Happy New Year! We hope that you have had a happy and peaceful festive season and that the year ahead brings good times, health and happiness as well as great holidays.
Treshnish has quietened down, after what turned out to be a busy festive season after all. I was worried that no one would brave the potential weather event situations, and that the cottages would be empty. But in fact we had a full house, all bar one cottage, and from all accounts everyone had a lovely time despite the storms and the powercuts!
Farmer and family left on Hogmanay and drove through pelting rain to Dumfries and Galloway. There was very little traffic, just lots of rain and plenty of puddles particularly on the twisty road between Crianlarich and Tarbet, Loch Lomond. It was certainly a damp end to the year but we woke up on New Year's Day to brilliant sunshine. The sculpture below is a Matt Baker from Dumfries-shire where we saw in the New Year.
Over the next few days we visited friends and family across Scotland, making up for months of being at home almost alone (!), and I have to confess that we did also succumb to the advertising around 2 of Edinburgh's newest residents. Controversial as zoos are, Daughter was keen to see the pandas, so with species conservation in our minds as our 'excuse', we spent a morning at Edinburgh Zoo. I am afraid that despite my mixed feelings about wild animals in enclosures, I felt a little bit of excitement in seeing these rare animals in close range.
We caught the ferry back last Sunday afternoon, and it felt as if we were definitely past the shortest day as we drove off the ferry at 4.45pm there was still a little streak of light in the sky.
It was sad to see the damage along the way from the storms that have affected the whole of Scotland at various times over the last few weeks. I felt particularly affected by the loss of familiar single trees in the middle of fields or along hedgerows, which have been struck down by the wind, tell tale limbs lying on the ground their bright wounds exposed, or worse - trees lying prostrate on the ground, skyward root plates and branches reaching out horizontally. Landscapes suddenly changed by the force of nature - take nothing for granted - things do change.
And on Monday we woke to sunshine! It seemed like a long time since we have enjoyed that experience. The novelty of seeing shadows. And at night the moon has been so bright. On Radio Scotland in the morning, the traffic news includes disruptions to the Leverburgh crossing to Berneray because of the low tides. I love hearing that.
The winds over the last months have meant that the turbine has been working hard. We are nearly at 30,000 kWh now. This is about 30% more than we generated in the same 3 months last winter. (I suppose that means we are lucky that we have only lost one shed roof and some slates!)
The first snowdrops. Short but a nice sign of spring! Farmer has moved the bird feeders away from the grass so that they hang from the sycamore branches. This means that the hens who loiter and graze the fallen wheat at the foot of the bird table/feeder are now scratching around in the deadened long grass under the trees rather than creating muddy patches in the 'lawn' that take months to recover! The hens don't seem to mind.
Farmer and Jamie have been taking advantage of the dry bright day to take the tups out. The ewes were given cobalt and selenium, and sent back to the hill. The tups are now grazing in the field by the house - I get a fright catching sight of the bright orange and red warpaint Farmer marked them with at the start of lambing.
Lots of deer around just now too. I had to go to Oban on Thursday for an USCA related meeting, and saw more deer than humans or cars on the Treshnish to Salen part of the journey. (20+ miles) Deer 4 - Cars 1. Between Treshnish and Calgary, there were 2 hinds grazing just beside the road. They gracefully calmly crossed in front of me, and swiftly disappeared up the hill above the road. A pair of stags grazed in an area of young woodland, having confidently mastered the knack of crossing wires and fences designed to deter them. Coming home in the dark, the field beside Calgary graveyard had lots of deer grazing.
This tin shelter near Dervaig was thrown on its roof in between Christmas and New Year, and hit again by the wind while we were away. The bare earth that had been the floor of the shelter now open to the skies, and beside an upturned rusting wheel barrow, a hoard of empty hazel nut shells.
Below is one of our farming neighbour's handsome Shorthorn bull enjoying the sun near Calgary.
Routine maintenence is underway in the cottages. Farmer is catching up on the chores around the place. Daughter back at school. USCA and Treshnish compete for my attention - in a good way. Prasad has been seeing the big 3 alot. Cottages are booking up fast. The winter rhythm. And every day the sun rises a couple of minutes earlier and sets a minute later than the day before, which by the end of January will have made a significant difference to life!