Thursday, 10 January 2013

All that is behind us now

 It was quite a wet start to the year in most places.  We had a little bit of sunshine as we headed south from Oban.  We stayed a night near Callender and then headed for Dumfries via Dumbarton.  Well that was the idea initially. In the end we arrived in Dumbarton having been through the Trossachs, Carbeth (where we glimpsed the people power huts reminding me of seeing the dachas in Poland decades ago), Milngavie, and finally Duntocher.. in other words a serious lapse in map reading on my part.  Mission accomplished in Dumbarton we were free to go.  

The drive down the Dalveen Pass always inspires but it was dark by the time we reached it this time, and all we saw to indicate where we were was the solitary headlights of a vehicle winding its way up to the cottage at the top of the glen at the bottom of the Pass!

On the Saturday we all visited the extraordinary Mauseleum at Durisdeer Church.  It was quite a surprise on a dreich damp afternoon in Dumfries-shire.  

We walked along the Roman Road beyond the village.  Farmer and Artist went further in thickening mist along the Roman Road from Durrisdeer to the Daer Reservoir.  I drove up the Pass to collect them from the Reservoir. It was bleak up there - windy and getting colder, night falling and very nearly dark when they arrived.  The dam seems really massive as the road is below it.  The water works buildings look like something out of Eastern Europe in the 1970's.  Empty buildings with faded painted doors and cracked obscure window panes. Perhaps it isn't like that really, I have just been reading too many spy stories.

Back up the road to Oban and back to Mull.  School started on Monday and suddenly it feels like Christmas was a long time ago.  It is still very dark in the mornings, and I have hurried home each morning without the dog walk on the beach.  

Yesterday the weather picked up and the temperature dropped.  Over the last few days Farmer has been collecting up the sheep and bringing them closer in preparation for taking the tups off.  The blackface sheep have been on the Point all this time.   The Cheviots and Zwartbles have been below the house. 

Being careful (he assured me) Farmer was just going to 'work away at it' on his own. He has Jamie who he knows he can call on but he wanted to quietly work his way through the sheep sorting them out and giving them their annual 'booster' bolus of cobalt and selenium, which we know the soil - and therefore the grazing - is deficient in as well as a fluke treatment and a blue spot on their backs.  He is counting each batch through the fank.  It was lovely and sunny, though cold, this afternoon for the first lot of about 200.   He will do the next lot tomorrow if his back is up to it.  

The view from the fank is pretty good.

As the weather gets a bit colder and everyone is talking up a snow storm, it is a good feeling to have a shipping container full of food for the cows - who are still outside - and the  older ewes and the hoggs.

This year Farmer is going to start scanning some of the sheep again.  We started doing this a year or so after we moved here, but gave up at the point where Farmer's back gave up, and we had to get help in - about 12 years ago.   Originally we did it to really get to know how the sheep were doing throughout their breeding - how many were scanned as being in lamb and then how many lambs were born - we were serious beginners then.  (Farmer would deny it, but he has learned alot over the years!)   It means you can feed a bit extra to those carrying twins and cut out risk of Twin Lamb Disease, and it means the older ewes are in on more sheltered ground.  Any eild (barren) ewes can be put in a separate field which means you don't need to watch and wait for them lambing!  You can only 'feed' (supplementary) ewes who 'know' what the food is.  That is why we train our hoggs to eat ewe nuts and hay!

When the sheep have been through the fank, Farmer opens the gate and lets them out back on to the hill.  They always go to eat the heather, and when I see them out of the kitchen window on the slope above the deer fence, I always think of Jon, the wonderful man who became a great friend of Treshnish when we were starting out in organic sheep.   He didn't believe us when we told him that the sheep ate heather (or seaweed!). Then he saw it for himself.  

Sunrise yesterday morning.

There has been a bit of chat on Twitter about our turbine tonight.  I read the meters again today, and I tweeted that the Kingspan (above) had outperformed the Proven by 50%.  Lots of people have replied with interesting thoughts as to why it might be.  I emailed Kingspan to ask if they have 'done' anything to the turbine since they took them over, and it will be good to hear what they have to say.  Someone suggested that perhaps the Proven was working on restricted power since installation - and I will definitely look into that too.   Watch this space!

The corner of the Haunn field looking towards Calgary. Lovely soft light. 

Shian and Duill in the sunshine.

And the Proven in the sunshine with some wonderful wispy clouds.

The building work is going well.  I hope I haven't spoken too soon.  John has done a lovely job on the taping and filling - a few hours of sanding tomorrow will see that stage finished.  Farmer put a heater on for him this morning and said the room was noticeably warmer.  Good!  That is the whole idea.  Energy saving.  This is the new door into the bedroom from the sitting room - we are waiting for the new bedroom window to arrive and be fitted which will be a great improvement.

Duill bathroom is back to bare walls, but the new bath with over-shower is arriving on Monday.  With the next guest arriving in 3 weeks time, I am a little anxious.... but it will be fine....

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