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...


The other three, all experienced mothers are all looking great.  Calumina - the bossy;  Agnes, the affectionate;  and Mairi, the beauty.  Maddie Beag, is not in lamb, but we have kept her in with her companions.  Sheep are social animals and do not like to be in isolation.  Hopefully she will watch and learn for next year. Of course, little lamb pictures will appear as soon as they arrive!




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

23 comments:

  1. It's a busy time of year!
    I am curious about your pig butchering...you have to have someone licenced to do the killing and butchering? The laws there are just so different from what we have here!
    There has been lots of french toast here too and now that the ducks are back to work donuts are once again coming out of my kitchen. I am having the hardest time not sampling a dozen or two! :)
    James is really growing up! He looks so big in the photos.
    Well Jacqui my friend, I do hope the rest of your day is a good one, I am really just getting started with mine and need to get a move on and accomplish some of my work before the rain storm arrives.

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    1. Hi Tracey. I have never made doughnuts simply because I would eat them all the time. :). There are so many rules about animal husbandry, but we can do a home kill if the meat is only for our own personal consumption. And not sold or given to anyone outside the immediate family. I think we could do it ourselves, but we don't have the skills, knowledge or facilities. And the last thing we want to do is stress the animals. We hope to learn from the experts. Hope your day is going along nicely. xxx

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  2. It is so easy to put small plants out to early. Even here, we are two weeks or more behind Newport, only about ten miles away- but they are on the coast and we're in the mountain valley at 400 feet!!

    Hope the lambing goes well- it is indeed that time of year, and a query on ketosis was posted this morning on the downsizer forum! It is a worry and Col always said he'd rather have one healthy ewe and lamb than a sick ewe and twins.

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  3. Spring has hit here too and I've been enjoying it. You are so lucky to have sheep, I am only a dog owner right now. But some day......well some day!

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  4. Busy, busy ... and I feel the same about not being around on my blog to say hi and on others too, but we've all got other things going on taking up our time.

    Loving seeing your polytunnel in progress and look forward to seeing the growing too. Growing and gardening is always a long term changing process, we learn more each time we do things, and time and patience are a big part even when sometimes we are impatient. The rewards will be a beautifully productive garden and polytunnel.
    Had to laugh a little at your windowsills - like so many (including mine) around this time of the year. Happily most of mine are moving out to the greenhouses now.

    Hoping everything goes well with the lambing x

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    1. Thanks Dawn. Yes - and these new auth. codes on blogger are a nuisance so even if I read the post and write a comment, I give up after a while - sigh

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  5. Are your sheep fairly tame? Wondering how you go about catching and medicating them. My seedlings are up too, but it will be at least another month before they can go out!

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    1. Laurie most of the sheep are but MM is the least tame. You have to corner the sheep and grab on to her, lift her up and sit her down on her backside. We have Her penned off right now so we don't have to chase her all over the field and cause stress. She has been getting a couple of subcutaneous injections and a drench. The drench is given via a dosing gun, which is a large syringe with a long metal tube attached. You insert tube into the side of the sheeps mouth and slowly release the contents. She swallows it quite willingly.

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  6. Oh, I hope Maddie Mor makes a full recovery and has a safe delivery.

    Sue McD

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  7. I so enjoy seeing what is going on at your place... so far away and yet right here at the click of a button or two. Everything is so beautiful and your life so rich with thought and meaning. Oh, and LOVE that red and white polka dot table cloth!! ;)

    Have a blessed day, Debbie

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  8. I just found your blog. What a beautiful farm you have. We too are moving slowly to get wind shelters and put up a hoop house for our seedlings. Things do move so much more slowly than when you imagine they would in the planning stages, don't they? Looking forward to see how your greenhouse turns out.

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    1. hello! thanks for dropping in. Sounds like you are at much the same stage as we are. Planning is the easy part. xxx

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  9. Great to catch up with your croft. I always think of the Katie Morag stories while I'm looking at your photos!
    Hope the lambing goes well.
    x

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  10. Thank you for these glimpses and your thoughts, Jacqui...I will be keeping you and all of your creatures in my thoughts. It is such a full time!

    The string of names gave me a quiet thrill...hazel, alder, hawthorn, wild cherry, crab apple and rowan...there are so many associations and ancient connections there.

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    1. Hello lesley - hope all is well with you. Indeed I thought about the Celtic tree calender too - we already have elder. xx

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  11. All looking well there. I've had to help our neighbours slaughter so many animals now that I'm quite blase about it. I never enjoy it though I do enjoy the food. Our neighbour, Hakan, has the proper humane killing gear, so it was done quickly and properly. The butchering though....that's a long, largely guesswork affair! Good luck with the lambing and planting!

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    1. Thanks Iain - I think it is important to do this properly, rather than us botching it all up. In future we will build the abbatoir opening times into our planning. Learning again x

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  12. It's lovely to catch up with what is happening up there :) I am particularly looking forward to lamb photo's.
    I am also very interested in your Pig Plans and do hope you will post more. Down here, we have been hearing of problems with the new electronic Pig Movement requirements, but I'm not sure if they apply to you?

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    1. I've not heard about that get. Because it is a home kill within our grazings area, we don't need a movement licence this time. I don't think it will happen for another couple of weeks though. Getting nervous about dealing with the final product.xx

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    2. Will be interested to read about progress of your native hedge. We're planning one for when we move north eventually.
      Polytunnel envy...

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  13. I love your around the croft posts. You look so busy! I also have polytunnel envy. My neighbour has kindly offered me the use of hers, but it's a trek and I have to share my space with some sneaky chooks! Hoping the weather doesn't do any thing else exciting x

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  14. great to see all that is going on in your world and looking forward to seeing your trees and plants flourishing. it will all come together but like you say it is slow going. i am a person who wants it all now!! waiting is a hard lesson for me lol
    I do hope your sheep improves and it is nothing to serious.
    Glad to hear your still popping by for a read. a lot of my commenting readers have not commented recently and i was feeling a bit lonely lol. great to hear your still here!!
    Keep well xx

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