I never expected to see the Northern Lights on our excursion to the Rare Breeds Sale at Dingwall market this weekend. That was an added bonus, thanks to Farmer and Daughter agreeing to go out hunting... When I realised there was a good aurora forecast I asked a Scottish aurora Facebook page where we should go for a bit of dark skies, and within seconds we had been recommended to go to Arturlie Point, which is only a few miles out of the city. It was also right next to the Inverness Sewage works! Straw bales lay where they fell in the stubble fields next door. Aurora hunting cars came and went down the single track road, shadowy figures with tripods silhouetted as their headlights swung past. It was interesting to be aurora hunting on the mainland, compared to standing in a field at Treshnish on my own! The aurora was fading in front of our eyes, so we went off back to our bargain beds at the Premier Inn, for tomorrow was going to be a long day.
We arrived good and early at Dingwall Auction Mart, a new and impressive purpose built facility away from the town.
The cages were filling up when we arrived - all sorts of fowl, all colours, shapes and sizes. By the time the bidding started, the hall was mobbed with eager poultry fanciers and keepers. We walked along the rows of cages looking at the breeds we were interested in, and finding lots more than we had bargained for.
These ducks seemed very affectionate despite the strangeness of their surroundings. Preening and almost cuddling up to each other.
Farmer and Daughter kept sliding off to the Livestock section to look at the many different Rare Breed sheep and goats, not to mention the ponies and horses, and one Dexter cow with calf at foot.
Our poultry bidding went well - we bought a trio of Cream Legbar (blue egg layers), a trio of Silver laced Wyandotte (purely because they look so pretty), two Cuckoo Maran (dark brown egg layers). I wanted to buy a couple of hens for some friends too, and was surprised, having won the bid, we went to collect them and find that they were not quite what I thought they should have been. I thought we were buying Barred Plymouth Rocks - in fact we bought Buff Plymouth Rocks!
There were lots of Herdwick sheep.
Quite a few Jacobs.
A pen of Kerry sheep - not Irish, but from England/Wales border country.
Some gypsy ponies for sale.
And these pretty Toggenberg goat kids nearly came home with us... but my radar must have been working overtime as I sat down next to Farmer and Daughter, and caught Farmer in the middle of bidding for these two. I am hugely relieved he didn't get them! I suspect though that it is only a matter of time before we do have some goats here. Farmer is thinking that they would be good at eating down the vegetation in the graveyard - whilst I worry about what they would eat if they manage to escape!
The huge area between the poultry and the main ring was packed with market goers, with a long queue of people waiting to order their full breakfast or cream filled donut from the cafe whilst groups of folk stand catching up with friends. Once we were loaded up we headed off to Beauly to have lunch at a fantastic Deli there, with friends who were also on a hen buying mission.
We did some errands in Inverness before heading back down the road to Oban for the late boat. Along Loch Linnhe we caught glimpses through the clouds of the Northern Lights but the clouds took over by the time we reached Oban with time to spare.
This morning we let the new hens out for the first time. Here are the beautiful Wyandottes.