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77. The Wild Farming Life: Farming in Harmony with Nature through Regenerative Practices with Lynn Cassells of Lynbreck Croft
Episode 774th February 2022 • The Good Dirt: Sustainable Living Explained • Lady Farmer
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Rewild the land and yourself by farming in harmony with nature and leaning into regenerative practices that create habitat connectivity. Our guest today, Lynn Cassells, alongside her partner Sandra Baer, owners of Lynbreck Croft, had a shared dream of living closer to the land. And while the pair never meant to be farmers, they found themselves called to the task of stewarding a 150 acre croft in the Highlands of Scotland in 2016. Seized by a vision of farming in collaboration with nature, rather than against it,  they began their mission of creating a place that honored not only their desire to grow their own food, but also the needs of the land and the animals, all working and thriving in a collaborative community.  The whole story of how they unexpectedly became farmers and created a viable and sustainable working farm using their own combination of regenerative and rewilding practices is soon to be available in their upcoming book “Our Wild Farming Life: Adventures on a Scottish Highland Croft”.   Lynn’s message - looking back doesn’t have to mean going back. Let the land do the leading and don't be afraid to rewild yourself along the way. 

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Topics Covered:

  • Regenerative Farming 
  • Croft - A small agricultural unit and form of land use/ legal entity unique to Scotland: source via citzensadvice.org.uk 
  • Rewilding - taking a piece of land and allowing it become self-willed; taking people out of the equation; reintroducing native species; restoration on a wild scale 

Resources Mentioned: 

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Original music by John Kingsley @jkingsley1026

Statements in this podcast have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not to be considered as medical or nutritional advice. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and should not be considered above the advice of your physician. Consult a medical professional when making dietary or lifestyle decisions that could affect your health and well being.

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Transcripts

Emma: [:

Mary: And we are your hosts, Mary and Emma Kingsley, the mother and daughter, founder team, lady farmer. We are sowing seeds of slow living through our community platform events and online marketplace. 


Emma: We started this podcast as a means to share the wealth of information and quality conversations that we're having in our world. As we dream up and deliver ways for each of us to live into the new paradigm. One that is regenerative balanced and whole. 


Mary: We want to put the microphone in front of the voices that need to be heard the most right now, the farmers, the dreamers, the designers, and the doers. 


ou're here now. Let's dig in.[:

hi, everyone. Welcome to the first Friday of the new month and the good dirt podcast this week has been the very beginning of our slow living challenge. And this is something that we started doing a few years ago. It's just been such a wonderful community builder. We've found some of our favorite people by connecting through these hashtags and following one another's journeys. 


As we work through the challenge together online, and some of those people we've even gone on to work with. And some of them you've even heard on this podcast. If you haven't signed up yet, it's not too late. We're running the challenge through the whole month of February. We're excited to be doing this right alongside you. 


ow living challenge to share [:

And we'll be pulling a story or two every week to feature here on the good dirt. 


Mary: That sounds fun. Yeah. So in the Almanac this winter, our theme is dreme. And this conversation with Lynn really reminded me of the power of what it means to have an idea or simply a nudge and follow it until it takes you to places that maybe you couldn't have imagined maybe more than you dreamed about. 


As in the case of our guests today, I loved hearing her story about following a nudge in all the places that it took them. It reminds me so much of my own farm journey and how our journey together with lady farmer evolved and even doing this podcast. 


munity and the dreams of two [:

Today. We're talking to Lynn and for a little bit of backstory Lynn and Sandra left their friends, family and jobs in England to travel north to Scotland, to find a bit of land that they could call their own. They had in mind keeping a few chickens, a kitchen garden, and renting out some camping space. 


And instead they fell in love with Lynbreck Croft, which is 150 acres of opportunity and beauty shrouded by the Cairngorms and deep in the Highlands of Scotland. Can you say Outlander? But as many of these stories go, they had no money, no plan and no experience in farming 


Mary: and their book, our wild farming life, which is coming out next month, Lynn and Sandra recount their experiences as they work out, what kind of farmers they want to be. 


nature, to produce food for [:

It's a story of how two people, became farmers, even though they didn't intend to and how they learned to make a living from it. 


Emma: We both loved reading this book. And of course talking with Lynn as I'm sure you will so love listening to her speak. She's so fun. Funny, and obviously cares so deeply about her work and the land all around her, as well as her community. 


We are so honored to have her on the show, and we hope that you'll head over to lady-farmer.com/ourwildfarminglife to pre-order the book today. As soon as you listen to your podcast right now, even before you listen to it, you can, pre-order. A pre-order of this wonderful book from the lady from marketplace will grant you access to an exclusive Q and a with Lynn that we'll be hosting inside the Almanac. 


er to join. You just have to [:

Mary: Yes. And we hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as we did, and we hope you'll pre-order the book. So you can join us for our next conversation with this amazing lady farmer Lynn Cassells. 


Lynn: So my name is Lynn. I'm currently coming to you from the cairngorms national park in Scotland, but this is not kind of where I guess I saw my life would transition to. I didn't see myself. I would be here. So I'm originally from Northern Ireland, trained as an archeologist. I did lots of traveling when I left school. I worked in ski resorts. 


hen I was in my kind of late [:

It's a big conservation charity that looks after kind of parks and gardens and houses and, and countryside. And that sort of stuff got really into nature, really, really into nature and practical stuff. Three years down the line I was doing pretty well and I'd managed to get myself a full-time job and decided to recruit a new apprentice ranger and this really great applicant applied. 


Um, her name was Sandra, you know, where I'm going with this. It was totally above board. There was somebody else on the interview panel, but basically we kind of met on it's a bit of a, kind of a cliched story, but that was it from terms of like us getting together. That was it. But really early on, we get, you know, we had this kind of shared dream of, of living closer to the land. 


ut it was something that was [:

So we basically kind of directed our lives to where we are today in that we, you know, we had to went through this series of quitting jobs, moving quitting jobs, and then basically looking at how much money did we have and where could we afford land and kind of long and short of it is we managed to find a little bit in the north of Scotland, which it was a little bit big in that it was 15 times bigger than what we meant it to be. 


And then that meant that because we had quite a bit more land, we were like, well, we're kind of going to have to upgrade here from a few backyard chickens and a veggie plant, you know, so what are we going to do with it? And that's why, you know, the book that we've just written, it starts off with. We never meant to be farmers because. 


That was not what we meant to be. 


Emma: Yeah. Wow. It's such a good story. 


Lynn: Thank you. 


Emma: So what are you currently doing today? Like describe the 


situation. 


d we have a fold of Highland [:

So Highland cattle come in folds not herds. So we have a small fold of Highland castle. We have, uh, pasture hands as layers. Uh, so we have layer enterprise. We keep reverie pigs, which we keep in our grasslands and our Woodlands. And we have about eight beehives as well. So that's for honey. We also have a small micro butchery on site. 


So we do all of our own pork here at Lynbreck. And we do some of our own beef and we sell all of our produce direct. So we're really passionate about selling only within our local community. You know, we've really tried to avoid. You know, sort of shipping our produce, all that sort of stuff. So all of our produce is sold locally to local people. 


We deliver directly ourselves. So it's completely like between us and the customer. And then on top of that, we do sort of engagement stuff. So we're really passionate about sharing, you know, not just what we're doing, which is all about farming and harmony with nature, but how we did it, because we really feel that we're part of a grassroots movement here to kind of get people back onto the land. 


eally passionate about going [:

Emma: Yeah. Sounds 


like it, 


Mary: I think one of the really remarkable things is that when you got there, you had no experiences being farmers. 


So there you were, you had 150 acres instead of 10. And I love in the book, how you describe the first bit there, the first few weeks you just were like, well, what do we do? You wake up in the morning and you sort of really had to get your bearings and didn't know what you're doing. So talk about that a little bit. 


And also as you're talking, weave into how I think your lack of experience and lack of knowledge in so many instances kind of worked to your advantage. 


be able to afford or manage, [:

But what we came with was a real passion for nature and an understanding and appreciation of how nature works. So that was our foundation. So our foundation for farming did not come from ag school. You know, it did not come from agricultural college. It came from life experience and learning about nature. 


So if that was kind of really, really key, and we didn't really appreciate that at the start because we kind of came here and to some extent we felt like we were feeling. Because we have this land, then we were kind of going, oh yeah, we're going to do this, that and the other. We didn't have a clue what we were doing. 


And we didn't really understand the language either. You know, we talk about a little bit in the book about how we had to learn farming speak, you know, that there was 20 different names for a cow or, you know, 10 different names for a sheep. And, you know, we thought we know what we want to do. We knew what we want to achieve, but nobody else is doing it. 


t just continual self doubt. [:

One thing that we didn't really have a lot of was money, especially early on, because put everything that we had into buying Lynbreck, um, really there was no, you know, there was a few kind of coins in the pocket at the end and that was it. So we were spending so much time working off the farm to pay the bills that we were kind of going well, how are we going to set up a farming business if we haven't got any money? 


So we navigated that in two ways. One was, we looked at what grants were available, which is very common in this country. You know, you can kind of access, you know, pots of funding for different things, but it was actually looking at it and thinking rather than thinking, you know, what do I need to buy? It's thinking, what have I already got? 


y eat wild flowers. They eat [:

And they're Hardy and they're hairy. And they're built for our kind of pretty harsh climate. So if I take that cattle, um, I put that on my land. I don't have to buy in expensive feed. I don't have to plow my fields to harvest some kind of really fast-growing high calorie crop. I don't have to house them in winter. 


I don't have to give them supplements. So, so it was kind of looking at all these different things and going right, right. Animal, right land and factoring that in as well. Because what we didn't have was, well, well, you know, you've got to do it this way. That's how you farm. That's what you do. 


Mary: And so you didn't have neighbors and people around you like 


telling you, this I'm surprised you didn't get a lot of grief for what you were trying to do. 


sionate. Let's just see what [:

I never once felt that they were looking at us thinking they're going to fail. I always felt they were looking at us going. I really hope they win. I really hope they get through 


this. 


Mary: Oh, I think that's remarkable. It's 


wonderful. 


Lynn: It's really nice. And I think as well, what we really tried not to do, and if I'm honest, I don't think we always completely managed it because we were so like, yeah, we're going to do this. 


We're gonna do this. Is that we never try to judge people around us and what they were doing. You know, the decisions that they had made on their land. We tried to look and learn from it. And the more we learn, the more we questioned and the more we thought, well, yeah, that's not going to work on our farm. 


That's not gonna work for us. 


ere are a lot of things with [:

Yeah, no, you know, I've been doing this. 30 years, and this is the way you have to do it. And I've heard a lot of stories of farmers that are trying to shift to a more regenerative model. And they encounter actually a lot of hostility. I mean, since some times you're in a situation I have heard people are actually kind of threatened by it. 


And because I guess when your family has been doing something for two or three generations and someone else comes in and says, they're going to do it differently than maybe you feel like you have to prove you're not wrong or whatever, but it sounds like you guys were girls, the girls, as they called you, the girls, the girls were able to come across. 


Like you say, like very we're new here. We're not here to tell anybody else what to do. We're just gonna try it our way. Okay. 


often. But you know, they're [:

But I think I would be naive to say that I would not think that there are people out there who. I have got a lot of raised eyes as to what we do and who will say, oh, well, it's all very well. They do that, but that's not gonna work for me. Right. And then what, and we always say, look, we're not a model, or we're not trying to tell anybody what to do. 


We're just trying to show one example of what a regenerative agriculture farm looks like. But I think people can find this way of doing things threatening because it is, as you say, it's a complete culture shift. It's a complete transition. But I think what's crazy about it is that it's such a short term cultural shift because a hundred years ago, we were all doing this, you know, all of us, but we didn't have this huge, hungry agricultural industry that was really driving a lot of agricultural practices today. 


Mary: Yeah. 


re we started recording, how [:

even. 


Lynn: And I, and I think as well, we're always told that if we look back, we're going back and actually, yeah. We're not going back. We need to remember because we've evolved to this point. We've done quite well. So if there's good stuff that we were doing, maybe it's okay to keep some of that. I think as well, you know, where we're at with a lot of things is that kind of peer pressure, isn't it? 


You know, we all had it when we were in school. As soon as you start to break out of the mold and do what other people are not doing, you're kind of weird. You're different. And I think another thing that we need to talk about more in farming, which is what we try to present in an honest way, not in an artificial way, but is in pals and happiness. 


t happy. And, you know, as a [:

And I think talking about not just the food we produce, but how we produce it and how that makes us feel as food producers of being happy is. Ultimate number one goal. It's not money in the bank account. It's you know where you are in your head. 


Emma: Yeah. And how do you make that? Literally backbreaking work less backbreaking and mind breaking. 


I'm not a farmer, but my understanding of the methods are the way that you guys are doing things. This regenerative sort of more like letting nature take the lead. It's actually in many ways it can be less work on the one person. If you kind of set up the systems and let nature do its thing, which I think is really interesting. 


at had it been like when you [:

Lynn: So Lynbreck Croft has got a super interesting history, but before I launch into it, I'm going to tell you what a croft is. So I was to put it into context a croft is something that is uniquely Scottish. 


Okay. The word Croft often will be, you know, people will use it sometimes globally to denote a small agricultural land holding, but actually as a legal entity, it is completely uniquely Scottish and not just uniquely Scottish, it's uniquely to the north and the west generally of Scotland. So we're actually kind of on the Eastern fringes of what are called the crofting counties. 


re covered by their own law. [:

And they kind of basically threw a lot of people off the land, ironically, to make more space for sheep farming, which was more profitable at the time. So crofting law came about after that to basically ensure that that would never happen again so that if people had a bit of land, that was denoted as a Croft, it would be protected in law so that in 200 years time more rich, people couldn't come and Chuck them off because of something else. 


So in order to make sure that they had this protection, this legal protection, there's a whole suite of laws that they had to follow. The two main laws of which are you have to live either on or within 32 kilometers of your Croft. And you have to work your Croft. Now, traditionally, that would've meant agriculturally, nowadays working in your croft can be like a diversification activity. 


roft land, you know, you can [:

Um, then basically you're, you're kind of protected. So that's kind of as an essence, as a Croft, uh, then about 30 years ago, they reviewed the legal elements. They allowed some crofters to buy their land so they could become, what's called an owner occupier of the Croft. So nowadays you can either become a tenant, so a kind of a tenant of the landowners, or you can own and occupy the Croft as well. 


So we're, we're the latter, we're an owner occupier. So that's a croft. So I'm going to be testing you on that later. So good, good, good. So Lynbreck is a croft. We are registered Crofts. We are a very large Croft is the size where 150 acre croft and we're an east coast Croft. So we're kind of on the Eastern fringes of the Crofton counties. 


any historical maps can tell [:

and then later owned by the grant family for at least 300 years. They tell us they had cattle, they had sheep, they had hens, they had ducks and the original crofting family lived here until the mid nineties. It's not a very easy place to live. This where 350 meters above sea levels or high altitude, we're high latitude at 57 degrees north. 


We face duesouth, which is where all the prevailing winds come from. And we're on very acidic soils. So, you know, for those people, way back in the day, it was pretty severe, but they were Hardy Hardy folk and they lived in this tiny little squat stone house. That's, you know, perched on the edge of this kind of hill that, you know, faces the mass of the Cairngorms to the south. 


But they [:

Emma: Do you mean 1990's? 


Wow. 


Lynn: So like 25 years ago, they only actually got electric up here and sort of the mid to late eighties. Wow. They really fought hard and I think comes sort of mid to late nineties. They sort of thought, you know what, we could sell this place and buy a nice little house in Granton and we could have central heating and running water. 


And so, so they sold the croft and the croft was divided up into two parts. There was one part, it was about a, an, a, a strip of about an acre, which they kind of got planning permission for. And somebody built a house on that and lived there. And then the rest of the craft was retained and bought by somebody locally who kind of took it on and didn't really do anything with it. 


s and then we came along and [:

And that was it. 


Emma: Wow. The last family lived up until the nineties had they farmed it? 


Lynn: No, they didn't farm it. I think they wanted to farm it. I think that was their plan. But whenever you take something on you, they basically inherited or where they bought, but in terms of the land, they inherited a land, which in itself was kind of past its agricultural use in that there wasn't really anything that they could do either. 


ittle bit and then they just [:

Mary: Isn't that something. So when you guys got there and, um, your plans had been to have chickens and a garden, so you could have done that. You could have done that even there. 


Emma: You didn't have to do all that. 


Mary: No, you did it. Has anybody ever told you that? 


Lynn: Myself myself, myself, 


Mary: you could have done, you could have said what a great view and here's the garden and there's the chicken coop. That was what you wanted. 


Lynn: You know what, it's so funny because prior to working at Lynbreck, so, you know, obviously Sandra and I met when we were working for the national trust and, and that was great. 


ntry is called the rewilding [:

And the idea is that you kind of intervene a little bit at the start to help kind of nature kickstart, and then you back off. So we could have done that with Lynbreck. You know, we could have just had our little sort of half acre plot with the kitchen garden and yeah, a few rouge hens and just kind of played a little bit at the edge. 


And then stepped back, but actually that's really only perpetuating the problem here because the problem is that we're so disconnected from nature, that we don't actually know where our role is in it anymore. And we're not really accepting that our role can be positive. We can do a lot of damage and we seem to be really good at that, but actually we can also play a really important part because we are part of the ecology. 


ecided to launch into a more [:

So I guess really we were kind of, we just had ax to grind and we thought we can just walk. We can just kick back and, you know, work the nine to five and yeah, enjoy the view on a Saturday morning with a coffee, or maybe there's something else we can do. And that was the decision that we made. 


Mary: Well, it sounds like you were really seized by this vision and mission and you just went in there head first and just hit the ground running. 


scinating. As I mentioned to [:

And it seems like such, um, logical or natural remedy fir these big plots of land that had been damaged over the years. And yeah, just let them go back and isn't that the least work and at least intervention and all that sort of thing. But what's so interesting about what you just said is that sometimes the land. 


Correct me if I've got this wrong, but actually needs some healing and actually needs some healing work before it can kind of really be what it's supposed to be. And is that right? 


Lynn: I think absolutely. And I think what we need to identify is what our role is in that healing. And we have to be very honest with ourselves. 


eal, it's what is it healing [:

That's what we're aiming for and completely eliminate our role. What were we doing? Were we hunting and gathering then? Okay. So what did that look like and where we actually, you know, when we were hunting and gathering, were we changing how plants evolved because of how we harvested from them, or were we changing the movements of wild herds? 


Because we were hunting them and you know, we were still there. So what was our role? And yeah, I think we think we need to really ask those questions, honestly. 


is rewilding? Now? There's a [:

Mary: I mean, the book is called "Wilding" not rewilding. 


Lynn: It's a nice title, actually wilding rather than rewilding because the re makes it a historical thing or turning back 


Mary: and you went there to Knepp castle. 


Lynn: Yes, dude. I went to Knepp back in . I can't even remember when it was, it was when I was at the national trust. So it must've been about 20 12, 20 13, something like that. 


Um, it was actually when I was like a major ancient tree geek. I just loved everything to do with ancient trees and they have the most incredible ancient trees at Knepp. And we went there to see some of the work that they were doing. I paid no attention to the agricultural elements at all, like none, I had no interest in them whatsoever. 


l depend on who you ask, but [:

And that in effect, I think is, is rewilding. It often involves taking people out of the equation. It often involves, you know, planting trees, ripping out fences, remeandering rivers, reintroducing species, like in this country, it's all about species like beavers and links and wolves. And so it's all about kind of. 


Restoration on a, kind of a really wild scale. 


Emma: Interesting. And can you tell us a little bit about what you're doing at Lynbreck Croft is like, goes along with that and maybe in some ways it departs from that. 


Lynn: Yeah. I mean, I think, I mean, I would say it's the quintessential essence of, of rewilding what we're doing, you know, so if we look at sort of the first project that we did here, we came here. 


orking off farm, but what we [:

It had the old kind of marauding deer and hair, but nothing, nothing to really stop the March of the trees. And so we looked at this hill ground, saw these trees marching up and thought that's trying to reforest, but it was a very limited seed source. So really only kind of pine and Birch. So because we'd just been kind of tree planting and the borders. 


We'll put some more species up there. So we'll plant a different kind of species mix and mix that into what's naturally recolonizing from the seed source in this area and create this incredible Woodland, this really diverse Woodland. So we did that. We managed to get, uh, one of the, in this country there's a big drive from the government to plant trees. 


e's huge kind of funding and [:

This is great. This is great for nature. This is great for like local diversity and stuff, but if we're kind of going to farm this land, what's this going to do for it. And so we really started to see how the, what we were actually doing, which is a real popular thing to do in rewilding is plant lots of trees, what's that going to do for our farming business. 


And we started to see it in the context of our animals. And we started to think, well, we, you know, we're in a really exposed area, two things that we desperately need our shade and shelter while we're creating what is an effective, giant living barn on our hill ground. So actually that's opening up a lot more space in the future for our animals to go into cattle, pigs, that sort of thing. 


starting to extend existing [:

And then we start to notice things like, well, the cattle are eating the tree leaves and we start to read into this and figure out that actually tree leaves are really. Part of a cow's diet, you know, nutritionally, medicinally, you know, they get loads of minerals and nutrients from it. So now we're starting to think. 


So actually they're not just going to get shade and shelter. They're actually going to get forage from it, as well as they're kind of moving through these trees, they're going to scratch them. They're going to naturally thin them out and the pigs are going to snuffle and break up the ground. So that means that that's kind of like, oh, look at that little pocket of soil, that's going to be perfect for a tree seedling to sat and grow, you know, and you start to kind of make all these connections and you go, wow, this is all so obvious. 


t as much as I possibly can, [:

So we're coordinators or the way I put it in the book is I say like, we're like the coxswain and the rowing team, you know, we're kind of, we're playing our role, but we're not imposing our will. And that's an important distinction. 


Mary: I love what you say in the book. And you said it a minute ago, nature doesn't need to be rewilded people do. 


And you hear constantly, we've lost our connection with nature. We need to be more connected with nature. And that's so true in essence. But actually even that statement sort of sets up the duality that we're like separate that, you know, the assumption that it's like us and them, and yeah, we need to be more connected so. 


Emma: That we can be more or less connected, which is interesting because our nature. 


e, but if we accept the fact [:

Like here you are putting the trees in and then it occurs to you hmm this might get in the way of our agriculture. What is the perception of rewilding? And is it something that is met with skepticism and I would say in your community and also in the wider community and are people suspicious of it, do they think it's just kind of a crunchy granola? 


What do people think? 


Lynn: I think some people think it's brilliant. I think some people, they literally crave it. I think they crave the knowledge that land just being saved from the clutches of mankind. I think that, you know, so some people really buzz off of it. And I think in contrast, some people are frightened of it because so Scotland as a country has a very, very poor land distribution. 


kind of crazy fact where it [:

And people are thinking, well, what does that mean? Does that mean basically that, that means more people off the land. Some people will talk of rewilding as being the modern Highland clearances that I've heard, that they'll feel that strongly about it. And that to me is not rewilding. That is Highland clearances. 


If you're kicking everybody off the land, you know, because it's exclusion. So you've kind of got this it's polarized. So polarized the rewilding debate. And I think I talk about in the book, how we used to feel like, so part of it, you know, we were like, yeah, you know, we are, you know, w rewilding is everything, you know, we're angry with farmers and we're angry with this person and that person, cause, look, they're killing the land. 


were totally there. And then [:

Mary: Yes, yes. Actually rewilded people, you mean? 


Lynn: Yeah, because they're living in harmony. With the land, like they know the land and okay. So they might farm in a different way to how we do it. You know, they might use a lot more mechanized equipment. They might do practices that we wouldn't do, but they're so connected to the land and they know how to produce food, you know, or they eat meat from animals that they have raised themselves or chickens that they keep in their yard or whatever. 


They're so rewilded and that's the irony of it all. 


Mary: Oh, interesting. I just love the way you express that shift. And it also, I mean, it says something about these positions. We all take, everybody's so polarized in so many things now. Yeah. 


mma: Yeah. And the fact that [:

Because inevitably five years later, we're like, well, that wasn't, you know? 


Lynn: Yeah. Well, this is what they say, you know, you've, you've at least got to get your own house in order before you can start throwing rocks at other people's windows. Um, we all need to kind of, oh yeah, everybody's wrong. And I think we're so angry nowadays aren't we so angry. 


It's like the biggest chip on everybody's shoulders. And you just think, so what is the point? You know 


Mary: why I love the fact that you modeled that shift, you know, like that's okay. I mean, you got in there and your life experience led you down another path and that's okay. And you didn't abandon one or the other. 


You kind of, yeah, I hope so integrated all that you knew from both ends. 


you know, people will always [:

So that's where, you know, the labels of, you know, oh, you, you know, you, you practice this way of farming or you're a rewilder exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Crazy hippie lady on the side of a hill, you know, or whatever it's labels are boxes, but labels, you know, as soon as somebody puts you in a box or a tribute to a certain label to you, you know, if, if it happens often enough, you can transition into that because that's what you think you are. 


And we just really need to remember that. You know, I always say how we farm here is the Lynbreck way. It's the Lynbreck way, you know, it's got elements of regen ag. It's got elements of rewilding or it's got elements of agroecology or agroforestry or whatever. 


Emma: I have a farmer friend who his practices are amazing. 


that word. He hates the word [:

It's just, it's just like what you do if you farm, obviously it's regenerative, I've never met someone so passionately like upset with that label, but. I'm like I get where he's coming from any label? Yeah. Any label, but like, it's just like regenerative. It's like, yeah. I mean, we love that word. Like we use it all the time, but I get why it's like obvious, you know, if you're growing something, I don't 


know, you're regenerating. 


Lynn: Well, it's funny. 


Somebody said to Sandra once we were doing an interview for something. And he said, well, he's regenerative agriculture. And she went, well, it's not a degenerative agriculture. And, and, and it was like, basically it. And, uh, it's like, it's another trend, isn't it. It's another, like, I don't think it is a fad, but you know, people can perceive it as, oh, it's another trend, the latest fad or regenerative agriculture, regenerative agriculture. 


And then immediately people 


go, uh, 


lives its meaning because of [:

I mean, we still use sustainable all the time, but that got overused. So anyway, one has to keep on their toes with all this 


stuff. 


Lynn: I think, well, they become overused and misunderstood as well. So, so regenerative agriculture, I didn't know. You say take some kind of farming. Who says that their regenerative agriculture does and oh yeah 


we're regen ag and then somebody else does it. And then you think, but you're not actually, it's just, yeah. The latest toy or some word. Yeah. It becomes watered down and then it becomes less effective. And then, then the next thing comes 


in. 


Mary: Probably the bottom line of that is it's not degenerative, so let's just, let's just, don't degenerate and then we're good. 


You know, that's a good rule. 


Emma: The bar is so low bar. 


Good one good one. I need to [:

Emma: He'll just stare at me and then be like, I'm gonna like walk away like, you know, this kind of person, right? Like that's. 


Mary: Well, if you could give us just kind of a quick, like, you don't have to go through the whole story because people need to buy your book and read it, but. 


Like the first thing you did was your chickens. And then just from there, just kind of a quick kind of run through from there to where you are now. 


Lynn: We started off with three hens rose bay and Willow named after plants? Yeah. 


Emma: Are they still with us? 


Lynn: No, no, sadly not. We do have, uh, shortly after rose bay and Willow got one call Sage, um, who actually, we now call football cause she's quite round football, so she's still with us and she's, she's going to be nearly. 


kind of start to increase a [:

And yeah, we just noticed this. I was like a huge kind of interest. People were just going nuts for these kind of like gorgeous eggs. All the girls are fed and organic feed they're, you know, foraging in the, all around the homestead. Deep orange yolks you know, this like really deep orange creamy farm yolks. 


So people were going nuts for them. We knew that kind of eggs would be a fairly easy to sell product. So we started something called egg club and increase the number of hens whereby we invited local people to sign up for a subscription, a monthly subscription. And in return that get a box or two boxes or however many, they wanted of eggs delivered to their door every week. 


ore we launched the club, we [:

We worked with a rare breed. Called an Oxford, Sandy and black. They're a hearty, hairy, rare breed. And we were using them in places like our Woodlands. And again, this kind of, really sort of rare breed, pure free range. Pork started to sell that people locally were just, you know, going crazy for it. Cause I, you know, people often think of the porks a bland meat that was going on and also fussed about pork needs a good sauce. 


Pork needs a good sauce. Yeah, I think a pork steak is as good as a beef fillets steak. It's just exceptional. So people were kind of getting a flavor of this pork and they're going, wow. Okay. That's great. Shortly after that, we got cattle on the croft. So we got our Highland cattle lawn and we were starting to learn about regenerative grazing with them. 


money at this stage. And any [:

We'd done through applying for some government supports. We had grant schemes, anything that we could kind of get our hands on that fit with our model we applied for. But we were still at that point, like of like, how are we going to make a full-time job. You know, this is where we both want to be. So one of the ways which we decided to increase our revenue was to put on micro butchery onsite and to go into like artisan range of produce. 


So added value produce, because the thing that we weren't going to do was get onto the productivity treadmill. Okay. So we have 150 acres. We've got a lot of land we could carry also we could carry loads more animals. We've got tons of space. But when are we tipping between what is regenerative and what is degenerative? 


sitive environmental impact. [:

So you're maximizing the value massively. So we applied for a, like kind of a business diversification loan, put the micro butchery or install the micro butchery, Sandra trained as a butcher by YouTube, primarily. Um, we got, we got environmental health out. We kind of, we made sure that we were all kind of like kosher from the environmental health point of view. 


We just got stuck in. And so we were able to basically, yeah, massively increased the value of our produce. So that sort of started to help with the income side of things. And then, because we were really passionate about sharing our story, as I say, I'm from Ireland, I like to talk, you might've got that already. 


ow people, you know, you can [:

You know, I've never worked for anybody, but yeah. Imagine working for anybody else, 


Mary: it sounds like you've got really famous in there. Yeah. 


Emma: Superstar. 


Mary: Oh, you know, the TV show and you were on all these councils and on all this policy stuff and it, it sounds like there's a period in there where you were just wow. 


Like the sharing of it in the advising and the consulting was almost bigger than the whole project. 


Lynn: That's a really, really good observation actually, because we kind of got so consumed. We were on, I mean, we were just flying and then there was kind of this juggernaut behind us, you know, and it was like, you know, at the start we were pushing it and then all of a sudden it was chasing us and we were, yeah, we were going to the British parliament. 


iticians and stuff. And then [:

That was it. 


Mary: You wanted your chickens 


Lynn: being healthy and being happy, uh, 


Emma: It was such a spectacle. It was so mind blowing. What of the whole country, who are these people? Just 


Mary: isn't that funny? Like, what is that like human nature go away. It's like the way of the universe or something. You do a good job at something and all of a sudden you're like, 


yeah, 


Lynn: absolutely. 


Yeah. It just, it just all kind of went a little bit mad and we thought, you know, certainly from the policy side of things, we were just like, we are not the right people to be doing this. Like, I am not a hobnobber in a political spectrum. You know, I'll talk to the queen and the way I'm talking to you, you know, there's no, there's no filter. 


ons. And that's what we were [:

And that's when it was like, pull it back. Whoa. You know, reign that horse in. 


Mary: And how did you do that? How in the world did you do that? 


He just started 


saying, no? 


Lynn: I think really Mary looking back, we had to do a lot of soul searching as well, probably more me than Sandra, because Sam's always been the practical one. 


She's always been kind of like, you know, looking after all the animals and stuff. Whereas I was the one that was kinda more doing this public facing kind of thing, but in a way that just didn't fit. And so I had to really kind of step back and go, you know, what's my role? Where does this fit? I'm burning out. 


ve that we should be at yet. [:

And, and that's what we did. And we've never looked back 


Mary: You were looking for some slow living. And it sounds like you, you know, you went on your slow living journey and it took you all the way to the other side and you had to come back. It's 


a great story. 


Lynn: Isn't it so ironic that, you know, we were, we were leaving to come to Lynbreck. 


The whole vision of Lynbreck was, was that slower living we got here. We didn't live a single slow minute. It was just like, you know, you say bolt, and then it was only really relatively recently that we're starting to find that really nice balance and feels a lot more harmonious, but a 


process. 


Mary: I was just going to ask you, like, what is slow living mean to you and how are you able to embrace that? 


what does that look like and [:

Lynn: Yeah, so I think our finding our feet has been a fairly, it really started to find our feet. 


It's been a fairly recent kind of next phase on our journey. I would say, I think slow living is a really interesting term because my life is quite quick. Sandra's life is quite quick. We're naturally busy people. We like to kind of be busy. I like to be busy physically. I like to be busy mentally, but I'm not hectic. 


I'm not crazy. And I'm not chaos. And for me, that is the difference between slow living and not slow living. It's just, you're not surrounded by madness. You have a certain sort of, I guess, internal calmness and confidence. You know what you're doing and you know what you want, but your life could be really busy, active, and really interesting. 


different. So Sandra is the, [:

So Sandra has this gift of being with animals. And she understands them and she knows them. So, you know, every morning she'll get up, she lets the hens out. She goes and feeds the pigs. She moves the cows, she oversees all of that. And then she'll busy herself during the day with working in the kitchen garden, or yesterday she was tanning a deer hide. 


Oh wow. And you know, all sorts of stuff. She's really, really good, practically as well as being our kind of chief butcher. So, so she'll be out and about all the time, you know, as soon as if it's not raining, she's outside and God forbid you try and keep her inside when it's not raining, it's not good. It's not good. 


nd just doing kind of housey [:

I really enjoy running. That's my kind of thing. So I'll, you know, two or three or four times a week I go running. So I kind of daily kind of grooves are quite different, but what we always do is in the evenings, we come together, we have some downtime sort of individually, we eat a really epic meal. Like we cook from fresh pretty much every day. 


And if it's not from fresh, it's something frozen that we've already cooked. So we'll have this kind of epic celebratory meal. And then we just like everybody else in the world we binged on Netflix. 


Mary: I know. So Lynn, so what does a good dirt mean to you? And you can answer. Anyway you 


want. 


t's like everything that you [:

And in our context, I can relate that, I guess, directly to what we have at Lynbreck here. So in terms of our farming business, if we have good dirt or if we have good soil, that's what grows. Our crops, you know, which is grass and trees and, and that's what our animals eat. And that's what keeps them healthy. 


So really it's the kind of the foundations of everything that we have here. Good dirt is also to us, it's about what provides us with our food. So it's what you know, is what feeds our kitchen garden. It's what grows our vegetables. It's what feeds us the vast majority of the year. So it gives us our food. 


So it gets us our business and it gives us our food. I think good dirt as well. It gives us clean air. Doesn't it? Because you've got these really kind of good plants that are growing in this great dirt and they're photosynthesizing and they're kind of drawing and carbon dioxide, they're pumping out oxygen. 


know, through really, really [:

Which is basically what we have that gives us life 


Mary: well said, I really liked that metaphor. That's really awesome. And you know, we, we ask all our guests that question and everybody says something different. It's just such a great question. 


Lynn: It's a really good question. And it does really make you think, because you know, we're always striving for something in life aren't we, you know, we're always striving for quite often. 


We know we live in a culture where you've got to earn more money. You know, you feel that you've got to, you've got to get more, you've got to because money gives you security. And we, we always neglect the fact that, you know, security comes from shelter. It comes from food, it comes from water, you know, it comes from air and it comes from people just looking after each other. 


And that's what the good dirt provides. I think so. 


Emma: Absolutely. So, Lynn, is there anything else that you would like the audience to understand about what you're doing or anything. We haven't talked about yet that you wanted 


to touch on? 


ally the last message that I [:

And I think what we've done here at Lynbreck, Just doing our version of, of what it is that makes us happy and sharing that story with integrity and honesty and openness. And I think that's what we're trying to do here. Awesome. Thank you. Having a positive 


message. 


Emma: Yeah, I can't wait to come visit. I just want to get to Scotland. 


Mary: And it's very cool. Where can people find you? And you wanna do little plug. 


Lynn: You can pre-order a book on the lady farmer website. You can check out our website. It's just, uh, lynbreckcroft.co.uk. And we're on Instagram as well as lynbreck_croft. And yea we have a book coming out, which is called "our wild farming life". 


And it's all about how we transitioned from where we were to where we are today. And we hope you really enjoy the story. 


Emma: And can people still come visit the farm? Is that something you're still doing? 


Mary: Do [:

Lynn: Yeah, they can. They can come and visit the farm. Yeah, we do like a monthly public tour. We do private tours as well. 


It's just a matter of kind of getting in touch beforehand and we run courses too. So we run a course. We called it how to farm and it was basically inspired by the first farming book that I ever read, which was called "you can farm" by Joel Salatin . So we wrote a four and a half day course whereby we basically deconstruct our entire business and way of life and share that with everybody as well as lots of our incredible tasty food to try and enable others to find their journey into and back onto the land. 


So that's another thing we do. 


Emma: Amazing. And is that an in-person course? 


Lynn: That's an in-person course. I know that we've definitely got two people from America that have signed up for it this year, which is really exciting. I think they're coming from California, which is really cool. So that's a really awesome week. 


Mary: I do have one more question for you. How is Ronnie? 


ear that she she's the boss. [:

well. 


Mary: So for the listeners, she's one of your Highland cattle that's correct. And you kept her, you didn't move her on to the land of the, the 


land of the not free. Yea and you kept her. 


And I love the way you wrote about that in the book, because it was very suspenseful. Like you kind of built it up, like, what are we going to do about Ronnie? And she's really, she's really way more valuable to us if we, you know, if we sell her off and do the meat and you were, you were really justifying the decision to send her on and then suddenly go, but we kept her here and I'm like, oh, thank goodness. 


But even though I understand, I understand all about the meat production and of course I'm fully on board and you express all 


that so beautifully. 


Lynn: And you know, it's funny because we wrote the book. We started writing the book. So the publishers came to us last summer. We wrote the book over the winter. 


was about July of this year. [:

Mary: Fairly recent. Yeah. I was going to ask, you know, where, where did you leave off with the book and, you know, you just answered that question. 


So it has been all very recent and all, everything happens like really quickly, like 


yeah. 


Lynn: Slow living. 


Mary: All of this so you can live the slow life. 


Emma: And now you finally made it to the good dirt podcast 


Mary: you have made it. 


Lynn: I am just either. I have got a new bottle of whiskey, open it tonight and that's it. I'm just going to kick back and go yeah. 


Mary: You are there, 


Lynn: but no, thank you so much for inviting me to speak tonight. It's been really good fun to hang out. 


o. We will be in touch. Yeah.[:

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