Tree planting at Eastside
Alexander Cowan was the first of the Cowan family to plant trees at Eastside in 1850- a mix of Scots Pine and Larch - some of which are still in evidence today on the face of the Black Hill, Cap Law and Braid Law. Trees are important to provide shelter for the sheep and wildlife. Shelter is worth half a feed is old scottish farming wisdom meaning that if you give an animal shelter, it doesn't use so much food just to keep warm. 120 years later in 1970s my father in law got his spade out and started planting again with conifers such as Sitkas and Lodgepole Pines in the geometric style of the day. Now, it's our turn and we've planted a lot of mixed conifer and broad leaved trees as shelter belts in the valleys and are now branching out to encompass some of the original old plantations to keep them going. The last batch planted recently has a “nurse” component of fast growing conifers such as Sitka and Larch to protect the slower growing Scots Pine and deciduous trees such as oak, birch, beech, willow and hazel. So far, 42,000 trees have been planted in the last two years and we're back where it all started, really!
Hopefully, the new plantations will halt the decline of the rare Black Grouse which likes a habitat that combines woodland with the existing wild grassland and heather. Watch this space.....
Sadly, some of the mature trees have been blown down in the winter gales but we’ve got to think positive - more logs for wood burning stoves!
Farming in the hills
For more pictures and information about farming life throughout the year see our on your doorstep page for farming & walking in the Pentland Hills.