Seonnaidh Mòr on the Subject of Milk

The Dewar Commission, charged with investigating the state of medical provision in the Highlands and Islands, interviewed, amongst others, John Macrae (Seonnaidh Mòr), the farmer at Timsgarry, on 12 October 1912 at Garynahine.  The questions are put by the chairman, Sir John Dewar MP.

You have three nurses in the parish, and the nuring is very satisfactory?– Yes, very satisfactory indeed.

Have you room for more nurses?– Yes.  We would certainly require another nurse.  It is a very wide district.  It extends from here away up to the other end – it is something like thirty miles – and there is only one nurse [in West Uig].  I think we require two.

Could you tell us in your own way in what way the nurses benefit the people?– Well, the greatest benefit they are to the sick people is in the way of dieting; again, in maternity cases they are a great benefit.

You think they have considerable effect on the habits of the people in teaching them how to live properly?– Yes.

Can you give us any indication of how a crofter lives?  Can you tell us what sort of diet they live on?– Yes.

What have they for breakfast?– As a rule they have oatmeal porridge and milk.

Do they still take porridge?– Yes, and when they have it they use fish and potatoes.

About the milk supply, that of course, is not available in the early spring; the cows are dry?– No, they will have a little.  It is not generally in the spring or the winter months that they are in want of milk.

Is it because the cows are dry?– They generally calve early in the summer, and about the harvet there is a fairly good supply of milk.

Does the feeding of them reduce the supply of milk?  Are they well fed?– Yes, in teh summer months they are.

Do the crofters make butter and cheese?– They do a little, but not enough to help them in winter.

Do they buy butter?  It is margarine i suppose?– Yes.

They don’t make butter for themselves?– They do a little.  They use more margarine than butter.

Are the cows West Highland cows entirely?– Nearly.

You have no Ayrshires?– There are a few, but the crofters don’t have them.

Has the stock been improved much by the congested districts Board?– There is a considerable improvement in our parish.