Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Another gentle week of weather passes

Chores, so much easier in the sun

I read in the Raasay blog I follow, recent weather described as 'boringly beautiful', and I know what he means in a way - we are becoming so used to waking up to lovely spring like sunshine every morning.  It makes doing the outdoor chores so much easier.  The lying snow finally all but disappeared last Friday - and the burn beside our house raged all day as the snow melt flooded down off the hill.  It was suddenly warm.  Sitting in the sun warm.  Taking off winter thick coats warm.  And the hill road between Dervaig and Torloisk was re-opened as the snow drifts blocking the road melted away.  There are still patches of snow lying though, giving the hill above Ensay a layered chequered look.

Heifers chase the bag

Work on the farm has taken on a snappier pace as if spring is in the step.  It is time to plan the pre-lambing gather when the ewes have their annual worm treatment, making sure we have the right medicines and lambing aids for lambing.  Although we are no longer certified organic (see this posting for explanation) we still follow the philosophy we used when we were.   The ewes had a routine annual pre lambing worm drench so that they were clear of any possible worm infection before they lamb.

In amongst all the regular farm work the dreaded water works have finally started to happen.  Plumber, Builder, Farmer and Excavator Operator were busy in the sunshine doing the necessary ground work for the water supply above Haunn, to keep the EU water regulations happy - digging trenches down heathery hillsides, laying new pipe, lugging huge new water tanks up hill, making a mess of the field, siting the home made insulated boxes to house the filtration system ...and the rest.

Farmer needs rails for small bits of fencing around the farm so we stole off to Croig one sunny morning, to look at larch rails locally produced from the community woodland timber.   A heron stood still by the jetty, and a sea eagle flew over our heads.  One of those Mull moments of being in the right place at the right time.

A Croig heron

It has been a quiet period for the wind turbine - alot of down time due to the lack of wind!     We have generated 5390 units to date, in the 21weeks since it was installed.  The estimated annual generation figure for our location and this size of turbine is 10,000kW a year.  We had imagined that we would generate the majority of that over the darkest bit of winter..but not this winter!

There are 3 cows left to calve.  And 9 shiny, inquisitive black and dun calves are beginning to team up and play.   They have been enjoying the best of both worlds - sunshine outside in the day time and coming indoors to the straw bedded cattle shed at night.    
                                                          Meg, the elderly Beardie

Our dogs usually know to be wary of the naturally protective instinct cow-mothers have towards their calves.   The farm dogs seem to know instinctively to creep round the edge of the field out of their way.  But the other day our aged and deaf beardie Meg decided to hide behind me instead when we were walking back to the farm from Haunn.  The cow nearest the track started to approach us in a fairly unfriendly way!    It was interesting to say the least trying to shout at the hard of hearing Meg for her to get away while the cow-mother kept on coming towards us.  Thankfully Meg decided to run past me and off out of the field, the cow-mother's attention turned immediately to chasing her and the moment of danger was passed as Meg sped out of harms way at which point, the cow went back to her calf.  

It was a useful reminder that cows are not interested in humans walking through them and their calves, but they really do not like dogs.   We have the proper signage up on the gate into that field warning 'path users' that under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code they should not take dogs into fields with young stock, and this is a fine example of why.  I should have known better.

We keep seeing a group of about a dozen stags on the Sitheans.  I disturbed them in the snowy walk to Crackaig a couple of weeks ago, and they have been up there alot since then.  You can pick out their heads and antlers against the skyline in the sharp light as sun begins to fall in the afternoon.  
eXTReMe Tracker