Thursday, April 5, 2012
Around the Croft
With the arrival of Spring, work around the croft has really picked up. We had a flurry of snow earlier in the week - nothing like some on the mainland had though, but enough to keep us stopping and starting in between showers. The picture above shows the pig pen - pigs slumbering cosily inside their house. Yes, they are still with us. As the abbatoir on the island is only open from August - January, we have to do a home-kill, although the actual deed will take place on our friend's croft. The delay has been because the man with the appropriate licence to kill and butcher is off the island right now, so we await his imminent return.The pigs themselves look fine and strong, and they have been enjoying the sunny weather we have been mostly having. I am trying to go with the flow here - but all my plans for cultivating and growing on this particular plot are having to be restrained for the moment.
It is a hard thing to do, mind you, as all my window sills and every available space is groaning with burgeoning seedlings, which will very soon need to move on. Ah well, I am sure another season of temporary solutions won't matter in the long run.
Work on the polytunnel continues - a little every day. I am really looking forward to working in this space. We visited a local plant and tree nursery a couple of days ago. I am so so inspired when I see what can be done here. The couple who ran it were the most helpful people - so generous with their time, advice and with a few extra plants tucked into the box of tree seedlings we bought. "Get proper wind protection and in seven or eight years, your garden will be really taking off" I was told. I need to recall this so many times, as I impatiently stamp my foot at the perceived lack of progress. Slowly- slowly I am adjusting to Hebridean time.
In the box are an assortment of native tree saplings - hazel, alder, hawthorn, wild cherry, crab apple and rowan, which I will use along with our own willow to create a shelter belt along the boundary wall. There are also three fine looking blackcurrant bushes (Ben Conon) which will supplement the existing, rather elderly bushes, already there. A tray of late cabbage and Brussels sprouts seedlings, and a wallflower just for James also found their way into the box, as gifts.
The sharp eyed may have also noticed a half eaten rhubarb leaf in the box too. I just wasn't quick enough and they were "henned" almost right away. Not too much damage done though, and both plants are safely covered over, while I decide on the best place for them.
The hens are doing so well now - two of our neighbour's girls have moved permanently over to us, so we are back up to six again. Elvis, the cockerel, after a few days duelling with usurper Cliff, seems to have emerged victorious, and can rightfully be called the King once more. Cliff is still around, in a shadowy sense, just waiting his chance :-) Egg production has gone up dramatically along with the rapidly increasing hours of light, and we can indulge once more in such delights as 10 egg omelettes and french toast - just for a snack!
But shepherding has been our main focus this month. The lambs are due around the 14th of the month, and the ewes are looking heavy now. So many new skills to learn, and nursing a sick ewe has been one of them. Maddie Mor had gone off her food, and was hiding herself away in corners of the field - lying down and appearing to strain. We thought maybe an early lamb, but, once we caught hold of her, we could see it was not. A phone call to the vet for some advice - possible toxaemia and ketosis. We have fenced her off in a cosy corner while we give her her course of medication - hopefully she will be back with the others soon. She did look a bit brighter this morning, and hopefully the birthing will go well - it is her first lamb...
So - that's it - all go as usual and the day just flashes by so quickly. Just time to drop in for a very quick tea break now and then. I am sorry I am not getting much time to return comments to everyone just now, and for being such a bad blog friend. I am visiting you though, but mostly using the mobile phone in odd moments, where commenting doesn't always work. Thank you for dropping in and saying hello x♥x