The Hobhouses first came to Balnahard in 1946, when David’s grandmother took on the tenancy. It has been passed down since then, with David inheriting it in 1994. About 20 years ago David was able to buy the farmhouse and buildings from the landlord, whilst remaining a tenant on the farmland.
At Balnahard Farm we have 35 Cows and 450 Ewes. The cattle are predominantly Luing & Shorthorn, the hill ewes are a mixture of Scottish Blackface & Welsh Lleyns. The 'Wool Sheep' live on the in-bye grazing and are made up of Blue Face Leicester, Teeswater & Hebridean crosses. All the cattle & sheep live out all year round. The winter climate in Colonsay is wet & wild, rather than cold. The stock needs to be able to withstand this, whilst only being fed poor quality rations. We are constantly striving to breed a type of animal that will look happy and do well in these conditions, whilst at the same time giving some sort of return in the market. We have now also added the complication of wanting some sheep with softer fleeces for wool production. This has been achieved by crossing our hardy native ewes with a softer fleeced tup, thus producing a superior fleece with the ability to still live outside on Colonsay!
‘Farming is still very much at the heart of Balnahard’
In order to protect the future of Balnahard Farm for the next generation as a viable farm and business, it has become essential to look to more diverse ways of making an income. Beef & Mutton from the farm is available for purchase from the Colonsay General Store, with the Colonsay Wool Growers yarns, knitting kits & garden string for sale in Seapink, down in Scalasaig.