We headed off to the shore, and backed our old trailer down the slipway. Then it was straight to work - hauling up forkfuls of the tangled slippery seaweed. Filling and emptying 4 trailers full of bladderwrack is quite the workout, I can tell you! I am still feeling the effects a few days later.
The shore was so thick with seaweed, that our harvest made little impression on the amount. Some local people still collect some for their gardens, but in the past, collecting seaweed would have been a community event. In living memory, everyone grew corn (oats and barley) on their croft. I have heard about boats piled high with seaweed, the rower barely visible, as they gathered as much of this valuable crop as they could; of women carrying their bounty home in large baskets (creels) on their backs. Then it would be combined with manure and the soil from cleaning out the ditches, before it was ploughed into the land.
We stacked ours up in a corner of the vegetable plot, next to the manure pile, and they will be mixed together and spread it onto the raised beds. Hopefully this will be a recipe for some fantastic crops in the Summer.
Our garden robin is certainly interested in the contents of the seaweed pile - lots of interesting bugs to keep him going!
After what seemed a long while of relative inactivity, it was so good to get outside, tasting the tang of salt in the air, feeling the sunlight on our faces - still weak, but holding the sure promise of Spring, and shaking off that post holiday lethargy with some hard physical work. I am glad to have started off the new year like this - connecting to the seasons and place - feeling the rhythm of the crofting year beginning. It is a dance where the steps are becoming a bit more familiar. We recognise the tune and remember how to move with it - and hopefully the stiffness will soon wear off.