Sunday, 30 September 2012

Fences, walls and failed ferry crossings

My aunt would have said "What do you expect if you travel around the equinox?", and I thought of her alot on Tuesday when 'something' disrupted Farmer's plans as if we were working against the flow, rather than with it.

In the last couple of posts I mentioned the difficulty of getting the last ewes to market, because we don't have our own livestock trailer and the island based livestock haulier couldn't fill his lorry.  In the end our neighbour over the hill lent us a trailer which was very kind, and meant we could make plans.

However, even then, nothing was easy.  Firstly, Farmer was loading the 30 cast ewes on his own on the morning of the sale, and hurt his back in the process.  Not fine. Jamie was helping by driving his 4x4 to tow the trailer.  All fine.  The Sound of Mull looked reasonably calm. Fine. They got on the ferry for the 10.55 sailing to Oban.  All seemed okay as they were loaded on, several other farmers too with their own trailers.  However while I was here at Treshnish imagining that they were safely in Oban selling the ewes and grabbing the 2pm ferry back, they were still on the boat, and they didn't get off the ferry in Oban until 5.40pm! 
It had been quite wild and windy out here at Treshnish all day, but quite often it is significantly wilder here than in the more protected sound of Mull.  I could see big white waves were crashing on the rocks at the foot of what we call Calgary Point opposite here, the mouth of Calgary Bay.  But people sitting on the pier at Oban waiting for the midday ferry that never arrived said it didnt seem that windy in Oban....yet Calmac said it was too gusty to berth round and round they went in the lee of Lismore for over 6 hours.  Not great for the livestock on board to say the least, and irritating for the humans especially as the Lochaline ferry ran all day as it often does!  The 6pm sailing was cancelled so they couldnt even get home.  They had to stay overnight in Oban.  

We had spoken to the mart to tell them that they were stuck on the ferry and it was arranged that the animals could be 'bed and breakfasted' with them.  Once they were safely transported and sorted out, they could go back into Oban and find somewhere for themselves to stay! Farmer and Jamie ended up in a BandNoB, sharing separate beds in the bridal suite - for the bargain price of £20 each.     What a disruption to the day, and just one of those things when having made your decision to go however the odds seem to stack against you, you then have to give in to the consequences! So I was suddenly home without the child (whose school trip thankfully caught the first ferry that morning) and without the Farmer!

When Farmer got back it was straight into farm work again.  Because of the weather, wet ground, and wanting to avoid driving round wet fields in heavy tractors Farmer has decided not to move all the silage back to the Stack Yard but to leave them where they were wrapped on the edge of the Haunn field. This means putting a temporary fence up so that the cattle and the sheep cant get in and wreck the bales. 

Luckily we have a supply of stobs on hand for such jobs.

The wall of the Haunn field has this purposeful gap in it, which we assume was an old days way of getting sheep through from field to field.  There was either another rock to roll over the opening, or a shutter of sorts.  Nothing remains nearby, so we have a fence running along side it so the stock in each field can be kept separate.  Walls are a great feature of the landscape at Treshnish, I have been watching a wren dance around on the one by the office window today.


It was nice to see some knapweed still in flower, and I THINK either marsh or water ragwort. It is after all the end of September!  Because of the change in grazing patterns the willow is beginning to get some height too in the Black Park.  Another affect the current grazing patterns have is that it enables the brambles to take hold, which is great for making vitamin C rich winter syrups and crumbles but not so great for the sheep and the Farmer.  Cows are normally quite good at keeping brambles at bay or from spreading, but with the way we are grazing some of the fields now, the brambles are increasing. (see top photo). They can become a problem for the sheep who are tempted in to nibble the sheltered grasses within their mass, and become entangled in the briars.  So we need to check carefully each corner of the fields to make sure nothing gets stuck. 

We have decided after the difficulties experienced this week that we should look into buying our own small trailer that we can use to take the smaller lots of animals to market ourselves without having to rely on anyone else.  The blue van should be able to pull it which means we can avoid buying a 4x4 pick up. 

The school trip was a success and a tired but happy 12 year old collected from the ferry on Friday afternoon. 

On the way through the hill park yesterday afternoon Coco did her usual thing of wading into each burn and puddle along the route.  She got more than she bargained for at the culvert before the Black Park gate though!  She was sniffing and showing alot of interest in the big pipes, and then suddenly shot back as a hidden mink, which she had obviously smelt, spat its scary warning at her.  We watched for quite a while, and it occasionally poked its nose out of the gap, but as usual didnt have the right lens and didnt catch it on camera.

I am really struggling with the formatting of the new blogger editor.  Things seem to dance around and dont work as easily as the old one!
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