Friday, 17 December 2010

Road repairs, snow and starlings

Whilst the rest of the country suffered the snows over the last few weeks, we escaped it all. So there was a little gentle excitement in this snowball loving household when it started to snow yesterday afternoon as it was getting dark.

During the evening, the wind got up and we had some impressive blasts before I fell asleep, with hail stones being hurled against the windows, sounding more like rapidly fired pebbles than hail. It never ceases to amaze me that during a gale we can feel the floors upstairs move in the wind - in a house with 2 foot thick walls. Good job we are sorting out the draughts and replacing dodgy windows in the New Year.

Daylight reveals the usual smattering of snow at Treshnish compared to heavier falls elsewhere but some great vertical accumulations up the windows of the house. (On Christmas Day morning 1995 we woke up and looked out of the north facing windows of the house to a total whiteout, and thinking it was foggy, Farmer opened the window and a wall of snow tumbled in to the room.)

School has been cancelled today, and therefore the Christmas party this evening. School closures meetings etc have kept me from the camera so not many pics on this posting. Morale fluctuates from high to low. Mike Russell (the Education Minister) visited the school on Monday. Pupils interviewed him as part of a project they are doing about the World of Work. His visit was a high point in amongst the lows, as he is a charismatic man and made us all feel more positive.

The metre long bird feeder was at a jaunty angle this morning blown sideways by the wind. Over the last week or so we have had a few extra visitors - two cock pheasants and a small flock of starlings. The two pheasants try and chase off the smaller birds on the ground - generally unsuccessfully, but the starlings are tending to dominate the feeders which is difficult for the other regulars who are not getting their fair share.

One of the main jobs at this time of year is ensuring that the nutrition of the animals is kept at the right level. Whilst there is plenty of foggage (grass left standing) in the fields and on the hill, it is of a much lower nutritional value than in the summer. The cows are on the hill at the moment and have been grazing right out away from their morning feed area - ranging the hill, and last night they will have gone to the south side of the hill to find shelter from the cold north blasts. So Farmer has to wait for them to come back to the troughs - if he goes at first light, they are nowhere to be seen.

The ewes are still with the tups in the fields, so if the snow stays it is easy to get supplementary feed to them. The hoggs are indoors in the cattle shed enjoying the kinder option. And Farmer is enjoying not having to pull them out from the brambles.

West and East have new wood burning stoves so they will be cosy for our Christmas guests. Perhaps we should move down there ourselves as the Farmhouse is still without central heating.

That is the snow on again - completely white out there now.
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