Sunday, 1 May 2011

Sunshine and no showers - yet

Marsh Marigolds down by the boathouse.

The 60 Cheviot Gimmers, lambing for the first time, are nearly finished lambing. Early evening sees teams of 'little angels' playing together, jumping down rock faces and kicking up their hind legs.

Rockpools reflections in evening light, looking back into Calgary Bay and towards the Beach.

We are getting to grips with the new management programme for Conservation. It is quite complicated having done things for 15 years in a certain way, to suddenly have different dates and grazing rhythms with complicated stocking densities to remember. When we walked round the farm last summer with Dr Tom Prescott from Butterfly Conservation Scotland, he was keen to help us get the right system in place to continue to improve the quality of the bio-diversity on our fields. And it all seemed quite flexible whilst we walked through fields knee deep in flowers. But as soon as you sign on the dotted line it becomes inflexible and we have to hope, at this stage, that we have got it right! Time will tell, and a review is built into the 5 year scheme anyway.

Water Avens, by the old boathouse.

Beltane is the day each year when the bull goes out. This means that the separation is ended and he runs with the cows for the next few months. On Tuesday our older cows go to Market in Oban. We are selling 4 cows, 2 of them with this year's calves. One of the cows is one of our first home bred cows - No 7. The others are Highland Shorthorn crosses we bought from one of our neighbours. It will be sad to see them go, and the dynamic of the herd will change without them. It will take a while for the new order to establish.

Loading the cows into the lorry Tuesday morning.

In March, in Berlin, at the inaugural VESTAs European Sustainable Tourism Awards, we were chosen as one of 6 'Outstanding Examples' of European Sustainable Tourism in the Accommodation Category! We are chuffed to bits with this recognition - we were nominated by Visit Scotland after the Thistle Awards last year, but never thought a small business such as ours would have a chance on a European level - still can't quite believe we have! We did not travel to the Reception in Berlin - too far to go for just one evening we felt.

I have just bought sleeper tickets for our trip to London Green Tourism Week in June though! We were told in February that we had been shortlisted for the GTBS Gold Star Awards, and a couple of weeks ago, we were told that we are now one of the Finalists! The email informing us of this great bit of news said that we are "now officially one of the top 2% of Green Tourism Businesses in UK and Ireland" - so that feels pretty good too. No pressure then... The winners are announced at a Reception at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, and we decided this time to go - as we can do the whole journey effortlessly by train. Quite excited about being in London for a day.

Tractor in garden - again. Thank Goodness it is dry.

Work continues apace on the office extension. The bulk of the woodfibre insulation arrived before Easter, and the roof pitches were fully insulated and covered in 2 very long days. The second of which our builder was on his own, so ably assisted later in the day by Farmer.

Today has been one of those incredible days, when I feel more than lucky to live here. We sat having a mug of tea in the sunshine outside the back door this afternoon, looking at the bluest of blue skies, clear air, fresh luminous green leaves on young trees we planted a few years ago, birds singing, swallows diving, breeze blowing. The weather today so very different from one of those dark winter days when the sky barely lights up at all, with wind howling, and rain pouring. So very different as to feel like a parallel world. Perhaps we wouldn't appreciate days like today so much if we didn't have the wild wet wintery days to remember.

The number of lambs is increasing and we are slowly finding homes for the puppies. Daughter, Friend and I delivered one to Lochgilphead on Friday, thinking we would avoid the traffic, but forgetting about the Mull Music Festival and ending up having to drive a very long way as the Oban boats were all full for the way back! Stopped at Kilmartin House Museum which is a great little museum and the girls enjoyed re-visiting the museum and we had lunch. Daughter has made a very mature decision (with no arm twisting) not to keep a puppy so we still have that one (girl) and one other (boy) to find homes for... do get in touch via the website if you can give either a home. A working home would be preferred but a good family home will also do!

Thrift, below the Treshnish Cottages.

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