Thursday, 1 September 2011

The nights are drawing in now

The nights are drawing in now.
It's been a while since my last visit, I have been busy for what seems like an eternity, I cannot believe it is September already.
Work commitments have kept my busier than usual, the company I work for is building a brand new Sawmill, so I am working longer hours away from home, as it takes an hour to get to work and an hour home again my time is limited on the croft, but that should soon change I hope.
Our summer seems to have been short this year, we had terrible rain in June it never seemed to end, the trouble with the rain is once it starts it forgets to stop.
There have been a lot of tourists in the area this year, we cannot capitalise on this industry as we live down a dirt track and people cannot get of the beaten track with some of the low profile cars that are on the market today.
Although the people we do meet on walks etc always say they love it down here for the peace and quite, not to mention the views that are so spectacular in the summer time especially.
We had cut a lot of peat for the winter fuel earlier in the year, and thought we were going to lose it because of the rain, but the sun came out for a couple of weeks so we managed to get it all home and stored.
We took the dogs down to the peat fields, but after an hour they got bored, they never went down again, they lay on the road and watched from a distance.
It is hard work cutting peat as you have to lay it all out flat on the ground to dry, it is a spectacular thing to see the peat field mounds covered in a blanket of drying peat.
When he peat gets a crust on it we then have to stand it up into little pyramid shaped mounds, so that it drys on the outside.
Once the peat is completely dry we either build it into a large peat stack for storage or bag it up and carry it home.
Because the weather has been unreliable we decided to carry it all home.
We do not have all the modern conveniences of quad bikes and the likes, everything is carried out of the peat field on our back.
My husband carried the majority of the peat out, I helped as much as I could, I am not weak by any means but it is back breaking work, so I did my fair share.
The feeling you get when it is all stored in the shed is quite exhilarating knowing you will have plenty of winter fuel to keep you warm through the winter months.
The little things are sometimes more pleasing and important than the big things that we all take for granted.
We have had 4 of calves since my last entry, there is one due immanently, so I have been on maternity watch.
The expectant mother is a first time calving Heifer named Helen, so we have to bring her in this week just to make sure she does not have any problems during calving.
We had to say good-bye to her mother Angela this year, it was heartbreaking sending her to market.
She was blind in her udder so even though she could have more calves she would not be able to feed them herself, that would be down to human intervention, which is what we did last year with her last calf Hope, who is doing well and will be kept to be the next generation.
It was a shame she had to go but sometimes we have to be hard even though it hurts to let them go, it was hard enough looking after Hope last year as her mother used to chase me when I went to feed her, because Angela thought I was stealing her baby away from her.
That's why she ended up with the nickname pshyco, because she had funny ideas about things.
I miss her in the field with the others, she was always on look out duty, any sign of something she considered to be out of the ordinary and she would take off for the hills with the rest of the heard, in particular when the vet came to visit she knew his vehicle when she saw it and would take off like a bat out of hell, that is unless you got her in before hand.
But she always knew there was something in the wind because you had interrupted her routine, so even when she was tied in the byre she would watch the door and skitter everywhere until you let her back out.
When we sold her at the market my heart sank as I knew she would not be long on this earth, something I never do is check the electronic movement data once the cattle have been sold, but on this occasion I did just to see if she had been kept, but Angela got three days after we sold her and was taken to the abattoir, I will not look at the electronic movement data again.
My babies will all be kept in my heart forever as I remember them.
She has left good breeding stock behind her so she will live on in them and I can see her in some of them in particular Hope, who would not have been here if it had not been for our perseverance and intervention.
She has turned out to be a credit to her mother.
I have only showed the sheep once this year due to a persistent back problem, I took them out to the last show of the season in Fort William last Saturday, they all behaved perfectly on the day.
I won overall North Country Cheviot with a 4 year old Ewe in milk, called Teeny.
She was sired by Balnakiel Snowman and her mother is Sharon, one of my founder Sheep.
It was the first time I have ever shown her, I spent two days dressing her and clipping her up and she turned out really well I was not expecting her to win, in fact I was not going to take her at first but I am glad I did now.
Anyway what do you think?

My rams have summered well in Morar, not far away from here.
Every time they see the car drive down the track they come running down to the gate to greet us.
Creag Mhor my first ever ram who is now 4 years old is over there along with Sandy and three of Sandy's offspring, Monty, Charlie & Rory.
Sandy's three sons will be sold in November for breeding rams.
They are so friendly and greet you like old friends, I will miss them when they go.
Monty is the bossy one, he pushes the others about when he wants your attention, he likes to be clapped.
We took him and Sandy to the show and Monty beat his father, he shows great potential already for a year and a half old.
We are starting to get ready for the winter coming in, sheds cleaned out bedding being stored and repairs being carried out ready for the animals coming in when the nights start to close in.
At the moment the cattle are enjoying the dry weather and are spending a lot of time out on the common grazing.
Something I thought was quite funny is they way people think about things, that happen on farms and crofts.
My husband was in the shed one evening and the midges were really biting bad, he had a Midge net on his head to protect him from the biting bugs.
A visitor came down past the shed, where some of the calves were standing outside the gate waiting to come in and get fed.
The visitor started to panic and tried to drive past the calves rather rapidly when she saw my husband come out of the shed.
He asked her to take care and slow down when she was going past.
The next day the visitor came back and stopped to speak to my husband, she apologised for her bad driving and explained that when she saw the man (my husband) with the Midge net on she thought he was from the abattoir or something and was there to slaughter the calves????
Why would people think that something like that would be carried out in the middle of nowhere and especially in front of an unsuspecting visitor.
It makes you wonder what people really think what happens on farms and crofts.
Maybe my little bits of information will educate some people how things really work, then again maybe not.

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