Archbank: The story of a Border hill farm

By John A Thomson FIA Scot

ISBN: 9781907931574

John Thomson is a well-known auctioneer in farming circles, but also something of a local historian judging by the amount of detailed information in this, his seventh book.

If you have an interest in the Moffat area, then this book will give you the history of the surrounding area, taking you from the stone age, right through to the landscape of today with improved transport links bringing the outside world to it’s famous Mineral Well, with details of the local landlords that shaped the estates.

John looks back at the hardship that fierce weather brought in the days before mechanisation, when entire flocks were wiped out by lengthy snow storms. It is quoted: “A poor grazier who had two hirsels of hoggs at Deloraine enquired how his sheep had faired; only to be told that ‘there are just as many alive as the cat has tails’.”

There are many stories of this ilk, but the backbone to this book is the story at Archbank, of Annandale Estate, where John and his family has hill farmed for many years. He blends historical fact with local reminiscence, explaining his decisions to change the sheep they bred.

A history of his favoured Cheviot breed, leads us onto why he moved from South Countries to Northies and the commercial decisions he had to make in order to make the farm a viable concern. He details the annual cycle of shepherds both from a historical point of view and the present role.

The author believes that farming is a long-term project in which we must learn from the past, live in the present and plan for the future. As he has handed over the reigns to his family on his 90th birthday, he has the experience and wordcraft to make this book an excellent read for those interested in either local history or agriculture.

To order books, Tel. 01228 528939 it can be ordered online from for £9.00

Up with the lark, my life on the land

By Joan Bomford

Joan Bomford was voted BBC’s Countryfile farming hero last year and this is her story of a life long love affair with the land and the people who work on it.

She tells us what it’s like to live through an era of enormous change, her love of animals kindled by her father’s Shire horses who did the heavy work until machinery took over. This is the story of a women’s desire to do the thing she cared about more than anything else, and that was to be a farmer.

Published by Hodder and Stoughton, ISBN: 9781473626973, available from good bookshops, and

Madgie – a life in farming

By Marjory MacQueen, with Jane Macaulay

ISBN: 9781909238527

Madgie MacQueen died in January this year, aged 92, it marked the end of an era as her family had farmed at Achnahannet, behind Dulnain Bridge, for generations.

Madgie was well known throughout Strathspey as a prominent member of the Strathspey Farmers’ Club and the A-A Society. For six months before her death, she recounted her story to former journalist at The SF, Jane Macaulay, who recorded and transcribed her vivid descriptions of farming life before, during and after WWII.

Madgie’s feisty character and her sense of fun comes across as she describes scenes from her life.

Can be purchased from: or tel. 01343 850 178.

An ideal farm husband

By Lorna Sixsmith

ISBN:9780992763275 £11.00

One for the boys this time from Lorna Sixsmith, after her previous two books ‘How to be a pefect farm wife’, and ‘Would you marry a farmer?’

This one takes a humorous look at what it takes to become an ideal farm husband. Advice on how to attract your perfect match, how to impress her, how to introduce her to the family and even how to propose.

You’ll find out how little effort it takes to be romantic, the best ways to survive the pre-silage tension and the pre-scanning shakes and something that Lorna obviously has experience with, learning that your girlfriend isn’t telepathic after all. A perfect read for all.

From: and

David Rollo – local hero

By Andrew Arbuckle

ISBN: 9780992809027 £10.00

For a Scottish rugby legend that was capped for Scotland 40 times, David Rollo didn’t pick up a rugby ball until he was 19.

He played rugby when it was an amateur’s game, when rugby players were tough men and he thought nothing of being back on the family farm in Fife the next morning after representing his country.

Comparisons with today’s game are fruitless as this was a time when being knocked out during a Calcutta Cup game left Dave with a broken nose that was ‘repaired’ by some cotton wool up the nostrils and a 10-minute break before getting back on the field.

This volume takes you through Dave’s rugby and farming career, with many anecdotes from 60 years of playing and following rugby.

The book concludes with Dave’s views on the modern game during this professional era.

Dave Rollo comes across as a modest man who claims that he was merely lucky, and that the harder he worked, the luckier he became. Any rugby fan would relish the facts in this book and the story of the evolution of rugby over the last 50 years.