Ruthven Farm is a traditional upland livestock farm running mainly Blackface sheep and mules. We were incredibly proud to win the Cairngorms Nature Farm Award in 2016, and then the RSPB Nature of Farming Award (Food and Farming category) in 2017, recognising the environmentally sensitive management of the farm. This year we are finalists in both the Agriculture and Conservation and the Environment categories of the Scottish Rural Awards – watch this space!! Our particular focus is on habitat enhancement to encourage both resident and visiting species of wildlife.
We took over the tenancy at Ruthven in 2006, and since then have carried out various environmental schemes on the farm, starting in 2010 with 4.5 km of hedges and 5 acres of woodland, a pond, and some riparian enhancement, followed in 2015 by a further 5 acres of mixed native woodland. The results of these schemes are already bringing huge benefit to the farm in the form of improved wildlife habitat and shelter for stock. This area is an important breeding area for waders, and during the season there is nothing better than hearing the calls of oystercatchers, curlews, lapwing and golden plover, and witnessing the spectacular drumming display of the snipe. To further encourage wader species and enhance their habitat, in 2017 we created three further ponds and some wader scrapes and were delighted to see the wader population immediately put them to use. We also planted a 3 acre area of species rich grassland, which support pollinator insects and small mammals.
We love our sheep, and have an ever increasing number of breeds as well as the main commercial Blackface flock which produces high quality mule ewe lambs to be sold on to lowland flocks for breeding. You can see (and in most cases meet!) Ryeland, Blue Faced Leicester, Suffolk, Cheviot, Shetland and Icelandic sheep during your visit. Many are tame and happy to eat out of you hand! Sheep dog demonstrations can be arranged, and in summer a shearing demonstration can be included.
We are extremely proud of the way we farm, and regularly host walks for universities / colleges and schools, to promote the value of environmentally sensitive upland farm management.