Farmer is well and truly into the winter feeding regime now. The bull is in the cattle shed with a young stirk (bullock) and our oldest cow No 63 to keep him company, and the rest of the cows are still out enjoying the roughage in the Black Park and a bite of 'cake' in the mornings. The hoggs are in the park near the cattle shed, and are mostly coming to the food now. Disappointingly there are about 15 out of the 100 who have not got the message about the 'tup tup tup' call accompanied by a rattling bag and so Farmer is going to get them in again and see if they will learn. It is likely that they are eating the hay so they are not losing condition, it is just useful to know they will eat ewe nuts if they ever have to come into the shed at any time.
We are busy getting everything ready for Christmas and New Year visitors, the first of whom arrive in a day or two's time. Neil has been busy painting in West, Middle and East and now he is finishing off a wee job in Duill kitchen and helping me order the right amount of materials for the new bathroom, which we are doing in January.
The builders have been putting the plasterboard on in the Studio, the new window upstairs caused a bit of hassle but it is finished now, and floods the gallery bedroom with westerly light and views of the Point and the sea. (I will be ordering thermal blackout blinds soon!). I will post some photographs when I have some record of the progress.
We have had some good dry frosty mornings with ice on the puddles, and pockets of frost staying white all day, but the wind is getting up tonight bringing some warmer wilder weather overnight. Today was another of those beautiful still bright days so I stole an hour to go and look at the cheviots and enjoy the golden orange sunlight on the bay. The tide was very low.
Fuchsia growing through our garden wall.
A sculpture given to us by our friend and artist Matt Baker.
The Cheviots and Zwarties are grazing the field below the house. There is still plenty of grass for them. The tups have been out for 4 weeks now so Farmer would expect the majority of the ewes to have been served by now, but this tup was showing an interest in the ewe, so just as well they are all still together. The tups will come out at the beginning of January, and will come in through the fank to get some health care before they go back to the hill. The tups are then kept separate from the ewes and the hoggs until the same time next year!
You can see the second turbine on the skyline in the photograph above. It would appear that I have been reading the meters correctly. Having in the last post noted a 30% difference between the new and old turbines I thought I must have made an error so now I am re-reading them every few days just to see what happens, and on the latest comparison, the new turbine was still generating more than the older one, and this time by about 50%. It will be interesting to see if that continues or not.
We have the Energy Savings Trust coming to do an energy audit in January. I am hoping that I will get some hints as to how we can reduce our reliance on electricity for heating down at Haunn. Being the largest cottage at Haunn, Toechtamhor is the largest user and we are working on reducing the amount of electricity we use. The cavity wall insulation installed last year should have helped as should the new windows going in in February, but I am hoping the EST auditor will come up with something really radical to help reduce energy use even more!
I think you could call this 'extensive' grazing. At this time of year it can feel so wild, and so sparse compared to the abundance of summer, when the fields are carpeted with wild flowers and herbage.
It is getting close to the solstice, and lovely to have this rich sunshine which lengthens the daylight preciously at this time of year when the days are so short. I sat a while and looked at the view out to sea, it was so quiet and peaceful. No sound from the sheep, almost no movement from the sea, occasional gulls flying past soundlessly, and again I was reminded of how lucky I am to have this on my doorstep.
The dark pool in the foreground of this picture is the Treshnish 'swimming pool'. It is often filled with kelp fronds but today I could see its sandy bottom. There is another pool at Haunn on the beach where Donald Sutherland gets shot in the last dramatic scene of the 'Eye of the Needle' which was filmed here (and at Cameron Farm, Loch Buie) in 1981. East, Middle and West were used as the dressing rooms, and there was a lighthouse built on the Dun at Haunn.
Thank you to all the new faces we have met at Treshnish over the past year, and to the more familiar ones who keep coming back - you are an important part of what makes Treshnish hum.
I will leave you with a photograph of Iona to wish you all a lovely Christmas/winter solstice and a Happy New Year.