Sunday, 24 November 2013

Looking back and forward

A visit from the Mull based accredited wind turbine installer today, to look at the possible site for a 3rd turbine.  We are currently generating about 80% of our usage (including cottages, office, laundry). With a 3rd turbine we will be able to generate the balance and also enough to cover the Schoolhouse, and the proposed cabin.

Our first turbine, the Proven 6kW, was put up in October 2009. Our expectations were exceeded in the first year, and in the second and third.  The Kingspan 6kW installed last November, identical in all but name, has more than exceeded our expectations - generating about 7,000 kilowatt hours more than the Proven.  

We have had many discussions between ourselves, the installers and others, as to why there is such a big difference between the 2, but we hope now that recent conversations with Kingspan might have pinpointed 2 factors which may explain the 50% difference in output between them.    A bit of work to be done but hopefully it will improve things. 


We walked up to the proposed site with N to confirm whether or not it would be suitable or not - looking for 'clean wind'.   It appears to be a good site from that point of view, so we now need to start a planning application…

The first thing we needed to do was to take a photograph from a certain corner on the road to Salen, for the photomontage.  Farmer lent his cap to the top of a 5m pole so that it was more noticeable, and I headed off down the road to take the picture.

There has been some exciting news on the wood chip front… Earlier this week a deal was concluded on the sale of the Crannich Woodfuel business to our local community woodland (North West Mull Community Woodland Company).  Crannich Woodfuel have been great suppliers - very reliable and consistently thoughtful and helpful, so we will miss them - but acquiring their business will be a fantastic opportunity for NWMCWC, helping create job opportunities locally.  It is great news for the mileage factor for us in using their wood chip, as it means eventually that the timber will not only be supplied from 4 miles away but will be chipped there (rather than currently at Crannich) before being delivered here.   We already buy our softwood logs from the community woodland, and they are about to start supplying us with kindling as well.  

We had some visitors the other day who were thinking of installing a biomass boiler, and it was interesting to talk to them about their plans, as well as sparking off some reminiscences for us too, looking back to the process we went through in choosing our system, and the installers, and wondering if we would do any of it differently if we were to do it again.  I was reminded of the extreme fear I felt when our boiler first arrived, wondering how I would ever cope with the technology. But now 4 and a half years later, I suppose a relationship of trust has built up between us and the boiler… it has broken down a few times, but (touch wood) we either know what to do now, or failing that, who to call.  

Farmer has been out checking the tups each day, and this afternoon he used Walter to move some sheep from one field to another.    He is keen to please which is half the battle. 

I went to a busy Producers Market in Dervaig - the pre-Christmas one.  It was mobbed, with a good selection of local produce - pork, sausages, lamb, haggis, Christmas puddings and lots more.  

Thursday, 21 November 2013

A new year

It is taking a little longer every morning for the sun to make its way over Calgary hill and down on to the bay.  A month until the winter solstice and the shortest day.

The tups 'going out' is a significant event in Farmer's calendar.  They went out this afternoon, in batches of one or two - into a field of 50 to 100 ewes.   It is also significant in the wild flower calendar, as mob grazing the fields is a good way of clearing up any rank grass, and preparing the way for next year's flowers.

Snow on the Skye hills. And the ewes beginning their mob grazing, before they were joined by the tups.

The Cheviots and Zwartbles will tup in the fields below the house.  Nice and easy to see from the window too!

The Blackies will be in the fields around Haunn. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A winter storm

Farmer took the guests at Haunn emergency candles and camping gas cookers, just in case we had a power cut.  The wind has been blowing in the face of our house for over 24 hours now.  The sea looks amazing. 

On our way to Tobermory we enjoyed a walk on the beach - all to ourselves.

A little shocking initially to see Christmas decorations at Calgary, but they are having a Christmas market there this weekend, and it looks nicely colourful and natural.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Counting sheep

A dusting of snow over at Ensay this morning, but the ferries were sailing and any minute the 'man from the Dept.' would appear.

Farmer had to present an equal number of sheep in the fank and the field, as is on our official running total.  He knew he had left one on the hill.

Presumably everyone will sleep well tonight… all this counting…

This lot are free to go and speed up as they head for the wide open Park.

The Cheviots and Zwartbles were counted as they came to 'the bag' in the field behind Duill. 

Inside the hoggs were a little more tricky, as they are very fast and very excitable.  In the end they were counted out of the door.  The two red heifers are the Luings we have just bought from friends near Oban.

Bounding and leaping hoggs, relieved perhaps to be outside.

J, Farmer and I literally crossed our fingers as the numbers were totted up.  Down to the house for the paperwork. Given the all clear. "Everything is fine".

All times of day and night

The winter hay has arrived. It is good to know we have a full load in store in case we run out of silage for the cows.  Farmer has brought the hoggs in to the cattle shed, so that they can be taught to 'feed' (eat supplementary food such as hay and 'nuts').  This winter we have chosen to buy a multi purpose supplementary food in bulk.  Farmer lined the feed container with plywood to keep the food away from the walls of the container, and the lorry arrived one morning and 'blew it in'. I wasn't here to take a photograph but apparently Farmer appeared out of the container covered from head to foot in floury dust.  Thankfully he had been wearing a face mask. Since then, other farmers have said they never stand in the container whilst the food is being blown in!  You live and learn.

Winter is advancing, but it is lovely to see the sage still flowering in the polytunnel, as well as sweet peas.

I missed the Northern Lights the other night as we had friends staying and I failed to look out and check. However, the moon was bright and I took the tripod off to take photographs in the moonlight once everyone had gone to bed.  I took photographs in the polytunnel, though it was challenging manually focussing.

You could walk around without a torch. This is the stack yard gate, between Shian and Shieling. The white spots in the sky are stars, not dust on your screen.

Next morning, Coco's presence in the garden (on a lead!) chased the one surviving chick from this summer into a tree.  Quite high up in the tree.

Showers over Rum in the afternoon.

And the moon this morning beginning to set with showers over Coll.  The hill over behind Ensay is dusted white with snow.  We are waiting for the 'man from the Dept.' to arrive and count the sheep.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

An unusual birthday party

Farmer has been busy collecting up the sheep for the sheep count on Thursday.  More of that in the next blog post.

I went off to the Ross of Mull today to celebrate the 20th birthday of a Kintra fixture….

The weather was fantastic.  Hail, sun, wind and rain - creating glorious light.

The turbine in the foreground was the focus of the celebrations.  Two of the Kingspan engineers came up to present the owners with a certificate for pioneering renewables.   It has withstood Mull weather for 20 years and provided them with electricity reliably all that time, as for most of those years they were off-grid.

We all went to admire.  Then we came back in for home made soup, cake and song.  It was a lovely occasion, and I was glad to talk to the engineers about our turbines and the differences between them.  Yesterday I checked the readings and the Proven has generated 12,000 units in the same time (50 weeks) that the Kingspan has generated 18,000 units.  

It was a long way to go, but it was well worth it - not just for the celebrations, but the light was fantastic.

The replacement windows for Shian are ordered. They should be here before Christmas.  The builder came to look at the job, so it is all going according to plan.. So far..

eXTReMe Tracker