Monday, January 23, 2012

Around the croft.

Let's have a little wander around and see what's been happening around the croft lately.
In fact - not very much has been going on over these last few weeks. The short days had us rushing around to complete the daily chores before darkness fell.  Also, the weather has been pretty inclement, so those odd jobs - roof works, fencing repairs, little construction projects and such like have had to be put off for now. The animals have been looked after, of course, but apart from that - rain has pretty much stopped play.

The ditches and drains are full and overflowing...

and we are squelching around in deep mud.  A few really hard frosts would be helpful - I think we have only had one light dusting this Winter.  Ah well, we have to work with what we have I suppose, and I certainly don't want to bore you all with my weather grumbles.

So - let's be cheerful - there are many reasons to be.  Look at this garlic!  How fabulous it is.  I couldn't get a closer shot, as the door to the growing shed is blocked off to keep the cows out. They managed to squeeze in and eat all the kale and spinach and salads.  See that incriminating hoofprint in the middle there? Luckily they knew how important the garlic is.  I am so pleased with this result - I think this could be my best ever crop yet.

And I am pretty sure that is new lush grass growing.  This is the front field, which has had a good rest from grazing over the Autumn and Winter.   The sheep will be coming back soon and will go there for a few weeks, before the lambing starts.

Still in the front field, the fencing has been completed and a nice shiny new gate swings in the top corner, replacing the old one at the bottom.  A handy dandy tap has been installed too - not that we need water right now, but we do get the odd dry spell - usually a Tuesday in early May ;-)

Mick is enjoying his training - here he is showing off his - stay, come by, stop and stay routine.  He has been back to his old owner for a session with some sheep and did very well.  Our friend, who put us on to Mick in the first place is keen to train his dog alongside John and Mick, and already there is vague talk of obtaining some hog lambs for both dogs to work with.  Hmmm - we'll see just how vague that turns out to be.

Delia and Baby have weathered the Winter reasonably well.  On dry and sunny days they can be seen down the back field catching what rays they can, or they might agree to walk across the road to the front field for a nibble at the fresh grass. Most of the time, however, they have elected to call room service, and stay put in their warm, dry shelter up by the barn. And, lets face it, given the choice - who wouldn't?

Mind you, the back field is not the most inviting of places right now.  The drainage ditches have been dug, but there is mud everywhere - thick, sticking, wellie sucking mud.  The field is draining, we can see that, but there is just so much water lying around right now - did I mention the rain..?  Nevertheless, we are confident that some growing will happen here later on in the year.  We have a tractor and a plough so...

Did I mention mud?  Yep - the pigs are indeed swimming in it.  They still have a few dry bits, amazingly, but most of the time they are jumping up and down in their muddy puddles - when they are not escaping....sigh.

To tell the truth, I have not enjoyed having pigs as much as I thought I would.  Aside from their full time escapology act, I just have not bonded with them.  A good thing, really, considering the pending outcome, but I am sad about it too.  They are lovely animals - look at that face in the previous photo - how could you not respond to that?.  It's just - well, there are many reasons and I will be writing a separate post about them soon.

We still have 4 hens - although we nearly only had three.  On the morning of Christmas Eve, before Mick arrived,  John opened the door to find a strange collie with one of our girls in his mouth!  Feathers were everywhere and this dog was really savaging her.  It ran off as soon as he shouted (we had got into the lazy habit of leaving the gate open), but we thought she was gone.  Not so - those pizza girls are tough chicks.  We brought her in for some first aid - all the feathers were off her back and she had some deep wounds, including a really nasty one under her wing.  I gave her some rescue remedy, and we kept her in a box in the back lobby for a few days.   She was eating and drinking well enough, and her eyes were bright. I didn't want to put anything on her wounds, so I just misted the general area with tea-tree and lavender.
After a few days, she seemed to be improving, and wanting to move around, so we began putting her outside during the day in our neighbour's cat carrier.  Our main worry was that if she went back with the others she would be attacked.  They have never been an aggressive group of hens, though - unlike some we have had, and I was pretty sure she was the leader, but still, I was worried.  I needn't have been.  She was accepted right back in to the flock. For the first few days she stayed in the hen hut, only coming out to feed.  The other hens stayed in with her too, but I never saw any sign of pecking or bullying.  She has made a remarkable recovery.  Her feathers are coming back in, she is out everyday, scratching around with the others - and she is laying again!!!

So - what  are the plans?  Quite a few, in fact.  It is seaweed collecting time again.  This year it will be going on to the planned raised beds up at the house.  We are hoping that a small greenhouse or polytunnel will be in place very soon, to get us going with the fruit and veg for this year.  A much larger one is in the long term plan.  Ploughing, then sowing oats, potatoes and grass for hay - more laying hens and possibly some birds for the table - lambing in the Spring - the list keeps growing.  And there is an exciting development in the pipeline just now, only I can't tell you about it for a few weeks....  I will as soon as I can though. xx


  1. great photos- I love the photo of your garlic- how exciting- and your poor hen- glad she is one the mend and laying again.

  2. It looks such an idyllic lifestyle but I bet there's an awful lot of effort behind it.

    Yours is such an enjoyable blog.

  3. Can't wait to find out what your next development is going to be. I love reading your blog.

  4. I loved my visit with you sweet Jacqui, you have such a lovely place.
    Bonding TOO closely with pigs and having to chase them around fields is the reason I Don't have them anymore. I kept one, Miss Vivian Leigh, for 5 years. Miss V was a Valentine's gift from my husband and she thought she was a dog who could lay on my front porch and try to come in my home! 600 pound bossy thing!
    I am so glad your chicken is well. We just moved one of our girl's to time out for being a little too rough with her sister's. Now I have to figure out what to do with her.
    How is the cheese making coming along?

  5. oh that mud.... that would actually get to me too lol. but looks like things are moving along nicely! looking forward to hearing about the "new development!!"

  6. Hello Jacqui, Thank you for the update on life around your place. Thank goodness you were able to save your chicken. What I notice about our lives in the country is no matter what continent we may be living on, we all have similar stuggles with animals, chickens, gardening or the weather. I'm smiling as I write this, because I know it is the place where I want to be. I also hear that in the way you tell your story.
    Thanks again for today's posting.

  7. We have so many similarities on our little city plot here in Oregon to your Scottish Croft right now. We have been wishing for frost and getting only interminable rain, our garlic is sprouting nicely, and our fourth hen (ill this summer) has suddenly started laying again! Blessings on you and all your creatures!

  8. I have just given your blog a Liebster award because I love it!

  9. Jacqui, I always enjoy seeing the doings around the croft. Right now, we have 24 chickens, and want to slowly move into more animals, but trying to decide what next here...sheep, perhaps?

  10. dear jacqui, i realize i'm holding my breathe as i read your post, and gaze at your photos. i can only imagine what it's like to live a life like yours.
    the face on that pig, oh my goodness. i can't wait to hear what you will tell us about them.
    and james, such a beautiful little boy. what a life you lead.
    xxx lori

  11. I always enjoy your tours of the croft. The pig is really cute, but I could see the issues they might present. They have been quite crafty little fellas. It is amazing how our animals can heal and recuperate. Glad she is on the mend.

  12. I throughly enjoyed reading that wee article, and nicely illustrated too. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Loved the tour. The pig face is divine.

    "not that we need water right now, but we do get the odd dry spell - usually a Tuesday in early May ;-)" This line tickled me. Thanks for the smile.

    What's the breed of your chickens? I'm keeping a list of breeds I like for my future coop.

  14. Mick seems like a nice dog. i'm not sure what a hog lamb is ... is that a baby hog? feel free to laugh at my ignorance. i am really clueless when it comes to farming. i enjoy reading about yours. love the look of those lovely brown eggs.

  15. I was similarly tickled by the line about a dry Tuesday in May!

    Looks like you have been busy enough given the MUD!! I thought our back garden was bad, but you know, the colour of your mud is beautiful, am I mad saying that? You can see how rich the soil is. And to have glimpses of spring just around the corner too, fresh grass, newly sprouting garlic.

    I really enjoyed the tour, wish I could do it in real life ;).

  16. Oh how those islands are calling to me again, Jacqui. I remember all the challenges, the weather, the short days, the wind, but there is something that is so special about the Western Isles. Once you have lived there they don't even leave your psyche. I have taken my husband back there three or four times and infected him with the call of the islands, I knew they would speak to his soul!

  17. Thank you all. It seems we have all missed out on a proper Winter this tear, her in the Nirthern Henisphere.
    The cheese looks quite promising. I have to mould it today and leave it for a week.
    JTS - Hog lambs are female lambs born last Spring that are too young to breed.'
    Janet - the hens are Hybrid crosses - in fact called Hy-line. There is a lot of Rhode Island Red in them. They are nice hens, and good layers..
    Claire - I just hope it doesn't dry out into a hard cake.
    Deb - thank you very much :)

  18. Elaine - yes, yes! I know exactly what you mean. It becomes part of you. I think of you everytime I pass the wee school at Achmore. xx

  19. Lovely to see what's going on Jacqui, sounds like you need a break before all the action starts happening in the next few months! I'm with you on the pig bonding front, I'm quite glad about it really, as it would be difficult otherwise - I can't eat the sausages as it is! We're hoping to build some sort of polytunnel this year too - they have a design for a bamboo (or hazel/willow) model on the Permaculture website that might be worth a bash, seeing how expensive they are to buy! Good luck with your new developments, exciting times! xx

  20. That's one tough chook! Glad she is ok and back to laying now.

    Thanks for the tour of your place, despite the mud it's beautiful!

  21. Mud, mud glorious mud ...

    Lovely to see what's happening and loving your Garlic - we planted ours a bit later this year, but usually get a good crop. I'd love a polytunnel - was considered between a few allotment plot holders sharing a plot with one but not happened yet, would be great to have one though.

    I was thinking of you last night - have you had good nights to see the Northern Lights? Something I'd love to be up north for one day to see in the flesh.

    Dawn x

  22. Is it easy to grow garlic? I only have three pots to plant in because I live in an apartment but we love our garlic!

    Your photos are great. I especially love the little stone wall in the second photo. Just so charming!

  23. I love your use of the word "squelching" It makes the mud photos more realistic ;) I do not think I could bond to an animal that I know will have a certain future...I am happy to see that your injured chicken has made a full recovery-a chicken miracle!!

  24. Thank you for this walk. It is beautiful yet has its moments of work and misery, I'm sure. Love that pig photo. He looks caught in the act or just very curious. Glad to hear that your hen is okay. I learn many new things when I read your blog. thanks. Hope the frost arrives for you. Can never have too much garlic imo.

  25. I am so glad your chicken is ok!! I've become rather attached to ours. We had one go AWOL for a night and I was sure the foxes would get her. She showed up first thing in the morning though, we were so relieved. I'm buying a poly tunnerl this year, you should get out this site:
    They have excellent prices. We got our chicken coop from them and were very pleased.

  26. So fun to have a tour around your place and see all the animals! I think I would be mourning a bit more over the loss of the spinach, Kale and salad but thank goodness cows don't like garlic and you saved something! It wasn't a total washout!

  27. aww that little sweet piggy face!
    gald your hen is ok and back to laying.

    Love Leanne

  28. Your garlic looks great and the pigs look so happy! Glad the chicken is ok!xxx

  29. I love hearing and seeing what is going on around the croft, Jacqui!

    That is one happy piggy in the mud, but yes, I can see why it's best not to develop a love attachment to them.

    Good to hear your chicken survived the encounter with the stray. How scary!

  30. Great blog! Hello from the hills of western Massachusetts.

  31. Your place is beautiful even in all of its muddiness!!

    The downside to having animals... glad to hear hen will be fine and curious about those pigs.

    Blessings, Debbie

  32. I have to say, that pig in the mid picture is so cute and funny! And I'm glad your hen is ok, sounds like one tough bird!

  33. Lovely farmyard update and I just love the picture of your pig :)

  34. So wholesome and nourishing to gaze upon your croft mama, love it! I gotta get outside into my garden again, the weather just hasn't enticed me yet. You inspire as always though. Blessings and love x


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