The plots of land, or crofts, had room for a longhouse with a byre at one end, outbuildings, and a kitchen garden or kailyard. The rest of the available land could only support some small vegetable plots and a few cows, pigs and chickens for each family;[3][4] fresh water came from a nearby spring. There was only one horse in the village and no plough, so a chaib (a kind of spade) was used to plough the soil and the harrow was pulled by a man.[4] Each house had its own spinning wheel, and all the women learned to spin and card. The men mainly worked as herring fishermen from nearby Berriedale and the women gutted the fish that were caught. While the women worked, their livestock, and even their children, were tethered to rocks or posts to prevent them from being blown over the cliffs or into the sea by the fierce winds.[3][4][5] At the height of the herring industry there was plenty of food, even for the widowed families, but fishing was a dangerous occupation, especially for men who were used to working on the land.[4]
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