Thursday, 27 October 2011

A quick catch up on the news.

Sorry, it has been a few weeks since my last posting. We had a week's holiday (a very wet one), up in Wester Ross at Shieldaig. We stayed in a cottage overlooking the loch and its Caledonian pine covered island with resident sea eagles. The cottage was bright and had lovely views - when you could see them through the sheets of rain being flung at the large picture windows! It was very well equipped with every appliance you could possibly wish for, and more than we knew how to use, but we were shocked when it dawned on us that we had chosen a cottage which didn't seem to have thought in any way whatsoever about the environment despite being right on the sea - it had the largest range of chemical cleaning products I have seen outside a supermarket - things I had never encountered before and had not known existed! Not a bottle of Ecover or Bio-D to be seen, no compost bin, no recycling encouragements...

I have to take full responsibility for our non green cottage choice. I was blinded by the need for south facing light and big windows - for the convalescent farmer to look out of whilst Daughter and I went off exploring. I did not take eco credentials, or lack of them, into account. I had looked on Green Traveller, Organic Holidays and GTBS websites but there wasn't an eco/green self catering cottage in Shieldaig that I could see, and this was where we wanted to be. I will be more careful next time as to where I choose!

Access to the Shieldaig cottage was along a path from where you could leave the car, and the cottage came complete with its own wheelbarrow for carrying your luggage (very sensible). Daughter and I quite enjoyed the unloading the car process (it was dry luckily at that point!) - navigating a plank bridge with a wheelbarrow precariously loaded with our bags! We had a really good holiday despite the rain and wind, did lots of resting and reading, and managed a few short walks with Farmer who was enjoying the novelty of walking without pain for the first time in 6 months.

One day we re-visited the decaying salmon fishing station at Redpoint, walking through the biggest puddles to get there, and through a lovely herd of cows already enjoying some winter feed on the edge of the pinky sand beach. (I will put some photos on the tinsheds blog over the next few days). Another day, we went over the high road to Applecross - the temperature gauge on the car went 7 degrees at sea level to 1.5 degrees at the top and we experienced our first snow of the winter. (gulp)

Farmer is making progress. Every now and then he does too much and has to retreat back to sick bay for a rest, but all in all, he is pleased with the lack of pain and can walk a couple of miles now which is a huge improvement on how he was, and a great relief. Thank you to everyone who has been asking after him!

I would be lying if I said we were having a perfectly normal autumn. A neighbour reckons there has not been one day without rain in the last 6 weeks - fairly grim at times, but when the sun comes out you forget the wet days.

It has been a quiet time on the farm. With the lambs and calves sold, and only a few stragglers still to sell, the silage is made, (some still in the field as it has been too wet to take a tractor in to collect it), new tups settling in with the others, and holiday cottages not fully occupied this week for the first time since March. We have a few short breaks coming over the next few weeks - enjoying the quiet of the island as it turns inward for winter.

Some colour in the field beyond the cattle building.

I do not tire of the view of Shian and Duill - standing out so white with Calgary and Caliach headlands behind them.

The windy aspect of the bad weather in recent weeks has been great for the turbine. It has passed 25,000 units now and is heading for 26,000! We had to phone Turbine Services last week as the box housing the generation meter was making a serious din. We wondered if it was over-worked and with the new owners of Proven not taking responsibility for the warranties on previous turbines we were a little worried we would be in for something expensive. Thankfully all it needed was to be shut down for 10 minutes, and then turned on again!

The knock on effect of winning the RSPB Nature of Farming Awards 2011, and the huge amount of publicity that brought, has been that we are getting booked up for next year much earlier than usual. This is wonderful for us, but not so great for those regulars who want to book and find that we are already booked for the time they want to come. We are even taking bookings for 2013!

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