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

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

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

lambs and hens

21st May, 2008

The weather has been fantastic for the past month, each day the sun has been shining and the skies have been blue. The happy farmer has been able to turn his attentions from the frustrations of an appalling lambing to his building project and is really making progress with the extension. The walls are all built and he has been busy coating them with cement, as his tractor radio blares out across the farmyard. What an achievement in years to come as each brick has been carefully laid with his own bare hands, every bit of the building his own work.

We lost a lot of lambs this year; the weather was cruel, bringing icy cold winds and frequent hail storms. To make matters worse all of the sheep the happy farmer had brought at the market last autumn were ‘yelled’. They did not produce one lamb among them. Those girls have spent the last few months in the fields, getting extra attention and daily rations from the happy farmer, as he prepared them for lambing. They were in tip top condition. When he gathered them all in at the end of lambing, not one lamb among them, to dose them and jag them, his face was a picture, as each of the yelled ewes gleefully skipped and jumped high in the air as they left the fank for the hill. Much later I heard him on the phone to Farmer T offering to sell him some sheep, fantastic sheep, guaranteed to give you an easy lambing………because they don’t carry lambs in the first place!!

We have been ever so worried about Charlie chicken over the past weeks. Lola, her constant companion, was lying dead, perched up on the fuchsia last month. Those two chickens went everywhere together, on a hot day you could see the pair of them sunning themselves on top of the flowers in the troughs at the door of the Millhouse, or digging for bugs in the newly seeded flower beds that border the farm yard.

Charlie cut a lonely figure without her companion, and began following us everywhere. We were heartened then when one of the Blackrock hens left the hen run in the field, and flew over to the farm yard, abandoning the other hens to join Charlie. For a week she followed Charlie everywhere, even giving up the comfort of the hen house to perch precariously on the fuchsia bush with Charlie at night. Charlie however was having none of it, the seemingly lonely chicken did not take kindly to her new companion at all, and fluffed up her feathers and squawked threateningly every time the black hen dared to come any where close to her.  After a week or so of persevering, the black hen gave up and went back to the hen house, leaving Charlie alone once again.

The farm yard seemed empty when Charlie suddenly stopped appearing too, but there was great excitement when we found her sitting, all puffed out, on her nest behind an old iron gate. Charlie was broody. We carefully swapped the eggs for some fertile eggs provided by the hens in the run, and yesterday when the happy farmer pulled back Charlie’s fluffed up feathers there was a small yellow chick among the rest of the eggs lying in the nest. Hopefully by now there will be a few more additions, but we will leave Charlie in peace so as not to disturb her from the nest, but she is no longer alone, and this time she will enjoy the company.

Until next time….

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

A sunny, blustery morning, I grabbed the happy farmer’s flip flops and waded across the lawn, washing basket tucked under my arm, towards the washing line. The strong breeze sweeping hair across my eyes, as I blindly paddled forth. I looked down to see the water and mud oozing ever closer to my socks. Of course the battle was completely lost as I decided to down the washing basket and pop out of the garden to the kennels to let the sheep dogs out for a run. I did skilfully manage to totter around the edges of the muddy puddles, but then got completely caught out in the swampy mud as the runny gooey clods finally touched base with my socks, drenching them in muddy slime.

Only the happy farmer could possess a pair of pool side rubber flip flops, better suited to those hot summer days in the south of France, for nipping outdoors on his hebridean sheep farm. Only the happy farmer’s wife could be daft enough to slip those ever so large ‘boats’ onto her feet to venture outside to hang out the washing………..only today the ‘boats’ completely sank!!

Until next time.....

Monday, 19 July 2010

Easter Sunday, 2008

We were woken at 6.00am as youngest raced through the house following the clues that would eventually lead to a stash of Easter eggs. She was thrilled the bunny had left another lovely card; my artistic talents didn’t let me down then. She couldn’t get over the fact that the bunny had munched his way through most of the fat carrot she had lovingly left out for him beside her home made card.

The hens eggs were in demand today, the local shop had completely sold out, so we had visitors looking for eggs for their children’s’ egg hunts. Luckily Charlie and Lola, the hens in our yard have been busy and the farmer returned from his morning rounds with a ‘puckle’ of eggs in his bucket.

Youngest had been quite upset yesterday as the children from the holiday cottage had managed to catch Charlie and were walking around with her nestled in their arms. She obviously had never thought of that one, and Charlie hadn’t been cuddled in such a way since she was a tiny chick last year. Much later on as I was busy in the bedroom getting ready to go out, the door flew open,
‘Look whose come to visit you mum’
Youngest arrived in the room, Charlie gently cooing away in her arms, a huge grin across her face. Luckily Charlie appears none too fussed by her adventure into the farm house. I looked out later and there she and Lola were, perched precariously on the branches of the fuchsia, roosting away.

The following day Charlie was busy holding court in the pottery showroom entertaining the visitors. The happy potter away on the mainland with his girlfriend, Charlie had flown into the role, and as the happy farmer went in to serve the visitors there was Charlie perched up on the shelf amongst the pottery clucking away to our guests….

Until next time….

Thursday, 15 July 2010

 March 2008
Youngest arrived home from school on Friday completely perturbed

‘A boy in my class says the Easter bunny doesn’t exist; he says it’s just your mum….’

I looked at her, wondering what to say…However she quickly came to the rescue when she added

‘Well I told him, I said to him, don’t be silly, of course there’s an Easter bunny…I mean how else did I get a beautiful card from him last year… I mean my mum couldn’t possibly have made such a beautiful card….she wouldn’t know how…’

And then she promptly went off to retrieve the card she had carefully laid away from last Easter, a beautiful hand embroidered bunny adorned the front cover, and no I didn’t make it, but when I join the local quilting group next month…well who knows where my new found skills will lead me…

No pressure for the Easter bunny producing a spectacular creation this year then, as youngest proceeded to cover the kitchen table with an assortment of felt tip pens and crayons as she set about creating another beautiful card for the Easter bunny this year…

Until next time…

Saturday, 3 July 2010

10th March 2008
The happy farmer loves the hens again…..they have been forgiven for digging up the troughs of plants and the borders, in fact they were even given extra food supplies this morning. The reason, well a nest full of the freshest eggs, laid behind an old rusty gate near to the happy farmer’s shed. He arrived back from the morning feeding rounds, his arms and pockets filled with eggs and a grin from ear to ear.

The morning brought another lamb and a newborn Highland calf, all safely delivered into the world and happily suckling from their mothers despite the blustery weather and bitter cold storms that continue to linger on.

Youngest has been happily rescuing frogspawn, as we walked back along the fields through the farm we came across several clumps of jellied frogspawn abandoned in the wet grass, sure to perish when the sun finally comes and dries out the land, so she scooped it up and took it back to the farm yard where the happy farmer supplied her with an old feed bowl full of water. The rest of the day was spent scouring ditches and puddles for chickweed, lets hope the frogspawn hatches into tadpoles. Youngest checks it eagerly each morning before school.

The happy farmer went out last thing in the pitch darkness to baton down the roof on the lean to shed he built last summer, with forecasts of gales and rain he was taking no chances, waking the pottery cats up as he went. Much to his amusement he found them curled up together, fast asleep, warming up the seat of the tractor, never short of comfort zones, they had taken refuge from the wild weather in the hub of his tractor.

Until next time…..

Thursday, 1 July 2010

4th March

The happy farmer has come to the conclusion that it’s a great life if you live on a farm. He went out of the door this morning to begin the feeding rounds and was met by our two lodgers, busy clawing and digging up the flower beds. The hens have taken to roosting in the fuchsia bushes outside the cottages, much to the amusement of our guests, and having flown down from their cosy perches were indulging in a bit of ‘gardening’. No amount of coaxing could persuade them that the hen house might actually provide a bit more warmth and shelter from the winter storms; no we have two hens who have determinedly sat out the long winter nights, roosting precariously high up on the branches of the fuchsia bushes that line the farm yard, through all of the wild winter storms. They must have good sea legs up there in the gales!

The happy farmer is secretly perplexed that those two ladies are still around; he was convinced they would not survive the harsh winter weather when the two of them turned their beaks up at the hen house he carefully constructed for them. Luckily the other ten or so hens have remained in their quarters, for the time being. These two characters however have happily greeted the farmer at the doorstep each day, clucking at his feet demanding their breakfast, leaving parcels where he treads. If the sun shines at all you can find them digging and burrowing into the various troughs of bulbs, or the flower beds, uprooting the contents as they go, making themselves a cosy nest to bask in a little warmth from the winter sun.

Walking into the shed the happy farmer is greeted by the pottery cats, stretching and meowing, as they stir in the cosy nests they have made in the hay bales.

Mudcap, the Highland cow, gleefully manages to tiptoe across the cattle grid each day to help herself to a fresh bite of grass at the side of the single track road. We are of the understanding that she was a ballerina in a former life and is now heading for stardom as a super model. She happily poses for the clicking cameras of the passing tourists making their way along the road to the nearby distillery, and gives a nod and a wink to the distillery boys as they drive past on their way to work.

This morning the happy farmer had to take a second glance as he made his way through the sheep on the quad bike to feed the gathered flock.

‘There’s a lamb’ he thought….’THERE’S A LAMB?!’

 Lambing isn’t due to start for at least another four weeks ….and so the happy farmer arrived home, the first ‘bleating lamb’ of spring tucked under his arm……

Until next time…..