Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The last of the lambs away

Real autumn weather at the moment. When the sun comes out the light is wonderful. It is not cold, but it is, at times, very very wet.

Farmer had booked a livestock trailer onto the ferry to take the last batch of lambs to Oban Market.  Tuesday 27th was the breeding sale, so the one we needed to get our ewe lambs to.

We keep about 160 ewe lambs to overwinter and use as future breeding ewes.   Last winter we overwintered them in the cattle shed.  This winter we think we may do half outside and half inside.  This will cut the cost down a bit but also gives them the opportunity to learn the different fields so that in future they are familiar with being in fields rather than on the hill.

Cheviots are getting noticeably higher prices in the market at the moment.  I am obviously writing this after the sale, so can tell you that these Cheviot lambs fetched over £20 more per head than the lovely Blackface lambs we sold the same day.   This year it seems Blackface are really not popular with the buyers.

Walter was on hand, and trigger ready, to help Farmer throughout the sorting out procedure.

Ever watching his Master.

A little damp as it had rained earlier, but overnight they would dry out in the cattle shed.

This handsome Massey Ferguson 240 is over the road at our neighbours.  I couldn't resist walking up to take a photograph on my way home one afternoon.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

What a day!

All in a day on Treshnish.  Today Tuesday 13th September.  Calm after a storm, and blissfully warm.  We walk up to Cruachan Treshnish, the air thick with bees, and occasional sky larks.  Red deer hinds and calves on the skyline.  Glistening sea and floating islands.   Refreshing cup of tea at Haunn with some guests, delicious chocolate brownies.  Home for a wonderful sunset.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Farming dilemmas

A mixed week weather wise. Today is cloudy and gales are forecast.  The branches on the trees around the house are bending away from themselves, with their leaves turned outwards.  I expect the garden to be littered with fallen leaves tomorrow!

The hill is looking autumnal, with this sheltered Rowan tree dripping with berries.  The heather is going over and the bracken has turned reddish brown.   The grasses are tinged with reds and oranges now too on the boggier bits of the hill.

The lambs are sold.  Farmer was disappointed, but actually I dont think he did too badly considering. Certainly not our best sale, but not our worst either.  You can have expectations, and you can have hopes - they can trip you up when the reality is less than both.

Over the last few years we have become aware of the price difference between Cheviot and Blackface lambs straight off the hill.  It seems that the buyers won't want to pay a lot for Blackface lambs and if you were to add up the difference in lamb sale prices between the two, you might wonder why on earth we were still breeding Blackface.  Someone told us that the buyers like buying Blackface lambs as the prices are much lower and they can make more money on them.   That is pretty depressing if you are a breeder of Blackface sheep.

So why on earth do we still keep them?  We have Cheviots on the in-by fields and like them, they are relatively trouble free and easy to deal with, though heavy on Farmer's bad back in the fank and at lambing time.  It is an ongoing conversation in the farmhouse kitchen at the moment, going over advice we were given when we first starting farming here, advice we have been given more recently, thinking about all the pros and cons.  Watch this space!

The last gather brought in 13 'roughies' off the hill.  J very kindly sheared them for us last weekend. 

One evening we took off with our bicycles and went to the 'Secret village'.  We are happy to tell you where this is when you are here, but I won't write its location online!

The hens and turkeys are all happy when the sun is shining.

The misty low clouds give Gribun added drama on a damp day when we went off down to Iona for the day. We wanted to show a house guest the Abbey before she goes home tomorrow.  Disappointingly it wasn't sunny so she didn't have that magical glowing turquoise experience crossing on the ferry, but it was still very lovely - as always.   I hadn't been inside the Abbey for a few years and the newly renovated Museum was really good. 

We watched the comings and goings of cruise boat passengers being ferried back to their ship and the Iona Seafood fisherman landing his crabs, while we waited for the ferry to come back. 

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