Wednesday, 8 February 2012

reducing, renewing and making

Making: Farmer is a big fan of small batch or homemade marmalade - his particular favourite is made on Mull by Gremlin who lives along the stunning Loch Tuath coastline overlooking Ulva, just over the hill from Treshnish, and the other (which he doesn't get to eat as often as he would like) is made by Anna and Norrie at Ard-dariach, in Lochaber. Something is afoot though. But....guess what I was given for Christmas? A full on, all singing, all dancing proper jampot. And guess who came back from a trip to Oban with all the jam/preserving sugar he could get his hands on yesterday? Hmmm.

Renewing: We have had a spell of lovely still sunny and dry weather. Great that it coincided with Andrea and Jon from the Green Tourism Business Scheme coming to stay in one of our cottages! They came over to speak at 2 eco/green tourism conferences being held by Holiday Mull, our local tourism marketing group. I was involved in suggesting who might speak at these events, and who might come along to act as exemplar 'local heros' for the workshops. Lots of ideas came out of both conferences, about Visitor charters, Eco charters, 'greening' the islands, improving public transport and so on. Andrea was a great speaker, full of facts and figures, but inspiring, light and positive at the same time.

The next day they took their stand to the Sustainable Mull and Iona Renewables Fair*, and accepted their first new GTBS member! After their 3 day GTBS working weekend, there was time for one day off before they headed back to Perthshire on Monday. So it was great - the weather was good, they were able to explore Treshnish a bit - and they had 6 white tailed sea eagle sightings in one walk - along the coast beyond Port Haunn!

Prasad has been seeing the eagles alot too, as well as pretty white Iceland Gulls, so keep up with his blog for details of his sightings and some lovely photographs of buzzards tumbling.

On the farm, we are waiting for the first calves to be borne. The bull is waiting for a visit from the locum vet, as he looks a bit under the weather and has a blue-ish cast to his eyes, so we want to make sure he is okay. As Farmer was away during the day yesterday, I went to check the cows at lunchtime. They had finished the silage that was within reach of them. The sides of the feed passage were bare. I forked the silage from the middle into the sides. Slowly the cows all came to eat, and the bull seemed to be enjoying his - he moans appreciatively as he chews. No calves yet.

Reducing: It has been a busy theory week at Treshnish. We are trying to come up with a less electricity-dependant way of heating Toechtamhor. I hate storage heaters. I feel there is a conspiracy between the electricity companies and the manufacturers. The heaters have a thermostat that we cannot change which governs the minimum heat. So it means we cannot leave the heaters on low during the winter, as their idea and our idea of low is about 8 degrees apart, and goodness knows how many £s apart. We have been busily researching alsorts of things - air source heat pumps, air to air, air to water, ground source heat pumps, RHI, FIT, CoP, panel heaters, pellet boilers, pellet stoves and as yet none the wiser. (Will keep you posted!)

I am going to publish this unfinished blog, in order that I can start the next one, as this one is almost old news, given that I started it a week ago.

*Alastair McIntosh was keynote speaker at the Renewables Fair, and it was wonderful to hear him talk. He spoke of the potential power of communities on all levels - having been involved with the setting up of the Ulva School Community Association, and acting as USCA Convenor at the moment, it rang true in many ways!
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