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

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

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Bramble 'Houdini', the Party Pup.

Bramble the pup is now four months old and is proving herself to be a Houdini among pups.

She arrived on the farm as a totally unexpected surprise. Mist, the sheepdog, had kept her  midnight shenanigans with the amorous Labrador from down the road totally to herself, in fact she even concealed the whole pregnancy,  preferring to surprise us with a little black bundle snuggled in close one morning. This is how Bramble Berry Fletcher came to be.
The children were over joyed, a late birthday present from Mist proclaimed eldest, I was immediately smitten, the happy farmer not so convinced but he was easily cajoled along into welcoming the new black bundle into the clan.

This summer we celebrated one hundred years of the happy farmer's family  residing on the farm with a garden party that started at 4.00 in the afternoon  going  on until 4.00 the following morning. There were many bodies scattered around various corners of the farmhouse however they surprisingly all seemed to disperse just before the happy farmer's wife surfaced to a scene of obliteration as the farmhouse was somewhat unrecognisable among the strewn bottles, cans, discarded burgers, a sign of a very good party indeed.

I was rescued from the cleaning chores when various visitors arrived from the holiday cottages armed with goodies for a full cooked breakfast for anyone who could find their way to the Kitchen. The smell of bacon sizzling from the Aga is a sure way to waken the house.

The problem facing us before this big extravaganza was that Bramble up to this point had wandered freely around the garden all day and then in the evenings had taken herself off to snuggle up to Mist. Being ever so tiny I did worry that with so many friends and family coming along little Bramble could be trodden on, or eat something that would upset her delicate little tummy. Much nagging later and the happy farmer built a new enclosed kennel for Mist and Bramble, one which would keep visiting amorous Labrador s at 'paws' length, and one which would keep Mist and Bramble safe during the party. As people began to arrive and the BBQ was heating up little Bramble took one look and ever so gracefully toddled through the bars of her new kennel and joined the party...for the duration, so much for the happy farmer's new kennel.
Now at four months old, and nearly as big as her mother this little Houdini of a pup has learnt that if she wriggles and shimmies ever so gracefully she can still squeeze her ever so fat belly through those bars, so she spends her days wandering happily around the garden joining in any party that she happens upon.
Until next time...

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Bar-bugled with a Sore Spring hanger....

The island has been busy with visitors from all over the globe travelling here to sample all of the delights and charms this unique community has to offer, namely malt and magic, spectacular scenery and oodles of wildlife (happy farmer included, as well as a few of the other local worthies).

Even the 'dancing girls', the happy farmer's sister and cousin, sailed over for a repeat painting experience at the chateau down the road, one of the very few, very last remaining tin houses in Scotland.

You would think those ladies after their last experience of toiling away in the blistering sunshine, painting the exterior of the house, while their brother performed his acrobatic balancing acts from the high ladder, would have steered well clear of the island for a little while longer. However such is the island's charms they just could not keep away and having nothing left to paint, bar the interior of the house, they made another pilgrimage to their island home, laden with paint and brushes.

Those girls, in the words of an old farmer from bygone days, 'booted and revved those engines', which roughly translates to working their socks off all day, slapping away with the paint brushes, and then getting heavily refreshed, by way of tucking into a plentiful supply of 'refreshments', into the wee small hours. It made for a good recovery and prepared them for another day of hard slog. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the most entertaining part of this is that the happy farmer's sister will tell you that she has, to quote the old farmer again, 'run up many miles on the clock', as she is, nearly sixty years old, (which is a tad of an exaggeration, but she holds that it does make her look ever more youthful if she piles a 'few extra miles onto the clock', or years onto her youth!!).

We do miss the old farmer from up the road and his lovely use of language. In his eyes all people were motor engines, some had a 'good chassis', others were simply 'bugled', and if you were really bad, well you were 'bar-bugled', if you were limping then you had a sore 'spring hanger', and if you weren't right in the head, the gear box was failing.  Those girls' 'gear boxes were definitely failing' and their 'spring hangers' were mightily challenged by the end of their painting experience, so I was heartily entertained when the new tenant in the 'chateau' commented on the gleaming paint work. Luckily he is a painter and decorator to trade, and has very kindly offered to touch up the stripey walls.

Until next time...

Thursday, 6 June 2013

I want to ride my bicycle...

Madness and mayhem continue here as the sun splits the skies and the farm is bustling and buzzing with activity. A whole crowd of my family are over for a visit, the bed and breakfast is going like a fair and the cottages are booked up, so last weekend saw me doing sofa changeovers too, swapping one set of visitors off the bed settee for another….
Yesterday I took a well-earned break. I had been invited to cycle around the Isle of Colonsay with my action man brother and his super fit cycling girlfriend. I was encouraged along by the happy farmer who assured me, in his ever calm, happy state that he would look after the pottery, the farm, the bed and breakfast, the laundry, the children, the pet lambs, the horses, the chicks, the dogs, oh and Bramble, the birthday surprise Mist, our collie dog, introduced to us on Sunday morning. 
The only problem facing me was the lack of a bike, that and the fact I hadn't ridden one since I was about 12. The happy farmer, ever resourceful at overcoming life’s challenges, went for a quick rake through his handy shed and appeared some hours later with a rusty specimen, which had few problems that a quick squirt of oil and some pedal power couldn't
fix. He called me away from customers to have a quick check that the bike would be fine for me. Now the fact that both of my feet could sit flat and firmly on the ground reassured me that although I was a bit wibbly wobbly and shaky I would be quite safe.
Next day I kidnapped the happy farmer and his trailer to give me a lift down to the ferry port, I wasn't brave enough to free wheel down the very steep brae with all of the Lorries and passing traffic. 
Safely deposited with the old rust bucket I purchased a round the world ticket at the ferry office and took my place among all of the seasoned cyclists and their shiny bikes, waiting for the ferry to Colonsay.

We sailed into Colonsay a short while later, cycling along the pier up to the only single track road on the island and we were off, and the challenges began, firstly there were the gears to get a hang of, I was putting in more pedal power than my brother put in for the whole day’s cycling just to make it up the first hill, if you could call it a hill. I quickly also realized that while my feet could indeed sit firmly on the ground this also meant my knees were up round my ears as I cycled along on old bertha. It didn't help when people with bottoms twice, even three times, the width of mine went swiftly past me while I was huffing and puffing away. I discovered that I do have a bit of a competitive streak after all, which quickly led to my behind becoming very saddle sore with all of the effort, indeed by the end of the day I had mastered cycling standing up in the pedals, or at least raising myself slightly just to ease the pressure as the roads seemed to get ever more bumpy, just to add to the challenges.

We cycled to nearby Oronsay, and then around the island, each twist and  bend in the road opening up more spectacular views of turquoise seas and white pebble beaches. The strong coconut scent of the gorse bushes in the air, the soothing sea breeze and the brilliant sunshine made for an amazing day, that and the fact that my brother swapped bikes with me half way round, which made my bike ride ever more amusing as I watched him pedaling like mad with his knees going way beyond his ears, and luckily I didn't get a puncture until we were two minutes from the ferry, having had a well-earned refreshment at the local hotel

Until next time….

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Farmyard antics...

It has reached that lovely time of year when the days seem endless, you go to bed in broad daylight and get woken by the sun’s rays, to broad daylight.

I got woken this morning by the Black Labrador from down the road, yodelling outside my window. I looked out to see what all the commotion was about. The lab was announcing his presence to Spog, the tabby cat, who took not the slightest bit of notice, as he lay sprawled out on the bench in the sunshine, waiting for ‘opening’ hours at the farmhouse.
This whole episode warned me then that Ruby is in season. The lab was up for a social call, but when Ruby was refusing to entertain, well she would have, but the fencing around her kennel prevented anything further than some serious flirting, he took to yodelling outside my window, and although broad daylight, it was actually 4.00am.
Charlie hen arrived a little later on with her new family. She has been patiently sitting on her nest for weeks now, barely venturing off it, but this morning, eggs hatched, she was at the front door, proud as punch. The happy farmer fed the brood and then scooped them up into a safe box in the shed, away from the cats, dogs and other predators that may be lurking.
The farm is positively buzzing in the sunshine. We have a scout troop camping in the field, French guests camping at the pottery and the bed and breakfast suite and cottages are full. It is whisky festival time on the island. The happy farmer is positively beaming with all of the socializing he has to do, out of duty you understand.

Polo Bear, the pet lamb, has been joined by Sugar Lump the Second, both are now thriving. Although Polo Bear did have a touch of joint illness so has been on a course of daily injections administered by the happy farmer as he does his rounds, in between his whisky duties.
Muffin, the cheeky pony, is in barracks with a mild touch of laminitis, usually if he sees the happy farmer coming anywhere near, he happily gives him the fingers, or should I say hoof, as he gallops off in the opposite direction. This week however he is the happy farmer’s best friend, obligingly lifting his hooves to be picked out; butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.

Eldest is home for the summer, and has landed a dream job at Bruichladdich distillery doing distillery tours and whisky tasting sessions, she is in her element and the job comes with good perks too.

The pottery has been filled with visitors from all around the globe, and my days have been spent having some weird and wonderful discussions, in between being an octopus, serving sandwiches and cakes, selling pottery and taking pottery painting classes.

It is very hectic, very entertaining and very rewarding.

Until next time….

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A good few miles away on the clock...

The happy farmer’s sister was over visiting on a working break, for a wee spot of partying, I mean painting and maintenance, to the cottage she owns down the road. She breezed in off the afternoon plane, having sent her cousin, who she had enlisted to join her for a relaxing break, involving non-stop painting with a tad of partying thrown in, on the very long car and ferry route. Her cousin and the car were needed to deliver the necessary sweets and cakes, variety of bottles, not forgetting the huge tubs of paint, that always accompany the happy farmer’s sister on such visits.

Those two girls spent their days painting away, even surprising themselves with the amount they managed to get done in the short space of time they had, especially as my sister in law is nearly sixty, as she always reminds us, even though sixty is a good few miles on the clock away.

The evenings were spent around the farmhouse kitchen table eating hearty meals and catching up with us all.
The happy farmer was getting increasingly frustrated as the demands of the lambing rounds were preventing him from giving his sister a much needed hand, until eventually on their final day he did manage to pop down for an hour or so of painting. Armed with a ladder he was determined to reach the parts no other painter had gone before. He gaily climbed some steps and lent the ladder against the back door, proceeded to climb up and start painting, gallon tin of paint in hand, when the back door suddenly burst open, allowing the ladder to fall in the way and slip down the concrete steps at the same time, transporting the happy farmer flat on his face on the ground, tin of paint still in hand and unspoiled  His sister and cousin spent the first seconds alarmed and concerned, before creasing into helpless bundles of laughter at the happy farmer’s misfortune. Luckily he escaped relatively unscathed, apart from the huge concrete burns on his arms and knees, nothing a good dram couldn't sort out later on! The happy farmer’s big achievement that he was immensely proud of was the fact that not a drop of paint was spilled during his free fall, a skill he puts down to years of acrobatic training in various bars involving various bar stools and varying amounts of alcohol….
Until next time……

Monday, 29 April 2013

A spring in the happy farmer's step...

Spring is well and truly here, although the weather still has a lot of catching up to do as it clings onto very wintry temperatures, sunshine mixed with hail storms and biting cold winds, at least I have an excuse this year for not having planted up the vegetable patch yet.

The labour wards on the farm, also known as fields, are bursting with new life as the sheep continue to cause the happy farmer more than a good dollop of stress, as he continues on his lambing rounds from first light until dusk. The pottery has a new pet lamb, Polo Bear, who entertains the visitors and happily suckles away from a baby’s bottle. The happy farmer is not keen on pet lambs, but when Polo Bear’s mother flatly refused to acknowledge the white bundle of fluff belonged to her, the children over ruled the happy farmer and insisted a new nursery was set up opposite the pottery, and Polo Bear was welcomed into the family.

Visitors come and go to the cottages and bed and breakfast suite, with the happy farmer swapping lambing rounds for his role as tour guide. Tractor and trailer at the ready, bread boxes as makeshift seats, he took our lovely French guests out the hill to meet his clan of Highland cows.  Now the happy farmer cannot be totally relied upon to behave himself on such occasions, but when he stopped the tractor, hid behind a rock and then jumped out shouting moo as he mimicked horns with his hands, the French guests did thankfully see the funny side. He did however manage to cause them some concern when his sense of humour led to the tractor grinding to a halt in the very middle of a deep swollen burn. He proceeded to inform them they would need to jump off and push. As the guests looked worriedly from the farmer to the water, a huge grin spread across the farmer’s face, and the tractor sprung to life once more, this time taking the guests straight to where those Highland girlies were happily grazing.Photo
Later on Polo Bear was happily guzzling a bottle from our guests.
Until next time….

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Please horses don't gobble me up....

I spent yesterday running around like Sooty the chimney sweep. Why is it disaster always strikes when the Happy Farmer has exited to the mainland?

My mantra of, as I am on feeding duties, 'please horses don't gobble me up today' worked wonders. I gingerly retrieved the buckets from the horses field without them spying me, safely managed to deposit them over the gate, complete with sugar beet, before the horses came galloping over, and then scaled the far away gate while they were busy munching, to sort out their daily hay rations from the back of the horse box. Hansel's jacket half hanging off did require a call for emergency back up though, rather pathetically I know my limitations, even if Hansel is a gentle giant, it is the 'giant' that I am a little cautious of to say the least.
Anyway, having admirably, I have to pat my own back here, taken on the various feeding duties about the farm and overcome various hurdles and anxieties gnawing away at my imagination, I woke up yesterday to find the sitting room awash with soot. Gales had cracked and blown away half of one of the chimney pots. The chimney that runs at an angle, so has lots of soot deposits hiding away in various corners, lots of soot deposits that decided to travel along with the gale into the comfort of my sitting room. Everything was covered with black ash and dust, sticky, thick soot. So yesterday was spent peeling every cover and cushion off various settees and seat, washing down lampshades, glasses and various ornaments. The never ending sticky soot clinging to everything and hiding in every corner. I fought a pointless battle yesterday and to make matters worse found the towels I had tried to block up the fireplace with just wasn't holding back more flurries of soot deposits. Last night saw me battling against those gales, with pillows shoved up the chimney, bin liners taped, although the tape kept peeling off with the draughts, towels and finally a big bed sheet covering the whole fire place. Just a light sprinkling of soot today then, and no roasting, roaring fire.
Until next time.....