Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Around the Croft

And so the sun moves Southwards on our horizon, as we slide towards Winter, and the first frosts already sparkle on the peatstack.  It has been a while since we meandered around the croft - let me show you what has been going on.

We have a dozen sheep now - although not all of them were keen to be in the photo shoot.  We have adopted a new croft mark, which will make it easier to identify our girls at the fank. Lambing was sucessful, thankfully, and we have a couple of potential additions to the breeding stock. The lambs are weaned now and away to the moor, while the ewes are off to a different part of the hillside for a well deserved rest and some fresh grazing.  In about a month's time, they will be brought back down in time for tupping, and the cycle begins again.

The cows are doing well - waiting patiently here while John opens up their new salad bar.  They are both going to spend some time with a very handsome Highland bull on Friday, and when they come back, they will be joined by 3 new Dexter girls - 2 in calf heifers - one with a calf at foot. John is away on the mainland picking them up as I type - very, very excited. The AI project is still simmering away - hopeful for next spring/summer.

Our main project this year has been the vegetable garden. The pigs were still with us until the end of June, so by the time we got a couple of raised beds organised, it was already well into the Summer before anything was planted. Nevertheless, we stuck in some seeds, and the last couple of trays of plants lingering at the crofter's co-op, and I have to say i am thrilled at the results.  Unlike the rest of the country, we had a wonderful Summer - warm and sunny.  If it rained - it fell gently through the night - there were no midges - everything we planted grew. Chard, spinach, radishes, salads, fennel, turnips, carrots, kale, cabbage,Brussels sprouts, courgettes and leeks have all come away nicely.  We have now built 4 raised beds, and started work on developing an ornamental border around the edge of the plot.  We have planted some native trees and a couple of fruit bushes, but we will work more on the fruit garden over the Winter if we can. There is room for another raised bed, and a parcel of spring flowering bulbs is winging it's way towards us right now.

We harvested a fine crop of garlic down at the growing shed, and this years bulbs are already planted in one of the new beds.  Probably a bit early, but our season is so short, so it won't harm them to grow on for a month longer. These Summer cabbages (Greyhound) have been fantastic and we have eaten them almost every day for 2 months, without tiring of their fresh green taste.  It is just so good to be able to put home grown veg back on the table - now I feel this is really home.

Hens are still laying - although not always in the right place, and there has been a lot of time spent searching out the latest nesting spot.

And that's it for our croft tour - working quietly away and marvelling at how things seem to get done  - always work in progress -  just as it should be.

I will be back in a few days to introduce our new ladies. Tioraidh an drasda ♥

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Out of the Sheiling

I sit here, listening to the gale blowing outside, and hearing the occasional rattle of hailstones on the window pane.  The morning sky has been punctuated with rainbows as the clouds have raced across the sky, reminding me that I do, in fact, live on an island in the North Atlantic, and not the Carribean.

Indeed, the Summer here has been glorious - warm and dry - hot even! For weeks on end, we listened to the despair of those on the mainland, as the torrential rain poured down on them, while we basked in the much coveted rays. Fires raged for several days in the Castle grounds, we were advised to 'use water wisely". On a visit to family in Edinburgh, James and I sat with our suntanned faces glowing among the pale skins of the others! We had to spend time watering our crops - not a chore we are accustomed to here. We often forgot to take coats and jackets with us when we went out. The sunshine seemed endless and every day was a bonus. It was all rather surreal and astonishing.

But now it is over, and  the Summer has finally given way to Autumn. The wind has a chill to it, and the evenings darken earlier.  Time to drawn in - to begin to harvest the work of those balmy Summer days.  I had a wonderful time in my "Shieling"- productive, fulfilling and refreshing.  I have indeed, made cheese, listened to stories, sang songs, knitted and spun, but I have also reconnected with myself, found new interests and friends, and learned - oh so much.  I hope to share some of this with you as we begin the long exhale towards Midwinter. ♥


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