Thursday, 9 November 2017


Brownie and one of the wedders enjoying the sun.

Searching for crumbs.

Brownie is just not interested in saying hello when he knows there is not any food for him.

For the most part the weather over the last few weeks has been pretty dire.  Every now and then though you get a wonderful day.  This was one of them.  It was so very very quiet.  I could hear the conversation the fishermen were having on their boat below the house.

Mid morning and the sun was burnishing Calgary with golden colours.

The Rosa rugosa has nearly lost all its leaves but it is still a very important Sparrow habitat.

Yes, not every day is blue sky.   And now that the clocks are well and truly back, it is a shock how early it gets dark in the evening.

On Sunday Farmer was helping with some sheep on another farm.  Daughter was doing an English essay and I had some errands to run on the Ross of Mull.  I could not have picked a better day.

As you know I am not a Birder and I didn't even take binoculars with me.  I had a lovely sighting of a female Hen harrier hunting very close to the road at one point and I saw dozens of Buzzards hunting and sitting on posts!

This boat lies across the road from the Pennyghael Stores.  The posts in the background indicate the route across the top of the loch at low tide.  I would not recommend it now, as I have no idea if there are in the same place as they were before, and besides there is a perfectly good road.

I have been across it twice. Once on my 'honeymoon' when  Farmer drove across it as a rash newly-wed in a 4x4 - and promptly washed the car to get the salt off it the next day!  The other time was a long time before that.  My father drove across it at low tide in his pride and joy, an old Citreon DS. As children we were both really excited and a little nervous at the same time - sharing my mothers anxiety perhaps!

The view up to Burg with Ulva beyond.

And peaceful bliss at Uisken.  No one else there. Picnic in the sun. Coffee in an old tin cup walking the strand line.

This is Castaways.  Did you know they have a 24 hour book shed round the back?  You can literally buy a book at any time of day or night!

The highlight of my day, sightings wise, were these two Otter pups.  I did report them to the Mull Otter Group though as I was concerned they were out on the road and there seemed to be no sign of the mother.

Back home and another day.  Damp and dark.  Such is November on Mull.  You need to enjoy the sunshine while you can. 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Looking back on October

Where did it go? It is the first of November and I am wondering what happened to October.

Obviously one of the main excitements was the trip to Cockermouth and bringing home the additions to the Herdwick flock.   The following week we bought another 5 tups, but this time without leaving the island!

We went first to Glengorm and bought 2 Glengorm and 2 Mingary tups from there - good strong Blackface tups to go with our hill sheep.  Then we bought a Suffolk tup from another farmer on the island. This one we had seen at the Salen Show as Daughter's Herdwicks were in the same class, so we knew he was handsome but had forgotten how big he was.  He will go with the Cheviot and Zwartble ewes, and hopefully his lambs will be popular in the market next year!   The Suffolk tup has been called Peter as he has big ears.  The Herdwick is called Lachlan, I'm not sure why other than it being a very nice name.  The Blackface tups don't get names as they are not as tame.

Our fine Silver laced Wyandotte cockerel and some of his hens in the wild flower beds by the house.  Plenty of bugs and seeds to forage for.

Some late flowering daisies in a moment of sunshine.

As soon as the sun comes out the bees appear.

But moments later thick cloud and rain.

Followed by sun.  It does mean there are lots of rainbows!

And some gentle sunsets.  The sun is no longer setting over Coll, it has disappeared behind the Point and setting towards Tiree.  By mid winter it will be closer to the Treshnish Isles.  It marks the seasons in another way.

Storm Ophelia brought us some extraordinary skies, but luckily for us, it was not that windy here.

Farmer is busy getting the water tanks in to place on the hill above the cattle shed, so we are moving slowly towards connecting up to the borehole.  The cable and water pipe are laid.  Step by step.  It has been frustrating not getting it all done quickly, but it was probably a far bigger job than we realised.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Herdwick sale

A sea of Herdwicks.

As far as the eye could see.

There were commercial breeds for sale later in the day.

Lots of 'draft ewes'. Draft ewes are 2 or 3 crop ewes.  Ewes that have had 2 or 3 lots of lambs out on the fells.  They are sold to farmers on the lower greener kinder ground.  This is quite different from Mull, where we sell our oldest ewes each autumn as 'cast ewes'. They will have had more crops of lambs and be a couple of years older than the 'draft ewes' from Cumbria.

We had room for 5 ewe hoggs in our trailer alongside the new tup, so we had to watch to see how the pens were split up as it would be no use us bidding for 20 if we can only take 5.

So many ewes.

They are so calm and quiet in the pens.

The sale begins with the 'draft ewes'.

It is busy.  The ring arena is pretty full as the sale gets underway.

Each farmer tells the auctioneer what treatments each pen has had, what age they are.

(I wasn't quite sure what breed these were).

Then it was the ewe lambs turn.  The ones we bought had come second in the Show, and we are pleased with them.  The breeder gave Daughter a luck penny. 

Next day, it is the tup sale.  Pens and pens of them, and very difficult for us to judge what we can afford as we have no way of telling what each tup is worth, according to its breeding/bloodline. We just don't know.  We are told of one breeder to look out for, who has good bloodline but hasn't got a name for himself yet.  His tups went way over our budget! 

This tup topped the Show at the start of the day.  He sold for 10,000 guineas.  The tups were all sold in guineas not pounds.

After the hammer. Looking down on the prize tup having his eartag read and recorded.

This was second or third.  Prices went down dramatically.

In the end Farmer and Daughter selected their tup as it went through the ring, having seen that prices were going way over our budget.  With only 9 ewes for the tup this year, and 14 next year, we cannot justify spending a lot on a tup.   

And here he is...

It was a fascinating couple of days, observing a different farming community, and how things work.   We loved that the market was so busy.  Looking at the sale reports, the average tup sold for £745 up £275 on the year.  I am glad to say that we bought ours for A LOT less than the average! 

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