After so many months of waiting, the HWE plumber finally came to sort the weeping joints on the wood chip boiler pipework. I think it was more than he had bargained for. Not only did he nearly have to return to Fort William on day one for more fittings (luckily a rummage in Farmer's steading loft uncovered some bits he could use instead), but the boiler house had more leaks than a colander, and at 9.45pm in the evening of day 2 (he was still working) he heard a strange noise in the boiler flue, and when he lifted the air vent flap was mightily surprised to find the piercing eyes of a sooty tawny owl staring at him. Farmer and Daughter were home, and Farmer rescued the poor alarmed bird unharmed. Thankfully the flue pipe was cold as the boiler house pipework was in bits at the time. All credit to the owl saving plumber from HWEnergy for not only did he work until 10pm that night, but he was back the next morning at 9am (day 3), and by the time he left he had replaced every joint in the container. That is nearly the end of the 'snagging'! We only had one night without heating, and the job was timed to happen when the Treshnish cottages were empty.
On Thursday, Farmer had a day trip to Oban. He was there for all of 20 minutes, having left home at 7am, he arrived back at 3.30pm! The old Massey tractor took its last Mull road trip as far as the ferry at Craignure, and was loaded onto a lorry on Oban pier. A quick turn around - as Farmer jumped into the replacement orange one and got on the next ferry home. There will be no problem seeing which field he is working in this summer, as the orange is very bright. After a meeting at the school, we rushed home to see the new (to us) tractor for ourselves, expecting to find Farmer beaming from ear to ear with pleasure now that he finally had a tractor with a radio that works and an air seat to boot. 'Bracken bashing' will be undertaken with renewed vigour this summer I suspect as a result.
Anyway, imagine our dismay when we found Farmer in the yard, emerging from underneath the tractor with no memory of a beaming smile to be found on his face. This long awaited tractor would not start, would not move. Several phone calls and a futile search for the instruction book later, after a calming cup of tea Farmer and assistant mechanic Daughter went up to have another look. Half an hour, peace restored to the farmyard as Farmer found what the problem was and after replacing the missing pin, which had dropped into the mud below the tractor (luckily not onto the 30 miles of road between Treshnish and the ferry), the orange tractor was ready to go again.
Part of the irritation about the tractor not working once he got it home, was tied in with the fact that the new wee digger (also orange) was taken off on a trailer the other day to Salen to be mended..."all that glitters (or is orange) is not gold"....
Builders continue to re-construct the farmhouse, wires dangle from replaced ceilings, plasterboard goes up, more building materials arrive, clocks ticking. We were waiting for the Pavatherm in order to start replacing the old windows on the north side of the house. (a complicated detailing using carefully selected tapes and seals, to cut draughts, aiming to minimise heat loss) The bales of wood fibre insulation arrived on the island just as we discovered that the cill extensions we needed had not arrived with the windows themselves. Oops. A three week delay whilst we wait for them. Exactly the amount of time we have before we move back in. Plenty of time to admire the insulation while we wait. Made from waste wood, easy on the human using it, and easy on the environment. It will stop condensation forming from warmly heated rooms meeting thick stone walls with their historic dampness.
We received a load of hay and straw today, which the new tractor was able to unload with ease. (The reach of the loader means we would be able, in an emergency, finally to lift bags of wood chip high enough to drop into the hopper). The cattle shed is brimming. Enough straw to build a house.
Brownie and one of his mates (Brian?) wait for their feed in the morning. The weather has been mainly glorious. Birdsong with optimism around the bird feeders in the garden, and Jan's belly is filling out as the day for the pups to appear looms ever closer. We are all quite excited but totally unprepared! We are about to first time canine parents. Luckily Jan has had puppies before and clearly enjoys being pregnant. If it is possible for a dog to look happy...
We have had a steady trickle of cottage guests since Christmas, having short breaks and longer stays,enjoying the spring like feel to the weather, and the longer days, whilst the island is still quiet. We were wondering yesterday if the corncrakes born at Haunn last summer will come back and nest here this year. Time will tell.