The people of Kinloch made a basic living from farming, clearing woodland to grow barley and oats, and planting rigs (raised beds) with turnips and potatoes. They supplemented their diet with shellfish or other fish such as herring which could be caught close by.
In 1815 the people of Isle Ornsay, not far from Kinloch, received an extraordinary bonus from the sea, which was reported and later painted by the artist William Daniell. Daniell describes the incident here:
"[Mr Elder, a local trader] had been watching the passage of a shoal of herrings; and, on observing some large fins projecting above water, concluded that they were pursued by a multitude of whales, which proved to be the case.
These he immediately formed the design of capturing, and for this purpose mustered as many of the inhabitants as could render him assistance. They manned the boats, and, rowing into the channel succeeded in driving the shoal of whales into the harbour. The object was to run them aground...
"The whales being frightened at some sloops that lay at anchor, turned about, and eluding the boats, got out of the bay; they were overtaken and driven in again, but they baffled their pursuers several times: the chase was at last successful; one of the headmost rushed upon the beach, and the shoal, consisting of seventy-six whales of various sizes, the largest 30 feet in length, and the smallest six or seven, were taken.
"No time was lost in securing the blubber, and every barrel and cask that the village could supply was put in requisition on the occasion. The cargo was shipped to Liverpool for sale, and realised to the captors a considerable sum.
They are frequently seen in considerable numbers, pursuing the herring-shoals, in these seas; but it will probably be some time ere another rich capture takes place at Iloransay".