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, 31 January 2011

A 'Deer' Old Time....

It was a case of a mad dash round the farm house, flinging PJs into an overnight bag and dishing out instructions, as the younger family members grabbed a quick bite, before quickly changing from school uniforms into the appropriate attire for a Burn’s supper. Finally all loaded into the jeep; we hurtled off down the brae to catch the last ferry across the Sound to the Isle of Jura, grabbing our resident American whisky journalist along the way.

The ferry berthed under the glare of an orange spot light, into the tiny deserted port of Feolin, and we were transported into another world. As we began to make our way along the meandering single track road, enveloped in complete darkness, we were confronted with some twenty deer or so, the car headlights picking out their eyes and the faint silhouettes of the stags’ antlers. It gradually became a case of dodge the deer, as at various points along the way a hind or a stag would jump out in front of the jeep, as they made their way down off the slopes and onto the beach in search of a healthy bite of seaweed.

We reached Craighouse, jeep still intact thankfully, in spite of a few near misses. Luggage was unpacked into the hotel and then after a swift ‘half’ at the bar we headed for the village hall, a bustling hive of activity. Tables laid, accordion and fiddles playing, and tartan throws adorning a picture of The Bard, Robbie Burns. We were ushered to the top table as the ‘kilted clad’ happy farmer had the honour of ‘toasting the lassies’. Following a welcome from the chairman, the haggis was piped in and duly attacked with a knife, before grace was said and the feast of haggis, neeps and tatties began. I needn’t have worried feeding the younger ones; they happily cleared their bowls of soup and discovered that haggis was quite tasty after all. More words from the chairman followed, and then a recital of the ‘Immortal Memory’, before the happy farmer stood up to do his bit, and so the evening proceeded, a haze of toasts, speeches, piping, singing, and recitations, the ceilidh was in full swing and youngest was completely flaking, happy, but tired. We scooped her up in my coat and the happy farmer gave her a piggy back to the hotel where she was tucked up in bed with a book and some supper.
The happy farmer left us to return to the hall, which was by now in full swing with the ceilidh band playing, tables cleared and partners grabbed for the ‘Gay Gordon’s, the Scottish country dancing began in earnest.

Son arrived back sometime after midnight, daughter, in the wee small hours, but the happy farmer didn’t get in until around 5.00am. I have completely given up on waiting for him to grow up and act his age, I think he is rightly choosing to grow old disgracefully. As one of the points in his speech went, ‘Women are frustrating creatures, the age old question they ask after you have had a night out
‘What time did you get in last night’, your truthful response, ‘the back of midnight’, ‘No it wasn’t, it was 2.33am’…….why did they bother asking the question to begin with?’

A hearty breakfast at the hotel and we were soon home on the farm. The happy farmer was out greeting the animals, stood at their various posts, the highland cows, bellowing away by the fence. The hens, having flown from the coop, were waddling through the field, slipping through the gate, and making a hasty dash towards the farmhouse. The tupps, with their throaty bellows, stood by the troughs. The happy farmer was delighted to see he was most successful in the latest round of his continuing battle with his errant teenager,  Marmite the lawn mower, having barricaded in the damson bushes, ever resourceful with his old tractor and a wooden pallet…

Until next time…..

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Marmite the lawn mower....

I looked out of the window to see Marmite the lawn mower busy at work, trimming the grass in the front garden. Who needs their grass cut in January you may well ask, but then you see Marmite is very particular, and will go to great lengths to make sure our garden is kept well clipped. 

Marmite is one of the happy farmer’s group of girls, one of the four legged variety, a resident Highland heifer, who simply cannot resist a tasty bite, especially at this time of year. Keeping a close eye on her mother, Treacle, she too has mastered the art of pirouetting over the cattle grid on a daily basis in search of tastier delights than the ones on offer in her home pastures. Every morning mother and daughter follow their well practised routine of skipping daintily over the grid which is there to deter the cattle from sauntering onto the single track road.

It doesn’t get better than a cold January  morning, lying cosily between the sheets, surveying the view whilst I await a welcome morning cup of tea from the happy farmer who is hard at work in the kitchen, Marmite busy out cutting the grass. This morning the happy farmer even took it upon himself to lay on some added entertainment. Whilst watching our Highland cow, I suddenly became aware of one scantily clad happy farmer making his way across the front garden, in his under garments and flip flops, waving his arms in the air, a well practised dance routine, which had little effect on Marmite. That is until the happy farmer grabbed a nearby football to lob at her. Marmite on seeing this frightful vision lifted her head, took one look and bolted in the opposite direction, out onto the road, past the pottery, galloping to what looked like home before swerving sharply to the left, spying another opportunity, another garden needing a wee tidy up, she fled into the cottage gardens.

Sometime later, cup of tea in hand, a slightly disgruntled happy farmer arrived in the bedroom. What was annoying him the most was the bit of ‘cattle herding’ that I completely missed, dash it. Apparently when Marmite took off into the cottage gardens the happy farmer was forced, by impassable muddy puddles, to come back to the house and ditch the flip flops, for a more sensible pair of wellington boots. Now the image of the happy farmer running around, waving his arms, shouting, in underpants and wellingtons can only be left to the imagination, luckily the holiday cottages didn’t have guests this week.

Until next time…

Monday, 17 January 2011

An Irish Jig....

The happy Farmer arrived home in much better spirits than expected. In fact there was a huge grin on his weather beaten face as he recalled the afternoon’s events.

The happy farmer had duly arrived at Farmer T’s welcoming kitchen. Farmer T could be found sat in his kitchen having coffee, following several visits from busy farmers already. Several cups of coffee later, and the whole farming world was put to rights, and the two ambled out into the storms to see if they could locate a spare tractor tyre. Farmer T took the quad bike and the happy farmer took the jeep to go round the farm yard.  Farmer T made off towards the lower yard with the happy farmer following behind in the comfort of his jeep. The happy farmer then watched as a ‘jacketless’ Farmer T, having been soaked in the tail end of a shower, was pelted with great golf balls of hail stones which proceeded to fire from the skies above. Of course Farmer T’s new jacket happened to be lying in his tractor back at the shed. Eventually the quad bike sped off back in the direction of the shed, and the happy farmer found his friend, sat in his tractor cab, soaked to the skin and cursing, still not a tractor tyre in sight.

The two farmers finally re emerged from the shed and managed to locate the spare tractor tyre. Farmer T stood the tyre up and was busy inspecting it when there was an almighty clash of thunder, which made him jump a foot in the air. Having just managed to regain his composure, there was a flash of lightening followed by more thunder, followed by more jumps from Farmer T.

The happy farmer much later, a huge grin on his face, gleefully recalled what he could only describe as Farmer T’s new take on the old Irish jig, as his friend  leapt into the air several times, all the while holding onto the tractor tyre, as the thunder roared from above, the happy farmer bent double and speechless as he watched on helplessly.

Jig over, the tyre was loaded into the back of the jeep and one happy farmer sped off down the road, managing the school run on the way home, having thoroughly enjoyed his afternoon’s entertainment at Farmer T’s.

Until next time….

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Torn tractor tyres...

The happy farmer is cursing. He discovered a stretch of fencing that needs to be fixed. He spent the morning battling away in hail storms fixing stobs into the ground. I helpfully suggested he leave the fence until the weather had calmed down. Not heeding my advice however, he promptly went out and set about locating a length of telegraph pole to use as a post for swinging the gate off. He was planning on using the loader on the front of the tractor to lift the pole onto the trailer to save his back, the mod cons of farming! However as he drove alongside the pile of poles, he did not see the sharp spike sticking out from one of the poles. The spike managed to rip the whole side out of the tractor tyre, hence the ‘cursing’.
At least the happy farmer will now get shelter from the storms as he heads off to Farmer T’s to get another tractor tyre, and then he can spend a happy afternoon fitting the new tyre in the comfort of his shed, shelter from the wild weather at last!!
Until next time....

Friday, 7 January 2011

Rain and gales lashing the farmhouse, a day for curling up at the fireside and hibernating in the peace and quiet now the last of the Hogmanay revellers have sailed away on the ferry.

The cows still need to be fed though and undeterred by the harsh winter weather youngest, dressed to kill, in full bling and fashion, was determined to go out on the trailer for her weekend ritual of feeding the highland cows. The happy farmer looked down at his youngest, her trendy new clothes from Christmas, hidden under a fashionable pink coat, topped off with a matching pink beret, pink leather boots, beads, bangles and several huge sparkly rings.

‘I really don’t know if you should go out in the trailer in that coat, have you not got an old jacket?’ he enquired.
Youngest raised her eyebrows and in an exasperated tone responded ‘Honestly dad you really do know nothing about fashion…’

A little while later the pink beret of the ‘fashion princess’ could be seen peeping over the hay bale on the trailer as the tractor made its way over the hill to the waiting herd.