Faced with growing uncertainty over the future of farming in Orkney with Brexit, a local farmer has taken the initiative and has diversified.
Cygnet Swanson whose family has farmed lands around Twatt for 217 years has sold off his prime Aberdeen Angus stock and Texel sheep. Mr Swanson has invested heavily in new stock of cavea porcellus. Asked about this turnabout Mr Swanson said:
“It was on a holiday to Peru that I first got the idea. We were in this posh restaurant and I said to the wife, ‘My this is the best chicken I have ever had’. But it wisnae chicken it wis cavea porcellus.”
It doesn’t bother Cygnet Swanson that he has been demonised by his grandchildren for wanting to eat family pets, Pinky and Perky, as he sees this as the way ahead for farming in Orkney.
Explaining his set up Cygnet said:
” Look I can get 50,000 of them where I once kept 30 kye. And they breed like rabbits but taste better.”
Mr Swanson is already looking into breeding larger improved versions of his stock and is working with the agricultural department of the UHI on how this could be done.
Professor Ben Van der Valk said:
“It is possible that in 2 1/2 years we will have beasts that will be able to graze outside where once there were cattle and sheep. Cavea porcellus are a great leap forward in the farming industry.”
Community Councillor and local dignitary Mrs Flett McGinty, 69, however, was not so sure.
“Aye they will be a fine attraction for the tourists who like to see live animals out in the fields and have their photies taken with them. The very hairy ones are particularly bonnie as they look a bit like Highland Coos.”
And then she added a note of caution:
“It’s just their teeth. I have seen the documentary ‘Night of the Lepus’. I know what can happen when these scientists get an idea. Thank goodness I still keep my pitchfork under my bed.”
Local chefs are delighted that a new product will be added to the range of pork, lamb, beef and buffalo already available in Orkney.
For one local farmer, the intrepid Cygnet Swanson, diversification and breeding big is certainly a solution to the Brexit Blues.
Reporter: Fergus Graemsay