Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Peat bogs and beyond.

Scorching weather again all weekend, and it is only April, sheer bliss. The Paps of Jura are gaining their summer coats; softened by the light sunny evenings, tinged with pink from the setting sun.

The fields are filled with snowy white lambs, skipping and jumping, as they race each other, tumbling down the hills. We have masses of baby rabbits hopping through the fields too; we haven’t had rabbits in our front fields for years. The happy farmer is hoping to shoot them once they get a bit bigger. Rabbits can cause a huge amount of damage to crops, and will eat their way through the new hedging given the chance. Rabbit stew is delicious. I found it very difficult to get used to the idea of eating rabbit as I kept them as pets when I was a child. I never thought I would end up eating them, but the smell of rabbit stew bubbling away in the kitchen soon changed that. It is very similar to chicken in flavour, slightly more gamey, and certainly a clean meat, totally free range and organic!

The pigs have settled well into their new enclosure at the front of the house and are already proving to be quite a tourist attraction. The dogs watch them through the fence obsessively, and the pigs are playing up to this, they walk up to the dogs and then run round and round in circles, grunting away, you would swear they were laughing.

We walked along the old cart track out past Bunahabhain today, baking in the heat as we went. The happy farmer was reminiscing how as a child he would often spend days up there cutting peat. The peat banks are still there, but not many people still use them, at one time the distilleries used to take a large amount of peat from the banks too, and all of the locals used it as fuel for the fires, now it is largely coal and wood they burn, some houses no longer even have open fires, using electricity and oil instead. Cutting peat was hard labour, but also strengthened communities as the locals gathered and worked together. The rhododendrons are now threatening to swallow up the old peat banks at Bunahabhain, they are sprouting up everywhere, and each flower carries something like 500 seeds.

Until next time…..


Pipany said...

Have had a lovely five minutes catching up with your blogs, Posie. Know exactly what you mean about the kids getting to the computer- mine haven't been off the thing all weekend (hence no blogging!) xx

Frances said...

Hello from New York, Posie.
You really have taken me far away from here with your blogs. I do love to read them. I always have had a romantic view of Scotland, and your blogs bring a clearer view through my mist!


I remember staying with a frind in Cork as a teenager and going with him and his mother and aunt to cut peat for the winter, God what hard work!! Ah but lapin, that'smore like it!