Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Home from the holiday

Farmer and family have been away on holiday.. to a place in the sun..

where the neighbours build bonfires very close to the walls of where we are staying...

where the small town graffiti is mysterious..

where the fruit and vegetables selection is awesome...(and arranged so beautifully)..

where there are lots of little fishes in the harbour...

and fishing nets spread out on the quay to dry...

where the swimming beach is not always inviting...

where we get garden envy.. and inspiration..

not to mention gate inspiration...

where they sell freshly squeezed juice from freshly picked fruit...

where they knit round trees..

and make beautiful doorbells...

where the trees are olive...

and the sheep wear bells...

While we are away we miss wild gales and road closing rains..

We got back last night.. and woke at 3 in the morning to see the aurora borealis at 3 but was too tired to go out with the camera..

The softest of sunrises woke us a few hours later and all in all it has been a lovely day.  Lots of activity at the bird feeders..

Thimphu the 17 year old farm cat was glad to see us, and then skulked off to the garden to hunt amongst the fennel.

Farmer spent the day checking up on all things farming.  Everything seems to be fine, and having survived the weather.

We walked the dogs with some visitors this afternoon and made sure the islands were still there.

Thankfully they were.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Farming diary

Before we go away on Monday Farmer wanted to put the tups through the fank, and to check that they were all alight.  This tup had a problem with one of his horns which was blocking him from seeing out of an eye, growing as it was so close to his face.  



and finished. It must be such a relief when it is done.

The focus now is on the next season.  Have we got enough tups for the number of ewes we want, and are they the breed we want? Before we knew it we had embarked upon a new direction.   We were unable to go to the Tup Sale in Oban so we asked J to get 2 tups for us - one blackface, and the other.. the new direction.. is a Lleyn.  Here he is below.

The next day we went to look at a couple more tups, locally.  Came home having said we would buy 3!

The farm we went to to look was in the middle of speaning their calves (taking them away).  The cows were all quite unsettled, looking and mooing for their calves. 

This was the tup selection. 

One of 2 mighty bulls who needed to get the testosterone out of their system.

This cow was hollering for her calf. 

Tonight again we saw the aurora borealis.  It was quite wonderful but very windy so not easy for astrophotography. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Stalking with a difference

This flock of Jackdaws flew over the fields in front of the house today.  Daughter heard them and it reminded her of visiting friends on the east coast of Scotland, surrounded by woodland and arable land.  It is quite an unusual sight for us, and amazing to see them with a buzzard.

As it was such a beautiful day, I just had to go out with Farmer when he went to check the hill sheep. He was looking, in particular, for a tup lamb that J had picked out, at marking time, as looking promising as a future tup for breeding.  But since then, somehow, he has gone missing.   The reduction in daylight hours is the trigger for ewes to come into season, but it suits our climate if we keep the tups separate from the ewes until mid to end November. So the last thing we want at this time of year is a handsome young male on the loose amongst the ewes!

We didn't find him. But we found something else very exciting.  But remembering the amazing experience we had last summer watching the stags during the rut, we set out to walk up to the top of Ben Duill, and as we got higher we heard a guttural roar of the stag.  Farmer made the dogs sit, whilst he and I crept up towards where the roar came from.

We could smell him.  An earthy musky muddy smell.  We could hear him.  Crawling up behind a rocky outcrop, suddenly there he stood. With hinds and calves in between us and him.  Probably about 15 metres away from us.

The hinds were quicker to react than he was.  

It was a totally magical experience!  This is almost exactly the same spot we were in last year, watching the rut, overlooking the ruins of Achnacoille.   It is almost a bowl, the hillside, and we could see several different groups.  The views to Iona, the Ross of Mull and the Paps of Jura beyond were stunning too, as well as down Loch Tuath to Ulva Ferry with Ben More behind. 

Farmer went off in continued search for the missing tup lamb and I walked home above the deer fence. I came across another group on the skyline and could see another lot further away still.

This ruined building, probably a shieling, was hidden by bracken until last year when we aerially sprayed parts of the hill.   Tommy, who used to work here, had told us there was a whisky still up in this area of the hill, so sometimes we wonder if this was the ruin of the still.

It was an epic afternoon.  The beautiful views took in the islands of Rum, Skye, Barra, Mingulay, South Uist, Canna, Eigg, Muck, Iona,  the Treshnish Isles, Staffa, Gometra, Ulva and Jura.
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