Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Days of calm

This autumn into winter spell of weather really has been very calm and relatively dry.  It is now the 6th of December and we are expecting the first storm to hit any time.  Today was astonishingly clear and they do say that when it is very clear it means it is going to rain!

What has been happening on the farm? Well, the tups have been out for nearly 17 days, so it is time to move them around a bit.  The Lleyn tup has been out for the first ovine cycle and as Farmer wants to put the Cheviots into one large flock now he needs to take him out so he is not onto his daughters.  This means catching him somehow in a large open space and manhandling him into the back of the quad bike trailer.   The other additional tups will be put out with the Blackface ewes on the Point. Sometimes tupping time can be very wet so this good spell of weather will have been a great start. Hopefully!

Then of course there is the arrival of Nyje.  (pronounced like Nigel but with out the L).  Nyje is the latest addition to the sheep dog team.  He is 15 months old and we bought him from the same farmer where Cap came from. We had a lovely day out up Glen Lyon, JUST doable on a Sunday from here if you leave home early and catch the 9am ferry and come back on the 6pm.   As the crow flies it is not far from the Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy/Glen Coe road but to get there by road involves quite a lengthy detour.   It was a very beautiful day for a drive though, with snow on the mountains and much sunshine so we had a good day out.   Nyje is younger than any other dog we have bought and needs a bit more training.  There are one or two traits he needs to learn not to do, and one or two things he needs to learn to do..  however he is keen and has a good friendly nature which are two important traits.  We think he is pretty cute too! (I will post a photograph of him soon)

Studio and Shieling are a bit of a mess at the moment!  Intentionally that is.  We have been replacing the old shower units and are now waiting for the shower for Studio to arrive this week. On track to be finished for Christmas visitors!

Night skies have been clear and starry but no really strong visible auroras for a while now.  I have been catching them on camera but only seeing the glow (rather than the colours) by naked eye.

Duill Cottage sits beautifully under the stars with guests cosy by the fire, whilst I wander around in the frost! 

The winter feeding regime sets the scene for winter days, up and out before breakfast, though sometimes breakfast is delayed by a bit of chatting.  Well, it was the weekend and Jamie had come up to feed his heifers who are in our shed.

It is easy to assume that sunsets are all about summer, but actually the winter ones can be so dramatic.  This was taken over Shian's chimney.  We were waiting on the man from the NFU to turn up for a late afternoon meeting so I couldn't go down to Haunn which would have been amazing!! 

The mid afternoon sky was rich with these wonderful wavy clouds, and then an hour later it went cosmic! 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Incredibly beautiful day

From just after midnight...the aurora borealis fighting through a bank of cloud.  I never take for granted how lucky we are to have this on our doorstep, when all the different forces of nature work together.  We even saw it last Hogmanay.  In fact if you would like to take your chances, why not have a look at the spaces we still have for Christmas and New Year, and take advantage of our 20% discount! 

Sun rising pinks over Rum with an ice dog rainbow.

In charge of all she surveys?  All the in by fields have sheep in them with a varied assortment of brightly painted tups.  This ewe was on her own, sunning, on a knoll, with a perfectly still Calgary Bay behind her. 

That ewe gave me the idea to get a memorable photograph of Cap.  This weekend we are going to look at a new sheep dog and if we like him he will join the team.  Cap has been top dog since he arrived at Treshnish in April 2007, just in time for lambing.  He is finding the hills a bit tough now, at the age of 11, so he can take it easy and do what he loves second to working with Farmer - playing with whatever toys he can find.  Thank you Cap. Farmer says he has been the best dog he has ever worked with. 

So, so still.  Not a ripple.

The Aurora Borealis is forecast for tonight, so I won't say any more for now. Except that it has been an incredibly beautiful day.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Winter paradise

Moonlight and cloud after midnight..

Icy roads and wintery tops to the mountains on the way to Craignure this morning.  Even Ensay across the road from here had snow on it.

Storm clouds and sunlight in the afternoon.

And rainbows.

Silver lines on the waters between Mull and Rum, with snow on the mountains.

And the Herdwicks were out enjoying the field around Shian and Duill.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Lichens and fungi

If you go down to the woods today...you might find a gang of Lichenologists on the loose.

Well, it was a bit wet for a teddy bears picnic so we had our picnic in the farmhouse after our walk through the Atlantic Hazel Woodland between the farm track and the sea.

It was absolutely fascinating.  The Atlantic Hazel Woodland people have been here several times.  They were filmed here talking about the importance of AHW as part of a Landward programme with Dougie Vipond. 

The event was organised by a relatively new group to the island called Wild Mull.   They had arranged for Andy Acton, Brian and Sandy Coppins to come over.  Sandy gave an illustrated talk in the morning and then we all headed down in to the wood.  It was very wet, and we all got soaked, but it didn't really matter!

I was reminded of how little I know of lichen names, both Latin and English, and of what special woodland Atlantic Hazel Woodland is.  It is an unsung hero of woodland, a relatively rare habitat supporting thousands of wonderful, and some very rare, lichens and fungi.

"The UK's temperate rainforests are fragmented emeralds in a sea of human-modified landscapes impacted by people dating back to the retreat of the last ice age.  But these rainforests are vertically challenged compared to the more statuesque rainforests of North America, Chile, and Tasmania, some with trees no taller than 3 meters." Dominick DellaSalla (editor of Temperate and Boreal Rainforests of the World)

We definitely have trees of the no taller than 3 meters variety in the Treshnish Atlantic Hazel Woodland.

It was so wet I didn't take my camera - these photographs were taken on an iPhone which I had to dry out afterwards!

Monday, 7 November 2016

A farming shopping trip

Dingwall Rare Breeds and Poultry Sale. Where every self respecting Poultry fancier goes for their hens and ducks.   

There was lots of choice, and some beautiful birds, but Farmer and Daughter had other things on their minds. 

We started the day off with a delicious breakfast from the very efficient Teddy's Cafe.  Perfectly cooked bacon rolls in very fresh baps.  They even had decaffinated tea.  Their cake selection was wild!  There is a queue ALL day long but the staff still served with a smile even at 3 in the afternoon.

I was left to look at hens and ducks whilst Farmer and the girls headed into the real pens to check out the animals for sale.  The catalogue had been carefully scrutinised so they knew what they were looking for.

The lots they were interested in were a good hour or so away, so there was plenty of time to sit and look.  The sale ring was crowded.  Daughter and her pal were sitting quite high up with a good view of the ring, and of the farming/crofting/smallholding community.

This handsome Billy goat sold for £20.

The Valais tups went for a lot more. We decided they were handsome and their lambs would be adorable, but we weren't sure they would like the west coast rainfall. 

This plan had been hatching between Farmer and Daughter for quite some time.  Herdwicks.  There was one lot they really liked the look of - and luckily these are exactly the ones we got.

Aren't they gorgeous?  They seem so calm.  Hopefully this bodes well.  They are living in the shelter between the veg garden and Studio garden.  Farmer let them out in to the stack yard today and they seemed quite interested 'in the bag'.  This is a good sign as it means they know how to feed.

Yeseterday we had to go to Lettermore Forest which meant passing the Fank project.  We stopped to look around and it was beautiful.

A foxglove flowering on 6th November. 

I hope he isn't thinking 'what have we done?'.

Certainly Walter is quite happy about them - unlike Jan who ran in the other direction when she saw them.

In the afternoon I went to collect Coco.  An astonishingly beautiful view up Loch Tuath to Ulva Feryr with Ben More beyond.

Today I had to go to Craignure.   I love the reflected light on Calgary Bay.

And on the way back an errand along Loch na Keal.. looking very wintery.

STOP PRESS!! We have some spaces left for Christmas and New Year and are offering a lovely Festive Discount.  

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