“A little personal reflection , as I was bringing my older video material to the fore for inclusion in the web site, it has for me been reconciliation of my past.  Thinking deeply and writing and drawing videos together has given me a deep rooted sense of who I am and how I stand in the world today.

I thought my younger farming days were all about the farm work, you never seemed to be valued for who you were, rather measured on the work you could do!  I felt myself as a mere object at times, like the tractor, or the dog, you had a function , a part to play in the working of the farm.

Even in my time, the internal motivation was “to survive”, not the type of survival that modern day society experiences, survival to overcome the elements and nurture the land and the environment around you, for things to grow and flourish  and bring “ food to the table”. In its very essence it makes life simple and uncomplicated.

You will notice there are no photographic images or video footage of my farming days simply because the old still camera was only taken out on a once-a-year occasion, on a trip to the sheep sales, the highlight of our year.  Holidays were non-existent . The importance was not to document our way of life, we just lived it!  If only I could get one day back in time, to relive that simple way of life and recall how lucky we really were.

From when I started videoing 20 years ago to date there was a big gap, in which for many years I was unable to film due to ill health.  A deep regret of mine, for I feel I missed the opportunity to document so many characters and experiences which have now gone and won’t return. Coupled with my lack of technical ability and fear of technology and being a “one woman show”, without any support,  it was difficult for me  to sustain my video work.

This changed at the beginning of 2019 , following my investment of a simple method of recording video, editing and having the ability to share it to an audience, all in one simple appliance, ie an i phone. This opened up a whole new world to me.

It will now be my life long ambition to bring to the fore, people who naturally come into my path and to capture their life experience. Coupled with my walking and cycling adventures, not only round my local area, but in wider Aberdeenshire and indeed Scotland.

In essence   —    I’m proud to be a simple Doric Farm Quine, but I’m also proud to be part of  Bonnie Scotland as a whole.  I have on occasion travelled to other countries but I always come home with one thought in mind, there is nowhere in this world, as good as “hame”.   Hame is where I belong and no matter which culture you belong too, it’s that same feeling of pride and belonging that defines you as a person.

Jill Cantlay McWilliam

Three main reasons I started to draw on my own Doric Roots.

  • I felt my own stories and experiences of being born and brought up on a N.E. Farm were going further and further from my mind.
  • I felt I needed a lever to encourage me to prod my memory, hence creating this web site.
  • I felt not only for the farming era that I was brought up in from the 1960s but more for my father and grandfather Era’s before me.
 My father – Jimmy Cantlay, Ogston Farm in the Parish of Slains. Farmed all his working days.
My Grandfather James George Cantlay, Little Annachie, Auchnagatt , then Brownhill, Slains. Pictured sitting, he was also a Gordon Highlander, who served in WW1
There’s was a way of life in farming terms that fed the country over 2 world wars.  

Their efforts over decades and thousands of farmers, crofters and country folk like them, cultivated our lands over Aberdeenshire.   They fertilised the soil and produced some of the finest live stock in the world.

Farming next to the North Sea, brought another affiliation to me and that was to our extensive fishing industry here in the N.E. 

Over a period of time I documented on video the last of the crab, lobster and salmon fishing.

Malcolm Forbes, Slains  who worked at The Forvie and Cruden Salmon Fishing Stations.

Myself on a 20 year video quest! 

With close connections to Peterhead (being educated at Peterhead Academy) I also took a keen interest in videoing the workings of Peterhead Harbour. 

Farming and fishing were traditionally the back bone of Aberdeenshire. 

Then came the oil in the 1970’s and I felt a huge change to our “hame land” and our Doric Culture.    From the thoughts of my grandfather and father in their earlier working days with the horse which ploughed and tilled our land to the instillation of a pumping and transfer oil station, within a  “stone’s throw “ from my Bonnie Ogston Farm

To me these were world’s apart.

 

Hence came the third reason for an even greater importance to hold together my precious Doric Roots. 

Being a farmers daughter, farming seemed to be less important than in the “hey day” when my father would have got good prices for his sheep and cattle in the local Aberdeen and Northern Mart.

Jimmy Cantlay pictured  at the auctioneer’s box . The  Gimmer Sale was the highlight of the farming calander.  The land he tended was perfect conditions for his sheep to thrive, awarded by getting top prices at the sale. 

In our continued farming experience unfortunately in a lot of cases the supermarket took over the role of the local butcher.  Coupled with the house wife’s trend changing when there became a huge choice of imported food stuffs from the E.U and other parts of the world.

The farmers once tied to the prices they relied on at the marts for the sale of their livestock were now reliant on government subsidies to ironically slow down the produce of meat and set aside their fields to lay fallow.   The “heart” indeed started to go out of one of the biggest industries in N.E. Scotland. 

“Something to hold us together”

One of the saddest days of my life was when I helped my brother move out of Ogston Farm. 

My bother , who put in the same “back breaking” work as my father and grandfather before him, had held together, as best he could the way of life that had sustained us.

It had become economically and socially not viable to sustain, if it were possible it would have remained.

In this ever changing and fast moving pace of life we live in, I feel it imperative to hold onto something substantial, something that I can be “rooted” to .   Something that can “hold us together” emotionally and socially in the years to come. 

We can’t bring back the past, but we can look to the resialance shown and the example of hard, hard work, determination and  good living. 

 

The qualities of our forefathers who never gave up, worked 52 weeks of the year, morning, noon and night focused on looking after the land bestowed upon us, always putting “something by” for a rainy day to ensure we would keep our heads above water!

no matter what difficulty or crises we fell upon.

Its’s still there – we have something unique A DEEP ROOTED determination to SURVIVE AND THRIVE.

In simple terms this is the meaning of My Doric Roots and what it means to me. 

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