Friday, 30 December 2011

Turning of the tides - and a Happy New Year

This post will be short. Running out of year, before the New one rolls in. Farmer and family are off, before dawn tomorrow, to celebrate Hogmanay with friends and family - a tour round Scotland before school starts again on the 9th. So if there is not a New Year post for a week or so after we get back, please excuse!

The photos on this post are from yesterday (the tin shed near Penmore on its roof - blown out of the ground) and from earlier in the year.

Weather related issues have dogged the last few days. High winds (again and again!). Yet more powercuts! Yesterday's was caused by a fire on a hydro pole between Calgary and Ensay, which burnt through the pole. The hardy team of engineers managed to do a running repair - by lowering the top section above the burned out bit, and bolting it to the rest of the pole, thus securing the line.

Powercuts, coming when you least expect or want them, makes you realise how dependant we all are on electricity. Being connected to the national grid means that the turbine is automatically switched off in a power outage so having our own turbine and solar PV does not mean we are safe from the effects of powercuts - no smug, we are alright thoughts here! But without the electricity the woodchip boiler cannot work either (no controls, no pumps to circulate the heat) and as a result of yesterday's powercut, we discovered last night a safety feature we didn't realise it had - if the power cut comes whilst the boiler is firing, the boiler will 'boil over' and dump the excess hot water on the floor of the boiler room - so that it doesn't damage itself! It soon regulated itself once the power was restored. Thankfully 6 of the cottages have wood burning stoves and we are planning on putting in stoves to the other 2 in the coming year.

Lucky not to lose the 'solardome' greenhouse in our garden in yesterday's blast, as one of the windows blew out, but thankfully the rest of the structure stood up to the challenge.

The grass in the garden has gone yellow, from salt laden wind and excessive rain! Windward side of escallonia hedging salt wind singed and threadbare. Natural selection in the sycamore trees clinging to our garden edge, as dying branch tips hasten to the ground whipped away from tree centre by sudden gusts too strong to withstand.

Lots of candles at the ready for the next powercut - just in case!

The cows are safely in doors - dry and warm, easily fed - as long as you can open the sliding doors. Wrestling with gates in the wind that are almost impossible to open, fighting with feed bags and feeling the full force of battering rain or hail as Farmer goes to feed the hoggs is something else.

The tups are still working but they will be taken out in a week's time, and the ewes will be sent back to the hill once more.

We have had a fairly epic year all in all. Enjoyed almost all of it. Loved alot of it. Hated certain bits of it. And stressed about too much of it. What next year has in store time will tell! We don't expect to win any awards or get quite as much publicity as we got this year. But we will keep on keeping on at what we do - and a few things more than we have done before! 2012 bookings are looking good for a busy season ahead - lots of repeat guests which is always lovely, and some new faces too who we look forward to meeting.

During the coming farming year, we will be monitoring the fields and seeing how the new grazing management is affecting the bio-diversity, we will hopefully be doing something clever with excess wind power heating water for the district heating - and we will look forward to welcoming some of you here in the coming year. Happy New Year!!!

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