On the land of his ancestors in Scotland, a young farmer struggles to find a balance between farming, the conservation of wild, and human culture as he establishes a herd of heritage cattle.
How does it feel to belong to a landscape that is fading right before your eyes?
Galloway, an ancient town in an obscure corner of Scotland, has a proud and unique heritage based on hardy cattle and wide moors. But as the twentieth century progressed, the people of Galloway deserted the land and the moors have been transformed into commercial forest. Born and brought up in Dumfries and Galloway, author Patrick Laurie wonders whether or not the land of his ancestors is fated to fade away entirely.
Desperate to connect with his native lands, Laurie plunges into work on his family farm in the hills of southwest Scotland. Investing in the oldest and most traditional breeds of Galloway cattle, he begins to discover how cows once shaped people, places and nature in this remote and half-hidden place. This traditional breed requires different methods of care from modern farming on an industrial, totally unnatural scale. As the cattle begin to dictate the pattern of his life, Laurie stumbles upon the passing of an ancient rural heritage. The new forests have driven the catastrophic decline of the much-loved curlew, a bird which features strongly in Galloway’s consciousness. These deteriorating links between people, cattle, and wild birds become a central theme as Laurie begins to face the reality of life in a vanishing landscape.
Exploring the delicate balance between farming and conservation while recounting an extraordinarily powerful personal story, Galloway delves into the relationship between people and places under pressure in the modern world.