Saturday, 29 February 2020

The end of the month

We have had all sorts of days in February, and a lot of them wet.  There has been some sunshine in between the showers and some great waves. 

Waves at Calgary

Between Calgary and Treshnish

A Cormorant, victim of the storms lying beside the deer fence.

Rum, Skye, Eigg, Muck - from Ben Duill

The Paps of Jura, over the tip of Gometra and the Ross of Mull

Beautiful Ben More

The Treshnish Isles - from Ben Duill


Treshnish waves

Monday, 24 February 2020

The 2020 scanning

February has been a continuation of the wild and wet weather of January and as we approach the usual weekend for Dan the scan to appear, we anxiously watch the forecast trying to work out when to gather, and trying to fit the weather forecast in with when D and J can help.  This year it meant the sheep came in a few days earlier than we would usually bring them in but luckily we had the fields to put them in.

The day Dan came to scan it was wild. Gusts of 50+mph from the west, hitting the fank directly.  With wind chill it was bitterly bitterly cold.  But D and S were uncomplaining and we were grateful for their help.  You need one person (Farmer) on painting, one on pushing up (S) and one on bringing the ewes in to the pens from the yard (D).  It all worked well and nearly 600 sheep were scanned in less than 2 hours.  The Herdwicks came out on top, scanning at 180%.   One should never count your chickens before your eggs have hatched but if they all hold onto and deliver live lambs we might have 40 from 22 mums.  Time will tell.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

The Bridge over the Ensay Burn

Once or twice a year we need to order tractor diesel which is delivered by lorry.  Farmer rang to order it and all appeared to be fine, we were waiting for it to arrive.  Then we had a call from the local depot who asked us what the weight limit on our bridge was, because they couldn't deliver until they knew how heavy a lode it could carry.  That one phone call kicked off the start of a very unexpected building project! 

We had to commission an engineering firm to survey the bridge.  This told us that the maximum weight permissible over the bridge was just less than 10T.  Oh dear.  Most of the lorries weight 14T empty! 

We need access across the bridge constantly, and during the autumn and winter we have lorries delivering hay and feed for the sheep, and taking the lambs away.  Luckily the lambs had gone before we discovered the weight limit was so low. 

We looked into getting a temporary bridge.  We could get one delivered to Oban within 5 working days!  However it was only guaranteed for 25 years and was more expensive than a bespoke one.

My hope of getting a new bridge in place by Christmas went out of the window.  Eventually we agreed with island based TSL Contractors a start date in February and we had a window of just under 3 weeks to get it done. 

Farmer had a stressful few weeks juggling weather forecasts and feed and hay delivery dates, hoping for the feed to arrive when it wasnt pouring with rain.  The lorries would disgorge their cargo into the walkers quarry on the main road, and Farmer would cart it bit by bit back across the weak old bridge. Thankfully it all worked out fine, but just bringing the hay across took him the best part of the day with a radio that didn't work in the tractor! 

The contractors arrived on time and got the job done on time, in spite of horrendous weather and storms.   There were a few moments when we wondered whether they would finish on time, when the wrong bolts were sent, or when the cement lorry was delayed, but the guys working on the job were always cheerful and positive about finishing on time, which I appreciated hugely. 

Digging out the surface of the old bridge

 The timber decking

Waiting for the concrete lorry

The old wall of the original bridge is now exposed

The grid mesh arrives

Will soon be in use

Stage one complete

The girders have been dropped in to place

Positioning them is an exact science

Beginning to deck the bridge

The stones lying on the grass are the coping stones from the wall of the original bridge

Decking done and handrails are bolted down

Concrete ramps can be driven on by cars now - JUST in time for guests arriving at Toechtamhor and East Cottages.

TSL have gone, leaving Farmer to finish off the fencing and gates.

There it is.  The finished bridge.  (and the reason why the renovations to Studio sunroom have had to be delayed!). Thank you to all at TSL.

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