Thursday, 31 December 2009

Last Post of 2009

For our last post of the year, I am including a picture of Pippin - who is now almost fully grown and a very solid, curly dog. We think he is going to be a good sheepdog and can't wait to get him out in the round pen next year to give him a start. Just now he goes out with O/H to feed the sheep and stays well to heel though you can see he would really like to give it a go!

Decided to be very industrious and got out the circular sock knitter. Made very good progress setting it up and knitting a tube but then when I put the ribber on found I was one needle short of a set! After hasty posting on sockknittingmachineswapshop - a very useful and informative Yahoo group, I've tracked down some new needles so hopefully I will be up and running (well, knitting roundly) very soon. As we re-arranged the furniture in the den so I could use the machine and keep warm at the same time, it is now the focal point of the room! So its unlikely I'm going to forget about it.
And, finally, there were six goldfinches (a "charm") swinging about on the bird feeders outside the window this morning. It's very cold and very frosty today so seeing their bright colours and cheerful antics made a lovely start to the last day of the year......

Friday, 25 December 2009

Seasons Greetings to All

Here on the croft everyone is enjoying their Christmas :- No-name turkey is spending the day quietly with friends and looking forward to a happy New Year......

....The guinea fowl assembled for a spot of carol singing earlier on in the day (incidentally, don't they match well with the gravel?).......

...before adopting a truly iconic pose on a rock outside the loomshed.

So we wish you all a peaceful christmas, wherever you are.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

White Christmas come early...

After a couple of days of acheingly cold weather, at last we have had some snow! This morning we awoke to find a white Scalpay much to the surprise of the livestock. The hens won't come out and demanded breakfast in bed (or nest) today, and the sheep are digging about looking for food. Actually they had a good feed of shredded beet and Lewis mix earlier, but they do enjoy playing up to the camera! Little Heather, who had a short back and sides last week, is curled up in a warm spot trying to look invisible in case she has to go for a walk, and Pippin was a bit surprised at his first sight of snow. Bramble, who is an old hand at such matters takes it all in her stride.
Changing the subject, I don't know if you've ever come across those amusing publications called "Luxury Caravan Calendar", "Luxury Shed Calendar" etc. (If not, googling should take you there on Amazon).
Well, here on the islands there has always been a tradition of re-cycling materials and utilising found items in an imaginative way. I guess it is because the supply of raw materials has always been finite and expensive to import so the necessity to make do and mend is still alive and well amongst some sectors of the community. This is especially true of crofters. So when my O/H said he was about to build a sheep fold on the croft to gather the Hebridean sheep into for their dip and drench, my heart skipped with joy.
For this monumental construction we are talking re-cycled corrugated tin which came from someones (possibly our) old shed, and a variety of posts and wood which originated either from the shoreline or from the electricity companys leavings after they took down some of the light poles locally.
As you can see from the picture below, the work was started but,sadly, completion has been delayed by weather (a common occurrence here). I can't wait to see the final result as it looks like it will be a triumph of traditional architecture. You can't see from the photo here but it is in an impressive location with commanding 360 degree views (as the estate agents would say!), O/H reckons it will knock at least 15% off the value of all the houses round about.....
When its finished I will definitely be featuring it again.

Someone who has a good eye for these sort of constructions is Donnie Mackay from Skye - see his

Friday, 18 December 2009

New Year pressie idea....

If you're short of a gift and want something unusual and help a good cause at the same time, then do visit On a cold day such as today this will warm the cockles of your heart.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Shooting Stars!

No photos of todays subject because it was too dark, but wanted to mention the display of shooting stars last night. A friend rang earlier in the evening to say she had heard on the radio that meteorite showers were forecast for a couple of nights around 10pm, and as the sky was so clear it would be worth taking a look. Unfortunately we didn't manage out till about 10.30pm but still saw quite a few from our vantage point at the sheepfold at the back of the house where we were working on Friday. We have very few really clear nights so this was a real treat! I hope others managed to catch the show - the sky here is cloud free this morning, so if it lasts till night we have a chance to see Episode 2 tonight! Happy star-gazing......

Saturday, 12 December 2009

A Day at the Fank

Yesterday we were up bright and early to gather the sheep so they can get their annual check up. This is the opportunity to administer an injection against sheep scab, which can be very unpleasant, is very infectious amongst the flock and damages both wool and meat quality; a dose of anti sheep-tick and fly liquid which kills surface living parasites; and a drench of anti liver-fluke and wormer. Foot problems can be checked for and we make sure that tagging requirements are met.
This year we were all impressed at how fit the sheep were. There was no sign of any existing scab problems, which is a sure sign that our co-operative efforts of the past few years have paid off and the island flock is now free of scab. However, we still have to be vigilant against the infection being brought in from outside.

Here are some of the sheep waiting for their medicine before being released back onto the crofts again. The sheep all know the area to return to - usually the place where they were lambed, and by nightfall everyone was back in familiar territory. The weather yesterday was stunningly good - very clear through cold. Our sheepfold has a wonderful view - it's on top of a hill - and you can see the sea and the mainland of Harris in the background.

Our ram, which we bought from the Stornoway Auction Mart last year, worked well this year too. He got a bit stroppy last week and was starting to chase me when he saw me with the hen-food bucket - one day he trapped me in the byre and I had to wait for ages till he got bored and wandered off so I could get back to the house. Anyway, he's now confined in a field and will shortly be going to a retirement island where he can spend his old age with other old rams with similar interests!

And here's Pippin, focussing on the sheep coming up the road. As it was his first experience of a fank (a gathering of the sheep), I took him out on the lead and we helped direct the sheep onto the track up to the sheepfold. He got to see lots of sheep in a flock, but wasn't allowed to do anything other than observe the other dogs at work. He was very good (most of the time) and joined Bramble in the evening for an extra dinner (you have to be a working dog to qualify for this!)

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Web Site problems

Our web site is experiencing some health problems just now, so if you visit, please avoid undue noise, don't stay too long, and leave flowers and choccies in the basket marked "Sheila". I will issue an update bulletin tomorrow. Thank you for your forbearance.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Update on 4-horn ram...

Found this delightful picture of Bramble keeping watch from the table in the loomshed and thought it would be nice to share.....

The 4-horn black ram arrived safely in North Galson and was still in his new field with his new friends this morning. So that's a relief! We didn't hear what the alpacas thought of him.

Today the weather has been just appalling - after a lovely sunny start it just went downhill from then on. So to compensate for not being able to get out for a walk, I have been fiddling with our website. Not, regrettably, using the new technology front-end online editing software, but with "Frontpage" and the FTP I've used for years. I've updated my fonts, put in some more photos, brought some of the info up to date, and, actually, I think it looks quite a bit better than it did before.

So, if you've nothing better to do, slip over to and let me know what you think. Oh and, before someone tells me, I know that "Silk Works" isn't centred properly. I noticed it at the end and, to be honest, just couldn't work up the enthusiasm to go and put it right. Yes, the rot is setting in again, but I did make an effort today when I could have put up my feet and watched "Columbo" on TV.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Goodbye to an old friend.....

Today we bid a fond farewell to the four horned ram who is off on his jollies to North Galson to meet new and attractive young ewes and gimmers.
As you can see, he wasn't incredibly keen on leaving - in fact, when we got up this morning he had jumped out of his field and was cavorting at the end of the croft with some white friends. Eventually we caught him and tied him to the fence so he couldn't get away.

When the trailer arrived he was well impressed! Last occupants had been the new Lewis Alpacas, so he could see that he was at last going to a place with a bit of class. The straw was much to his taste and we didn't hear another sound from him. No doubt he is now enjoying new company in Lewis and we have our fingers crossed that at the beginning of May we will be seeing the results.

Also, on a different tack - I've finally managed to screw up my website! I got some software to help me edit it online as my main problem with updating is the length of time it takes to update offline then go through an FTP program to upload it. Anyway, after a great deal of time fiddling about, the software is attached to my site on the server and I had a go at the first page - upon which all the pictures on the page disappeared. Horror! Not quite sure what to do about it, so I've emailed software support and hope they will help me get my piccies back!