Sunday, 19 June 2011

School visits, shearing, sunshine and starlings

Nearly a week has gone by since the last post, and it is the longest day of the year tomorrow. Today we woke to sunshine and it has been one of those still blue sky days, with little to no wind, and birdsong the noisiest thing around. Daughter was excited because the school were coming to the farm today, no need to manically watch the clock as they weren't going to arrive until 10 am.

I cannot resist the sight of the fragrant orchid, milkwort and birds foot trefoil. Such a good colour combination.

Giant orchid specimen found by the 2 P6s at Haunn.

At Ulva School the subject of the current Personal Research Unit (the P.R.U.) is Renewables. Hence the visit. Each pupil chooses a different topic to research on their own. Daughter has chosen wind turbines. No excuse then not to get a good mark.

Trying to simplify biomass heating schemes and wind generation to 5 and 6 year olds level is hard enough, but I realised when trying to talk about the PV panels I really have little clue as to how they work. I just know they do. I think I managed to gloss over my ignorance! Anyway, surprisingly pertinent questions and we got 7 out of 8 of the children hugging the turbine. We respect differences of opinion here, and wind turbines certainly bring about polarity in opinion!

Whilst showing the pupils the turbine, Farmer was alarmed to find a spring poking out of the ground. It has come off the turbine. We have contacted the installers and were advised to put the brake on the turbine and await instructions. Proven will want photographs etc so that they can fix it under warranty. I am glad no one was standing underneath when it broke off. Guess it happened in the gales a month ago. You can see the earthy end of it where it had been thrust into the ground.

With the brake on, the blades are still.

Having got the technical stuff out of the way, Farmer drove us down to the Haunn field on the tractor and trailer so that we could show the children the abundant wild flowers there. The sun was still shining and felt warm on our faces. Buttercup, pignut, northern marsh orchid, butterfly orchid, fragrant orchid, ragged robin, eyebright, speedwell, mint, forget me not, heath bedstraw..and more that I have forgotten already. Wonderful scene, children dashing from find to find, hopefully stepping carefully and avoiding crushing the stems of hidden orchids.

Farmer is suffering. Whether it was due to months of fetching and carrying for the builders or the rigours of doing the cycle for the schools, but Farmer's back is playing up and has been for weeks and weeks. Not one who is happy idle, and not one who can let others do his work easily, he is a difficult patient. (I can say this because he doesn't ever read the blog). But with the school holidays looming (two weeks left of term) we are hoping to lure him away from the temptation of physical work and remove him to Barra. We are hoping for a calmer crossing this year as neither Daughter or I have forgotten the northward journey of last year.

Yesterday I went to a poetry reading at Ardtornish on Morvern, part of an event hosted by the Andrew Raven Memorial Trust. The poet was Thomas A Clark. It was a fantastic experience. The 'theme' was Paths, and he read from several books, some long and others short. The memorable one for me was as if walking on a Hebridean island, on the machair; beautifully crafted words painting evocative images of walks across the machair, of the wild flowers, of movement of light and water.

Weeding the polytunnel unearthed a rare sight. A mother hedgehog suckling her young. Her nest of grasses and weeds was so well hidden.

Starlings gathering in the Park last night. They seem to like following the gimmers.

The tups (above) and the hoggs (now gimmers) were shorn on Saturday. The zwartble cross shetlands look like goats without their wool.

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