Sunday, 13 December 2009

Winter sun on wetland habitat

In the foreground of the above photograph is the wetland area bordering the Haunn field where the remote holiday cottages are. In the hazy late afternoon light the island of Rum seemed almost etheric.

The Cheviot and Blackface (ewe) hoggs are all now trained to the food. Their stint in the cattle shed over, both flocks are now grazing together in the Park - coming each morning to a long line of troughs for their food. You only have to linger a moment when walking through at other times of day, on the track to Haunn, before they start gathering themselves around you expectantly - waiting for a little more. Below is a photograph taken of some of them, late afternoon yesterday (hence the camera shake).

Some farmers on the island choose to 'winter' their hoggs 'away' instead of doing what we do here. Away wintering involves taking the hoggs off the island to a farm on the mainland - perhaps in Aberdeenshire or Perthshire. They might leave in November and return before lambing. This traditional arrangement helps both farmers - the island farms rest their ground with less mouths to feed over the leaner months, and the host farms may have grown turnips for this purpose or may have surplus grass to use up before the spring. Our overall flock size seems to fit our ground - there is enough forage for them all and the grassland benefits from the hoggs and the cast ewes living on the in bye in the winter.

Animals and humans alike benefiting from a cold spell. Dry and clear weather, and frosty ground in the mornings. Approaching the shortest day, the bright sunlight gives valued extra daylight.

Duill Cottage is having tiles laid in the kitchen and bathroom - nearly finished thankfully as the Christmas guests arrive soon.

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