Friday, 14 September 2012

Walks, ferries and family time

We had a great excuse to take some time off this week. Farmer's sister, who had never been to Treshnish, came to stay with her husband. Plus two milestones in our lives passed too - the calves were sold (of more below) on Monday, and I stepped down from USCA on Thursday night when a new Convenor was chosen to take my place.

Walking Coco in the woods at Calgary.

Cafe Fish window on a wet September afternoon.

The calves were sold on Monday at Caledonian Marts in Stirling, at their native breeds sale. We have kept with Aberdeen Angus cows and bull all these years as they are a Scottish breed and we like their native qualities. When we were organic, we sold directly to another organic farm which meant there was less stress on the animals not having to go through the market, and less stress on us because we knew what we were being paid before the animals left here - a price per kilo.

But since then we have had to rely on the market and it really has been a lottery. If our cows were pedigree we would probably be able to find a farmer who would buy straight from the farm, but they are not pedigree. (Apologies if I have already said all this on earlier blogs.) Year 1 of no longer having organic status we sold our calves in Craignure (2010) and only received half the price we had got the year before.... Last year (2011) was an improvement on 2010, but by no means equal to previous organic years.

Most of the store calves from the west coast are continentals - and we had realised that the buyers were prepared to pay more for them than for our native calves. So we decided to try the traditional sale in Stirling. Initially we were disappointed by the prices we got, about 30p less a kilo than continentals were getting in Oban the following day, but the market report from the Stirling sale in our local paper showed that on average our prices were no worse than anyone elses at that sale, which made us feel a bit better. But it was making us think perhaps about replacing Equator, our Angus bull, for a fine red Limousin bull, which we can buy from a farmer 10 miles away. But Equator is a very gentle natured bull, (important on a farm with lots of visitors) and his calves thrive. So perhaps we are best to stay as we are... time will tell.

Calgary Beach this morning. Beach finds: hot water bottle top, brown Irish fish box.

Sun just appearing over Calgary dunes.

Earlier in the week - Oban. Farmer did the shopping whilst I went to an USCA related meeting.

Coco had her first visit to the Isle of Ulva today. (above, with Donald the Ferryman). The continuing storm was raging over Treshnish, with the wind coming from the north west, but Ulva Sound was alot calmer, and the Boathouse serves up a fantastic lunch which we started eating outside in the sun, and finished up inside when the rains came again!

The Boathouse Ulva Fishermen's Platter. (delicious)

Skies cleared after we had finished lunch, so we managed a dry walk. The rowans are fantastic this year.

I attended my last USCA committee meeting on Thursday. With Daughter now at High School, and living outside the USCA area as we do, it seemed to make sense for me to step down so that someone more local could take over. I feel very lucky to have been part of getting USCA started, and wish it well for the future. I know I will go on feeling like a broody hen whose chicks have been taken away from her until I fully let it go. Farmer is looking forward to me getting back into the farm office to restore some kind of order... we'll see!

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