This year’s Scottish Smallholder and Grower Festival will be enhanced by the presence of well known naturalist, journalist and author, Polly Pullar, who will talk to visitors about her books and photography, as well as introducing her latest project, “A drop in the Ocean” which tells the story of the Laird of the Isle of Muck, Lawrence MacEwen, who will also be on hand to talk through his experiences of small scale production in a very harsh but stunning environment.
Polly is a field naturalist, wildlife rehabilitator, freelance journalist, photographer and wildlife guide who has always worked in the rural environment, surrounded by animals. She is currently the wildlife writer for the Scottish Field, a monthly correspondent for Tractor and Farming Heritage Magazine, and The People’s Friend, has regular columns and features in a wide range of other magazines including Scots Magazine, and Scottish Farmer.
Her first book, “Dancing with Ospreys”, was illustrated by Keith Brockie, who also provided the illustrations for a second book, “RURAL PORTRAITS – Scotland’s Native Farm Animals, Characters & Landscapes”. She hopes that this helped raise awareness to the importance of the survival of native breeds, and those involved with them.
Polly also specialises in children and animal portraiture and her third book “Further Afield” featured her countryside photography. The two subjects then came together with the 2012 publication of “FAUNA SCOTICA – Animals and People in Scotland” co-authored with Borders writer Mary Low.
Lawrence MacEwen’s family have owned the stunning island of Muck since 1896 yet he is as far removed from the archetypal feudal laird as it is possible to be. Well-respected in farming circles and a good deal beyond, and with a benevolent hands-on approach, he is a distinctively eccentric figure often to be found in the byre where he still milks his cows, or riding along Muck’s tiny highway on a rusting bike, or vintage tractor to meet the latest ferry arrivals.
Both Polly and Lawrence will be taking part in a “Question Time” session, which will no doubt see some wonderful tales as well as insights into the highs and lows of food production, growing and sustainability on the remote island that is Muck.
photo courtesy of Polly Pullar