General > AGRICULTURE AND FARMING
AGRICULTURE AND FARMING

The last Statistical Account highlighted the many changes that have taken in place in farming over the last one hundred years.  It said "the land and farms of Angus directly employ about one tenth of the working population and, indirectly, affect the prosperity of many more.  The trend during the 20th century has been for fewer and fewer workers to be employed on the land because of the gradual introduction of mechanisation and because of depressed economic conditions, particularly between 1918 and 1939.

Angus for the last two hundred years has been very much an arable county, producing cereals, root crops and grass which were largely converted into fat cattle and sheep.  Between 1939 and 1965 there was a reduction of nearly 20,000 acres of pasture in Angus because of the ability of modern implements to reclaim land that had previously proved too difficult".  The writer, Mr Norman Turner, also reported that the previous forty years (1928-1968) had seen an increase in "farming for the factory".  He said that the factories at Montrose, Forfar, Carnoustie and Dundee for the processing of raspberries, strawberries, peas, broad beans, carrots and brussel sprouts had encouraged the popularity of those crops, most of which were grown under contract.

Writing more specifically about Tealing, also in 1968, the Rev James Kidd said, "the extensive use of machinery has completely changed farming.  The combine harvester can be made to work around the clock and driers complete the process.  The larger farms own machines and those without simply bring in the contractor who quickly disposes of grain and bales the straw.  Bothies which housed four or five single men 30 years ago, now stand empty or house one family.

Farms are owned privately and twelve range from 200 to 700 acres.  Mixed farming, mostly barley, seed potatoes and soft fruit obtains on the holding; there is only one dairy herd of 60 milch cows and no breeding herds but beef cattle are grazed on the larger farms, with seasonal sheep on the rough hill grass and wintering on the lower ground.  One part of the airstrip provides facilities for a piggery with a stock of 3000.  Also making use of this land lost to tillage is a broiler chicken establishment rearing a quarter of a million birds.  A haulage contractor with a small fleet transports livestock".

Balkemback (one of the larger farms with 750 acres) has been in the Duncan family since 1881.  The previous tenant was Mr George Langlands who had 23 children, many of whom are buried in Tealing Churchyard.  Ian Duncan recalls "my grandfather Walter Gagie Duncan came to Balkemback in 1881 at the age of 19.  At that time he was a tenant of the Douglas & Angus Estate owned by Earl Home of Coldstream in the Borders.  He had 12/14 men in regular employment, supplemented by Irish workers during the harvest and at other busy times.  The farmhouse also had two maids for domestic duties.  There were 12 horses for heavy work and another two for the lighter work.  One of the first tractors in the area was our old Fordson, which came to Balkemback in 1917 and was driven by my father.  The present farmhouse was built during 1911-13 to replace the original house because it was full of dry rot.

During the war, two Hurricane aircraft crashed near the farm steading with no loss of life but, tragically, later in the war a Dakota came down on the hill between Balkemback and Prieston, killing all four crew.  In 120 years of farming here, the main change has been the dramatic reduction in the number of people employed on the land, largely due to mechanisation.  Electricity came to twelve of the Tealing farms in 1948, when a supply line from Wellbank was installed by the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board.  Another big change is that the children of farmers are less inclined these days to want to continue the farming tradition, whereas up until the 1950's and 1960's it was almost taken for granted that they would take over".

David Goodfellow was the tenant of Balnuith Farm from 1929 until 1944.  Although the family business was baking (Goodfellow & Steven of Dundee) he had an inclination to farm, and after studying agriculture at college in Glasgow from 1922 until 1926, he finally secured his first farm at Balnuith.  His son John Goodfellow remembers that the first few years were very hard and the farm did not have its first profit until 1933.  David Goodfellow moved from Tealing to East Newton in Arbroath.  He was President of the NFU in 1962/63 and was awarded the CBE in 1967 for services to the Agriculture Industry.

Bryce Millar, who farms at Prieston, was born at the farm in 1932.  He recalls that when he started farming they grew oats, turnip, grass and potatoes.  During the war they were also compelled to grow flax.  They fattened cattle and bred sheep and worked with four Clydesdale horses until 1951.  His first tractor was a standard Fordson.  It had no starter, lights or hydraulics and its top speed was 6 mph.  It was fuelled by petrol until hot, then paraffin.  Harvest was by binder and then built into stacks to be threshed during the winter months.  Horse ploughs, drillers and harrows were also used.  Potatoes were lifted by spinner digger and carted in a box cart to outdoor pits.  They were then dressed by hand riddle.  Work then was mostly manual.  When the mechanisation of harvesting came, two of the earliest combine harvesters in Tealing were Massey Harris 726's -in 1951 at Over Finlarg and Nether Finlarg.

Charlie Young has 420 acres at Shielhill and 360 at Huntingfaulds.  He took over the farm at Shielhill in 1941 and has seen many changes in almost 60 years of farming in the area.  He recalls" only one farm in the area has remained in the same family for the last 100 years - the Duncans at Balkemback, now owned by Ian Duncan.  And, one of the biggest farms was Mr Bell's at Balnuith - before its size was reduced to accommodate the building of the aerodrome.  The land in Tealing was then owned by two principal estates ­the Earl of Home (Douglas & Angus) and the Fothringham Estate and all of the large farms were tenanted.  Things changed dramatically when the Tealing estate was sold in 1937 to the Department of Agriculture and over the years the majority of the farms have become owner occupied.

One dramatic change that took place during the First World War was the felling of 400 acres of woodland between Lumley Den and Huntingfaulds.  Farm land has changed hands during prosperous periods and the depression in the 20s was very hard felt in Tealing.  At the end of the Second World War Smedley had factories in Dundee and Coupar Angus and, for about 25 years, they encouraged local vegetable production.  Initially the peas were carted to the factory on the Kingsway but Smedleys then provided a viner and they were processed as they were picked.  Then, when mechanisation improved, six local farmers combined to buy 2 viners, but in 1972, Smedleys withdrew and the growing of peas largely stopped".

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