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Author Topic: Advice welcome Shetland  (Read 697 times)


  • Joined Mar 2009
Advice welcome Shetland
« on: January 29, 2021, 08:46:47 pm »
Hi everyone

My husband and I have long dreamed of getting away from it all and relocating up to somewhere like Shetland (we have lived in West Scotland) and having our own animals etc. You know these pipe dreams we all have.

Anyway after losing our 1 year old son suddenly last year and my working in anaesthetics during covid we have decided to go for it, with the line we will regret not trying more.

My teenager (14) loves Scotland and has already looked at the university on Shetland and it does her planned course, the you get children are 3 and 7.

Anyway we are in our current location for 20 more months and when we move again (military family who have moved a stupid amount of times) we are going to Shetland, I hope to work part time at the hospital in my profession.

We have always had a small amount of back yard hens but would the climate of Shetland be too cold for a larger flock? Would like some pigs and goats too, plus a polycrub. Ideally looking at a croft or house with 5acre. My only worry is the distance from family but they are keen for us to persue our dream.

Not looking at farming large scale but maybe rearing some pigs for sale and eggs to assist with some cost. Ideally working toward supporting our food needs as best we can but we will both work.

Any advice form anyone up there would be very gratefully received. We are covid depending coming up in August for a few weeks for a holiday come exploring for the future.

Many Thanks


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Advice welcome Shetland
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2021, 02:01:35 pm »
We visited Shetland a few years back to try and work out if we wanted to move further away from the big city (we were then - and still are - happily smallholding in the Borders, with easy commute to Edinburgh) but decided that moving to an island community was not for us. I know it sounds harsh - but you will always be an outsider as will your children. We get this even in the Borders, the other kids in my daughters' high school are all born in the Borders,and the number of cousins in the school is ibcredible... Not to say that we don't love being in the Borders, but we will never be "Borderers".... (But then I am not even British, so that has recently become more "visible").

With regard to livestock - as long as you can make your own hay or haylage you can feed goats, sheep and cattle quite well, but buying stuff in is extremely expensive. So if you lok for a holding/croft check out the land it has with it, soil quality varies a lot. You will also struggle to get new bloodlines or males for mating, esp for dairy goats. As to selling produce, there are probably quite a few other corfters doing that, so you would need to scout out the market. I don't think it is easy to make a profit.

That said, if you want to move for the "getting away from it all" life style - can't get fresher air anywhere else I think - and you have an alternative income to keep you covered for the basics, then I would definitely investigate further. But I wouldn't go without a definite - and permanent - job offer and loads of research. The islands are also quite different communities compared to the Mainland, and unless you live on the mainland close to Lerwick, your children will have to board at the High School during the week - another main reason for us not to move.

Shetland winters are long, dark and wet.... and very few trees.

Poly crubs are very expensive, Keder greenhouses are just as good and a lot cheaper.

I am not putting you off, but that's where we got too after quite a bit of research.


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Advice welcome Shetland
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2021, 02:24:59 pm »
Is there any way you could start to keep animals now, where you are, so that you have at least got experience of what that all entails before adding moving to a completely different environment on top of that? 

We can all tell you things about how difficult it is to rear pigs on peaty ground, and that straw to a very large extent and hay also are going to be more difficult to source in an island situation, but until you have a year or two of rearing pigs under your belt, you are not going to really get what we are saying to you.  Whereas to someone who has struggled to keep free range pigs well and happy through a wet cold winter, the idea that straw may not be available would chill them to their marrow...  :o  (And most probably make them recognise that they will be keeping the pigs under cover over winter.  With something other than straw for bedding...)

Another approach, if keeping your own now is not possible, is to make friends with a local smallholder and volunteer for them.  I learned a heck of a lot WWOOFing and just helping farmers and smallholders locally, although I do have to say that you don't really get it all until you do it for yourself.  But it's a start.

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


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