Monday, 5 September 2011

That time of year again

The blog has been a bit quiet of late. The whole voting thing for the RSPB Nature of Farming Awards was exhausting and I was very glad when the deadline was over, and we could see beyond. We were touched by the huge amount of support and encouragement we received from so many people - from guests past, present and future, from strangers, from old friends, from neighbours, from all over the place. That is the big win as far as I am concerned, for that felt very special. Enough said!

The initial forecast for today looked dull and damp but actually it has been sunny and beautifully warm. Lots of bees enjoying the sweet nectar from vibrant montbretia by the garden wall, and dangling fuschia flowers. They seemed to ignore the hydrangea but I couldn't, and the kidney vetch in flower and in seed pod.

It was warm enough to feel like a fine Scottish summer day, but activity was definitely autumnal. The big sale at Oban Market tomorrow means lots of farmers would be sorting their lambs today. It is harvest time in the fank. Selecting the hoggs (ewe lambs) to keep for breeding, selecting the lambs for sale, taking off the 'cast ewes', ear-tagging the lambs, making sure everything going on the lorry has the right ear-tag, the right paperwork - as well as all the medicines needed and making sure the paperwork is in order. Lots of pens with different lots in them.

Thankfully, with Farmer out of action, we had the tireless help of the local Contractors today, who worked a 12 hour day and came in smiling at the end of it all with the list of how many there were to sell now, to sell later and not to sell at all. And Jamie came along when he could, to lend a hand. Farmer still managed to sneak into the cattle shed and move some hurdles to make the cattle pens into a lamb proof jail overnight.

Daughter tested out the memory of her past pet lambs - aided by a small amount of sheep food - soon had a stampede of Alice, Brownie, Breeze, Agatha, Brian (and the rest) almost knocking her over to get at the bucket. Suffice to say, they remembered her. Or the winter feeding regime. One of the two. But all so very much tamer than the hill ewes who would not be nearly so brave! (Above are Agatha and Alice) (Below is Brian) (And below that Breeze)

The sheep had all been gathered in last week, to the Park - the big field around the cattle shed. It is green and grassy so plenty for them all to eat prior to today. As soon as the ewes had been through the fank, they were put back onto the hill, and for a while they hover near the hill fence - torn between wanting to get back to their regular 'heft' and wanting to find their lambs.

Last week with family staying Farmer managed to fire up the Dutch Oven again, for a delicious beef stew.

The last photograph today is of the peeling paint on the rusting gate post at the corner of our garden.

A storm is getting up now - it has been well forecast in advance and we are prepared for high winds and rain. In between bouts of wind and rain against the farm house window in the dark, I can hear the plaintive bleating of ewes for their lambs. I hope the ferry isnt cancelled.

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