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

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

Monday, 25 October 2010

We have been living out of suitcases for the past few weeks, with a string of mainland parties to attend, coupled with dental visits and trips to relations. At last youngest got a chance to visit the pet shop and choose a couple of goldfish to replace her beloved Raisin and Tieger, and son was able to buy a companion for his show fish, Orangina.

Seanmhair (Gaelic for Grandma) was eighty on 17th October and being a very ‘with it’ Seanmhair she celebrated in style at a Glasgow curry house, hosting a lunch party for forty family and friends. The room decorated with helium balloons as young and old reminisced and tucked into huge platefuls of delicious curry. Cousins of all shapes and sizes, but the most talked about, arrived, looking as wide as he was tall, complete with an ever so slightly short kilt and a shopping trolley, filled with heavy hard backed books for his train journey from Edinburgh to Glasgow, the one and only cousin Archie. A true gentleman and an exceedingly eccentric character. A fun packed hectic time was had by all; son donned a kilt for the first time, making his Seanmhair exceptionally proud. Uisdean and Donnie MacCalman serenaded Seanmhair with their Gaelic songs, as she blew out the candles on her birthday dumpling baked with her own fair hands as no one makes a clootie dumpling quite like Seanmhair! The partying continued well into the evening as Seanmhair and the younger grandchildren (she has 13 grandchildren from her seven offspring!) headed back to the flat while the remaining revellers headed on into town to celebrate further.

After a rather late night, the following day saw us heaving heavy bags and belongings from the flat to the jeep, and heading off up the road for the ferry, heavily laden with suitcases, shopping, children and of course the three new goldfish sloshing around in their Tupperware container at the back of the jeep. Two minutes into the journey and a text came from the Calmac ferry company to say due to the severe weather conditions all ferry sailings were cancelled until further notice. Faced with three tired and disappointed children, not to mention the adults, and a jeep loaded so full that not an ounce of spare space existed, the thought of having to abandon our journey home was not one we relished. We headed first to auntie’s for a morning coffee and then onto the friend’s for a big cooked brunch. The jeep still heavily laden, we contemplated another night on the mainland, when a text came through to say the ferry may sail that evening.  We decided to make for the ferry and headed up the road through driving rain, the wind lashing the sides of the jeep as we made our way through the mountains and over the Rest and finally across to Kennacraig. I gingerly stepped onto the ferry, dreading the journey ahead of us, only to find the seas had calmed down quite a bit, and the sailing was all in all a very pleasant one. We finally headed off the ferry and up the road, sprits truly lifted as we saw the glow of the farmhouse, and arrived to a roaring fire, Grandma and grandpa had been there before us.
Until next time....

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Those flirty girls jump the fence.

The autumn is creeping up on us, the landscape is changing. The mellow colours of the summer months are being replaced with the vibrant bronze and golden autumn hues.

Jars of pickled beetroot line the cupboards and the last pea pods have been plucked from the vegetable patch.

The happy farmer is away at the sheep sales hoping to purchase some more tups for the farm. I am left to feed the hens and the dogs and of course the children! The hens have settled well into their new enclosures, the speckled chicks from summer are now nearly full size and are happily weeding the new hedgerow by the burn and seem delighted with their ‘wigwam’ roosting box, the other ladies are getting along well in their ‘dog’ free enclosure and Hetty has accepted them all willingly. Charlie hen is happy roaming around the farmyard and venturing into the fields with the sheep first thing in the morning, her nest precariously close to the edge of the single track road, but hidden away in the long grass, she continues to provide our youngest with an egg a day for breakfast.

Fudge our highland cow is heavily in calf, so we check her everyday. She appears to be making the most of her situation, teasing the happy farmer, as with her huge pregnant frame, she chooses to teeter on the very edge of the hill, just above a cliff face to get the very tastiest bit of grass.

The happy farmer was confronted with a couple of unexpected calves among our other small herd of Highland cows as he gathered in the sheep off the hill the other morning. It seems that two of his ‘flirty girls’ out the hill took it upon themselves to jump the electric fence and join Farmer T’s bull and his cows for some ‘outdoor sports’ before rejoining their playmates, so we now have two cross limousine highland calves much to Farmer T’s delight!

The lambs have been separated from the sheep and moved off the hillside and into the fields, ready for auction next month and so the farming cycle continues, as new tups arrive next week.

Until next time……

Monday, 4 October 2010

Disaster, Roy, the sheepdog sat with his ears back looking ever so slightly guilty, Mist, his partner in crime, sheepishly hidden away in the hedge, well out of sight. White feathers scattered everywhere and the remains of one white chicken discarded close by. Carnage broke out while we obliviously went for an afternoon stroll in the woods. On our return we are greeted with a scene of total devastation and two very guilty looking offenders sitting as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths.

I run to the hen enclosure to find more feathers and no white hens, only the Blackrock and Isa Browns remain, and even they have to be gently coaxed out of hiding.
The hens have been venturing into the garden over the past few weeks, much to the happy farmer’s frustrated delight. The dogs have been stalking them around the hedges and borders, but up until now the hens have been holding their own, seemingly unfazed by all the attention, even making their way through the French doors and into the farmhouse kitchen on occasions.

Today the garden tells a different story. Dogs chastised and put away for the evening we need to move the remaining hens to the other enclosure, away over the road, where they will no longer venture into our garden under the watchful eyes of the dogs.

The children get a bucket of hen food and the happy farmer gets the cage to load the hens into. A solemn white hen appears from the garden hedgerow, feathers cruelly plucked from her behind, and then the cries of an excited child as a second is discovered on poppy hill. We gently coax them all into the cage and carry them across the field to their new enclosure, Hetty our older Blackrock greets them, but luckily is accepting of them and they appear to settle well into their new enclosure.

Our guests later relay to the happy farmer how they had been disturbed by a knocking on the back door of their cottage, they looked out to see a white hen tapping the door agitatedly with her beak, they opened the door and she strutted right in, made a beeline through the cottage and demanded out at the front door, they were highly entertained, especially as Charlie has been paying them daily visits. The white hen on the other hand saw it as an opportunity of survival and in a smart move escaped the sheepdogs cull!!

Charlie hen meanwhile cannot see what all the fuss was about and boldly struts her stuff around the farmyard and garden completely unfazed by those naughty dogs.

Until next time…..