Saturday, 9 March 2013

And still it hasn't rained.

It was only when I was sorting through the photographs for this post, that it dawned on me that we still haven't had any rain.  I have lost count of the weeks now since a good downpour, at least three I think.  The burns are looking very dry and the grass seems dormant in this dry cold.  It is good weather for the cows though, and they seem to be enjoying being out on the hill again.

Farmer went to market on Tuesday with Equator the bull.  We bought him in 2009 from the isle of Bute, and he has produces us some fine calves.  Farmer had booked him in twice previously to go to market and had to call off at the last minute because he appeared to go lame.  The vet had seen him several times and tested him for all sorts, but come back with nothing conclusive.  This week he was booked in and didn't go lame. It felt quite sad when Farmer drove away (in borrowed pick up, thanks Jamie) and borrowed trailer (thanks WMP). The end of another era.  We had 3 cast tups to go to and our neighbour transported them for us (thanks IMK).  

We have bought a new bull from John Elliot, a pedigree Aberdeen Angus breeder in the Borders. We have had a couple of his bulls before and know them to produce good calves.  Most bulls are sold now with EBVs.  Estimated Breeding Values.  This rates them according to how much they weigh at birth (gives an indication of small calves = easy calving), what they weigh at different dates (gives an indication of growth rate) and other bits that we didn't pay as much attention to... we chose one called Black Outlaw who had a low birth weight and good growth rate and above average figures for mothering - and importantly not the most expensive one!  Now we have to find a way of getting him to Mull without him meeting any other cattle - he is from a BVD free herd and we want to make sure he stays that way until we get him here. BVD is a horrible disease and it is passed between cattle through breath and saliva. This means you cannot risk changing over transport using market pens on a market day for example in case they come into contact with other potentially infectious cattle. 

The hens have been enjoying the dry weather, and I have been enjoying them.  They are laying lots so we are hopeful that we will be able to supply some eggs to our guests again this season.

I had to go off island for a night.  I stayed with a friend which was lovely, non stop catching up as we hadn't seen each other for over a year.  I include a photograph of her bathroom window!

Nothing to do with the farm really, but I was amused by this house in Killin - someone with a creative streak showing in their interesting collection of objects outside their door.

It was flat calm and misty on Loch Linnhe.  And the drive through Glen Coe just spectacular.

When I got home Farmer was busy on road repairs.  James was digging the ditch along the side of the track up to the farm to hopefully persuade any rain we get to run down that rather than the surface of the road.  A tricky job as our telephone cable lies on the surface in places in that ditch!

So we haven't had rain, but we had good strong winds yesterday.  I went to read the turbine meters yesterday at the height of the wind.  The Proven was generating 3.775kW and the Kingspan was making 5.997kW.   Quite a difference! The Kingspan will have turned its blades inward to keep the amount of electricity it was making down to the 6kW. I couldn't see any difference in the way the blades were turning between the two turbines when I looked.  

Grey skies... but beautiful.

And then yesterday - the atmospheric pressure must have been doing something to the sea.... this was not the Caribbean.  This was Calgary at School Bus Time yesterday afternoon!

And on the road between Calgary and Treshnish another day.

We have guests arriving for East and Middle today, and I went to do a last minute bit of picture hanging.  With the blue van off the road, I was driving the buggy.  I quite enjoyed that though it was cold!

I still cannot take any photographs of the Studio yet, but it is coming together. Pictures on the walls and furniture arranged.   Shieling has a new outside door.  Outward opening. So the wind will blow against it in any storms.  (supposed to cut draught potential).

Only 3 cows left to calve now.  Farmer is planting trees as I write.  He has dug up some of the saplings from the woodland along the track which self seeded in very thin soil, and has moved them to more fertile ground.  He has started a new woodland regeneration project which I will tell you about another time.  

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