John is away on a cattle related course this week -so James and I are running the show. My goodness, I hadn't realised just how many chores that man does in a single morning. Just as well is doesn't get light until around 9.15 am just now, and the livestock tend to stay indoors until then.
The hens are always waiting on the doorstep. There are no foxes on the Island, so they are rarely shut in at night. They have already had their breakfast, but they still fancy trying whatever the pigs are having. These ladies are not laying at all just now, due to the low light levels, but hopefully they will pick up again after the turn of the year. I miss the eggs a lot. I think we will be adding a few extra to our flock soon too.
The pigs begin to squeal incessantly when they hear me rattling about at the feed bins. They come right up to the fence like eager puppies and I have to throw little tidbits to them so that I can climb over without getting knocked over. They are churning up the ground very nicely, ready for my raised bed plan in the Spring.
Then it is down to the croft to see the cows. There is still some grass in the fields for them to eat, but the snow has covered most of it, so they get a feed of the hay we made in the Summer. They certainly seem to enjoy it - pulling out huge mouthfuls of the sweet smelling grasses. The cows are usually outside, but they have a little shelter which they are using more and more in this cold weather, so I give them some hay wherever they are and then go and put some fresh straw on the floor of their hut.
The snow is quickly melting in the mild weather today, leaving lots of churned up mud, difficult to walk through without sinking up to the top of my boots. We are finding out just where we need to put some hard standing for next year. This learning curve just keeps going up!
But I manage to squelch my way over to the growing shed and peer through the roof space. The door is well barricaded to keep the cows out. I am delighted to see the garlic poking it's green shoots out of the black earth. The spinach seems to have suffered a bit with the cold and snow, but it might come back again.
The sheep are in with our neighbour's flock right now, hopefully enjoying the ardent attentions of the ram. They are kept with him for 2 cycles, just to be sure...
Then back home - lunch, a bit of housework and then time to feed those piggies again as the sun sets at around 3 .15 pm. Make sure there is enough feed in the bins for the next morning, bring in the peats and kindling for the fire -
and sit down and have a wee coffee before starting fires and dinner and evening chores. The day just passes in a flash - just over 6 hours of daylight at the moment, but only a couple of weeks until the solstice.