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, 8 November 2010

At last a week of autumn sunshine, showing off the island at its best with the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets. The golden hues of an autumn landscape perfectly complimented as the sun casts its rays across the Paps.

Days of wind and rain have turned the fields into slosh, making the daily run ever more challenging. As I make my way across the fields it looks like we may be in for a good ‘tupping’. The happy farmer has the sheep and tups separated by a gate for now. As I approach the edge of the field I see a  couple of those ever so flirty girls standing, their bottoms hoisted up at the gate bars, teasing the tups, who had gathered on the other side and were pacing, frustrated, back and forth trying to find a route to the ladies.

The geese arrive in the fields in their hordes to feast on the remaining grass before the winter months take hold. The happy farmer makes the most of the occasional dry hour here and there trying desperately to get the roof on the extension finished, the weather has held him up a lot over the past few weeks, and with only a couple of rows of slates still required on the back he is making frustratingly slow progress. To add salt to the wound he has watched the geese from his roof top perch, as they peck away at the last of the crops, only to watch them take flight, circling in the skies and heading off to other pastures, leaving the fields quite deserted when the goose counting land rover pulls up on the farm. The ‘counters’ binoculars poised mark a zero count on their form and yet again those hungry geese have evaded them, meaning a cut in the slice of goose money the farm will receive at the end of the year.

The cottages have been bustling with activity late into the season, our guests have braved the weather and were even left storm bound on the island with others stuck across on the mainland as ferries were cancelled due to the high winds. It all adds to the holiday experience apparently as the supermarket shelves lie devoid of bread and groceries.

The weather on bonfire night didn’t let us down though, however the happy farmer almost did. A day spent at an island funeral as the farmer bid farewell to another of the island’s great characters, he arrived back mid afternoon, just as the light was beginning to fade, funeral attire shed, he was out fixing the lift pump on his old lady tractor. The pump which supplies fuel to the engine had chosen its time well to break, just when the strong arm of the old lady was required to assemble and load wood into a pile for a bonfire. Sleeves up and arms covered in diesel, daylight fading rapidly and an old character turns up at the farm. A policeman from yesteryear, visiting the island for the funeral, turned up. The happy farmer was delighted. Bonfire plans were abandoned as characters young and old sat round in the warm glow of the farmhouse kitchen, bottles produced, as the light finally faded completely, and an impromptu ceilidh began, Gaelic songs, tales of past times, stories of the island long shrouded in the cloaks of time. The smell of soup, baked potatoes and sausages gently warming on the stove, as excited children arrived home and joined the gathering.

Much later undeterred the happy farmer, with the headlights of the car shining on the grass beside the pottery, built the bonfire and lit the barbeque ready for the celebrations. We sat as the fire crackled and spat, on picnic benches, warming ourselves with mugs of hot soup and other treats. Our cottage guests and friends arriving to join us as fireworks and sparklers were lit. Happy faces of children squealing with delight as I ran for the shelter of the pottery as yet another firework chased me indoors!

Until next time….


bayou said...

As always, a wonderful post, Posie!
So did I get that right: you are entitled to get goose money? How funny! We have no bonfire night over here, or Thanksgiving, so we can only wait for the candle season before Christmas. I love those couleurs of sky you get!

Posie said...

The barnacle geese have declined rapidly they come in large numbers to the island and eat all of the grass, which causes issues for the farm animals. The goose payment is a form of compensation and is there to stop the farmers scaring the geese away or shooting them. Some farms get huge payouts....we get peanuts!!!
We don't get thanksgiving, but I do love bonfire night.

jane said...

Hi Posie
Lovely to see the geese but a great shame they did not wait to be counted - do you get any Brents or Pink Foots - your bonfire party sounde great fun x

jane said...

Hi Posie
Lovely to see the geese but a great shame they did not wait to be counted - do you get any Brents or Pink Foots - your bonfire party sounde great fun x

jane said...

Sorry Posie - I have posted twice - !!

mollygolver said...

Isn't it Murphy's Law that the tractor breaks down just when you need it! The impromptu Ceilidh and bonfire celebrations sounded great though!

funkymonkey said...

Great photographs Posie.It really seems as though the weather has turned this week and that we are now into winter. It's dark, wet and very windy here today, so it was lovely to see your photographs of some wonderful scenery.


Pondside said...

It sounds like a great evening all 'round - bonfire and music and hot soup - perfect!

MILLY said...

Reading your blogs I realise you still have a great community spirit on your island. We just lost our oldest villager at 98years old, a big part of my memories as he was always so involved with village life. It is always good to have people you know to share and enjoy such events as bonfire night.
Lovely photographs as usual.