RONALD M'FIE, Crofter and Fisherman, Lusta (46)—examined.
3234. The Chairman.
—Do you come as a delegate from Loch Bay, or or have you come to state a special grievance?
3235. Will you state your special grievance ?
—That I am, for the past twenty-two years paying rent on this estate, and that I have not seen the mill yet, and I do not know where it is, and that I have to buy all the seed that my ground requires every year. And I think there is no remedy for that, but to give the land at its value. £7 is my rent, including rates. £6, 2s. 6d. is my rent. I can keep two cows, but I have to buy from £2 to £ 3 worth of food for them, and I myself spent between £25 or £30 for food for my family.. I think the only remedy is to give us land at a fair rent, sufficient to keep us comfortable. I cannot get return from my land of more value than £5. I have a stirk, and if I feed it well I may get £ 3 for it, and if it is not well fed I cannot get the half of that. I have about fourteen sheep, off which I make from 30s. to £ 2 per annum, and the most of the crofters in my township are in the same condition. The fishing has been bad for the past few years, so that there is no way for people to live unless they get help or land cheap, and if the following year would be as bad as the present the strongest would be uppermost— the weak ones would go to the wall. I have nothing further to say.
3236. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—You don't look very well? Are you in good health?
—I have not much reason to complain.
3237. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—You spoke about the mill. Do you mean there is no mill on the property ?
—There is a mill on the property.
3238. You mean you do not go to it ?
—I had nothing to take to the mill.
3239. Did you give the grain to the cattle?
—No, I do not give it to them every year.
3240. What became of the grain ?
—It is not growing
—the place is so bad. The rain has denuded the soil, and exhausted it so, that it does not yield crop.
3241. If that is the case, why do you sow corn ?
—We get a little return which is of use in feeding the cattle.
3242. Would it not be better to sow grass seed instead of corn?
—The grass itself would not grow. That would not feed our cows in the winter, though it might be of service in summer and autumn.
3243. Do you get anything but straw from your corn crop?
3244. Then why could not you try the grass? Would you not have a large amount of grass?
—I do not think I could. It is only peat soil. It is but 1 inch or 2 inches in depth of peat over gravel.
3245. Mr Cameron.
—Do you work it with the cas-chrom?
—Yes, I was trying it first with the plough.
3246. Do you ever try the spade?
3247. Surely you get below 2 inches of moss with the spade ?
—Yes, but it is getting shallower every year.
3248. The Chairman.
—Do you ever use a pick here to break up the ground ?
—No, it is not so hard as that.