Sunday, 27 May 2012

Sand, sun, seaweed and counting lambs

The weather this week has continued to get hotter and hotter. Planned farm work has been done in accordance with the thermometer which at times has reached 29.6 degrees (in the shade).

With a flock of in-bye sheep like our Cheviots and the dozen Zwarbtle crosses, who live all year round on the fields and do not have the open extensive hill to graze, it is really important to ensure that they are protected against the infections that are present in the in-bye grassland. So despite the heat, the ewes and lambs needed to come up to the park, and be put through the fank. Avoiding the heat in the middle of the day, the lambs were vaccinated and ewes and lambs were protected against fly and tick. This is when the Farmer is able to really tell how lambing has been - as he counts the lambs that go through the fank. Last year was the first year that the cheviots lambed as gimmers, when they are more likely to have single lambs. This year our lambing percentage has noticeably increased on last year, so Farmer was quietly and modestly very pleased (indeed). The hill lambs won't be gathered for another couple of weeks, so we won't have a final figure until they have been put through.

And after the working day, in this weather, the beach at Calgary has called us down a few times.

The sea has been calm, calm and seriously blue. Farmer did swim and said it was very very cold despite the temperature on the car reading 29.6 degrees at 6.30pm!!

Buttercups glistening in the sun on the machair.

Even when the beach is busy, there is a feeling of space.

And the water so clear, although there is a lot of fresh seaweed, washing up along the tideline, and I wondered if it has anything to do with the boats which have been dredging the seabed recently out at the end of the bay.

The tups will be sheared soon along with the hoggs, and any eild ewes (who haven't had a lamb).

Lots of interesting wildlife has been seen too this week. Prasad spotted a Red Kite yesterday, and also a Red-backed Shrike. This morning a Short Eared Owl hunted in front of the farmhouse, and up above the steading later on, the sun catching its wings in its distinctive faltering flight. We are seeing them so much this year - and each sighting as special as the first.

Enjoying the sun while we can. Al fresco meal outdoors.

Post sunset skies are so magical. The views from Shian and Duill particularly this time of year looking straight out on this. Light enough to walk down and back up from the boathouse beach without even thinking about taking a torch.

The baby rabbits are growing fast.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Celebrating the spring

It is difficult to be indoors when the weather is this good. So please excuse the light on words blog this week!

On the farm, Jamie has been helping with the field work, and cleaning out the cattle shed. This saves Farmer's back, which does not like the tractor at all. Next week, the in-bye ewes and lambs will come in for marking. Planning dates for shearing hoggs and eild ewes. (those who did not have lambs). We expect the eild numbers to be higher this year, as although the ewes were in good condition in January, the winter has been hard on them.

Leaves are just beginning to show on the sycamores round the farmhouse. Sometimes at this time of year we can have strong winds, but the forecast for the next week or so is pretty good and calm, and so we are hoping the blossom on the apple trees is safe.

Burns are running dry.

Wild flowers are moving from 'spring' into summer, with bog cotton, common orchid, early purple orchid, birds foot trefoil, milkwort, lousewort, butterwort, flag iris and water avens. We are still enjoying huge clumps of king cup though!

In the garden the comfrey is attracting lots of bees.

On a walk to the Sitheans the other night, we disturbed a snipe - and found this where it had lifted up from. Don't know if this was plundered or whether the young had fledged. (hopefully the latter). I have been hearing lots of snipe drumming near our house.

Bluebells still strong.

Silvery sun.

A broody hen in my flowerpot.

We found the remains of a curlew on the hill. Feathers everywhere. I know it is Nature doing its thing, but it had been attacked by something bigger than itself and it was sad to think we had lost one of 'our' curlews. I so love seeing them and hearing them. I was surprised by the length of its beak.

Time to get the rotovator out.

Farmer and I took off to Lochaline yesterday to meet some friends for a delicious lunch at the Whitehouse. Sensibly they have a special 2 course lunch deal! Prince Edward was also visiting Lochaline and this was his reception committee.

Away with the camo look, and welcome to the beacon look. A replacement 'buggy'. Will be easier to spot Farmer now!

The cockerel.

Lots of water avens at the side of the burn by the house.

I can hear Farmer calling the cows. Someone had left a gate open so they were in the Haunn cottages gardens this morning.

And these 3 are getting more difficult for one person to feed on their own. Need 3 hands.


Common orchid.

The Park dyke.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Sea thrift, rotten teeth, bluebells and full tummies

The in-bye ewes finished lambing quite quickly, and the hill ewes don't seem to have produced any lambs for a few days now, so Jamie has started coming every other day, and in between Farmer is getting out with Cap and Jan to check the hill for trouble in between Jamie's visits. We are still having pretty good (i.e dry) weather, but it hasn't warmed up, so the grass has not really started to come yet. At this time of year, in a season like this, Farmer wishes he didn't have the Cheviots and the Zwartbles on the in-bye as they are munching grass which the cows could be eating! With the SRDP grazing management in place, it is a question of juggling the grazing to make sure there is enough grass for everyone as well as meeting the criteria contained in the management agreement so that we are keeping on the right side of the law, as it were.

For those of you who haven't done the stunning Treshnish headland walk, this open sided enclosure (above) is at the bottom of the path leading down from the Wooden Gate just beyond the Haunn Cottages. It is a useful place to leave a ewe and her lamb if you need to keep an eye on them. You can put a hurdle across the front easily enough and then you have got a wee pen ready to use.

If you are squeamish you may want to look away from the next photo - fish skull found at Port Haunn, showing a fine set of fine teeth.

It has been a while since we have dropped down onto sea level at Port Haunn, to check out the driftwood and sit in the sun a while. It was lovely to see that some anonymous walkers have been gathering up some of the plastic on the beach, and hiding it from further winds in another stone enclosure. Gone are the days when beach combing meant lovely worn wooden fishboxes.

Looking down to Gometra.

Looking over to Tiree.

Rock rose.

And towards Gometra again.

No 216. The calves are growing well.

Full tummies for the lambs.

Through the Atlantic Hazel woodland. Looking for fungus. Finding bluebells.

And wood anemone.

And water avens.

Clever upcycling. Nut store.

Glorious bluebells.

And Cap enjoying a day off.

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