Saturday, 30 July 2011

Q. How large is a Zwartble brain? A. Alot smaller than his ears.

One of the Farmer's summer jobs is to scythe the thistles, after they have flowered but before they seed. This year with the sciatica problem, the thistles have won and the seed is set.

Last year's pet lamb Brownie has been causing problems this last fortnight. He has started looking at the grass on the other side of the fence, despite the deep and lush grass on his side. He pokes his head through the square rylock stock fence, and then doesn't think to reverse his head out again, but stays there - stuck - until someone hears him bleating. It is a completely unnecessary action as the field has plenty of grass, but thankfully none of the rest of the gimmers or wedders seem to need to do the same (thankfully). However it causes great concern amongst guests and passers-by and he is frequently being rescued.

This years pet lamb Charlie is only slightly less troublesome. Whilst we were away on Barra he developed the need to headbutt humans in the leg or foot, and 'jump up' like a dog. We have turfed him into the field of gimmers and wedders now so he can learn to be more sheep-normal.

Matt Baker's Seabone - grassy view.

At Killiechronan yesterday, children riding on the beach.

The first perfect Grass of Parnassus in Black Park.

And carpets of Bog Asphodel.

The perfect combination of Wood Sage and Harebell. We have had lots of communication re the RSPB Nature of Farming Awards this week. Mentions on Twitter, on Facebook, in the Scottish Farmer, and lots of kind comments and pledges to vote for us from guests and friends which is much appreciated!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Treshnish asks for help to spread the word.

I am not ungrateful. I had a wonderful holiday. But it went so quickly and there is so much going on now we are home. And the tapestry for wild flowers continues to unfurl its magic as the summer days roll through July. (all the flower photographs in this post were taken this week on the farm)

Barra weather was kind to us, as the Mull weather was kind to Treshnish in our absence. Family time. Sunshine. Pyramidal orchids. Six spot burnet moths. Delicious curry at Cafe Kisimul (twice). Sheila's home made ice creams. Meadowsweet. Bliss. Little boys playing cowboys with pistols. The Fisherman's Mass. An altar on a lorry, and fishing boats decked out in bunting and flags. Bagpipes. Wonderfully mad men in fast cumbersome fishing boats sardine packed full of relations and visitors racing across the Castle Bay like dodgem cars on a silvery water track. Beaches. Older girls with boogie boards. Waves. Sandcastles. More relaxed bliss.

But then Farmer's back gave out, the chronic sciatica became acute and we had to get the doctor in, and he came home lying flat in the boot of our very long car. We sent our bicycles home in a Barratlantic lorry to make more room for him. (they ended up in Glasgow rather than Oban but that is another story).

Imagine staying in a cottage that has a steep path and no vehicular access between you and the lay-by where the car is parked, with someone who can suddenly temporarily no longer walk. It was a worrying few days to say the least. But perhaps because we rarely go to the doctor we had underestimated the power of the pill. Woozy he may have been and very wobbly, but slow step by slow step Farmer hobbled on a pair of crutches up to the car, watched by the relaxed herd of cows and calves who were grazing around the cottage for most of our stay.

The long ferry journey for home left at 6.30pm and got us calmly into Oban just before midnight. Farmer lay on the floor for most of the journey whilst I strained my eyes unsuccessfully looking for recognisable shapes of land in the grey and wet gloom.

Home for a few days. Then Glasgow, seats down lying flat out in the back of the car. For MRI. Then appt. with Neurosurgeon. And home again. Prognosis is good. More targeted pain relief should make a difference and a chance of an operation in mid September. What happens after that is anyone's guess at the moment. Too early to know.

Last year when we were applying for SRDP funding for environmental measures, we spent a great afternoon in the company of Dr Tom Prescott (Butterfly Conservation Scotland) walking through the in-bye fields looking at a variety of flowers, butterflies and birds. At the end of the afternoon Tom suggested we should enter the farming conservation awards. This, in itself, was a huge boost to us. Between us, Prasad and I wrote the application for the RSPB Nature of Farming Awards and I sent it off. I never thought for a moment we had a chance of getting anywhere. So last month it was a enormous surprise to get a call from Dan at RSPB in Glasgow to say that we were the Scottish winner. Hence the photo of us at the Highland Show collecting the Award on the RSPB stand in an earlier posting.

And now it seems even more incredulous - we are one of the 4 UK finalists now!!! And the winner is the farm which gets the most votes from the general public! The other 3 farmers all farm in England - Shropshire, Wiltshire and Hertfordshire. Katie in the Glasgow RSPB office suggested that I posted this on our blog so that I could drum up more votes - which only shows they hadn't looked at the stats for the farm blog!

Anyway here are the details and it would be wonderful if you felt we deserved your vote. You can either vote online or by telephone or by voting card. (I will be sent some to hand out I think but haven't got them yet!) Vote here online or by telephoning this number: 0870 601 0215. Voting ends on the 31st August. Winner announced mid September.

Grateful to the many folk from around and about who are helping out at the moment. The 'Contractors' are looking after the sheep and cows. Jamie is doing the topping and bracken mowing in the lovely orange tractor. Brian is mowing the gardens lawns.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Farmer is our Local Hero.

Farmer was nominated as Mike Russell's Local Hero after his (heroic) cycle ride from school to school in May. Local Heros are invited to participate in the Riding Procession at the opening of the new session of Parliament. This was a great day. I felt very moved and proud.

We were very well looked after - Michael Russell (our MSP, and Education Minister) and his wife Cathleen gave us a wonderful guided tour round the Parliament Building and introduced us to many people.

I don't have time to write much about it as it is 2 in the morning and I have to pack for Barra! So here are some pictures and I am sorry I can't write more just now.

At the Start. ARSN and Section 2 badges

Waiting for the off.

Here comes integrity or was it compassion?

More waiting.

Dollar Academy Pipe Band

Crowds line street in places. Residents lean out of windows.

Lunch for 1200 plus.


Looking out from Ministerial Offices.

With First Minister Alec Salmond and Education Minister Michael Russell
eXTReMe Tracker