853 was 22,022½ acres, or only 3,897½ acres more than in 1808—not a very large increase for a period of forty-five years. It must be remembered, however, that the statistics of 1808 were more roughly gathered than those of 1853, and that, as already stated, the removal of small tenants and the introduction of sheep-farming threw a large extent of arable land out of cultivation. The following table shows the addition that has been made to the arable area of the county during the past twenty-six years: —

As shall be afterwards shown, a large portion of this increase has been effected by the Duke of Sutherland, within the last few years, at Lairg and at Kinbrace; while the main part of the remainder has been made up by the reclamation of pieces of land, varying in extent from 50 to 200 acres, on sheep farms throughout the county for the purpose of producing winter food for the sheep. As a rule these latter reclamations have been executed by His Grace, the tenants paying interest on the outlay.

The progress of the present century is better indicated in the valuation of the county than in its arable area. The valued rent of the county in 1802, as entered in the Records of the Exchequer at Edinburgh, was £26,193, 9s. 7d. Scots, or about £2,182, 15s. 9d. sterling; while in 1808 Captain Henderson estimated the real rent of the county at £16,216, 12s. 6d., including about £1750 for fishings and kelp, and about £200 for houses in the burgh of Dornoch. The following table shows the valuation at various times since the commencement of the present century:—

These figures bear indelible testimony to the. great skill and enterprise that have been displayed during the present century by the proprietors and tenants of Sutherland. There is but a small portion of the county suitable for arable farming, and therefore the increase in its arable area has been less during the past fifty years than in the other Highland counties, but its natural resources, such as they are, have been developed in a manner, and to a degree not surpassed in the history of any other county in the kingdom.

The Duke's Land Reclamations.

The Duke of Sutherland's land reclamations have perhaps earned a wider reputation than any other agricultural operation ever undertaken in any part of the world. Though commenced only nine years ago, more matter has already been written and published on the subject in newspapers and magazines than is required to form an ordinary modern three-volume novel; and thus the agricultural public must already be pretty familiar with the details of the work. In such a report as this, however, it is desirable that so prominent a feature in the agricultural history of the county should receive due attention.

The Reasons that led to the Reclamations.—The reasons that led the Duke of Sutherland to contemplate these reclamations may first be noticed. As may be inferred from the great disproportion between its arable and grazing areas, the county of Sutherland, the bulk of which, as has been shown, belongs to His Grace, is, in the matter of food, far from self-supporting. The consumption of oatmeal exceeds the home production; and, as the mountains and straths of the county carry a greater number of sheep in summer than these, aided by the available production of the arable districts, can sustain in the winter season, a large portion of its sheep stock has to seek winter food beyond its bounds. Nine years ago it was stated by the late Mr Kenneth Murray of Geanies, that for oatmeal and turnips at least £25,000 went off the Duke of Sutherland's estate every year. It was therefore natural that His Grace should have long cherished a desire to alter this state of matters, and, if possible, increase his arable area so as to raise a sufficiency of oatmeal for the inhabitants, and of winter food for the fleecy animals that fare so sumptuously on the Sutherland hills in summer.

Mr Kenneth Murray's Report.—In 1870 the late Mr Kenneth Murray of Geanies, Ross-shire, a gentleman at once large-hearted, widely intelligent, and of vast experience, was consulted on the subject by His Grace. After making a careful survey of the portions of the estate that seemed most suitable for reclamation, Mr Murray drew up and submitted to his Grace an exhaustive and highly-interesting report. The substance of the more important parts of that document (with which,

for perusal, the writer has been kindly favoured) will no doubt be read with appreciation. At the outset, Mr Murray states that he is "fully satisfied that a very large area in the neighbourhood of Lairg, lying westwards along the banks of Loch Shin and northwards on the banks of the Tirry River, is capable of being made greatly more productive, either as arable land or by surface improvement, and that the measure is recommended by many considerations of public policy as well as of private interest." Fixing on this spot as the seat of the first series of improvements, he proceeds to discuss the reasons he had heard against the reclamations. "The climate," he says, " is not nearly so cold as in many other districts which are in profitable cultivation; and on the furthest west margin, to which I would at present extend improvement, I have seen excellent crops of oats and barley ripened as soon as the average of the north of Scotland generally, and much sooner than is usual in Caithness and the heights of Aberdeen and Banff. Turnips and potatoes also grow perfectly at Shiness. From 110 to 150 feet higher than the existing fields of Shiness, there are traces of corn cultivation in old times, with the rude appliances of these days. It is said that the district is especially liable to mildew —that heavy mists lie by the side of the lake, frequently causing loss both to grain and green crops. I have seen those mists on several occasions, and once went to examine them; and I have no doubt that they are injurious. But I am equally satisfied that they are removable, and that they will disappear as a consequence of the improvement of the district. There are large 'floes,' or green mosses full of stagnant water, in the locality, and great want of drainage everywhere; and from precisely similar experience in a smaller area—as well as from many recorded instances all over Scotland—I am satisfied that these mists will be gradually removed. I grant that they point to the necessity of a larger drainage operation, but to no other difficulty. It is said that the locality is so exposed that the wind does injury,—to this I attach no importance. During spring, summer, and autumn, I have no doubt the influence of wind is neither more nor less than in other unsheltered districts, and that it is more temperate than the extreme eastern coasts. In winter I have no doubt it is a wild place for drift,—but that is an argument against its pastoral character, not against reclamation. And, of course, I am to recommend planting for shelter, and good stone or turf fences for sub-divisions. There was formerly great force in the reasons urged in respect of the inland position of the district, and the cost and difficulty of communication; but these are now removed by the railway, The most distant acre proposed to be reclaimed will not be seven miles from a station." Proceeding to state the arguments in favour of the operation, Mr Murray makes reference to the ever-increasing demand for arable land as an outlet for capital and industry, and says that he could find no reason of any kind connected with the soil against the operation. "Its character is various, but it is all quite adapted for oats and green crops, except a few hard knowes and wet hollows, which are sometimes flooded." Oats and turnips, he points out, are the crops most required in Sutherland, and he adds,—"The value of turnips has risen so much that it has arrested, I am certain, the progressive value of hill pastures in the north. And more than that has happened. Before the recent extensive reclamation of land in the old districts of Ross and Inverness, the hill sheep used to have outruns of heather or other coarse pasture, to which the turnip was an adjunct merely; and they not only wintered more cheaply, but the wintering was better for them. Now, penned upon the turnip fields, occasionally getting out only on to short artificial grass, they lose a great deal of the hardiness of their nature, and the result is that a great many have to be sent back again for a second wintering, or they would die. This is a very serious matter—is becoming more so every year—and, in view of these facts, a large reclamation of land in the centre of Sutherland has additional interest.

As all land improvements must proceed gradually, and improvement invariably leads to further improvements, I would propose to deal mainly, at present, with the shores of Loch Shin and the immediate banks of the Tirry. I entertain no doubt that for every acre which may be cultivated within the first twenty-one years, half as many more will be reclaimed in the succeeding lease, and probably at a less expense than those which are made arable now. Experience teaches that overexertion in the matter of land improvement is a great mistake, and that, in fact, it often annuls for a time the real benefit of what was otherwise a true measure of improvement Still, from the character of the subject, and the necessity of improving the climate, I hold that this particular operation must be extensive to be successful." Mr Murray indicated that he would propose to make in all 1175 acres of arable land—575 acres of which he would have divided as follows:—

The remaining 600 acres would be laid off into fifteen farms of 40 acres each, with 600 acres of pasture in common, and 200 acres to be improved by the tenants. He also proposed to add to the arable areas of the farms of Shiness and Dalchork, so as to make these farms self-supporting. Mr Murray then entered into a detailed scheme for carrying out the improvements, dealing first with drainage, which, though absolutely necessary, did not appear to him as likely to be either difficult or expensive. He placed the cost of drainage at £5 per arable acre, and £1 per acre of outrun. Speaking of the " measures necessary for breaking up the surface," he gave it as his opinion that probably four-fifths of the whole area could be quite well ploughed by • horses or oxen. He would not say that thereby as perfect work would be made as by the more expensive process of trenching,—except in the swamps and meadows where, after drainage and some labour on the surface, a common plough would do the work quite well. But then, in regard to the cost, he estimated that, while ploughing by horses or oxen would not cost more than £2, 15s. per acre on an average, including 5s. per acre for accommodation for men and stock employed, trenching would cost at least £10 per acre. Referring to the question of employing steam, he said—"But if it is possible to do the work by steam-ploughing (of which I am not able to judge), the cost may be decreased; for I am certain very good work can be done at the price I have named by means of horses and oxen. The difficulty of employing steam is the risk caused by stones; and though there are very large areas where no stones will occur, these areas, on the other hand, should be ploughed for less than £2, 10s. per acre (say, from £1 to £l,10s.), because a less depth would be necessary." Detailed instruction was also given as to clearing the broken surface of stones, which was calculated to cost £2 per acre; building dwelling-houses and farm offices, the cost of which for the three farms was estimated at £5 per acre, and for the fifteen smaller holdings, at £6 per acre; and fencing, the cost of which was placed at £2 per acre. In regard to fencing, he says—"There can be no doubt at all that, as regards the intermediate fences, stone dykes are the best, but their cost would be very great, especially as I have no expectation of obtaining anything like the quantity of stones necessary without quarrying. It will, therefore be necessary to place stone fences only in the most exposed-situations on each farm. I think that turf fences with wires on the top should be largely used, and, with ordinary attention, they may last for all time. These turf dykes should be made before the land is broken up, and they should be built like stone fences, but starting from the surface with a broader base and having more slope. They should also be erected only in autumn and winter, never later than February." As to road-making, he said there would be no difficulty or any great expense—less than £600. He had reason to believe that stones for all the buildings would be got in the river Tirry, and adds: "There is a rare advantage in possessing lime, both for building and top-dressing the land at Shiness; this is indeed a most important element in the whole matter. The railway makes all carriages nothing more than the average of the country." With regard to outruns and plantations, he says: "I attach much importance to these outruns in connection with the proposed reclamation, though I trust future generations will see their areas gradually encroached upon by the plough. With drainage and lime, I expect they will be made very valuable. The drainage I estimate at £1 per acre, and we must add 10s. per acre for ring fences. Throughout these outruns—and wherever it can be properly arranged within the bounds of the area to be made arable — plantations should be at once formed, having reference to shelter chiefly. In exposed places it will be of no use, I fear, to plant less than fifty-acre spaces; but on the face towards Loch Shin, much smaller belts may be formed. The soil, however, is not favourable for planting, except in a few spots which I have marked on the plan, and profit cannot be directly regarded from this operation. It is fair, therefore, to charge the great part of the probable cost to the work of reclamation; and I propose to add £600 under this head—or say, at the rate of 10s. per acre." Mr Murray concluded his admirable report by considering the question of how the new land should be let, and added an abstract of the probable cost and probable revenue. From this abstract it appears that he estimated the total cost of improving the 1175 acres, including draining, ploughing (which was estimated at £3 per acre, to cover the trenching of a few spots), clearing away stones, farm buildings, fencing, forming roads and bridges, and plantations for shelter, at £21,737,10s., or £18, 10s. per acre. The draining and fencing of the 2200 acres of outruns were estimated at £3300, or £1, 10s. per acre; making the total probable outlay £25,037, 10s. The average rental of the three larger farms for the first thirty years was estimated at £1,3s. 4d. per acre, or £670,16s. 8d. in all; and that of the fifteen smaller possessions at 17s. 10d. per acre, or £535 in all,—giving a total average annual revenue for the first thirty years of £1205,16s. 8d. The annual value of the land before being improved was stated at £150, which left, as the probable "improved rental," £1055,16s. 8d., and which would be equal to a return of more than 4 per cent. per annum on the estimated cost of the improvement.

Beginning and end of the Lairg Improvements.—Mr Murray's report was favourably entertained by the Duke. Having failed in many efforts to induce contractors to undertake the recommended reclamations either by manual and animal labour or by steam, His Grace at last took the matter in hand himself, and in the beginning of September 1872 commenced at Lairg with an old set of Howard's steam-plough tackle which had previously been employed by His Grace in reclaiming a piece of moss land near Uppat. Preparations for the works at Lairg had been going on for some time previously. A large part of the farm of Dalchork, on the south-east side of the Tirry river, had been drained, and about 20 acres trenched by manual labour. At the very outset, as predicted by Mr Murray, the process of ploughing the Lairg land by steam was almost brought to a standstill by the numerous large stones and tree-roots that lay embedded in the soil. Breakages were constantly occurring and it seemed as if the attempt would have to be abandoned. Just in time, however, a happy idea occurred almost simultaneously, it is said, to the Duke, his private secretary, Mr Wright, and to his farm manager, Mr John Maclennan. This was the substitution on the plough of a revolving disc for the ordinary culter; and small though the alteration may seem, it has proved the key to the colossal results that have followed. Without it the ploughing by steam would to a certainty have had to be given up. The disc culter has long been in use in many parts of the world, but in this application there is the new element of fixing the disc so that it cuts about two inches lower than the share of the plough. It will thus be seen that by being so fixed, the revolving culter carries the plough over all obstacles, whether stones or roots, leaving them bare, to be taken out by men who follow in the furrow. The patent for this application of the disc culter, it may be mentioned, is held by Mr John Maclennan, who is now tenant of the farm of Mains of Resolis, in the Black Isle, Boss-shire. The Howard tackle, however, was found much too weak in every respect for such heavy work, and application was made to Messrs John Fowler & Co., Leeds, who willingly came forwarda to assist the noble Duke in the development of his views. These preliminary experiments were carried out on the farm of Dalchork, but early in the summer of 1873 steam-ploughing was commenced on the stretch of land specially reported on by Mr Murray, and lying nearly in the form of an angle between Loch Shin and the river Tirry. Here the huge plough, made specially for the reclamations by Messrs Fowler & Co., was kept almost constantly at work when weather permitted during four successive years, having in that time turned over 1829 acres, or an average of fully 457 acres each year.

At this stage a few words as to the character of the land at Shiness may be of interest. It has been seen that the stretch of and recommended for reclamation by Mr Murray, and which has all been made arable, lies in the form of a rough angle, bounded on the south-west by Loch Shin, and on the south-east by the river Tirry. An undulating ridge runs along the centre of the angle, rising in height towards the west, and from this ridge the land slopes to the loch and the river with an easy and nearly equal gradient, that towards the river being the steeper. Between the Tirry and the range of hills that shut in the valley on the north and north-east there lies a long stretch of deep mossy land richly covered with heath, cotton grass, and other plants. When in its natural state, the surface of the land reclaimed was rather rough and uneven, but still no serious obstacles in this respect had to be contended with. The subsoil varies slightly, but is good in all parts, the most general being a porous mixture of gravel, clay, and sand, with numerous conglomerates and sandstones embedded in it. The surface soil exhibits greater variety. In some parts it is of a clayey character, in others loamy, in others shingly and light, in the hollows deep spongy moss, the most general being a mixture of clay, black mossy loam, and shingle or sand. All over, with the exception of a few of the more elevated spots, it contains a quantity of decayed vegetable matter which, as it becomes decomposed, will form, and has already been forming, a valuable stimulant to the crops. Prom the fact that Shiness is surrounded by hills, it might be supposed that it lies at a great elevation; but such is not the case, for the highest point of the new land is only about 450 feet above sea-level—not half the height of many thousands of acres of arable land in the counties of Aberdeen and Banff. The rainfall is stated at a little over 40 inches per annum.

During the progress of the work there, the Shiness valley presented a novel scene of activity. When the operations were in full force no fewer than fourteen steam engines were "puffing" away at one time, and several hundred workmen and many horses busily employed. Drainage, ploughing, clearing off stones, harrowing, erecting fences, making roads, building houses, were all in progress at once, creating a stir and bustle which, in a valley hemmed in by hills on all sides, could not have failed to impress the visitor as marvellous. The Duke of Sutherland, while residing in the county, visited the works almost every other day, closely overlooking the progress of every operation, and frequently giving valuable assistance in the surmounting of difficulties. His Grace is well known to possess an extensive and intimate acquaintance with machinery, and not a few of the improvements that have made the Sutherland land reclamation implements so thoroughly efficient as they now are were suggested by the Duke himself. It may be mentioned that among the noblemen and gentlemen who visited the reclamations was H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, who, while residing at Dunrobin Castle in 1876, honoured the Duke by visiting Lairg and minutely inspecting the works. On the occasion of the Highland and Agricultural Society's Show at Inverness in 1874, the Society in compliance with an invitation from the Duke of Sutherland, sent a deputation to visit the reclamations. The deputation were conveyed from Inverness to Lairg and back by special train, and conducted over the works by His Grace, Mr Murray of Geanies, and Mr David Greig (of Messrs Fowler & Co.). A very large number of farmers and others availed themselves of the opportunity thus afforded of visiting works which had, even previous to 1874, earned the reputation of being the most gigantic of the kind ever undertaken in the United Kingdom; and whatever may have been the opinion entertained of the quality of the work accomplished by the machinery as it then existed, utter astonishment was the one feeling expressed as to the magnitude and novelty of the undertaking. The writer visited Lairg several times during the progress of the reclamations, and was therefore able to note the advances made in the quality of the work done, and in the efficiency of the implements. The improvement effected on the implements in the course of the first two years was really marvellous. At the outset the work was often tedious and disheartening, breakages having been of frequent occurrence, but the first two years saw almost all these overcome, and a point towards perfection reached which could have been attained only by distinguished skill backed up by long patience, indomitable perseverance, and great expense. One instance may be given to show the thoroughly satisfactory condition into which the implements had been brought during the first two years. Towards the end of 1874 two powerful engines were placed upon a section of rough heath and bent-covered land extending to 60 acres, and before leaving it the following spring they converted it into a well-prepared bed for grain and grass seeds, which in fact they also covered by the harrow and roller.

It should be mentioned that Mr Kenneth Murray continued to superintend the works up till his death in July 1876, which was lamented alike by the rich and the poor, for, by all with whom he ever came into contact, he was looked up to and respected, even beloved. On an elevated spot overlooking the new land a handsome monument was erected to his memory by His Grace the Duke of Sutherland. Designed by Mr William Fowler, the Duke's architect at Golspie, and erected under his superintendence, the monument is in the form of an obelisk about 30 feet in height, the base being formed of three rows of large rough boulders taken from the reclaimed land, and the monument proper of dressed freestone from Dunrobin quarries. On one side there is the following inscription:—

The Modus Operandi.—The first process was to cut large ditches to draw off the surface water from the land to he reclaimed. From the passing high-way (leading westwards from Lairg railway station) a service road was run across the Tirry towards the proposed sites of the new homesteads. It was formed of hand-laid stones, cost 2s. 6d. per lineal yard, and, when nearly completed, carried, without being damaged, the ponderous engines used in ploughing, which weighed about 19 tons each. At the same time, suitable belts were planted with Scotch fir, with the view of providing shelter. When it was sufficiently hard and dry, the land was first ploughed, while the more mossy parts were drained and allowed to firm a little before being turned over. Most of the implements used in these important reclamations have been constructed specially for the work they perform, and therefore deserve to be noticed separately. It will thus suffice to state here that, as worked at Lairg, the plough turned over a furrow about 2 feet deep, and that the "Duke's Toothpick," or the anchor-like hook that followed the plough, loosened the subsoil without throwing it over the furrow. The large stones were taken out by men who followed the plough; and, when large tree-roots were met with, the wire-rope was detached from the plough and fixed on these roots, and thus they were torn from their mossy beds with marvellous despatch. In this operation extraordinary masses of earth were sometimes moved. In cases where it was found more convenient, dynamite was used in dislodging these roots, which were very numerous in some parts; and they were hauled by steam to the edge of the field or section on a huge platform, shaped like a sledge, about 24 feet long by 12 feet wide. When dry and cut up they made excellent fuel for the engines, and were largely used for that purpose. Another still more novel process was the removal of living trees by steam. Along the ridge of the tract of land reclaimed there were patches of dwarf mountain ash and birch, and one of the many happy ideas hit upon in connection with the works was the removing of these trees by steam. Short lengths of chains were cast round the trunks of three, four, or five or more trees, attached to each other and finally secured to the rope of an engine which stood near, and thus four or five trees were pulled up at a time with as much ease as a man would pull a turnip. One great advantage in this system is, that most of the roots are torn up along with the trees. On the more mossy parts the drains were cut to an average depth of 4 feet, and tiles, made at the Duke's own tile-works at Brora, were laid on deals of wood. In the drier and harder parts the drains ranged from 3½ to 4 feet in depth, and were formed of stones, which were conveniently obtained, as the land in these parts was ploughed before being drained. The stones remaining on the surface of the ploughed land, after the drains had been formed, were removed on sledges worked backwards and forwards between two engines on the same principle as the plough. When the loaded sledge had come to a standstill at the edge, the engine at the other side of the section was set in motion, tilting the sledge overhead, relieving it of its load, and pulling it back to where the men waited to reload it. Having thus been ploughed, drained, and cleared of stones and roots, the land, which had perhaps lain in the furrow over a winter, was thoroughly "made," and prepared for cropping by rank harrows worked by steam similarly to the plough and sledges. Fences and farm buildings were then constructed, generally in accordance with the recommendations of Mr Murray, the houses being commodious and substantial.

How the New Land has been Laid Out and Employed.—As has been seen, the extent which Mr Murray proposed to reclaim at Lairg has been exceeded by 654 acres. The scheme of division which he originally recommended has also been in some degree departed from. The 1829 acres reclaimed at Lairg, exclusive of the land taken in on the farm of Dalchork, have been divided as follows, the extent of outran or hill pasture allotted to each farm being shown alongside:—

The farms of Achadaphris, Lubvrec, and Shiness, are still held by the Duke, and are entered in the Valuation Roll for 1878-79 at £400, £300, and £500 respectively. The greater part of the outrun originally belonging to Shiness farm (the farm on which the reclamations took place) is still attached to that farm, which carries a stock of over 2000 sheep. The Master of Blantyre, the Duke's nephew, holds the other two farms, Colaboll and Ach-nanearain, at a rent of £526, 12s. The small lots are let, along with a common outrun, to seven tenants, whose arable areas range from 6 to 20 acres in extent. They have good slated houses and suitable steadings, and pay from 18s. to 26s. per acre of rent for the arable land, and from 2s. to 2s. 6d. per acre for the outrun, which is enclosed by a substantial fence. Of these small tenants one is a mason, another a carpenter, and the other five are respectable labourers, who in their spare time get employment on the larger farms.

No fixed rotation has as yet been adopted, but the land is being worked in that direction. Some of the poorer parts have been laid down in pasture with rape and grass seeds, and these have turned out well, maintaining stock in good condition, Oats and turnips are the crops generally grown. Swiss oats yield from 4 to 6 quarters per acre, and weigh on an average 38½ lbs, per bushel. Sandy oats give a similar yield, and weigh from 41 to 42 lbs. Longfellow oats grow well, but are rather late in ripening. Canadian oats have also been tried on Shiness farm, and have been found to be early, weighing about 44 lbs. per bushel. In good seasons harvesting begins about ten days later than on the south-east coast of the county, but this year (1879) there has been very little difference. The Swiss oats at Lairg, and the barley on the coast are usually ready for the reaper about the same time, and this year all the Swiss oats at Lairg, covering 160 acres, were secured in excellent condition by the 25th of September. In spring the land is in a fit condition for cropping in good time, and those who reside in the new arable district say that the winter is not more severe than in other parts of the county of similar elevation, and that they are not troubled with mildew. On dry land, turnips have always been an excellent crop, and the average yield of potatoes is about equal to that of the county generally. For oat crops from 2 to 3 cwts. of superphosphate of lime are given per acre, while for turnips, about 2 cwt. of superphosphate, 2 cwt. dissolved bones, and 1½ cwt. Peruvian guano, or some similar commodity, is allowed, along with 20 loads of farm-yard manure. It may be mentioned that the first crop grown on the land was oats, and that it was sown out into pasture in some cases, and in others not. Having been previously cleared of stones, and "made" on the surface, the land was all heavily limed, manured with about 4 cwt. of superphosphate, and 1 cwt. of kanit of salt per acre, or with some similar mixture, and then sown with oats towards the end of April or beginning of May, the stiffer looking parts being afterwards top dressed with nitrate of soda.

The new farms have been found to be very healthy for stock. On Shiness farm there is a permanent stock of Cheviot sheep, consisting of ewes and wethers, and lately they have been selling at high prices—the wethers this year (1879) at 44s. each, and the ewes last year at 39s. 6d. each. The other farms are intended for wintering hoggs, and they suit this purpose admirably, having kept 2500 hoggs of the best class during last winter (1878-79) in excellent condition. This year 3000 hoggs have been sent for the winter on the farms of Colaboll and Achnanearain, Achadaphris, and Lubvrec. Last winter, in addition to the number of hoggs mentioned, Achadaphris fed 24 cross cattle, and kept 50 Highland cattle in "store" condition; Shiness wintered 70 store cattle and 12 Highland ponies; while Lubvrec fattened 22 polled cattle, and wintered 40 store cattle—all good heavy animals, which were sold at from £20 to £26 each. The feeding cattle got an allowance of about 4 lbs. each per day of bruised oats and linseed cake, but the store cattle were kept solely on turnips and straw, being allowed to run out daily upon the rough land.

In some cases it has been found necessary to re-drain the land, the original drains having in some way or other failed to work satisfactorily. As yet, too, the land has to be cultivated with great care. It is not old enough to be thoroughly "made." When much of the sod is turned up it gets dried, and becomes troublesome. No weeds as yet, however, have found their way into the land, and the green crops can therefore be laid down more cheaply than in old land. The land seems to suit grasses admirably, and in good seasons they grow luxuriantly.

The education and spiritual wants of the newly formed arable district have not been overlooked by the Duke. A substantial school was built by him in the centre of the reclaimed land, and the attendance of children, which is annually increasing, numbers from 50 to 70. A male teacher is employed, and the school has now been transferred to the Board. The school is also used for religious meetings, and a missionary of the Free Church of Scotland officiates in it every Sunday.

The Kildonan Reclamations. Not daunted by the heavy outlay which had been entailed at Lairg, the noble Duke adhered to his intention to carry his scheme of land reclamation still further. The strath of Kildonan seemed the next most attractive locality, and accordingly the plant was removed thither in the spring of 1877, and operations immediately commenced. Prior to this the Duke's present manager, Mr George Greig, Edinburgh, was invited by His Grace to make a careful inspection of the soil and subsoil in Kildonan, and also to report as to the probable cost of the improvements per acre. The character of the works now being carried out so systematically in that district will be best understood by a perusal of the substance of Mr Greig's report.

The operations in Kildonan were at the outset confined to the farm of Auchintoul, which was previously occupied as a sheep farm by Major Houston of Kintradwell, who willingly gave up his lease to enable the Duke to proceed with the reclamations. The farm extends to 30,000 acres, and carries a stock of about 5000 head of as fine Cheviot sheep as any in Sutherland. The stock being divided into seven "hirsels," Mr Greig laid off the land to be reclaimed in seven separately enclosed sections, the intention being to provide for each "hirsel" the necessary quantity of winter food for the young sheep, and as much as would enable the tenants to fatten their wethers themselves, and send them directly to the market. The seven enclosures or sections laid off extend in all to 282 acres, and alongside these, three sections of improved pasture land, measuring 188 acres, were enclosed. These ten sections were laid out by Mr Greig with a view to combine compactness with an equal division of the land, and as much facility as possible for working the land by steam power. The surface soil over the whole of the area covered by these sections "may be described," says Mr Greig, " as more or less peaty, and from a foot to several feet in depth, the greater portion of it being of the shallower depth. It lies on an open subsoil of something that might be described as between sand and gravel with a little clay, a subsoil which I look upon as being the very best, if within reach of this class of surface soil." The subsoil was also examined and analysed by Mr Falconer King, Edinburgh, who reported that—"It does not show the usual reactions of subsoils, indicating that it is free, at all events, of the deleterious substances commonly present in these. It does not contain any hurtful soluble salts of iron, and it is very dry, containing only 1.70 per cent. of water. It is very light and free, and would by itself, perhaps, hardly prove a very productive soil, but I am of opinion it would serve admirably for the purpose of mixing with other heavier, damper, or peaty soils, in order to ameliorate their condition or texture." In regard to the ploughing, Mr Greig says—"It is proposed to turn the surface to the depth of from 10 to 12 inches, and to subsoil where necessary to a further depth of from 4 to 8 inches. An effort shall be made by a new construction of subsoiling tine to throw part of the red subsoil on the surface of the turned over mossy furrows." With such an extremely open subsoil he thought it would be injudicious to carry out at the beginning the usual system of drainage, and recommended the laying down of the leading drains in the usual way, and the running from these of an occasional branch drain to test the effect, all these being so arranged that their number could be afterwards increased, if found necessary, without any confusion of the drainage system. Mr Greig says—"I had a great number of holes dug 3 or 4 feet deep, and not only found no water, but some which was run into the holes disappeared. The land, lying as it does with a nice undulating surface, and covered with a close covering of peat, almost impervious to water, and acting like a roof to the subsoil, has, in the past, been kept perfectly dry by this roof or covering, carrying the water over the surface into the burns. This was the condition in which I found it, but I am not prepared to say what the change may be after we have broken the peaty surface described as a roof covering. It is quite clear after this is done that the whole of the water which may fall upon this land will have to be discharged, not over the surface as before, but through the subsoil, and it is quite possible that, notwithstanding the open character of it, more drains than I would be disposed to put in at present may, with the altered circumstances, be found necessary." After referring to the clearing away of stones, fencing, and building, Mr Greig adds—"The principle on which the operations are to be undertaken is, that each section of the work, such as draining or clearing, shall be entirely separate, and managed by a person who alone will be responsible to the manager. The progress made in each section will be given every fortnight alongside a note of the sum expended, so that I may check at once any expenditure that is made without an equivalent in result. Contract work will be introduced as far as possible. It is intended to sow the whole arable land, to the extent of 282 acres, with oats next spring, and to undertake the improved pasture by liming, surface draining, and sowing out in grasses, whins, and broom. The lands laid off for permanent pasture embrace all the low lying and sheltered parts of the farm, and will be found admirably adapted for sheltering the ewes in the time of lambing, and the sheep generally in the time of storm." In regard to the cost of these reclamations, Mr Greig estimated it at under £20 per acre for arable land, and £10 for the pasture land. In forming that estimate he allowed £5 per acre for drainage, and included, besides draining, trenching or ploughing, clearing, building, and fencing. He also recommended the making of 35 acres of plantation at a cost of £300 on the high side of the farm, the object being to afford shelter and improve the climate.

Operations were commenced on these sections early in March 1877, and were carried out on the lines laid down by Mr Greig. The alteration contemplated* in the Sutherland plough was effected, and found thoroughly successful. The aim was to take sand from under the vegetable matter and throw it on to the surface, so that the peaty substance and the sandy subsoil might be mixed together. This object was accomplished most satisfactorily by attaching a huge mould-board to what is known as the "Duke's Toothpick," or the anchor-shaped subsoiler which follows in the furrow behind the main plough. This new application brought a very large additional strain on the engine, and during the summer of 1877 frequent consequent breakages hindered the progress of the work, and also tended to increase the expense. In course of time, however, the adjustments of the plough were made so thoroughly efficient that the share or other part catching on a boulder or any such obstacle involved no risk of breakage, the plough, by its own action, rising and creeping over what resists an ordinary strain. The manager here had a difficulty to contend with in regard to the drainage. As indicated in his report, he was unable to say where drainage might be necessary, until, by the breaking of the surface, the water was allowed access to the subsoil; and, owing to the difficulty in carting material over land newly ploughed to a depth of about 2½ feet, the cost of forming the drains after the land was turned over was greater than it would otherwise have been. These two difficulties, the breakages and drainage, added considerably to the cost of the work; but still it is believed that when the 5000 acres laid off on Auchintoul have been reclaimed, the entire outlay will not much exceed the sum mentioned in Mr Greig's report, and which, it may be remarked, is considerably less than one-half of the average cost at Lairg. It will have been observed that the cost of liming has not been included in Mr Greig's estimate of £20 per acre. English lime can be obtained at Kinbrace railway station, within two miles of the works, at 21s. per ton; but the cost of applying it to land so soft and turned over to such a depth as that at Auchintoul is nearly three times as much as in the case of ordinary arable land. The quantity of lime allowed to each acre is as nearly as possible 5 tons. Part of it is imported from Northumberland, and part from the Duke's own limeworks at Eriboll. It is believed by most practical men that 5 tons per acre is too much for the first dressing to such land as that in Kildonan, and it is intended to lessen the quantity as experience teaches. The fencing at Kildonan is all of iron, in stone bottoms, and on the Corimony principle, including the Master of Blantyre's patent. The drainage is being accomplished according to the best known methods; and with so many deep beds of moss, great care is frequently to be exercised in order to insure efficiency. In some spots at Auchintoul the drains have been cut to a depth of from 17 to 19 feet; but experience has shown that it is desirable, as far as possible, to avoid land requiring drains of that character. Had they not been necessary for the squaring of fields and farms, these spots would not have been touched in this case.

The "making" of the surface after the land is ploughed (or trenched, as the work of the Sutherland plough may be more properly called) has been found to be a process of great importance in Kildonan, where it is necessary that a little of the subsoil should as far as possible be mixed with the surface or peaty soil. This important work is being most satisfactorily accomplished by a sort of harrow cultivator of novel design, called the "discer," and patented by Mr Greig. Its construction will be indicated afterwards, but it may be stated here that it does its work in a most admirable manner, "tearing into shreds and effectively pulverising sods of a texture tough enough to have withstood the action of the elements for years." The deputation from the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture that visited the reclamations in the autumn of 1878 reported, in regard to the efficiency of the implements employed, that the Duke of Sutherland " must have achieved a triumph far beyond his most sanguine expectations." In respect to the "discer," which is one of the later inventions in connection with the reclamations, it may safely be said that a more efficient instrument for the work it performs can hardly be conceived.

The reclamations at Auchintoul now extend to close on 500 acres, the extended limit laid off for reclamation on that farm; the land having been divided into five sections and worked under eight distinct heads, a separate account being kept for each head—viz., trenching, draining, clearing, fencing, roads, building, liming, and farming. Last spring two fields in Auchintoul were sown with oats and one with turnips, but the bad seasons told seriously against both crops. The turnips looked fresh and healthy, but far from a heavy crop.

At Bannockburn, immediately adjoining Auchintoul, another large reclamation scheme is well advanced, and a great deal more of similar work has been mapped out in this district. The Bannockburn land is to be "divided into four small farms of 100 acres, each with a large outrun (perhaps 1000 acres), so that a farmer coming there with his family might get along comfortably with a small capital of £500 or £600." About 40 acres have already been reclaimed on each of these small farms, and on the first two handsome steadings and dwelling-houses have just been erected. These buildings are of novel construction, being almost entirely formed of concrete. The office houses are covered with one large span of corrugated iron, supported by girders of worn-out rails, which are obtained cheaply at the railway station, and which suit the purpose admirably. With the exception of this roof, however, and the doors and windows, the whole construction is formed of concrete—walls, floors, stairs, roofs, and even the floors of the attics and granaries, which have no support other than the concrete. The dwelling-house forms one side of the square, with a door from the kitchen to the shed and straw barn, so that the whole may be said to be a huge concrete box, with convenient internal divisions. The stones used were gathered off the new land and run through the steam stone-breaker. The fittings, doors, windows, &c, were constructed at the Duke's own works at Brora, and were put into their places as the building progressed. Excepting that which fell to the plasterer, the whole of the work connected with the buildings was done by unskilled labour; and there is good reason to believe that this system of erecting steadings will remove the difficulty that has hitherto been experienced in building houses for small farms at a cost in keeping with the limited extent of the holding. The exact cost of each of these steadings has not yet been ascertained, but it is believed that, including the dwelling-house, it will not exceed £450.

The Implements used in the Reclamations.

Most of the implements employed in these reclamations were invented for the work they perform, and therefore deserve special notice. The "Sutherland plough" may be taken first. Steam ploughs for ordinary purposes not being suited for trenching new land, His Grace the Duke of Sutherland set about the invention of a steam-driven instrument that would do so, and after seven years' experiments, and an expenditure of money which could have been made only by a nobleman such as the Duke, success has been attained which must be equal to, if not beyond, the most sanguine expectations. The perfection of the present instrument has been reached step by step. The first step was to get the plough to clear boulders, and thus avoid breakage.

This was attained by the introduction of a large revolving disc culter, set to act slightly below the depth of the share. It will be noticed that this provision will cause the plough, when it strikes a boulder, to rise over it; and this it does in the most efficient manner. The plough so arranged was balanced on four rollers—two for guiding the depth on the land side, and two on the furrow side for the joint purpose of balancing the plough and assisting the mould-board to complete the turning of the furrow. The next object to be attained was to get something in the shape of a hook attached to the plough to pull out the boulder after the plough had passed over it. A large hook, like the claw of an anchor, now well known as the " Duke's Toothpick," was designed and hinged on to the plough at each end; and this addition not only answered the purpose of pulling out the boulder, but acted otherwise as an efficient subsoiler, breaking the " pan," and thus rendering the drainage much more effective. This "toothpick," however, having to be kept in its work by means of leverage from the tail-rope, was the cause of considerable delay in the readjustment of the plough at the end of the furrow for the return bout, and a scheme has been devised by which pressure is now thrown from the one end to the other by a self-acting arrangement of loop-line. Since then another addition has been made to the implement, which is now perhaps the most effective part of it. A large mould-board has been added to the "toothpick," and the stones are not only now loosened, but a great many of them are thrown out, and a large quantity of subsoil, &c, is thrown on the surface of the first furrow, covering and blinding the tough "divoty" surface. The plough is now capable of taking a furrow 20 inches broad, to a depth of from 2 to 3 feet, and under favourable circumstances covers about 3 acres a-day. The cost of the implement is £150.

The next implement used is what is known as the "discer." It consists of a frame, from 15 to 20 feet long, on four wheels, which is the steerage frame. Under the frame are carried, by whipple-trees in the usual way, two or three shafts. These shafts are each mounted with eight to ten sharp cutting discs about 3 feet in diameter. They are set so as to cut at an angle to the line of work, and in this way not only cut and scrape, but turn a furrow. The different sets are also so arranged as to cut at reverse angles, and the soil gets completely pulverised without tearing up any of the tough sods from below. Since these discs never clog and cannot possibly catch hold of stones or other obstruction, they are driven at a high speed, which renders the cultivation much more effective. Previous to the invention of this implement, the greatest possible difficulty was experienced in getting anything like a seed-bed on the tough benty matter which forms the surface of a great part of Sutherland. All sorts of implements were tried, along with many new designs, but with no success, until the "discer" was thought of.

The removal of the stones from the surface of the land proved a difficult task, in as far as it was impossible to get animals to walk on land which had been moved to such a depth. This, however, was most successfully overcome by the construction of a very ingenious steam-sledge, which carries from 4 to 5 tons of stones at a load. This sledge is provided with a pulling lever hung from its centre on both sides. To this lever are fastened the pulling ropes of the two engines. When No. 1 engine has drawn the load to the end of the held where it is desired to be emptied, No. 2 engine starts pulling the lever from a horizontal to a vertical position. At this point it is received by a catch and held, so that in going further it takes the sledge round with it. By this means the sledge is rolled on to its face, catching the ground by two snugs, which cause it again to roll on to its bottom empty. When this is done it has thus made a complete somersault without even the stoppage of the machinery, and returns without further trouble for another load.

Another implement in connexion with the reclamation worthy of notice is the Sutherland water cart. A large quantity of water being required for the engines, and from the fact of its having to be drawn on many occasions from deep ravines from which the ascent was difficult, the ordinary water cart, with the single barrel placed longitudinally on the wheels, was found most unsuitable for the work. It is well known that half a load of water cannot be taken by a cart of this description, from the fact that, in attempting to go up an incline, the water runs to the back end of the barrel, almost lifting the horse from the ground, and this applies to some extent even although the barrel is full. The Sutherland water cart, instead of having one large barrel, has two small ones across the frame, one before the wheel and the other behind. The two barrels are connected by a pipe at their bottoms, and this pipe is fitted with a cock in the centre. It will be seen at once by this arrangement that the cart can be loaded suitably to the ascent. If the gradient is a heavy one, only the front barrel should be filled, so that the water would be partly pulled and partly carried, giving the horse great tractive orce. As soon as the ascent is made, all that has to be done is to turn the cock and allow the half of the water to pass into the second barrel. The cart has been found a most perfect arrangement, allowing the carter to balance his load to the greatest nicety, and to alter on the road from time to time as he may desire. This cart, it is understood, has since been copied by the War Office for military purposes.

The Reclamations Viewed Financially.

The total expenditure up to the present time (October 1879), in connection with these reclamations, amounted to about £130,000, exclusive of the working plant. Of this about £110,000 must be noted against the Lairg improvements, which in reality may be said to have been nothing else than one large experiment. Having failed to obtain contractors to carry out the work there in accordance with the recommendations of Mr Kenneth Murray, the Duke determined to accomplish it by steam power. In his first attempt to do this, he found the steam cultivating tackle, as it then existed, wholly unsuited for such heavy work. It was much too weak, and in other respects unsatisfactory. Steam power, indeed, had never been before applied to such a purpose, and he thus discovered, as it were, that he had undertaken an operation for which no capable instrument had yet been devised. Science had already provided him with suitable motive power in the shape of substantially designed locomotive steam engines, but almost everything else in the form of implements he had to construct for himself. The devising and perfecting of implements to perform most difficult operations so satisfactorily as the Sutherland reclamation implements now do, must have entailed enormous expense. Many weary days and weeks were spent amidst what seemed at times almost hopeless confusion, for, as each fresh difficulty presented itself, some new appliance had to be devised to overcome it. In these circumstances it is only reasonable that a large proportion of the outlay of Lairg should be charged against "experiments," and not on the actual reclamation of the land. In proof of the fairness of this suggestion, it may be stated that, while at Lairg, before the implements were made so thoroughly perfect as they now are, the ploughing cost in some cases as much as £25 per acre, it has latterly been accomplished in Kildonan at about £3 per acre, the soil in the latter case being turned over to a depth of about 30 inches.

Other Works on the Sutherland Property.

Besides these vast reclamations, the Duke of Sutherland has carried out, or has at present in progress, many smaller but important improvements on his extensive northern property. He has expended many thousands of pounds in improving and building houses for smaller tenants or crofters; and has advanced at a moderate rate of interest a still greater sum to the larger farmers for improvements on their farms. Several of the tenants of arable farms have extended their holdings with money advanced by the Duke in this way; while, under like conditions, a number of the larger sheep farmers have reclaimed 100 or more acres; at suitable parts of their farms, for the purpose of providing turnips and fodder for their sheep in stormy weather, or for bringing up the weaker animals to the level of the flock. To enumerate all the various works on which His Grace has been engaged on his wide northern possessions in recent years, would be no easy matter. Probably no more concise statement could be given than the following, which appeared in "Chambers' Journal," in December 1874:—"Railways in the Highlands at a cost of upwards of £300,000; opening lime quarries and building lime kilns at Lairg and Eriboll; placing a steam barge on Loch Shin for goods traffic; re-opening and working coal mines at Brora; erecting a large brickwork and manufactory of tiles, draining pipes, fire bricks, &c.; reclamation of land on a very large scale, at various places, especially at Lairg, by means of steam ploughs of novel construction and remarkable power; introducing road locomotives and portable thrashing machines; providing steam ploughs for hire; laying oyster beds; breeding salmon on a large scale, and trying the effect of introducing the breed of such rivers as the Tweed, the Tay, and the Thurso into the smaller rivers of Sutherland; gas-making from peat, and testing the value of peat as fuel for domestic purposes, for engines, lime burning, &c.; experiments for improving the quality and durability of homegrown timber; trying the effect of pure water irrigation on lawn and mountain grasses; extensive planting; division of shootings and building lodges, with a view to increasing the number of resident shooting tenants; erection of saw mills and steam carpentry works at Brora, capable of turning out every kind of woodwork necessary for building houses, &c.; workshops at Brora for repairing steam ploughs and machinery of every kind." It would be impossible to guess at the outlay which these numerous important enterprises may have cost, but it is believed that during the eighteen years that have elapsed since he succeeded to the Dukedom, he has expended on such works on his estates in England and Scotland more than half a million sterling. His Grace is gifted with a kind heart, a vigorous mind, and a just sense of the maxim that property has its duties as well as its rights. It is stated by one who knows his habits intimately, that he "has his work chalked out to occupy the hours of every day as it passes, and seems never so happy as when engaged in the ordering or development of some portion of his large trust."

Arable Farming.

General Notes.—It has already been indicated that only a very small proportion of the county is adapted to arable farming. By a liberal estimate, that area is stated at about one twenty-fifth part of the county, or about 48,300 acres. As will be seen, little more than one-half of that area has been brought under the plough. The following table shows the estimated arable area in the county at various periods since 1808:—

The only part of the county in which arable farming in the fulness of its character is carried on, is on an irregular narrow fringe along the south-east coast, not at any point more than 2 miles broad, and in general barely half a mile. On the northern and western coasts there is a considerable area of cultivated land, but it is nearly all in the form of crofts, ranging from 2 to 10 acres in extent. Though even on the south-east coast the arable area is small, yet it exhibits a system of farming quite abreast of the times. The advance that has been made in this respect during the last quarter of a century has been very marked and highly creditable to the Sutherland farmers. The best modern farm implements of all kinds are now in general use in the county. There are a good number of double-furrow ploughs and a good many grain-sowing machines, broad-cast sowers being most in favour. Reapers and mowers are now employed on all farms. One point in connection with the division of Sutherland deserves remark—the almost entire want of what are generally known as middle-class or middle-sized tenants, that usually large class that in most other northern counties links the few large farmers to the many small tenants or crofters. The thirty or forty sheep-farmers who hold the interior of the county, likewise lease and work in connection with their grazing farms the greater part of the arable land, leaving little or no room for the bona fide middle-sized arable farmer. The county of Caithness is similar in this respect. The following table indicates what has been said:—

The percentage of holdings under 20 acres in extent is 95; of

farms above 20 and under 100 acres, 3; and of holdings above 100 acres, 2. The total acreage of the 2294 holdings under 100 acres does not exceed 20,000 acres, so that the 44 upwards of 100 acres have amongst them over 1,187,000 acres, or an average of close on 27,000 acres each. Had the returns gone further it would, in all probability, have been seen that about thirty tenants hold among them more than nine-tenths of the whole area of the county, or an average of over 36,000 acres each. Sutherland stands fourteenth in Scotland in regard to the total number of holdings, fifth in regard to the number of crofters, twelfth in regard to holdings between 5 and 20 acres in extent, twenty-ninth with holdings between 20 and 50 acres, equal with Kinross for the thirtieth place as regards holdings between 50 and 100 acres, and thirty-second with holdings over 100 acres in extent.

In the parish of Creich, which has a total valuation of close on £11,000, there are several good arable farms. The largest proprietor in this parish, or rather the proprietor having the largest rent-roll, is Mr Evan Charles Sutherland-Walker of Skibo, whose rental in Creich in 1878-79 was £2795 (an increase of £701 since 1874-75), and who also ranks in the adjoining parish of Dornoch for £1437 of annual rent. Mr Sutherland-Walker purchased the Skibo estate in 1872 at £130,000. At that time the property was in a somewhat neglected condition, and the present proprietor has expended more than it has yielded by bringing it into thoroughly good order. He has erected several new buildings, constructed new roads, and erected a large stretch of wire fencing with iron strainers and larch posts. Formerly the tenants were allowed to crop as they pleased (if they did not take two grain crops in succession) up till within five years of the expiry of their leases, when they were bound to farm in a five-course shift; but Mr Sutherland-Walker has, in his new leases, turned them all into the five-shift rotation. The general character of the farming on this estate has improved considerably during recent years, the exertions of the present proprietor having been admirably backed up by the tenants, who have worked hard to improve the condition of their land and houses. The rental of the arable land over the Skibo estate is on an average about 20s. per acre, the soil being generally light sandy loam. On this estate there are about a dozen tenants paying over £50 of rent, and about 150 crofters paying under £20 each. The farms are all well supplied with servants' cottages. One of the largest farms on the Skibo estate is Overskibo, in the parish of Dornoch, extending to 175 acres arable and 80 acres of heath, rented at £210, and tenanted by Mr George Forbes. The soil on the most of this farm is black loam, but in part of it there is stiff clay. Barley yields from 4½ to 5 qrs. per acre, and weighs about 54 lbs. per bushel; oats, about 3½ qrs. per acre, and weighs from 41½ lbs. to 42 lbs. per bushel. In a favourable year sowing commences soon after the middle of March, and the harvesting commences about the second week of September. About 80 acres are worked by each pair of horses. There is no accommodation on the farm for feeding cattle, and part of the turnip crop is always eaten off by sheep. Part of it is sometimes let for that purpose, and usually brings from £7, 10s. to £8 per acre. Turnips and potatoes grow well, being liberally manured, about 25 loads of farmyard manure with 4 cwts. of dissolved bones per acre being allowed. The farm has recently been thoroughly re-drained and limed by the tenant, while new fences have also been erected. Mr Forbes also rents grazing land, which carries from 1100 to 1200 sheep, one "hirsel" being Cheviots and the other Blackfaced sheep. The Duke of Sutherland has a rental of £1893 in Creich; and the other larger proprietors and their rentals are— Sir Charles W. A. Ross, Bart. of Balnagown, £1854; Mr Dugald Gilchrist of Ospisdale, £823; Mr R, Tennant of Rosehall, £583; Mr Sidney Hadwen of Balblair, £514; representatives of Mr Charles Stewart of Dalcrombie, £425; Mr Charles E. Flower of Glencasley, £310; Professor Geddes and Mrs Geddes (Aberdeen) of Invernauld, £272; and Mr John R. Tennant, younger of Rosehall, £227. The Duke of Sutherland's rental in the parish of Creich has fallen by £7 since 1874-75, while that of Sir Charles Boss has advanced by £318. The gross increase in the parish during the past four years is £1431.

The Duke of Sutherland draws nearly three-fourths of the rental of the parish of Dornoch, which now amounts to £6928, and which has increased by £750 since 1874. There are some very good arable farms on His Grace's property in this parish. The farm of Embo Mains, occupied by Mr William Gordon, extends to 457 acres, and is rented at £456. Worked on the five-shift rotation, its soil inland is clayey, sandy near the coast, and black loam in the centre. The crops grown are barley, oats, turnips, potatoes, rye, tares, and hay. Barley yields about 4 quarters per acre, and weighs from 53½ lbs. to 54 lbs. per bushel; oats and rye give a similar return, and weigh respectively about 42 lbs. and 58 lbs. per bushel. Sowing commences usually about the middle of March, and harvesting about the middle of September. Each pair of horses on this farm works about 90 acres. Mr Gordon keeps a good stock of cross and Highland cattle, selling off a number of fat cattle in the spring, when they weigh from 6 to 8 cwt. dead weight. Green crops grow well, and get from 5 to 6 cwt. of dissolved bones and guano per acre, along with a liberal supply of farmyard manure, About 140 acres were recently reclaimed on this farm, and are yielding good crops. Mr Gordon also holds the arable farm of East Brora and the grazing farm of Grumbie, which is stocked with Cheviot sheep. The farms of Torboll and Coul are carefully managed by Mr George M. Ross, the one being rented at £455 and the other at £290. Both these farms are worked on the five-shift rotation, and give about 3½ to 4 qrs. of barley and oats per acre; the former weighing from 52lbs. to 56lbs. per bushel, and the latter from 40 lbs. to 42 lbs. Turnips, which yield well, are usually allowed from 16 to 20 loads of farmyard manure per acre, along with from 5 to 7 cwt. of artificial manure. All the fences (dykes principally) have been renewed on these farms within the last two years; the proprietor erecting the dykes and the tenant driving the materials. Mr Ross also holds grazing land stocked with a ewe stock of Cheviots, and he consumes most of his turnips with his own sheep. The parish of Golspie may perhaps be said to be the best agricultural district in the county. Since 1874 its valuation has increased from £5343 to £6179, of which £5136 are drawn by the Duke of Sutherland. His Grace has two farms in the parish in his own hands,—Dunrobin Mains and Rhives. The Mains extends to 650 acres, of which 240 acres are farmed on the five-shift rotation. The soil is good, chiefly loam and admixture of clay. It is farmed on the most advanced principles by Mr John Blake, His Grace's experienced manager, and yields excellent crops of barley, oats, and turnips. Barley yields about 5 qrs. per acre, and weighs on an average 54lbs. per bushel; and oats about 6 qrs., and weighs 42lbs. The other 410 acres lie out in permanent pasture, and afford a most luxuriant supply of grass. This land is divided into fields of different size, and is well fenced. About 600 Cheviot sheep are kept, and depend entirely on grass. Two-thirds of the ewes nurse twin-lambs, and the wethers at two years old average 21 lbs. per quarter. Rhives extends to 120 acres. It is a drier loam, and yields heavier grain by 1 lb. to 2 lbs. per bushel than Dunrobin Mains. At the latter farm a fine herd of West Highland cattle is kept, including about forty cows; and in addition to these it carries thirty cross cows. The young stock are usually sold fat at high prices when about two years old. From these two farms His Grace usually sends some excellent animals to the principal English and Scotch fat stock shows. The farm of Culmaily, occupied by Mr P. P. Sellar, and rented at £746, is well situated near Golspie. This farm, as already stated, was leased by Mr Patrick Sellar, father of the present tenant, about 1809, and by him the greater part of it was reclaimed. It now extends to about 400 acres, beautifully laid off in sixteen fields, and all fenced with dykes. The greater part consists of a black loamy soil, there being some spots of moss and some of clay. The subsoil all through is of a sandy nature. Worked on the five-shift rotation, and most liberally manured, the farm yields most excellent crops of oats, usually 5 qrs. per acre, weighing 42 lbs. to 44 lbs. per bushel. Barley does not turn out so satisfactorily, seldom reaching 4 qrs. per acre and 54 lbs, per bushel. A little wheat is usually sown after potatoes and grows well, yielding from 3 to 5 qrs. per acre. A small field of potatoes has been tried in the last few years, and they have given a very fair return, sometimes 30 bolls per acre. A commodious, convenient, and substantial steading was built about twenty years ago, and increased shedding accommodation for cattle has been recently erected. From 120 to 150 Caithness-bred cattle are fed off annually at three years old; one-half of the turnip crop going to them, and the other half being consumed on the land by feeding sheep. The adjoining farm of Kirkton, rented by Mrs Murray at £368, is worked in a similar manner, and yields fair crops. There are several other very desirable smaller arable farms in this parish, mostly all carefully and liberally farmed.

In the Brora district, in the parish of Clyne, there is a considerable extent of arable land, held chiefly in small holdings. Along with Clynelish Distillery, Mr George Lawson holds a well laid-off liberally-managed farm of 285 acres. It has, till recently, been all regularly worked on the five-shift rotation, but the most of it is now being laid down in pasture; while, with the view of avoiding "finger and toe," the turnips are being grown after grass. As yet the experiment has been most successful, and excellent crops are raised. A number of Aberdeen and Angus polled cattle were introduced by Mr Lawson a few years ago, and they are doing exceedingly well. The steading on this farm has few equals in the north of Scotland. One of the finest arable farms in the county is Crakaig, in the parish of Loth, and rented along with Lothbeg by Mr John B. Dudgeon at £712, 10s. As previously stated, part of Crakaig was reclaimed many years ago from a sort of lake; and, consisting as it mostly does of rich loamy clay, and being liberally treated, it produces heavy crops of wheat and oats, and a fair yield of barley. Potatoes and turnips also grow well. There is a good steading on this farm, and Mr Dudgeon feeds a good many cattle, chiefly Caithness crosses or crosses of his own rearing. The newly-reclaimed farms at Lairg have already been noticed. It is perhaps not desirable to occupy space by referring to more individual arable holdings.

Leases, Rent, and Rotation.

Leases.—There is little variety in the duration of leases in this county, nineteen years being the general term. All farmers and a few crofters possess leases for nineteen years or a shorter period, but the greater mass of the latter are merely tenants-at-will, with yearly possession from Whitsunday to Whitsunday, the rent being payable in advance at Martinmas.

Rent.—The rate of rent paid for the arable land varies considerably. The lowest is about 10s., the highest about 35s., and the average probably 20s., or a little over that, per acre. The increase during the past twenty-five years is equal to about 30 per cent. The crofters pay from 15s. to 20s. per acre, including outrun, which on an average carries for each a pony, a cow, a quey or stirk, and ten sheep. If the crofters have no pony, two cows are usually allowed. The ancient system of paying vent in kind and by service has long since vanished from the county, and its demise need not be regretted.

Rotation of Cropping.—There is perhaps no county in Scotland in which there is so little variety in the system or rotation of cropping pursued as in Sutherland. With a few solitary exceptions, the five-shift rotation prevails everywhere—first, turnips and potatoes; second, barley (sometimes wheat and barley); third, hay and grass; fourth, grass; fifth, oats. The arable farming of the county may be said to be entirely subservient to its more extensive pastoral system. Therefore the five-shift system is pursued, mainly because it affords the greatest possible breadth of grass and turnips, which are indispensable for Cheviot sheep-farming in the north of Scotland. This rotation of cropping is in no respect too severe for moderately heavy land where a good deal of feeding takes place, and where, consequently, the substance withdrawn from the soil by the crops is returned to it in the form of farmyard manure. The soil of Sutherland, however, is on the light side for so rapid a course of cropping; and, as little cake or other nutritious food is consumed along with the grass and turnips, the farmers must necessarily purchase a considerable quantity of artificial manures in order to maintain the fertility of their land.

Grain Crops.

The following table shows the number of acres under all kinds of grain crops in various years since 1853:—

The returns collected by the Highland and Agricultural Society were exceptionally full and accurate. On the whole, the area under grain crops has slightly decreased during the past quarter of a century. The increase of 7419 acres in the arable area in that period, as will be afterwards shown, appears now as almost wholly under grasses. The percentage of corn crops to the arable area in 1870 was 37.4, which placed Sutherland, in that respect, eleventh among the Scotch counties. In regard to the total area under grain crops, Sutherland comes twenty-seventh. Sutherland does not contribute to the meal supply of the large centres of population; indeed, in that matter it is far from self-supporting. The cultivation of the grain crops is pursued on principles similar to what prevail in the most advanced districts of the country; and, considering the situation of the county, grain of a very fine quality is produced. Sowing commences, in a favourable year, towards the end of March; harvesting operations are begun from the middle of August till the second week in September.

Wheat.—As already stated, wheat was tried in the county many years ago, and soon given up owing to the distance from the southern markets and the supposed unsuitability of the climate. Its cultivation, however, has not been long entirely abandoned, for in the returns collected by the Highland and Agricultural Society in 1853, 217½ acres were in that year under wheat. The following table shows the number of acres under wheat at various times since that date:—

It will thus be seen that wheat has latterly been declining in favour. It is now grown on only two or three of the better farms, such as Culmaily and Crakaig. On the former it yields from 3 to 5 qrs. per acre, and in a good year the sample is of very fair quality and colour. In such a wet season as this (1879) has been, however, it would not turn out a paying crop. About 3 bushels of seed is allowed per acre. Sutherland stands twenty-sixth among the other Scotch counties in regard to the area under wheat.

Barley.—This variety of grain grows well in the county, and is cultivated in considerable breadth. The following table shows the area under barley at various dates since 1853:—

It will thus be seen that barley has not increased since 1853, but that it is more largely grown now than a few years ago. The yield of barley ranges from 3½ to 6 qrs.per acre, the average being perhaps, between 4½ and 5 qrs. The weight varies from 50 lbs to 54 lbs. per bushel, the greater portion being close on the latter weight. Barley is grown always after green crop, and about 3 bushels of seed are allowed to the acre. A good deal of the barley grown in the county is manufactured at the celebrated Clynelish Distillery. In regard to the area under barley Suther-land comes twenty-second in Scotland.

Oats.—As might be expected, and as shown by the following table, oats are the most popular variety of grain:—

The soil and climate of Sutherland are admirably adapted to the cultivation of oats. In general, the yield is large and the quality of the grain good. The yield varies from 3½ to 6½ qrs. per acre, the average being slightly over 5 qrs; while the weight ranges from 40 lbs. to 44 lbs. per bushel, 42 lbs. being about the average. Sandy oats are largely used; but, latterly, such varieties as longfellow, and finefellow, and potato oats have been sown to a considerable extent. Swiss and. Canadian oats have been found to suit the new land at Lairg exceedingly well. The former have given a yield of from 4 to 6 qrs. per acre, and weighed about 38½ lbs. per bushel, while the latter afford a fair return, and weigh about 44 lbs. per bushel. From 4 to 5 bushels of seed are given to the acre. A considerable quantity of the yield of oats is appropriated as food for horses, and also some for cattle and sheep; but the larger proportion is made into meal for the inhabitants. In regard to the area under oats Sutherland stands twenty-eighth among the Scotch counties.

Rye and Peas.—These are not cultivated to a very great extent; while it is one of the few Scotch counties that grow no beans. The area under rye in 1853 was 7¾ acres, and this year (1879) 87 acres. The yield averages about 4 qrs. per acre, and the weight about 58 lbs. per bushel. In 1853 there were 90f acres under peas, and this year 44 acres.

Hay and Grass.

In a county where the rearing of stock rules so supremely as in Sutherland, the pasture break is one of the most important on the farm. It is therefore natural that the increase of 7419 acres in the arable area since 1853 should have been added chiefly to the land under pasture. The following tables show that it has been so appropriated:—

It will thus be seen that these two heads absorb 6923½ acres of the increase, leaving only 495½ acres among all the other crops. The pasture not under regular rotation has by far the largest increase, and in these depressed times it is likely enough that in Sutherland, as in most of the other northern counties, the increase in that direction will go a good deal farther. The demand for hay as winter food for sheep is great, and therefore a considerable breadth is assigned to that crop every year. When sown out for hay and grass after green crops, the land receives about 30 lbs. of rye grass and 10 lbs. of mixed clovers per acre. A little more of both varieties is given when the land is meant to lie for several years under grass.

Green Crops.

Turnips.—The following table shows the area under turnips at various dates since 1853:—

It will be observed that turnips come next to grass under rotation in the rate of increase during the past quarter of a century, and appropriate more than the decrease in both grain crops and potatoes. It has already been shown that turnips play a very important part in the economy of Sutherland; and therefore, as much of the arable land as possible is devoted to them. In some cases their cultivation has been interfered with by that perplexing disease, "finger and toe," which is no doubt, to a certain extent, fostered by the five-shift rotation. As previously stated, Mr Lawson, Clynelish, has commenced grow-mg them after lea, which has proved as yet a complete preventive of the disease. On new land, on the farm of Melness, on the north coast, the fungus, or whatever it is, attacked the roots so persistently that their cultivation had to be abandoned Turnips, nevertheless, grow exceedingly well in the county, and

the yield is fully equal to the average in the other northern counties. Swedes and yellows are the varieties most widely sown. The quantity of seed allowed to the acre is about 3 lbs. of Swedes and 2½ lbs. of other varieties. Generally speaking, the land intended for turnips is manured with from sixteen to twenty-five loads of farmyard dung, and from 3 to 8 cwt. of artificial manure, chiefly dissolved bones and guano. The greater portion of the turnip crop is consumed on the land by sheep, and when let for that purpose brings from £6 to £9 per acre. Sutherland stands twenty-sixth among the Scotch counties in regard to the area under turnips.

Potatoes.—The following table indicates the area under potatoes since 1853:—

Excepting on a very few farms on the south-east coast, this esculent is grown solely for home consumption, a great proportion of the crop being grown by the small tenants or crofters, among whom potatoes form a very important article of food. The average yield over the county is about 15 bolls per acre, and the quality is usually good. During later years a few farmers on the south-east coast have tried small fields of potatoes, and the result has been encouraging. Mr Sellar has sometimes a yield of 30 bolls per acre, including all sizes.

Other Green Crops.

Some years a few acres are sown with rape, chiefly new land. This year there were' 19 acres under that crop, and in 1878, 222 acres. Of vetches there were 46 acres this year, and 39 last year. This year there was 1 acre under mangold, but the climate is too cold for that root. It is seldom that much land is allowed to lie in fallow. This year there were 260 acres, and 75 acres last year.

Live Stock.

Horses.—The number of horses in the county at various dates is shown by the following table:—

Of the number of horses returned this year, 2105 are used solely for agricultural purposes, the remaining 524 being kept solely for either for breeding purposes, or are young unbroken animals. The number used solely for agricultural purposes has increased by 40. The farm horses generally throughout Sutherland are not heavy, but are of moderate size, very active and durable. They go smartly with fair loads, and are well-suited for cultivation work. On the better farms they are mostly of the Clydesdale stamp, and throughout the county generally they have been much improved recently by the introduction from the south of good draught stallions. The Duke of Sutherland at one time kept entire horses of the most suitable description, both for road and farm, and many good horses were reared from these. The Master of Blantyre has introduced two excellent stallions on his new farms at Lairg, and their progeny will no doubt effect still further improvement in that neighbourhood. At the local ploughing matches, where from 40 to 50 pairs of horses turn out well-groomed and well-harnessed, the display is indeed highly creditable to the county. The extent of arable land attached to each pair of horses ranges from 50 to 90 acres. Among the crofters there is a useful small-sized class of ponies that suit the work on crofts admirably.

Cattle.—The number of cattle was, in

It will thus be seen that the cattle stock of the county has not changed much in numbers during the past quarter of a century. These figures also show that the rearing of cattle is not prosecuted very largely in Sutherland. Indeed, the county stands only twenty-fourth among the other Scotch counties in regard to the number of its cattle stock. There is great variety among the cattle of the district. The ancient black cattle that at one time grazed in the straths in such large numbers have disappeared, and have been succeeded by a mixture of West Highland cattle, polled cattle, shorthorns, and crosses. Of the pure breeds the former predominates greatly, and originally the most of these hailed from Argyleshire and from Skye. In 1865 the Duke of Sutherland had the distinguished honour of carrying away the gold medal and £100 prize for the best fat animal in the Great Smithfield Christmas Show, the only occasion on which that highly coveted honour has been won by an animal of the West Highland breed. The crofters, as a rule, have cows of the Highland breed, and, in most cases, they mate these with Highland bulls, sent throughout his property by the Duke of Sutherland, for the use of his tenantry. In this way His Grace sends out, on application through the factors of the various districts,

more than twenty bulls every spring, and takes them back to the Home Farm to be wintered. From these bulls the crofters' cattle (indeed the cattle of the county generally) have been much improved, and the comfort of the smaller tenants greatly enhanced. On the south-east coast shorthorn bulls, chiefly from Morayshire, have been in general use during the last twenty years, and consequently a large proportion of the cattle stock in these parts consists of crosses from Highland cows and shorthorn bulls. A few years ago many of the crofters, finding that cross calves brought a readier sale and higher prices than Highland calves, became anxious to have their cows mated with shorthorn bulls. Crosses, however, do not suit the climate and treatment the cattle of Sutherland crofters have to endure so well as Highlanders, and most of them have gone back to the use of bulls of the shaggier and hardier breed. About six years ago Mr Kelly founded a herd of Highland cattle at Achinduich, and it now numbers about 20 head. The foundation of this promising young herd was laid from a Dunrobin heifer, and a cow from the island of Barra, nearly related to the Highland ox from Dunrobin that achieved the distinguished triumph in 1865. There is very little cattle-feeding in the county, the large majority of the surplus stock being sent south in lean condition when a year and a half or two years old. A few of the larger farmers on the south-east coast,— notably Mr Sellar, Culmaily; Mr Lawson, Clynelish; and Mr Dudgeon, Crakaig,—feed a number of two and three-year old crosses every year, and send them to the southern markets, where they invariably command the top prices. Mr Sellar feeds from 120 to 200 head, chiefly three-year olds bought in Caithness and taken to Culmaily when about two and a half years old. They are commenced in the house there with tares or similar green food, and are afterwards fed mainly on turnips, cake, and grain. They are generally sent to the market about the Christmas season. As already stated, Mr Lawson recently established, at Clynelish, a herd of polled cattle. He acquired good blood at the outset, having been a large purchaser at the dispersion, three years ago, of the herd of the late Mr Paterson, Mulben, Boharm. The animals have thriven remarkably well, and have amply proved the wisdom of introducing them. Mr Lawson feeds the black steers he breeds himself along with a number of bought-in crosses, and for both he obtains the highest current prices, the blacks finding the most favour among the butchers. There is little doubt that the black polled breed would suit Sutherland admirably; and it will be surprising if they are not reared in large numbers in the county before many years have passed. Mr Dudgeon feeds an excellent lot of crosses, partly bred by himself and partly in Caithness. Several of the other farmers along the south-east coast feed a smaller number, mostly crosses of their own breeding. They send them off when about two years old. Sutherland crosses, at that age, usually weigh from 6 cwt. to 7 cwt. in the carcass. It is worthy of mention that about fifty years ago Mr Alexander Craig, tenant of the farm of Kirkton in the parish of Golspie, kept there an excellent herd of polled Galloway cattle. At the first Show of the Highland and Agricultural Society at Inverness in 1831, Mr Craig won all the prizes offered for Galloway cattle, except one which the Duke of Gordon obtained for a bull. In Mr Ramsay's admirable "History of the Highland and Agricultural Society," there is the following reference to the creditable position taken at that Show by Mr Craig:—"In the Galloway breed, prizes were offered for bull, cow, heifer, and ox. There was a pretty fair muster of the breed, but the exhibitors were not numerous; in fact, there were only three exhibitors—James Bain, Antfield, Inverness, who exhibited a bull; the Duke of Gordon, who exhibited a bull and an ox; the other and chief exhibitor being Alexander Craig, Kirkton, Sutherland, who exhibited two bulls, and who sent all the animals—five in number—entered for the cow premium, and the three animals entered for the heifer premium, together with five animals entered for the ox premium. Mr Craig's cattle were all bred by himself except one of the cows which was bred by the Duke of Gordon. The prizes all went to Mr Craig, except that for the bull, which was won by the Duke of Gordon with an animal bred at Gordon Castle."

Swine and Poultry.—The number of swine in the county was, in—

The stock of pigs in the county has been greatly improved during recent years by the introduction of good sires, but still they are not as a rule of a high class. A large number of somewhat inferior pigs are kept among the crofters.

Poultry are not kept extensively in the county, though there are a few good " stocks " of them on the south-east coast.

Buildings, Fences, and Roads.

Generally speaking, the farms of Sutherland are now well provided with both dwelling-houses and steadings. The improvement effected in buildings during the past quarter of a century has been very great. The Duke of Sutherland has expended a very large sum in that work, the new houses having in most cases been erected at his cost, the tenant paying interest or an equivalent increase in rent. On most of the larger farms the dwelling-houses are very commodious, and the Duke has erected a number of large and attractive shooting lodges. On most of the larger sheep-farms there are excellent dwelling-houses, in which the tenants reside during the greater part of the year. The dwelling-houses of the smaller tenants and cotters have been greatly improved during the last twenty-five years, mostly by the Duke of Sutherland. They are now, in general, comfortable though not large. The arable farms are all provided with good threshing-mills, driven by water or horses. There are very few covered courts in the county, but they are now to be found on some of the larger farms on the south-east coast, one of the best being at Culmaily. Mr Lawson's steading at Clynelish is worthy of special mention. It was built by the Duke in 1871, the tenant paying interest. It is neat, compact, and exceedingly convenient The cattleman, for instance, has not to go outside in any of his operations, while for the manure there is a conveniently situated covered pit. The cattle divisions are commodious and well-ventilated. It is, indeed, one of the most compact farm-steadings in the north of Scotland. Mr Sellar has also an exceptionally good steading at Culmaily.

The arable farms are in general well fenced, mostly with dykes and wire. The dykes are usually built at the cost of the Duke while the tenants drive the materials.

The roads throughout the county are very good. Their formation has already been referred to.

Sheep-Farming.

The wealth and greatness of Sutherland may be said to consist in its sheep-farming. To that important and generally lucrative industry, the arable farming of the county is in a manner made subservient. From it the Duke of Sutherland and the other proprietors derive the larger proportion of their rentals. To it the county is mainly indebted for the prominent part it plays in the agriculture of Scotland. Carried on very extensively, and with much success, the system is distinguished by a perfection of management not excelled in any part of the country The stock of sheep, too, almost entirely of the Cheviot breed is of a high class, bearing an excellent reputation, and commanding the top prices in all the leading British markets.

This extensive and improved system of sheep-farming was founded in Sutherland in 1806. In that year, and in 1807, as if to make way for a new order of things, scab and rot killed the majority of the small ill-shaped, ill-managed Kerry sheep that formerly grazed the straths and mountains along with the black cattle. In that year, also, Messrs Atkinson and Marshall arrived in the county from Northumberland, and brought with them an excellent stock of Cheviot sheep. For these gentlemen a very large grazing farm was formed. It extended from the village of Lairg to the lower point of Lochnaver in one direction, and in another from the river Tirry to the sources of the waters which fall into the Brora and Helmsdale rivers. It consisted of the highest districts of the Sutherland estate, and included Ben Clebrich and Ben Ormin. Of this extensive farm a lease of nineteen years was granted to Messrs Atkinson and Marshall in 1809. A few years thereafter the farm of Achinduich, lower down the Shin, and Letterbeg in Strathnaver, were added to it for the purpose of supplying wintering for the sheep. These united holdings extended in all to about 100,000 acres, so that the pioneer sheep-farmers, as these two gentlemen may be called, had ample room to develop their experience. It is stated by Mr Patrick Sellar, in a letter dated 1820, to Mr Loch, that during the first ten years of their occupancy, Messrs Atkinson and Marshall " had embarked not less than £20,000 in putting breeding flocks on the mountains of Sutherland." The success which attended the undertaking of these gentlemen speedily spread the popularity of the Cheviots all over the county. It induced those tenants who had stocked their farms a few years previously with blackfaced sheep to send away these and adopt the newly imported breed. It also encouraged the formation of more sheep-farms, and the removal, for that purpose, of those small tenants who occupied some of the richest straths in the county. In the course ?£ a few years Cheviot sheep became in a manner the watchwords of those interested in the development of Sutherland, and every encouragement was given to sheep-farmers from the south to settle in the county. The farm of Invershin was let to Messrs Culley and Morton, also from Northumberland, soon after Messrs Atkinson and Marshall came north. Along with Invershin, these gentlemen also held extensive sheep-farms from Sir Charles Boss of Balna-gown, whose predecessor, Sir John Lockhart Ross, was the first to introduce the modern system of sheep-farming into the north of Scotland. About the same time a Mr Dunlop, from Ayrshire, leased a large sheep-walk from Lord Reay in Durness, and stocked it with Cheviots, which, even at the outset, throve well. Sir John Sinclair had introduced Cheviot sheep into Caithness about 1790, and, some twenty years afterwards, Mr Innes, a native of that county, took Sandside, in the parish of Reay, and stocked it with Cheviots. Most of his sheep were brought north by Mr John Paterson, whose representatives are now at Armadale. Some time previous to 1812 a company of Roxburgh gentlemen entered on a lease of Armadale, and covered it with a fine stock of Cheviots. Mr Gabriel Reed, from Northumberland, was entrusted with the management of the affairs of the

company, and so well satisfied was that experienced gentleman with the suitability of the county to the Cheviots that, in 1812, he was induced to embark with the large farm of Kilcolmkill, on which he placed a fine stock of about 10,000 head. About the same time Mr Thomas Houston, Mr Patrick Sellar, Major Clunes, and other gentlemen, leased sheep-walks in the county, and adopted the popular breed. Every year swelled the ranks of the Sutherland sheep-farmers, and added thousands to the thriving stock of Cheviots. So fast, indeed, was the growth of the new system, that by 1820 it had spread to all corners of the county, sweeping away all traces of the more ancient order of things that preceded it. It was estimated that the Cheviot stock in Sutherland in 1820 numbered no less than 118,400.

The pioneers of the industry, however, had many difficulties to contend with, which the sheep-farmers in the county at the present clay know little of, except through history and tradition. One of the most perplexing of these difficulties was the prejudice, even hostility, of the natives, who made frequent raids on the flocks of the newly settled farmers. To protect their property from being thus plundered, eleven of the larger sheep-farmers in Sutherland and Caithness formed themselves into what was called " The United Association of the Noblemen and Gentlemen in Sutherland and Caithness for the Protection of Property." In 1815, these eleven farmers lost, they believed, through these raids, 1591 sheep, 1596 in 1816-17, while in the next two years the loss was "beat down" to 853 and 794 respectively. As indicating by whom the leading sheep-farms in Sutherland were occupied in the early days of the industry in the county, the list of the members of the association in 1819 will be read with interest. It was as follows:—Messrs Atkinson and Marshall, Lairg, &c.; Major Clunes, Crakaig; Mr Charles Clarke, Glendow; Mr John Clarke, Eriboll; Mr John Dunlop, Balnakiel; Major Donald Forbes, Melness; Major Gilchrist, Ospisdale and Shiness; Mr James Hall, Sciberscross; Mr Thomas Houston, Ribigill and Knockfin; Mr William Innes, Sandside; Messrs Morton and Culley, Invercasley, &c.; Captain K. Mackay, Torboll; Mr A. Mackenzie, Stonechruby; Mr Mac-kay, Keoldale; Messrs Munro and Reed, Badnabay; Mr John Paterson, Skelpick; Mr Gabriel Reed, Kilcolmkill; Mr Robson, Kirktown; Mr Pat. Sellar, Morvich, &c.; and Captain W. Scobie, Ardvare. Before leaving these bygone times, it may be stated that Mr Patrick Sellar introduced a number of pure bred Merino sheep, and tried them for a few years on the Sutherland hills. It is stated that he reared up his flock of Merinos from 200 to 600 head, of as fine sheep of the kind, and as thriving too, as ever stepped on hill ground. But he was induced to give them up. He says, that as three-fourths of the wastes of Sutherland consist of Alpine plants, which the Merino sheep dislike, "the same quantity of Sutherland ground will keep 300 Cheviots that will maintain 100 Merinos, and that with one-half the care, and one-third part of the risk in winter."

It has been seen that by 1820 the Cheviot breed had a powerful hold in Sutherland. They continued gradually to strengthen that hold until they had, by 1830 or 1835, appropriated to themselves almost the whole of the grazing regions of the county. The following table shows the number of sheep in Sutherland in various years since 1808 :—

The number returned last year was 234,586, or 25,173 more than were estimated to be in the county when this year's returns were collected. Last winter (1878-79) is regarded generally as perhaps the most disastrous in the present century to Sutherland sheep-farmers. The county lay bound up in snow for nearly four months, and so thick and close was the covering all over, that even the stronger sheep could not, except in some parts, make their way to the heath and grasses. In addition to entailing an enormous outlay for hand-feeding with hay and other material, the stormy winter caused unprecedented losses by death among both old sheep and lambs. If not entirely, there is no doubt that the decrease since last year must be mainly attributed to deaths caused by the severe winter. Compared with last year, the Board of Trade Returns show a deficiency in the crop of lambs of about one-third, or 21,539 head, which is due almost wholly to the stormy weather in winter and spring. All private estimates represent the loss among lambs as considerably greater than one-third; and there is too good reason to believe that it has really turned out to be so. By competent authorities it is estimated that between the marking of the lambs in spring and their weaning in July and August, over 1500 lambs had died in the county; so that the year's crop of lambs in Sutherland would number only about 38,000. Taking the deficiency caused in the crop of lambs by the exceptionally severe winter and spring at 21,539, there would thus appear from the Returns to have been a loss among the older sheep of only 3634. In reality, however, it was at least four times that number, perhaps not under 15,000.

General Notes on Sheep Grazings. Before indicating the general system of management pursued, a few hurried notes may be given regarding some of the larger individual holdings. To save repetition it may be stated here, in a word, that the sheep stock of the county consists almost exclusively of Cheviots. Where other breeds are kept, they will be specified. The Duke of Sutherland is himself an extensive sheep-farmer. As already stated, he holds the farm of Shiness, which carries an excellent stock of 2000 sheep, and is assessed on £500. At Whitsunday last he took over from the representatives of the late Mr Bateson the small farm of Cam-busmore, which carries about 500 head, and has 95 acres of arable land attached. From Captain Houston His Grace took over the large farm of Kinbrace, extending to about 30,000 acres, when the land reclamations commenced. It is rented at £990, and formerly carried about 5000 head. The Shiness wethers brought 44s. this year, and the cast ewes 31s. The Hon. the Master of Blantyre, the Duke of Sutherland's nephew, is now one of the most extensive sheep-farmers in the north of Scotland. He holds the pastoral farm of Sciberscross, extending to about 39,000 acres, and the arable farms of Colaboll and Achnanearain at Lairg, measuring respectively, exclusive of outrun, 346 and 330 acres. He entered the first-named farm in 1875, and the other two in 1876. Sciberscross carries about 6000 sheep, and is rented at £1390. The Lairg farms winter about 2200 hoggs, and are rented at £500. The Master of Blantyre has three "hirsels" of blackfaced sheep. He has had two years' experience of them, and he finds them hardier and better able to withstand the winter than the Cheviots. Their advantage is specially noticeable at lambing time. He finds that the storm that would kill a Cheviot lamb would hardly affect a blackfaced lamb. He is of opinion that the Sutherland grazings would carry a third more blackfaced sheep than Cheviots, and that the greater part of the county will yet be covered with the former instead of the latter. He says that, owing to the climate seemingly becoming more severe, the mossing or cotton plant is fast disappearing; the difficulties to contend with as to heather burning; the old townships or green patches getting "fogged" and overgrown with heather, it is impossible to maintain as good a class of Cheviot sheep as was reared some years ago. He finds the wintering of his hoggs adds fully a second rent to his grazing land. He winters the ewe hoggs in the south, and endeavours to keep them on grass till towards the end of February, when they are placed on yellow turnips for a month or six weeks to make them "shoot," or grow in the horn. He avoids, as far as possible, giving turnips especially Swedes, to ewe hoggs, as ewe lambs wintered on turnips have frequently to be turned into the market with "broken" mouths. In the first week of April the hoggs are brought home, when the mossing or cotton plants should be out and should carry them on till the "deer-hair" grass comes about the second week in May. The mossing having been failing more and more every successive year, it is impossible to keep the hoggs from losing condition after returning from the wintering. The wether hoggs are kept on grass till December, when they are put on to turnips, and taken home at the same time as the ewe hoggs. The cost of wintering, including expenses out and back and herding, varies from 8s. to 10s. a-head. The Master of Blantyre also sends a few of the weaker din-monts and gimmers to wintering. His stock is what is called a "regular" one, part ewes and part wethers; and he usually feeds his wethers and cast ewes in Derbyshire, where he holds a large farm. He has tried the wintering of hoggs at Lairg on grass and cake; and, while the hoggs thrive well under that treatment, he found the cost very little dearer than the usual system of wintering. On Sciberscross the average yield of wool is fully 5 lbs. per head. The Master of Blantyre smears all his sheep. The smearing mixture consists of tar and butter in equal proportions. Each tub contains 16 pints, with a pint of milk and a pint of seal oil added, and smears from 27 to 29 sheep. He employs in all fourteen shepherds; and his fanks, dipping-houses, and other similar accessories—all planned by himself—are most complete and convenient. The Hall family, so creditably connected with the sheep-farming of Sutherland, held Sciberscross for fifty-seven years prior to the entry of the Master of Blantyre, and kept one of the best stocks in the county, realising always the top prices at the Inverness Wool Fair.

In Creich, the first parish entered from the south, there are some good sheep farms. Mr John Kelly, formerly farm manager at Dunrobin, holds the farm of Achinduich, and keeps on it a very good and very old breeding stock. He sells his wether lambs at the Wool Fair, and delivers them at the usual time— about the first week in August. The ewes are sent away when four or five years old, the ewe stock being made up from jus own ewe lambs. On this farm, near the river Shin, there is a good deal of green land, which yields good crops of hay; while some new land has been reclaimed higher up the side of railway. The largest holding in this parish is Invercasley,

on the estate of Sir Charles Ross, Bart. of Balnagown, and entered eleven years ago, at a rent of £1400, by Messrs William and James Kennedy, who are also extensive farmers in the counties of Caithness, Inverness, Dumfries, and Kirkcudbright. Extending to about 35,000 acres, this farm consists mostly of black land, a good deal of it being high-lying, and cold and stormy in winter. A good ewe and wether stock is kept, tups being frequently introduced from Caithness and the south. The sheep on this farm are generally smeared in October and November with tar and butter. Clipping takes place about the end of June and beginning of July, and the ewe fleeces average from 3½ lbs. to 4 lbs.; and those from wethers, from 4½ lbs. to 5½ lbs. The hoggs are wintered in the south at a cost of from 8s. to 9s. a head. The cost of wintering has been more than doubled during the past twenty years. In severe winters such as last, hand-feeding has to be resorted to among the old sheep at home. The Messrs Kennedy have expended a considerable sum in repairing shepherds' houses and erecting fences and sheep folds, as also in surface-draining. Each shepherd has charge of from 500 to 600 ewes, or 1000 wethers.

The new farms in the parish of Lairg have already been referred to. The farm of Dalchork, extending to about 25,000 acres, and including 120 arable acres, has been held by Mr A. S. Macdonald since 1871. Bart of this farm is very good pasture; but, on the other hand, there is a large stretch of scarcely any value. Most of it is flat and devoid of shelter. A good ewe and wether stock is kept, a few fresh tups being introduced from other stocks now and again. The old sheep are smeared after the 16th October. Four gallons of tar are mixed with 35 lbs. of butter, and that smears from 30 to 32 sheep at a cost of from 8d. to 10d. per head. The lambs are " dipped" before leaving for wintering in the south, and again on returning in spring. Clipping commences about the 12th of June. The hoggs are wintered partly on the arable farms on the south-east coast of the county and in Ross-shire; the ewe hoggs, when possible, on grass, and the wether hoggs on turnips. The lean dinmonts and gimmers are also sent to turnips and grass. The cost of wintering these averages close on 10s. a head. Each shepherd herds in summer from 600 to 700 sheep, but in winter the "hirsels" are reduced by sale and sending away to wintering to about 400 each. Six shepherds are employed on Dalchork. The death-rate ranges from 5 to 10 per cent. per annum. For every 100 lambs speaned, on an average, from 20 to 25 die before being sold as cast ewes or wethers. For every 100 ewes tupped, from 83 to 88 lambs are generally speaned. This year only 47 lambs were weaned for every 100 ewes. The Dalchork wethers sold at 43s. this year. The arable land at Dalchork is rented at £1 per acre, and grows good crops of oats and turnips,—the former yielding about 5 qrs. per acre in a good year, and weighing about 42 lbs. per bushel. A few Highland cattle are kept on Dalchork. Another large and well-stocked farm in the parish of Lairg is Gruids, leased by Messrs Douglas Dobie and Thomas Martin.

In the neighbouring parish of Rogart is situated the extensive farm of Blarich, held by Messrs W. and D. Menzies. This fine farm was long held by Mr Andrew Hall of Calrossie, the representative of the well-known Hall family, so long located at Sciberscross. Mr Andrew Hall has perhaps a more intimate acquaintance with the pastoral districts of Sutherland than any other person, and was a remarkably skilful, painstaking, and successful sheep-farmer. His stock at Blarich commanded the admiration of all who saw them, and always fetched the top prices in the markets. The Blarich wethers this year brought 42s. 6d., and the cast ewes 33s. 6d. The largest holding in the parish of Clyne is Kilcolmkill, leased by Colonel Tod Brown, C.B., at a rent of £1171, and stocked with a superior class of sheep. In the adjoining parish of Loth, Mr John B. Dudgeon has in many respects one of the most desirable holdings in the county—the arable and grazing farms of Crakaig and Lothbeg—while he also leases the pastoral farm of Eldrabol in Kildonan. Mr Dudgeon has long kept a very fine stock of sheep, and has with much success bestowed a good deal of attention to the rearing of tups of the very best character. He imports tups from the best flocks in the south of Scotland; and, mating these with a few select ewes, rears tups that have few equals in the northern counties. At the show at Lairg last August, nearly all the higher honours for Cheviot tups fell to Mr Dudgeon. In the parish of Kildonan there are several large grazing farms well stocked with Cheviots, the more extensive being Kinbrace, held by the Duke of Sutherland, as already mentioned; Dalharn, held by Mr Sangster; Altandown, by Mr Gunn; and Kildonan, by the trustees of Mr Rutherford.

Crossing the mountains to the north-west coast from Kildonan, the traveller enters the Sutherland portion of the parish of Reay. The principal holding in this district is the fine farm of Bighouse, extending to about 60,000 acres, and rented at £1262 by Mr Robert Paterson of Birthwood, Biggar, Lanarkshire. Mr Paterson, who, it may be mentioned, has had the honour of being selected to act on the Royal Commission recently appointed to inquire into the agricultural depression, also leases farms of 1500 acres in Caithness, and 3000 acres in Lanarkshire, including his own property of Birthwood. He entered Bighouse in 1861. Along the banks of the river and burns there is a good deal of green land; but the greater portion is black and mossy. A superior ewe and wether stock is kept on this farm. Owing to the bad seasons lately experienced, Mr Paterson has had to buy wether lambs and two-year old wethers to make up his stock. Those purchased are usually descended from his own stock, and come from Orkney, Lanarkshire, and Caithness. He generally rears his own tups, introducing one or two now and again to change the blood, from the best stocks in the south, usually Dumfriesshire. His sheep in Sutherland are "dipped" about the middle of October with either Macdougal's dip, or oil hellebore, tobacco, and spirits of tar. Clipping commences about the first week of June, and is concluded in the first week of July, The fleeces average 4 lbs. each in a good year. Three-fourths of the lambs are sent south when speaned at first of August, and the remainder from the 1st till the 10th of October. The first lot are away eight months, and entail an outlay in that time of from 10s. to 12s. a-head. The second lot are away six months, and their wintering costs from 9s. to 9s. 6d. a-head. The weaker animals, in the flocks kept at home, all get turnips, or are hand-fed. Each shepherd has charge of from 300 to 500 ewes, or from 600 to 800 wethers. The Bighouse stock has been considerably improved by Mr Paterson. His sheep are hardy, sound, and uniform, and command high prices. Mr Paterson has surface-drained a good deal of his farm, and limed some parts of it. He has also erected fences and some shepherds' houses.

In the parish of Parr there are several large pastoral farms. At the head of these may be placed the fine farm of Langdale, rented at £1343, 15s. by Mr P. P. Sellar, who also holds the arable farm of Culmaily in the parish of Golspie, and is besides a very extensive farmer in the county of Ross. Mr Sellar's stock is one of the best in the north of Scotland. Lying in Strathnaver, an extensive and good grazing strath, Langdale embraces a wide extent of good pasture, and rears heavy, well-conditioned sheep. Another extensive holding in this strath is Rhifail, which has been occupied for about twenty-one years by Mr Thomas Purves, who also holds two large farms in Caithness. Rhifail extends to about 30,000 acres, and is rented at £900. It consists of mixed hill pasture. On each "hirsel" there is an old township of green land, and on the sides of the several streams that intersect the farm there is a considerable extent of green pasture. The breadth of green land, however, is much too small to enable the tenant to take full advantage of the large area of high black land. Mr Purves keeps a good ewe and wether stock, which he maintains in high order by an occasional infusion of fresh blood. He purchases every year a few good tups from the best stocks in the county, and now and again introduces two or three from the south. Clipping commences between the 5th and 20th June, and the yield ranges from 5 to 5½ lbs. of smeared wool. The Rhifail sheep are generally smeared with the best quality of tar and butter. Mr Purves winters the most of his sheep in Caithness, the average cost for hoggs being from 9s. to 10s. each, and for old sheep, 5d. to 6d. per week. The sheep kept on the Sutherland farm all winter are mostly hand-fed with hay and oats when that is necessary to sustain life, as it occasionally is. Mr Purves employs ten shepherds, and each has a "hirsel" of from 500 to 1000 head. The death-rate on this farm is from 7 to 10 per cent. in an ordinary year, and, with exceptional winters such as last, as high as from 15 to 25 per cent. Of every 100 ewe lambs weaned, from 12 to 14 die before the lot has to be sold as cast ewes. Of every 100 wether lambs weaned, probably about 85 remain to be sold as three-year old wethers. In an ordinary year every 100 ewes tupped nurse from 80 to 90 lambs. The death-rate among both old and young sheep has increased latterly. Mr Purves has reclaimed close on 150 acres of arable land at Rhifail. Oats and turnips grow well, but grass is unsatisfactory until the land has been limed. Oats weigh about 42 lbs. per bushel, and even this year they ripened well, and will yield over 5 quarters per acre. For the first crop of oats the land got a dressing of 3½ cwt. of guano, dissolved bones, and superphosphate. For turnips, the manure has consisted of a mixture of guano, dissolved bones, and bone meal, at the rate of 8 cwt. per acre. The average cost of the reclamation of the land, which has been accomplished in a most thorough manner, has been £40 per acre—trenching, £18; draining, £10; blasting stones with dynamite and clearing them off the land, £7 to £10; and building dykes 5½ feet high, £5 per acre. This outlay is borne by the Duke of Sutherland, Mr Purves paying 2½ per cent. of interest for ten years, and 5 per cent. during the remainder of the lease. In addition to the £40, the preparing of the land per acre has cost Mr Purves an average of £12 per acre. The quantity of stones in the land was great. After drains and dykes had been supplied, the removing of the remainder cost no less than £7 per acre. Mr Purves has also, at his own expense, reclaimed and laid down in grass about 20 acres. Since Mr Purves entered Rhifail, the Duke has built upon it a handsome dwelling-house at a cost of £1800, four houses for shepherds, ploughmen, and women servants, at a cost of about £250 each, and a good farm steading at about £1200. Mr Purves contributed between £200 and £300 to the cost of the dwelling-house, besides carting the materials for all the erections, and the slates, lime, and wood having to be carted over a very bad road. Mr Purves has also formed and fenced with dykes, 5½ feet high, five sheep parks at different parts of the farm, averaging in extent about 20 acres each. In addition, he made an excellent garden, and planted shrubberies around the dwelling-house at a cost of several hundred pounds. In all, on these improvements, Mr Purves has himself expended considerably over £2000, including carting materials for buildings. During his occupancy he has twice surface-drained his farm at a cost of over £500, built a good many sheep "stells " for shelter, and sown a great extent of whins. He at one time grazed about 80 Highland cattle. He has none at present, but intends bringing in about 40 stirks to consume the straw and make manure. To make up the deficiency caused in his stock by the severe winter of 1859-60, Mr Purves tried a few hundred blackfaced sheep, but they turned out badly. The ground, he says, is too flat and soft for them, and he had great loss among them from drowning and other accidents. On some "pining" ground on the farm, six of the blackfaced sheep were affected for every Cheviot that suffers. Those that survived grew into very good sheep. The other larger farms in this parish are Clebrig, occupied by Messrs Marshall and Scott; Skelpick, by Mr Donald Mackay; and Armadale, by Mr W. J. Patterson. At Skelpick, about 100 acres of land have been reclaimed at a similar cost, and under similar conditions as the land at Rhifail. The Clebrig wethers brought 39s. this year (1879), or 4s. below the price obtained last year.

The farm of Ribigill, rented by Mr William Mitchell at £1465, is the largest holding in the parish of Tongue, and one of the best managed in the county. Ribigill extends to about 30,000 acres, and along with it Mr Mitchell holds the farm of Pulrossie, containing 400 acres arable, and 140 acres of wood pasture. Mr Mitchell has occupied the former for eighteen years, and the latter for eleven years. The pasture of Ribigill is fully equal to the average of the north and west of Sutherland, there being a good deal of green land on it. It is, however, subject to severe snowstorms in winter and spring. On Pulrossie the soil is partly good sharp loam and partly poor clay. It grows turnips better than any other crop. A very fine ewe and wether stock is kept on Ribigill. Mr Mitchell buys in to keep up his wether stock, and for the last few years has had to buy ewe lambs and hoggs. These he generally obtains in the Muir of Ord market. He frequently introduces tups from the best stocks in the country, such as those of Hindhope, Kirkhill, and Arch-bank. Mating these with a few select ewes, he rears a class of tups for himself that produce excellent lambs. His sheep are dipped twice a-year with castor oil and tobacco, a little arsenic being generally added. Castor oil is only used once a year. He also uses Martin's dip. The cost of the winter's dip is about 3d. per head, and that for the summer, 1d. The clipping takes place between the 10th and 30th of June. Hoggs and lean sheep of all other ages are wintered on arable land, while a few of the weaker sheep are generally hand-fed on the grazing farm. The wintering for hoggs cost on an average 10s. a-head. Each "hirsel" numbers from 400 to 700 head, according to the character of the land and the class of sheep. Mr Mitchell employs eight shepherds and three turnip herds. The death-rate is from 7 to 10 per cent. Every 100 ewes tupped rear about 70 lambs. Of every 100 lambs weaned, about 80 will be suitable for being kept for stock, the other 20 being dead before marking or weaning time or sold as "shotts." Of every 100 "sorted" lambs, 70 or 75 may live to be sold either as wethers or cast ewes. Mr Mitchell has expended a great deal of money on improvements on Pulrossie—on draining, liming, subsoiling, repairing, and erecting fences and cattle sheds. He has also spent a large sum on surface-draining, building houses, and erecting fences on Ribigill. At Ribigill the Duke has recently reclaimed over 150 acres, under similar conditions as those already indicated. The work was carried out by Mr Crawford, factor on the Tongue district of the Sutherland estate, and his son, and has been done in a most efficient manner. Steam power was used in part of the work. There were 85 acres under oats this year, and 30 under turnips. Both crops were good. The Duke gives lime to his tenants for the reclaimed land at interest on the price. Mr Mitchell has also limed part of his sheep farm, and has observed great improvement.

Melness, the largest farm not only in the county, but, perhaps, in the kingdom, lies partly in the parish of Tongue and partly in the parish of Durness. It is supposed to extend to over 70,000 acres. It has been occupied by Messrs Donald and William Mackay—father and son—for thirteen years, and is rented at £1257. Mr Donald Mackay, as already stated, leases the farm of Skelpick in Strathnaver, while, together, the father and son pay upwards of £3000 of rent for sheep and arable farms in Caithness. A few years ago, the entire extent of their farms was close on 150,000 acres. It may, perhaps, be said that they are, in regard to acreage, the most extensive farmers in the United Kingdom. Mr Donald Mackay was a son of one of the small tenants evicted from part of the farm of Melness (then the property of Lord Reay) when sheep-farming was introduced into the county. Beginning life in Caithness at an early age, Mr Mackay rose, step by step, and has 'achieved his present affluent position entirely through indomitable perseverence and much tact and ability. He and his son are, so far as known, the only instance where the descendants of the evicted tenants have made their way back to the ground once occupied by their forefathers. Melness is almost all hill pasture, with but very little green land. This makes it impossible to keep as many ewes as would maintain a sufficient wether stock, and compels the Messrs Mackay to go to the market every year for wether lambs and hoggs. The stock on the farm is descended from that held by the late Mr Paterson, the former tenant, but has been largely crossed by sheep from other farms held by the Messrs Mackay, as well as from the other well-bred stocks in Sutherland. The tups are reared on the farm, fresh blood being introduced from the south every second or third year. All the old sheep are smeared with tar and butter, the lambs being dipped with "Wilson's dip. The smearing costs about 8d. a-head, and dipping 4d. a-head. Clipping commences with the wethers, about the 6th or 10th of June. The most of the hoggs are wintered on their farms in Caithness, the remainder being sent elsewhere and wintered on grass and turnip at a cost of from 8s. to 9s. each. The shepherds on Melness herd each, on an average, about 450 in winter and 650 in summer. The death-rate is fully 10 per cent. It is seldom that more than seventy-five lambs are speaned for every one hundred ewes tupped. Of every one hundred hoggs sent to the hill in spring, not more than seventy live to be sold as cast ewes or wethers. The death-rate is greater than some years ago. There are about 90 acres of arable land on Melness; but, owing to turnips having ten consecutive years succumbed to "finger and toe," the most of it has been laid down in grass. Of these about 50 acres have been recently reclaimed by the Duke, on the usual conditions, at a cost of about £40 per acre. The weaker sheep are gathered off the "hirsels" every month in winter, and are hand-fed on the arable land. Since entering Melness the Messrs Mackay have expended about £1000 in surface-draining and other improvements. When the late tenant's stock on Melness was sold by public roup, at Whitsunday 1866, the roup-roll amounted to £18,500. It is stated that when he entered about 1828, the stock cost him only from £3000 to £4000. Owing to ravages of rinderpest the prices in 1866 were exceptionally high, and the Messrs Mackay paid 70s. for every ewe and lamb purchased at the sale.

In the parish of Durness there are some very large holdings. The fine farm of Eriboll, extending to between 30,000 and 40,000 acres, and rated at £1307, has been held by the Clarke family for sixty-four years. The present tenant is Mr George Granville Clarke, grandson of the original tenant, whose name has already been mentioned among the pioneer sheep-farmers of the county. Eriboll consists of mixed land, much of it moory,. very rocky, and wild, and little of it green except on the seaside. The winter is often wet and stormy, but the farm is not subject to long-continued snowstorms. An excellent ewe and wether stock is kept: no ewes ever being bought in, but 300 wether lambs are purchased yearly. One or two tups are bought in every year and put to picked ewes, the tups being selected from the progeny. Mr Clarke generally buys from the flocks in Sutherlandshire, which he knows to be the purest, most suitable to his land and climate, and least crossed with south country blood. He smears part of his stock with tar and butter in October, and dips the others with Macdougal's dip, along with some tobacco juice and half a pound of best butter to each sheep. Clipping commences about the 10th of June and ends about the first week of July—according to the season, condition of the stock, and the weather. The yield ranges from 3½ lbs. from dipped hoggs to 6 lbs. from smeared wethers. The wether hoggs are sent away to wintering, which costs from 8s. to 10s. a-head; it has been even as high as 12s. a-head. Ewe lambs are wintered at home, partly on the low lying ground kept specially for " hogging " and partly on the arable farm. The dinmonts and weak sheep of other ages are taken from the hills and recruited with turnips in winter and beginning of spring. There are about 150 acres of arable land at Eriboll, worked on the six-shift rotation. Oats yield from 3 to 5 quarters per acre, and weigh from 40 to 42 lbs. per bushel. Turnips also grow well. The present tenant's grandfather and father reclaimed about 80 acres, while the Duke recently reclaimed the other 70 acres by pick and spade, at a cost of about £40 per acre. Interest is paid here as in the other cases. Mr Clarke has expended between £500 and £600 in surface-draining on his farm since 1872, this sum having been expended many times over by his father during his tenancy. He keeps six or seven cross cows, buys shepherds' calves when fostered, and then rears from fifteen to twenty stirks, sending them to his farms in the low country. Mr Clarke is also an extensive farmer in Easter Ross. The Eriboll wethers brought 40s. this year, and cast ewes 30s. 6d.

Another holding of about equal extent in the parish of Durness, is the farm of Balnakiel, rented by Mr John Scott at £1385, and managed in the same manner. Keoldale, rented by Mr John Scobie at £1200, lies partly in Durness and partly in the parish of Eddrachilles, and carries a very fine stock. In the latter parish is situated the highly picturesque and valuable grazing farm of Glendhu, rented at £1395 by Mr James Gunn. In Assynt there are several large holdings; the most extensive is Drumswordlan, rented by Mr John Scobie at £1000, and the next largest is Achumore, occupied by Mr John Elliott at a rent of £893.

The General System of Management on Sheep Farms.

Excepting a few lots of blackfaced sheep kept by the Master of Blantyre and a few others, the entire fleecy stock of the county is of the Cheviot breed. It has been so for more than half a century; and, during all that time, the change in the system of management has been so slight as scarcely to be worthy of notice. The pastoral farms of the county carry what are technically known as "ewe and wether" flocks, that is, mostly self-sustaining flocks, that throw into the market every year a crop of cast ewes and of three-year old wethers. These ewes and wethers are delivered to the buyers direct from the hills about the 1st of September; and, though they usually leave the country in good condition, they are not prepared for the butcher. On a few of the large arable farms on the south-east coast, such as Culmaily, Crakaig, Dunrobin Mains, and Clynelish, a number of ewes and wethers are fed annually on grass, turnips, and cake. But these are exceptions. Sutherland is a breeding and rearing, not a feeding, county. Some farmers sell their lambs to be delivered about the same time as the older sheep, thus keeping few except breeding animals; but this also is an exception.

Perhaps the best idea of the details of management in the system of sheep-farming pursued in Sutherland may be conveyed by taking a typical hypothetical case of a tenant entering a farm at Whitsunday, the usual term of entry, and by following him throughout his first twelve months. He would take over from the outgoing tenant, at a valuation fixed by mutually-chosen arbiters, a ewe and wether stock corresponding to say 2000 ewes. In an ordinary year from 75 to 85 lambs are nursed for every 100 ewes tupped, so that, alongside the 2000 ewes, there would be at least 1500 lambs. The death-rate per annum, in ordinary seasons, is from 5 to 10 per cent. Taking it at the higher rate, the supposed incoming tenant would find 1350 one-year old sheep, say 675 gimmers and 675 dinmonts, and, in round numbers, 610 two-year old wethers and 550 three-year old wethers; he thus commences operations with a grand total of 6010, - 2000 ewes, 1500 lambs, 675 gimmers, 675 dinmonts, 610 two-year old wethers, and 550 three-year old wethers. Besides two or three "turnip herds," or shepherds who go with hoggs to the wintering, there are seven shepherds on the farm, each of four having under his charge 500 ewes and their lambs. The ewes occupy the lower and the greener land, the others the higher and blacker. Clipping commences with the "eild " sheep from the first week of June till the first week of July, according to the season, weather, and condition of the stock, the smeared sheep having been washed immediately before. White or dipped fleeces weigh from 3½ to 5½ lbs., smeared fleeces from 4½ to 7 lbs. Perhaps, before the clipping is finished, the tenant goes to the Inverness Wool Fair, usually held about the second week of July, and, on the reputation the stock of the farm may have earned, sells his three-year old wethers, and perhaps also his

"shott lambs" and "cast ewes," the ewes being four or five, perhaps a few even six, years old. He may also dispose of his wool at the fair, or may store it at home, or consign it to a broker, most likely either in Leith, or Edinburgh, or Glasgow. He may likewise purchase his smearing and dipping materials. The weaning of the lambs, an important operation, takes place in the last week of July or first week of August When taken from their mothers the lambs are "sorted," that is, the worst are drawn and delivered at once to the purchasers if they have been sold, or sent for sale to the Muir of Ord or other market. The others of the year's crop are put on to the greenest of the land, reserved for the purpose, and, if the pasture is sufficiently good, kept there till the first week of October, when they are sent for wintering either to an arable farm on the south-east coast of the county, or to Caithness, Ross, Moray, or elsewhere. If there is not sufficient green pasture on the farm, the lambs are sent straight from their mothers to grass in whatever district they are to be wintered. During the first ten days of September the sheep sold at the Inverness Wool Fair, in other words, the cast ewes and three-year old wethers of the year, are delivered to the purchasers, the sheep being driven to the nearest railway station, and conveyed thence by rail. If the tenant is not satisfied with the prices offered at the wool fair, he may accept the alternative of going south with his "cast" to Falkirk Tryst, and take his chance of the prices there. The " lots " sent away consist of the 550 three and a half year old wethers, and about 500 ewes drawn according to age and condition of teeth. By the sending away of this draft, the "hirsels" that remain are reduced to numbers that are more easily managed in winter. Before being sent to the wintering the lambs are dipped with oil and tobacco-juice, or some other solution, at a cost of less than 3d. a-head. That operation over, and the hoggs having left, attention is at once directed to the preparing of the "hirsels" remaining at home for the approaching winter. The "hirsels," invariably the wethers, occupying the higher and colder ground, are smeared with a mixture of tar and butter in equal proportions, with perhaps a little oil and milk added, the cost being from 8d. to 10d. a-head. The remainder of the stock is dipped with a solution similar to that with which the lambs were dressed. The tups are sent to the ewes about the 22d of November, and taken back about Christmas, from forty to fifty ewes being allotted to each, a few of the strongest and hardiest of the gimmers being also tupped. The tenant requires from forty-four to fifty tups. Most of these he would have among the stock taken over at valuation, but a few have been bought in from the best bred and most suitable flocks in Sutherland and in the south of Scotland. Two or three of the better bred tups are mated with choice lots of ewes, the intention being to select from the progeny thus raised tups for future use. During the winter the younger sheep are placed on the best ground on the farm, and from each "hirsel" weakly animals are drawn together and kept on green land, or hand-fed with hay and oats if necessary. If the winter is "open" and the pasture good, none except specially weak sheep require hand-feeding; but, if the winter is severe, the younger "hirsels" get a little hay or a slight daily feed of turnips, if these are raised on the farm. Hand-feeding is a bad custom in the case of hill sheep, and therefore it is resorted to only in cases of real necessity; when, for instance, as in last winter (1878-79), the animals would not survive without it. The ewe and wether hoggs are wintered separately,—the former on grass as much as possible, getting a month or more of yellow turnips in spring. The wether hoggs are wintered largely on turnips. The hoggs are usually away at wintering about six months, and thereby entail an outlay, including herding and conveyance, of from 8s. to 10s. each, the average being about 9s. The cotton grass, or mossing, is pretty well forward in ordinary seasons by the end of March; and when the hoggs return, about the first week of April, they are dipped and sent on to the cotton grass, which maintains them till the deer hair and other plants come up early in May. Lambing commences about the 20th of April, and for more than a month the care of the young stock is a subject of much anxiety to all on the farm. In May the lambs are branded and tarred with the farm and "hirsel" marks, each "hirsel" having a different mark or number; while, at the same time, the male lambs are castrated. The twelve months are now at an end, and the supposed tenant is left with as near as might be the same number and classes of stock as when he was supposed to have entered the farm.

There are some deviations from the system illustrated by the preceding hypothetical case. There are not many of the Sutherland farms entirely self-supporting, or that can maintain as many ewes as will provide them with a sufficient number of wethers to graze their wether land. Most of the tenants therefore have to buy wether lambs and hoggs, and these they usually obtain either from other farmers in Sutherland, who keep only or mainly breeding stocks, or from other counties in the north. Smearing is not so general as it was at one time, a good many having abandoned it in consequence of the heavy outlay it entails. Now, nearly all the sheep, especially ewes, on the lower lying farms are kept white. Some difference of opinion exists as to the rearing and selection of tups. Latterly, a good deal of southern blood has been introduced through tups, and some contend that this has exercised a softening influence on the Sutherland Cheviots, and that they are, therefore, not so

11 able as formerly to withstand the rigorous climate of the county. The milder and better way of introducing fresh blood, which most Sutherland farmers now pursue, is to mate a few of the best bred ewes in the flock with tups of the finest stamp and breeding from the better suited stocks wherever situated, and then, from the lambs thus raised, select the tups to be used in the general stock. Some of the best farmers in Sutherland never go beyond the northern counties for tups and it is pretty certain that thereby they have better preserved the hardy character of their stocks. On some farms that have arable land attached, the ewe hoggs are wintered at home on the "hogging" part of the grazing farm with a small supply of turnips and hay, and grain if necessary; a good many farmers, on the other hand, have latterly found it expedient to send the weaker of their dinmonts and gimmers to wintering on arable farms,—a step rendered necessary by the deterioration of the green pastures in Sutherland. It is estimated by competent authorities that 60 per cent. of the stock of lambs is wintered out of Sutherland, mostly in the counties of Caithness, Ross, and Moray; 32 per cent. on arable farms on the southeast coast of Sutherland, including the arable farms at Lairg; and the other 8 per cent. on the sheep farms and on the patches of arable land on the north and west coasts.

Export of Sheep and Wool, and Rent of Land.

Export of Sheep.—There was so great a mortality among sheep last winter, particularly on the eastern side of the county, that it is not easy to estimate the number of ewes and wethers sold and sent out of Sutherland this year. In average years the drafts of each would number from 20,000 to 25,000; but this year they must have been very much smaller. One of the largest farmers in the county estimates this year's sales of wethers at about 15,000, and of ewes 11,000. When delivered at three and a half years old Sutherland wethers would weigh from 58 to 65 lbs. dead weight, the average being about 60 lbs. This year the wethers from the county brought from 40s. to 44s., cast ewes from 26s. to 38s., and lambs at from 18s. to 23s. Last year the prices for wethers were higher by from 3s. to 4s. a-head, and for ewes about 1s. a-head.

Wool.—The average number of fleeces of wool clipped in Sutherland in each of the last ten years would have been about 170,000. The average weight of the fleeces may be taken at 4 lbs. each, which would make the total annual yield of wool 680,000 lbs. or about 28,333 stones of 24 lbs. This year the clip is tar short of that, and has been estimated by a competent authority at 18,392 stones of smeared wool, worth 15s. per stone, or 2s. 8d. per sheep; and 6500 stones of white wool, worth 22s. per stone, or 2s. 7d. per sheep. The total yield of wool this year would thus be 3441 below the average of the preceding ten years. The following is pretty near the average yield of wool per head in ordinary seasons:—

Rent of Land.—The annual rent of the Sutherland sheep farms is fixed at so much per head of the number of sheep each is estimated to carry throughout the winter. Between 1844 and 1846 Mr Andrew Hall of Calrossie, then himself a large sheep-farmer in the county, went over the whole pastoral range of Sutherland, rearranging the boundaries of some of the larger farms, estimating the number of sheep each would carry throughout the winter, and fixing the rent per head to be asked for each at the next letting, which began in 1852. Since then rent has been charged according to that estimate. Previous to 1852 no tenant in the county paid more than 3s. a-head, Mr Andrew Hall himself being the first to pay 3s. 6d. a-head in that year for Blarich. The rate of rent now ranges from 4s. to 7s. a-head, the average being perhaps about 5s. 6d. The increase since 1852 is thus equal to close on 100 per cent.

Losses of the Winter 1878-79.

"Every twenty-second year is a bad one for the sheep-farmer," was the laconic remark of an experienced and observing Sutherland sheep-farmer to the writer the other day. In regard to the past hundred years, at any rate, the observation has been almost literally true; for are not 1772, 1794, 1816, 1838, and 1860 ever to be remembered as years of great disaster among flocks on the hills of Scotland ? According to the twenty-two years' rule, the almost unprecedented storm of last winter (1878-79) came too soon, if it may not indeed be followed by another severe season a year or two hence—just as the storm of 1814 was followed by that of 1816. Be this as it may, the last winter was certainly one of the most disastrous ever experienced by Sutherland sheep-farmers. It has been stated, on good authority, that on an average in each of these notable years of disaster, Scotch sheep-farmers—at any rate those in the northern counties—lost about one-fourth of their invested capital. If a few farmers on the west coast are excepted, the loss caused by last winter to the other portion of the county of Sutherland cannot be much under that amount. The estimates vary from one to three and a half years' rent; the average, with the exceptions referred to, being perhaps about two and a half years' rent,—or, say from 14s. to 15s. for every sheep for which rent is paid. Along the coast, particularly the west coast, the snowfall was not so great as to prevent sheep from getting at the pasture by their own exertions; but the whole of the interior of the county lying east of a line drawn from Loch Eriboll to Loch Shin was enveloped in a deep covering of snow for nearly four months. On the higher mossy table-lands, 3 feet of closely-packed frost-bound snow lay for three months. In these regions the severity of the winter, of course, made the greatest havoc. Mr Purves, Rhifail, states that three years' rent, or £2700, would not cover the loss caused to him by the severe winter. He had to remove all his sheep to railway stations and to Caithness, the shortest distance being over 20 miles, and had to hand-feed them with hay, grain, &c, for ten weeks, at a cost of over £1000. His loss by death was fully £1200 over that in ordinary years; while he had about 1000 fewer lambs and one-third less wool. Other two extensive farmers on the north coast estimate the loss at three and a half years' rent, the deficiency in the crop of lambs being estimated at 63 per cent. Not only was the crop of lambs reduced by the severe winter to one-half the average number, but a much greater proportion than usual of those that did survive have had to be sold as "shotts." Indeed, the whole crop is of inferior quality, and can never fully attain to the standard of their respective flocks. A large number of the lambs were so weak when weaned this year, that they had to be sent directly from their mothers to grass on arable land in the county or elsewhere, which has added about 2s. 6d. a-head to the usual cost of wintering, bringing it up to fully 11s. a-head. On one farm on the east coast, a flock of 500 ewes reared only 50 lambs; while of the ewes, only 200 survived the winter and spring. On another farm on the same side of the county, a whole flock of 500 lambs, with the exception of 40, succumbed to the storm. The amount of hay, cake, grain, and other food consumed in the county during the three months of the storm, was extraordinary; special trains having been run on the Highland Railway every other day conveying hay from Ross and Inverness. The outlay on hand-feeding alone amounted, in some instances, to from 12s. to 14s. a-head. Perhaps no stock in the county was so well carried through the storm as that of the Master of Blantyre. He kept his sheep going during the first month of the snowstorm by clearing roads by men and shovels in the rankest heather; and also by clearing, every second or third day, a sufficient extent of green land to afford foggage, to enable the lots to mix with the heather a bite of softer grass. No break having come in the storm, and as the snow became bound with frost, box-feeding was commenced at the end of the month. The flocks were reduced to lots of from 200 or 300 head; and each animal got per day ½ lb. bruised oats and 1/8 lb. bran, with 24 lbs. of hay to the score. This feeding was continued till May, or for nearly five months. When the ewes became pretty heavy with lamb, ¼ lb. of linseed cake was substituted for the ½ lb. of bran. Such heavy feeding necessarily entailed a heavy outlay, but at weaning time the crop of lambs numbered about 90 for every 100 ewes. Without the box-feeding, there would have at least been 40 per cent. fewer lambs; and the cost of the feeding would not perhaps have done much more than make up the crop to 90 per cent. Then the advantage of having lambs of his own breeding, and of having his older sheep brought through the winter in good condition, is of considerable account.

Profits now and Twenty-five Years ago.

During the first twenty-four years of improved sheep-farming in Sutherland, or between 1806 and 1830, the tenants had to face many stubborn difficulties, and met with several serious reverses of fortune. Some were ruined, and, at one time, none in the Reay district of the county were able to pay their rents, which in several cases were reduced, by the Marquis of Stafford, to the extent of 48 per cent. The revival of trade about 1832, however, made the industry much more lucrative, and most of the original pioneer tenants became men of means, while a few may even be said to have amassed moderate fortunes. But such fortunes are evidently not in store for the present race of occupiers. Indeed, it would seem that the tide has turned somewhat against them, and that Sutherland sheep-farming has reached what threatens to be a turning-point in its history. Perhaps, on the whole, though not nearly so lucrative as at some former periods, the industry was fairly remunerative to the present tenants up till 1874. It is generally estimated, indeed, to have yielded from 5 to 10 per cent. on the capital invested. But, during the past five years, not only has there been little or no profit even on the cheapest farms, but on the majority there has been considerable actual loss. No doubt, the actual loss of later years is due mainly to excessively bad seasons, which may not again be experienced in such terrible severity for many years. It is asserted, however, that, leaving bad seasons out of calculation, Sutherland sheep-farming in its present condition cannot be expected to yield even moderate interest for the money invested in it. In support of that statement, it is pointed out that the pasture on the grazing farms, especially on the green land, has seriously deteriorated, compelling tenants to send a greater proportion of the stock off the farms for wintering, and causing a much higher death-rate among sheep of all ages; that the restrictions put upon heather-burning by lessees of shootings also lessen the value of hill grazings; that the cost per head of wintering has doubled during the past twenty-five years : that there has also been a great increase in the ordinary working expenses of the farms,—such as shepherds' wages, and expenses of clipping, smearing and dipping; again, that the prices of both wool and mutton have fallen latterly; and lastly, that rents are too high,or perhaps, rather that, with the deteriorated pastures, the farms will not now carry the number of sheep allotted to them by Mr Andrew Hall in 1846; and that, therefore, rent is charged for more sheep than the farms can really maintain.

The first of these positions—the deterioration of the green land—is perhaps the most important; indeed, it lies at the root of the whole matter. The writer has, therefore, made special effort to obtain in regard to it the experience of the great body of the sheep-farmers in the county, more particularly those who have had the most lengthened tenancy. In response there has been but one voice—that there has been marked deterioration. A few samples of the singular uniformity of the testimony on this point may be given. One says:—"The old lands cultivated by the tenants, which constitute most of our green land, are getting useless with fog and waste, and no wonder, if you consider that for fifty years all has been taken out of it and nothing whatever put in (sheep lying on the high ground at night). Our land now won't keep one-third less sheep so well as twenty-five years ago. Besides, the sportsmen and gamekeepers prevent us getting the hill-ground burned as it ought to be. The evil is rapidly increasing." Another:—"Our green pastures have deteriorated very much. The green land formerly cropped by the small tenants has gone back. Most of it carries stock from the age of a lamb till three and a half or five and a half years old, and, as a matter of course, the bone comes out of the ground, and nothing is done to replace it. On an estate where each farm is rented at so much per head for a fixed number of sheep, I think the land-ford ought to put the land into a state to carry the number for which he gets paid, at the beginning of every lease, or reduce the number charged to that which the ground will carry." Another: The pasture on the green land has deteriorated greatly. To a great extent it was originally reclaimed from heather, and has gone back to its wild state. What was reclaimed even twenty years ago is growing worthless daily, and will require, not only liming, but, I fear, to be broken up and laid down anew." Another: "Owing to the climate seemingly becoming more severe, the mossing or cotton plant fast disappearing, the difficulties we have to contend with in heather burning, owing to the sporting tenants, the towns or green patches getting fogged and overgrown with heather, it is impossible to keep as good a class of Cheviot sheep as was, comparatively, kept a few years back." Another:—"Green lands have deteriorated undoubtedly. They have become fogged, and gone back to a state of 'nature.'" Another:—"The pasture on sheep farms has undoubtedly deteriorated a great deal, owing to the stringent conditions imposed regarding heather burning, and the green spots throwing up fog which chokes the grass." Another:- "Pasture in Sutherland on green land has deteriorated during the past twenty-five years, principally through the grass being choked with fog or moss." Another:—"The farms do not nearly carry the number of stock they did twenty years ago, nor are the sheep stock the same quality. This is easily accounted for by the state of the grass, and, more especially, the strict restrictions in burning the heather laid down of late years to suit sportsmen." Another:—"The grazings are not nearly so rich as they were twenty years ago. They cannot maintain the same number of stock as formerly, and, therefore, a large portion of the young stock has to be wintered away in the neighbouring counties of Caithness and Ross at a very high expense." Lastly may be given the following striking proof of the alleged deterioration as told to the writer by a prominent farmer in the county:—"Twenty-two years ago a friend of mine put a little over 1100 hoggs on to a piece of grazing land in Strath Brora for the winter. At the usual time in spring 1030 were returned to the hill in good condition, between 30 and 40 of the weaker ones being retained a little longer. Eleven years afterwards the same gentleman put 400 hogs on the same piece of land for wintering, and before the winter was half over he had to take them to an arable farm and give them turnips. In each of these two years the land had been specially preserved as hogging land."

These testimonies should sufficiently establish the truth of the position that the green pastures have deteriorated during the past quarter of a century. But could they have done otherwise ? Is not the thing self-evident ? Originally there was little green land in Sutherland. The natural condition of the greater portion of what has formed the green land of the grazing farms was not producing green grasses, but heather, moss, ling, bent, and other coarse plants common to such situations. It was reclaimed and enriched for the production of the green and finer grasses by the many hundreds of small tenants who long occupied the straths in the interior of the county. About sixty years have elapsed since these tenants gave up their holdings to the fleecy tribe. During all that period the land thus left in good condition for raising green pasture has been constantly grazed by a heavy, hungry stock of sheep, that have browsed upon it all day, and spent the night on the higher and blacker land, where they have also left the richest of their droppings. The green lands thus received little or nothing of even the droppings of the animals that fed upon them. They received no manure, and no artificial nourishing of any kind. They have had to rely solely on the repairing forces of unaided nature, and ever active as these are, in this case they have been unequal to the consuming power. As stated in one of the preceding evidences, sheep are fed on the green land till from three and a half to five and a half years old, and yet nothing whatever has been done to restore to. the soil the great quantity of phosphates withdrawn from it annually for sixty years, in the shape of the bone of the animals. Can it be surprising then that at last the soil has become impoverished, so devoid of the elements essential to the growth of green grasses, that these are fast disappearing, and coarser plants coming up in their stead ? It is but the very nature of things that this should be so. Nature will have its due. Green grasses, being finer varieties, require richer soil than heather, bent, ling, moss, and other coarse plants common to the Sutherland hills. Until enriched by cultivation, these green lands in Sutherland grew little but heather, bent, ling, and moss. Having again become poor, they throw off the new and finer, and take back the old and coarser, vegetation.

The cure for this growing evil would not be difficult to find were it not that the expense would perhaps exceed the advantage derived. It is indicated by a leading farmer in the county, who says:—"The only cure is liming the land with from 25 to 30 bolls per acre. But the carriage is so difficult that no tenant could face it. Lime costs 3s. per boll on the coast, and carriage from ten to twenty miles would be equally as much, which would bring the lime to 6s. per boll, and make the cost of the dressing from £7 to £9. That may be said to be a prohibitive price. I tried from 7 to 8 cwts. of bones per acre, which had a good effect, making the pasture sweeter. Sheep were fonder of it, and ate it barer than usual; but it would need double the allowance to put out the fog and do the work of a proper liming. I have no doubt if our lands were limed one-third more sheep could be kept. Our gravelly soil is completely void of lime and wont grow grass without it, even when cultivated." Another extensive farmer says that he has used lime on the green land, and has seen much benefit result from its use. By some the breaking up and sowing out of the land anew is recommended as the most effective cure. No less an authority than Mr Andrew Hall of Calrossie thinks the best plan would be to plough the land, dress it liberally with bones and lime, and sow it with some strong variety of oats and a mixture of vigorous grasses, the grain to be consumed by the sheep as it grows. That cure would perhaps be as effective as any, but would also be expensive. In the settlement of this important question— and it will sooner or later press itself for settlement—the Duke of Sutherland and his tenantry have, indeed, a stubborn difficulty to deal with.

In regard to the other positions of disadvantage taken up by the sheep-farmers of the county little need be said. There is no doubt that the restrictions latterly put on heather burning have had a decided deteriorating tendency on the grazings. It is well proved that the interests of sheep and game are identical as to heather burning. What is beneficial for the one is also beneficial for the other; and, therefore, it is somewhat strange that sportsmen should be so much opposed to heather burning. It has been shown that a much greater number of young sheep have now to be wintered out of the county than formerly, and that the cost of that wintering has doubled during the past quarter of a century, or advanced to an average of about 9s. a-head. The death-rate has increased by nearly 50 per cent. since 1852. The causes of this are stated to be partly bad seasons, largely limitation of heather-burning, and, perhaps, to some extent, the deterioration of green pasture. Shepherds' wages and other working expenses have increased fully 30 per cent. during the past twenty-five years. The decline in the price of wool has been material. The average top price of Cheviot laid wool at the Inverness Wool Fair during the past ten years was a little over 25s. per stone of 24 lbs. During the preceding ten years the average was over 28s. per stone. As has been seen the prices this year are far below these averages. The colonial wool has to a large extent taken the place of Scotch Cheviot wool in the making of tweeds, and there is, therefore, a somewhat bad prospect of Scotch Cheviot wool attaining to its old position. The value of mutton has also got a decided check, and it is to be feared the American supply may prevent it from again reaching the maximum price of recent years. The rate of rent, as has been shown, has increased 100 per cent. since 1852, or from 3s. to from 4s. 6d. to 7s. a-head. With the deteriorated condition of the green land and the numbers charged for on each farm, the present rate of rent is generally considered from 25 to 30 per cent. too high.

Cottar Farming.

According to the Returns collected by the Highland and Agricultural Society in 1853, there were at that time in the county of Sutherland 2680 crofters. Of these there were 557 in the parishes of Assynt, Eddrachilles, and the western portion of Durness; 704 in Farr, Tongue, eastern portion of Durness, and the part of Reay in Sutherland; 785 in Dornoch, Creich, Lairg and Rogart; and 634 in Clyne, Golspie, Kildonan, and Loth. The total extent of hill and arable land held by these 2680 crofters was estimated at 106,864, of which 10,276¾ was riven as arable. That would represent that on an average each crofter had close on 4 acres of arable land and about 36 acres of outrun each. The outruns, however, were in reality held as "commonty" by a certain number of crofters. In that year they had 2359 acres in barley, 3971½ acres in oats, 7 acres in rye, 19¼ in pease, 366 in turnips, 2121 in potatoes, 1143½ in grasses under rotation, and 264½ acres of improved and enclosed permanent grass. Their horses numbered 1979, milk cows 5261, other cattle 3471, their sheep 13,646, and their swine 827. They had thus an average of two cows and of over five sheep. Since that time there has been little change in the numbers or possessions of these crofters. They have no leases, and pay from 15s. to 20s. of rent per arable acre, including hill grazings, which carry, on an average, 2 cows, 1 stirk, and 10 sheep; or 1 horse, 1 cow, 1 stirk, and 10 sheep. About two-fifths keep a small horse or pony. As a rule, the crofts are well cultivated, and the crops grown are about the same as indicated by the returns of 1853. The cattle kept by the crofters are generally black highlanders, and the sheep mostly crosses between blackfaces and Cheviots. Generally speaking, crofters' houses are in fair condition, most of them very comfortable. They have been greatly improved during the past twenty-five years. In later years a considerable number of the crofters have themselves built new houses, from 37 to 40 feet long by 13 feet inside the walls. The Duke of Sutherland supplies them with timber and lime free of charge, and also grants slates to be paid in certain instalments. The Duke also gives the crofters lime gratis for repairing their houses. In most of the townships the land has been reclaimed by the original tenants, and, where they still survive, they enjoy the land at the nominal rent fixed between thirty and forty years ago. Every encouragement is given to enterprising and industrious tenants in improving their land. In some cases portions of the lot or additional land is drained and trenched at the cost of the proprietor, the tenant paying interest at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum. Crofters having a good hill stock and a fair sized lot, or arable extent, maintain themselves without labouring from home. The greater number, however, after laying down the crops, seek employment wherever it is to be had; but the early and late herring fishings, especially the latter, are the great attraction. They seem to prefer to run the risk of fishing on chance to steady wages on land. Some seasons they do very well, and in others they return with light purses, perhaps occasionally a little in debt. In the townships near the sea, with convenient creeks or landing-place for boats, the men are engaged less or more in the white and lobster fishing.

Labour and Markets.

Labour.—Ploughmen receive higher wages than in either Caithness or Ross; and during the past twenty-five years they have advanced nearly 80 per cent. They are engaged for twelve months, and receive in money and perquisites from £40 to £45 per annum. Most farms are provided with good cottages for married men. Single men, forming perhaps the majority, live either in kitchens or bothies, or with married servants. There are few bothies, but where they do exist, a respectable female servant is engaged to cook and keep house for the men. Women servants get from £8 to £10 a-year with board and lodging. The increase in their case is even greater than in that of ploughmen's wages. The Duke of Sutherland's land reclamations raised the wages of day labourers to from 3s. to 3s. 6d., in some cases to even 4s. a-day; but they have now fallen to from 2s. 6d. to 2s. 8d. per day.

Shepherds are generally married, and live in cottages near or on their "hirsels." On most farms there are a few single lads or men who board with the married shepherds. Sutherland shepherds are, generally speaking, paid higher wages than those in any of the other northern counties. On some farms, married men receive from £18 to £24 a-year with an enclosed croft of about 2 arable acres, keep for 18 to 24 sheep and 2 cows, and 6½ bolls of oatmeal; and single lads from £20 to £22 with board with married men, and keep for 12 sheep. On other farms married men get about £28 with small croft,— keep for 2 cows and a pony, and 6½ bolls of oatmeal. On an average, the money value of all they receive may be estimated at about £55 per annum. The shepherds' wages in the county have advanced from 15 to 30 per cent. during the past quarter of a century.

Markets.—Sutherland sheep are generally sold, by reputation, at the Inverness Wool Fair, held in the second week of July. Generally, farmers express satisfaction with their experience of that great fair, but some think that now, when the railway system is so complete, monthly or other periodical markets at the Muir of Ord or elsewhere, might advantageously take the place of the wool fair. The system pursued at the wool fair is certainly very peculiar and scarcely business-like. It has been well described by the late Mr Patrick Sellar:—"At this great market farmers assemble from all parts of the Highlands. They are met by wool-staplers and sheep-buyers from the south of Scotland and Yorkshire, and transactions to a very great amount take place without show of stock or sample, resting entirely on the character held in the market by the owner and his goods." Such a system of selling goods of any kind can hardly be regarded as the best that could be conceived, though disputes about transactions made at the market are almost unknown.

Cattle and sheep markets are held at different times throughout the year, at Kyle of Sutherland, Golspie, Helmsdale, and Farr.

Subordinate Industries.

On the extension of the Highland Railway to Brora the Duke of Sutherland re-opened the coal-pit at Brora, which had been worked about seventy years before. The pit has been worked constantly since then, and, at present, the output is about 5000 tons per annum. The quality of the coal has been very much improved by a change in the mode of working. There is a band of stone in the centre of the seam, which necessitates a careful- method of mining in order that the stones may be removed after the coals are loosened down on the face. The former method of working was what is known as the "wall-and-pillar" system, but the "long-wall" has now been adopted. There is, however, considerable difficulty with the new system by spontaneous combustion of what is known as the " Gob." The price of the coal at the pit has been reduced from 12s. 6d. to 8s. The demand is not half equal to the supply, and is entirely local. The Duke allows no coals to be used in Dun-robin Castle excepting those from his own pit at Brora, It contains a considerable quantity of sulphur, and in power is considered to be a third below the best quality of Scotch coal.

The large brick and tile works, erected at Brora a few years ago by the Duke of Sutherland, are still worked at full force. They are under the same management as the coal-pit. The clay is of a kind that is expensive to reduce, but still a large produce is kept up. The number of bricks and tiles made last year was 686,278. As formerly indicated, His Grace has established a large steam carpentry at Brora, where the fittings for all buildings in connection with the estate improvements are made. At His Grace's various works at Brora about 90 people are employed. The Duke has also in contemplation the erection of a woollen factory, for the purpose of manufacturing the famous Sutherland Cheviot wool into tweeds, as also with the view of giving work to the increasing population of the Brora district.

The discovery of gold in the drift of the Kildonan river some en years ago, created great commotion in the north of Scotland. The intelligence of the discovery spread at telegraphic speed all over the country, and thousands of people, from all parts of the kingdom, flocked to the newly-found gold field. A "city of tents" was erected in the centre of the auriferous district, "claims" were allotted and "cradles" mounted, and digging-was commenced with much enthusiasm. At the outset a fair return was obtained, but it soon began to fail, and having become unremunerative the Duke of Sutherland closed the "claims" and dispersed the diggers. The total value of the gold found was about £6000.

Helmsdale is the only herring fishing station in the county. It sometimes can boast of a pretty large fleet. In 1867 45,302 barrels of herring were cured at it; while 3283 people were employed in connection with the fishing. In 1877 the number of boats fishing at Helmsdale was 196; the number of fishermen and boys employed, 704; the number of fish-curers, 19; the number of coopers, 55; the value of the boats, £4225; the value of the nets, £12,200; the value of the lines, £1197;—total value, £17,622. The number of barrels of herring cured, 2047. The number of cod, ling, or hake taken, 20,312.

Clynelish is the only distillery in the county. It is not large; but the whisky is widely celebrated. It is kept at work about twenty-five weeks in the year, and during that time it distils between 1300 and 1400 quarters of barley, or a little over 50 quarters each week.


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