Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Late afternoon sun

A snow day

Childishly I have been eagerly watching the forecast and hoping for just enough snow to enjoy but not be a hassle.   My wish came true as we had snow over night last night, leaving us just enough this morning to enjoy.  It is late afternoon now and thawing, so not enough snow to be a nuisance.   It certainly was beautiful. And I had a morning taking photographs which was just a joy.

We are in the middle of the winter routine.  Not just on the farm but in the cottages.  We have SM doing farm and cottage maintenance once a week, CG helping in the gardens once a week, and NP has just started his annual list of indoor jobs.  And this week we have RM doing some fencing jobs.

Farmer is in the feeding regime.  There are 5 lots of sheep outside who are fed every morning - the older ewes currently in the Haunn field; the tups in the field by the house, the Cheviots on the Point and the Herdwicks in the field below the house.   Then the hoggs are all in the shed and they get fed twice a day.  

The 3 Highland bullocks are still indoors but the side door of the shed is open and they have access to the hill park.   They tend to graze way up at the top of the hill park by day and come back to the shed for food when it starts to get dark.

Farmer went to market last week.  We had a few male lambs to sell and some old tups.  We shared the load with a neighbour, and took a few other stragglers for other people too.  The roads were quite slushy that morning so they went for a later boat, and there was lots of snow in Oban!

Feeding the older ewes in the Haunn field.

Toechtamhor catching the sun, with East, Middle and West in the shade, and the Treshnish Isles just poking out from behind Ben Duill.

From the Haunn field back to Treshnish and on to Calgary Beach at the head of the bay.

I find it difficult sometimes to explain how far the cottages are from the sea.

With 4 miles of coastline on the farm, it is never that far away.

The isle of Rum had lots of snow on it this morning.

The snow shows up the farm track to Haunn quite well!

We went up to the top of the hill above Burg to look at the view.  We met RM coming over to continue the fencing.  Hers was the only vehicle to go over this bit of road today.

I went back in the afternoon to see if I could catch the light on the Haunn cottages, but unfortunately the sun went behind the clouds, and it was FREEZING!

This morning's feed bags.

Waiting, waiting.

Rum in the distance, white from top to bottom.

 The hill road.

Beginning to thaw.

The track through the Haunn field was thawing.

Shian and Duill rooves would be good for solar PV!

Hardy Snowdrops in the farmhouse garden.

Monday, 21 January 2019

A new month, a new year

Farmer got ahead of himself after New Year and had the sheep through the fank and back to the hill quite quickly.   This involves bringing all the sheep in from the fields where they have been over the 6 weeks of the middle winter.  The tups are taken off, and the ewes given a health check, complete with a drench and a mineral bolus (slow release tablet).  The soil here is deficient in magnesium selenium and copper so we have been giving them a bolus every year for a long time, and they are stronger for it. 

In the shed Farmer is continuing to feed the hoggs (last year's female lambs/next year's new breeding females).  In the last few days he has been sorting the extras out, and selecting the ones he wants to sell at Tuesday's sale in Oban.  

We also sell the older tups at this time of year.  Sometimes we swop with a neighbour but this year they are going to market.   The remaining tups are in the field beside Shian and Duill - they hang around the gate waiting for a man with a bag (the feed bag), and once they have had their daily ration they wander off to the extremities of the field grazing.  

Weather wise the year so far has had some lovely calm days, so still and quiet -and then some pretty wild ones.  No snow yet but there is snow forecast tonight, so time will tell.  

The Snowdrops are flowering beautifully in the farmhouse garden. 

The cloudy nights don't make spotting the Aurora Borealis very easy.  But actually it is not just the weather - there just hasn't been as much activity this winter as in previous winters, and they haven't been as strong.  Still - the moon is just as bright, and the stars and Milky Way are magical. 

The new year did not get off to a good start for wildlife, with the tragic live stranding of a Cuvier's Beaked Whale.  These are deep water whales and not often seen close to shore.    It was nacropsied by scientists from SMASS and found to have died as a result of parasitic nematodes.  Tragic.  The Coastguard were involved in protecting the body before it was covered up as they are considered toxic.   By the time I heard about it, it had already been covered up.  

Last night/this morning there was a full lunar eclipse and the internet this morning is filled with glorious photographs of blood red moons and eclipsed shapes of moon going into the shadow of the earth.  Sadly we had cloud, so I managed only a photograph from the back door of the super moon as it rose in the early evening. 

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