Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Christmas skies and boiler house blues

Last year we had Auroras over Christmas - this year we have had the full moon over Christmas!   The full moon was stunning both on Christmas eve night and on Christmas night itself. There have been clouds too, but enough clear skies to get some wonderful winter sky landscapes.  The winds at times have been quite ferocious, but also at times blissfully still.

We had a lovely Christmas despite the erratic behaviour of the woodchip boiler, which stopped working on Boxing Day morning.  That was okay though, we turned the oil back up on, which meant the cottages would still be warm, but not the farmhouse.  (We have a woodturning stove similar to the one in Studio, which is amazingly warm so we were not cold!) 24 hours after we turned that on, a mixer valve stopped working, which meant no heat was being delivered round the system!  What a nightmare!  Through more luck than anything else, we tricked the valve into working again by turning the woodchip boiler control panel on!  No idea why that worked but it did!  

The boiler is 6 years old now, so finding a new mixer valve might have been difficult were it not for the wonderful ESBE website which provides a table pairing discontinued parts with new equivalent parts! Hey presto!  Minutes later, we knew there was one in Glasgow.  A friend of Treshnish came to the rescue through Facebook, and this morning picked up the new part from Bellshill, and will deliver it to us tomorrow!  We can now relax knowing we have a replacement.  Thank you M.

Resorting to using oil is not good for our carbon footprint, but luckily it has only happened once or twice in 6 years.  We are grateful, however,  to have the option in an emergency so that our guests can be blissfully unaware of any issues behind the scenes in the boiler house!

Yesterday, D came to have a look at the wood-chip boiler - he is an exceptional engineer with an admirably inquisitive mind. One of the faults appearing on the wood-chip control panel was the fall chute switch, so he was going to test it for us.  He had a look at all sorts of things, and by gently nudging the tipping grate motor, which moved back into position. They turned the boiler back on and it started working again!!  Thank you D.   For a few hours we wondered what was going on as it seemed to be in a mode that we had not used before and we couldn't get it to stop!    A phone call to another Froling boiler owner in Tobermory helped over the phone with that. Thank you A.  We did as he suggested and finally got it back in in the old default Trans Operate mode.  Farmer stayed up until midnight to keep checking on it, and up again at 6am to make sure it was still on.  Thank you Farmer.

Farmer has opened up all the gates now, so that the hill ewes are no longer confined to the Point.  They can range all the way through the Haunn fields and the Black Park.  There are quite a few walkers around at the moment and we don't want to risk losing sheep over cliffs because someone has let their dogs run wild, and the sheep have fled without looking where they are going.  (Sadly it does happen...)

The Christmas guests have either departed or are departing tomorrow.  New Year guests started arriving this evening after a storm disrupted route, and more arrive tomorrow and Wednesday!

We all joked when the Met Office starting naming storms at the beginning of December that we would be through the alphabet before the end of the year.  I think Eva has just past and Frank is due tomorrow!  So far we haven't had many winds above 60MPH but tomorrow night they are forecasting gusts of up to 80MPH, which is when we start losing bits of polytunnel and worry about what other things might move or blow.

After New Year Farmer will gather the ewes to take the tups off.  He will keep any back who don't seem as fit as the others, mostly the older ewes probably, and put the others back to the hill, once they have had a Co-secure bullet and any other treatment needed.   There are one or two tups which need to go to market - there is usually a sale mid January for them.


A Christmas Day Primrose - albeit a little nibbled around the edges.

It would be wrong of me to imply through these photographs that we have had nothing but sunshine over the Christmas period... as it has been very very wet too.  This was taken yesterday as I drove from Calgary back to Treshnish, through the windscreen as I wasnt going to risk getting my camera wet!

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