Saturday, 19 May 2018

The greening

The island is finally beginning to green up!  Relief for Farmer as there is now grass growing ahead of the ewes and lambs in the fields.

Our lambing is nearly over.   There is one Herdwick left to lamb - we cannot believe she hasn't had it by now!

East Cottage has one space in July left from 7th to 14th.  Please get in touch if you would like to book, or you can do so direct on the website.

It is funny to have been seeing photographs of bluebell woods further south in the UK for a few weeks now, as ours are just beginning to flower in the sheltered warm spots of the wood.  The ones that usually turn the Coronation Meadow blue are still only in leaf.

You don't so much walk through the woodland these days as scramble.  Lethal bramble tendrils threaten to trip you up at every step and fallen down trees act as gymnastic jumps - you choose whether to try and clamber over or limbo underneath.

Mallard duck and 3 young ducklings on the Duill lochan.

Lovely to have a pair of Collared doves around the bird feeders earlier in the week. Prasad saw Tree sparrows as well.

This bit of shoreline near Lagganulva is always good for Oystercatchers.  The Sea pinks are JUST beginning to flower. 

This little beach is near Croig, a short walk across grassy fields (no dogs). 

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Finding the whisky cave and the zigzag path

The Treshnish Headland walk is Farmer's office, so you may well meet him while you are walking! 

Guests often ask us how to find the 'whisky cave' and it can be quite difficult to describe where the gully is.  Several times over the years, Farmer has left a fishing buoy or a stick at the top of the gully to indicate where to climb down, only to find someone has picked up the buoy and brought it home or thrown the stick for their dog. 

Here are some photographs which might help you find the 'whisky cave', and having done that, then find the zigzag path up towards Crackaig. 

The walk down from beyond the Haunn Cottages is fairly straightforward.  When you get to the shore you keep left along the raised beach.  You will pass Port Haunn and keep on going.   This is round the corner and Port Haunn is out of shot beyond the cliffs in the top of the photograph. 


The gully you need to walk down is towards the bottom of this photograph.  The whisky cave is the next shadow. 

Here in a bit more detail - shows the gully, the beach with driftwood and the cave in shadow.  Farmer often mentions looking for the rocks round the edge of the cliff.  I usually say look for a place in the path where the cliff/hill is steep on your left and the gully drops away on your right.  It is usually quite wet and muddy there too. 

The gully again. 

Recent OS maps show the path as going up the side of a very steep burn when actually you need to jump the burn and continue on a little way before climbing up the zigzag path. 

This is the burn.  Cross it and continue on the raised beach for a way.  When you see the scrub woodland ahead of you you need to look for the zigzag path to the left of it, before the wood. 

Here you can see Crackaig up on the top of the cliffs and the flat raised beach below.

The drone tends to flatten the perspective so you cant really tell how steep this is.  But top left of the photograph is the top of the zigzag path. The building on the right is the ruin of the schoolhouse.  

Cross the burn and you have arrived at Crackaig. 

Look out for the carvings on the largest house in the settlement. 

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Mid lambing...

Lambing time means long long days for the Farmer.  Up early and back in to the farmhouse late in the evening.  With about 200 ewes and gimmers lambing either in the shed or on the in-by and the rest of the flock on the hill.  The ones close to home are checked 3 or 4 times a day at least. If there is a ewe looking as if she might need help, he will keep a regular eye on her.   

The hill is checked once a day.  The ewes on the hill have previously lambed and are only expecting singles so they tend to just get on with it.   Some times he needs to help one, which Nyje has to catch for him.    

Lambing started mid April.   The end of winter being so cold and long meant that the grass was very slow to come.  You can supplementarily feed - as we do - but the ewes will still be in poorer condition than they would be had they been eating fresh young grass prior to lambing.   It has just been one of those years, and we are grateful that our lambs weren't being born in the snowy winter conditions that many parts of the UK had experienced.

But we were worried as to what problems this cold lambing would bring.  Would the ewes have any milk?    Sometimes a ewe will instinctively just walk away from their lamb/s if they don't have any or much milk. Self preservation.

It is always difficult to quantify at this stage what sort of a lambing we are having.  Farmer deals with the problems, the lambs that don't thrive, the mothers who don't have enough milk to feed two lambs or have mastitis.  The hundreds of ewes that lamb and bond with their lambs on their own are uncounted, seen out of the corner of a grateful Farmer's eye as he goes to help a first time lamber who doesn't understand why she has two lambs and ignores the second one.  It is only at marking time when you know how it has gone.

The ewes and lambs with numbers on them have been born in the safety of the cattle shed.  Either first time lambers or having Suffolk lambs.   The first lambing we did here in 1995, we had a Suffolk tup as Tommy the shepherd who had worked at Treshnish for 45 years was fond of Suffolks and the lambs fetched more at the sales than the Blackface.    We liked them too but for whatever unforgotten reason, we didn't continue with the Suffolks - until this year, when we bought a tup locally on the island.   They are beautiful big lambs but Farmer had to help quite a number which were being born with their legs back.  It was handy having them in the shed where he didn't have to chase them half way round the field before helping get the lamb out. 

The cold weather slowly began to warm up, but brought with it some damp weather too.  The Herdwick lambs shelter against a wall, their coats very effectively repelling the rain.

I took the drone with me one evening while Farmer was doing the pre-nightfall check.  Here he is, driving slowly past one of the wetland areas on the edge of the Haunn field. 

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