Saturday, 5 October 2019

Bird friendly silage making

The old schoolhouse in autumn.

We have always made late cut silage in order to allow ground nesting birds to safely fledge their young and to let the wild flowers set seed.

This year our silage is going to Sgriob-ruadh Farm where they make the delicious Isle of Mull Cheddar.   Farmer moved the fields with our mower and Sgriob-ruadh brought their tedder over so he could turn the grass before they came to bale and wrap it.   The weather was perfect, so the silage will be as good a quality as it can be, being cut this late in the year.

A beautiful day for it.

Studio sunroom is being rebuilt this winter, so this is probably one of the last photographs of it in this state.   There are lots of leaks and cracks in it, and we are making a doorway in the new one straight into its little garden.

Our vegetable garden has been very productive this summer.  

I love this view of Shieling and Studio. 

And this one of Shian and Duill.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

September days

All the lambs are sold now bar a few stragglers who will go later in the autumn.  The place looks quite empty without them.

We managed to have a last picnic down by the Boathouse earlier in the month.  It was warm and very still, and the sunset was magical.

Still lots of greenery in the Keder.  I have harvested masses of tomatoes, which I 'sun-dried' using a low oven, and put in olive oil.  They are delicious and I suspect won't last long! 

We have had some rain recently.  (possibly an understatement!)  Farmer said there was 3 inches over one weekend, and this makes keeping the track in as good as a condition as we want it to be in, quite hard.  You fill the potholes, and no sooner than it has rained that hard again, and the potholes are back.   It is quite a back breaking job as you can imagine. 

We had an invasion of caterpillars.  Coco sat patiently while I photographed them.   They are Buff-tip moth caterpillars, and will overwinter in the undergrowth under the Hazel and Birch trees they have almost stripped bare!  We will definitely be looking out for lots of moths next year.

Allsorts of weather.  Allsorts of seas.  

And sunsets. 

In the middle of the month we took off to the other end of the country, taking Daughter down to the art school of her choice.  We had a bit of an Indian summer down there too, which was lovely.  We came home to this beautiful sunset on Tuesday! 

Jamie's cows are enjoying the mild autumn days.  They are doing a good job of munching down the Black Park and the Haunn field.

Seed collecting for Kew Gardens... Mull Native Woodlands Group are collecting seed for a project at Kew Gardens to create a tree and shrub tree seed bank.   A determined group of collectors came over yesterday afternoon and we endeavoured to collect Hazel, Alder and Honeysuckle.  There are strict guidelines as to how to go about this and how to record what you collect and where you collect it from.  

We had A, the MNWG chair, keeping us right.   We found a good amount of Honeysuckle, though a lot of seed had already been taken by birds, or fallen off in the wind, or dried up.    We didn't find as many Hazel nuts as we had hoped, but presume the wind will have played a part in scattering them far and wide.  Kew don't want seed that has fallen on the ground, but when we found nuts on the ground we kept them separate to use for the MNWG tree nursery. 

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

White Ramping-fumitory

This is White Ramping-fumitory.  The only records of this wild flower on Mull are here at Treshnish.

Prasad has nurtured and protected the tender plants since he first recorded it in May 2014. I think it is perfectly safe now!   Seen here growing rampantly where it has self-seeded - safely away from sheep and rabbits - in our veg garden.

The Aurora season has started.  Farmer alerted me to a bright sky on Saturday night, and I set the camera up.  Unfortunately there was a lot of cloud on the horizon so we didn't get the amazing activity they photographed on Orkney and Shetland.  But as the days get shorter, it was good to feel the night skies were active again, and of course overhead the stars were wonderful!

Wednesday, 28 August 2019


I could fill a whole book with photographs of Cap who died, aged 14, on Wednesday 28th August.  He was such a special dog, and Farmer says, the best working dog he has ever had.

Cap came from a farm up at the top of Glen Lyon in Perthshire.  He was 2 when he came to us in April 2007.  From the start he was a gentle and friendly dog, a perfect temperament for a farm with lots of walkers passing through the farmyard and with lots of cottage guests bringing their dogs.

Out working with Farmer, he had a huge outrun, learned from gathering the big hills over long distances in Glen Lyon.   So he would always take a wide berth when gathering our hill, working up and down the cliffs with ease.

There was one thing he never could do, no matter how loud Farmer whistled or shouted.  He never could Stand.   Stand was the command to get him to stop still immediately.  I can still hear Farmer shouting 'Cap Stand. Stand. Cap Stand.'  To no avail!   He would just keep on going!

When he wasn't working, he liked to swim - whatever time of year.  And in his later years in the winter, we would avoid the lochan in case he decided to swim.

Cap also loved to play with a ball or a frisbee.  He was even known to carry one with him when he was out gathering along the coast!

When he and Jan had their puppies in March 2011, I put an advert in the Oban Times to try and find them good working homes.   A woman rang from the mainland, Ardnamurchan somewhere, and asked lots of questions.  She was very disappointed I wasn't the woman in Tobermory she had got a working dog from before, and then wanted to check that the puppies were from working parents.   I said they were. She said she hoped they weren't the sort of dogs that had toys.  I looked out the window and there was Cap in the farmyard playing with a ball!  Needless to say, she didn't take one of our puppies.

It feels like the end of an era on the farm.   But we are all extremely grateful to have had him for 12 years, and that he didn't suffer and was happy until the end.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Gathering for the lamb sales

It was the most beautiful morning and the gatherers set off at 8am.   Farmer texted me when they got to Port Haunn so I could go and fly the drone as they came up from the shore.   I missed that bit but I will do it next time!  Instead I was able to film them running through the heather.   As I am flying I can hear all the sounds of ewes and lambs calling, Farmer and the others whistling and commanding their dogs, but the drone film is silent!

The guests hadn't arrived for East, Middle and West so I was able to overfly.

What a view of Toechtamhor, with that snaking trail of ewes and lambs disappearing into the distance.

Drying the onions!

Caterpillars have been emerging on the nettles - eating their way out!  I didn't see any on these but we have been finding Knot grass caterpillars on the thistles and Prasad has found Painted lady caterpillars in his garden.

The cows are in the field below the house.  This was the last calf to be born!

Calling for a lamb..

The Knapweed and Devil's bit scabious have been amazing.  Such popular nectar plants at this time in the summer.

Lovely Goldenrod flowering in amongst the scabious.

And one final bloom on the Sea pink.

A white Devil's bit scabious near the boathouse.

The Herdwick lamb faces are getting whiter.

There are 4 sheep in the field beyond Haunn.  Whenever Farmer tries to gather them in to the Haunn field to join them up with the others, they leg it down to the shore.   Where they know he can't get at them.

Early morning light on Shieling wall.

A long day in the fank on Monday sorting out who is being sold and who is staying put.

Job done. 

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