Saturday, 16 January 2010

Into a new chapter

A January afternoon ray of sunshine coming through the 'polytunnel' in the Treshnish Farm vegetable garden with spiky rugosa hedging in the foreground. Our veg garden has, (in my biased opinion) the most fantastic view over the stone dyke to the sea - Shian and Duill holiday cottages have the same open outlook over to the Island of Coll and beyond.

Sheep work begins again! Six weeks after the tups go out with the ewes, the entire flock is usually brought in, put through the fank, counted and the tups taken out. The tups will spend the rest of the year separate from the ewes. This season, because of the recent extreme weather the tups stayed in longer. The yard and fank were sheet ice until two days ago, so yesterday Farmer did some long awaited sheep work - starting with the in-bye ewes who all received a Cobalt Selenium supplement (we know from soil testing that our ground is deficient in these minerals) and a routine fluke treatment.

And the cattle receive new levels of attention too. The twelve heavily pregnant cows are back inside, enjoying shelter from the storm, in the cattle shed. We usually bring them in before Christmas before they start 'poaching' the ground too badly. Poaching refers to the often deep dents left in the ground by the cattle as their feet sink in to the soft ground underfoot. This can scar the landscape and is difficult to remedy afterwards in an non-intensive way. So we try to avoid them making the mess in the first place by 'bringing them in'.

This winter the cold weather has enabled them to be outdoors a month longer than usual. Luckily for us, on this north west corner of the Isle of Mull, the snow thawed quickly and our stock were able to graze the roughage in several fields deliberately left as a growing 'hay barn' for winter. This has saved us about alot of silage and several big bales of bedding straw. But now, due to start calving in about 2 weeks time, it is great to know they are indoors and easily accessible for calving time.

Looking up Loch Linnhe from Craignure at snow covered Ben Nevis last Friday afternoon. This photograph doesn't really do the scene justice. It was one of those memorable days - a perfect winter's day on Mull.

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