Adventures Category

  • A busy Monday

    Adventures, Agricultre, Lambs, Pigs, Poultry, SheepComments (1)

    On October 7, 2014 • By

    I used to blog about busy Saturdays, but that’s not as much the case any more. Since reducing my hours at work, I am off every Monday and I now have a wee bit more time to split work between Saturday and Monday.

    This week was a bit of catch-up on Saturday, as I’d been away for work Wed-Fri the previous week. Hen houses were cleaned on Saturday and lots of other jobs too, mainly working on getting electricity connected to my portacabin. My cousin and uncle (both electricians) were over and got most of the work done. It’ll make a difference having power to the place, especially now that it’s getting dark. I’ll also have to work on lighting the hen house – although I’ve got that one figured out in my head.

    So Monday was awful, weather wise. We had gale force winds and pouring rain, so it was a day for doing indoor chores. That meant cleaning out the portacabin and organising things the way I want them. Once I have a picture in my head of how I want things to be, it’s not easy to persuade me to do something different – I have to know if my idea works!

    Once the portacabin had been sorted, it was off to the lambs with me. The Government announced a new subsidy scheme for less favoured areas earlier this year, with each ewe hogg kept meaning a payment of €100 (around £80). No one seems to be sure when it is kicking in, so I have kept every single female lamb that was born, in the hope of receiving extra payment, but I’m hearing now that it won’t kick in until next year and that means getting rid of this year’s females.

    There is one more sale here, on Thursday 16th Oct, so I have gone through my lambs and kept 18 for breeding, with 17 going. There are a few more being kept for the freezer.

    These are some of the ones I’m keeping

    IMG_2989.JPG

    As you can see, they are mainly Cheviots, as I am looking to build up my cheviot flock. There are a couple of nice Suffolk/Cheviot crosses in there too, along with some Suffolk/Roussin hybrids. I have plans for them, and we’ll see how they go.

    The rest are off to sale on the 16th, and I’ll need to borrow a trailer for the day, as mine won’t take 17.

    IMG_2987.JPG

    Next up is to book in some lambs and pigs for slaughter. October is turning into a busier month than I expected, although I am off to Glasgow for the weekend for some much needed R&R!

    Read More
  • Catch up

    Adventures, Agricultre, SheepComments (0)

    On October 5, 2014 • By

    I’ve never been good at keeping the blog up to date in the summer months, mainly due to the fact I’m out working while the sun’s out! Now the nights are getting longer, I’ll have more time to share my thoughts.

    At the time of my last post, I was embarking on the first of two Farpaisean Chon Chaorach film trips; the first to Tain for the World Sheepdog Trial and the second to Roscommon in Ireland, for the International. I actually came home early from the World Trial because Ness were in the Lewis Cup final – and we went and won 3-1!

    IMG_2697.PNG

    IMG_2696.PNG

    Back home, it’s the time of year when changes are made to your stock. I’ve bought in around 20 new ewes, while some of the older ones had to go, due to missing teeth or faulty udders.

    IMG_2824.JPG

    It’s not a job I particularly like, but it’s better for the sheep to be sent away, rather than struggle through the winter here.

    I wasn’t happy with my prices in Dingwall though, particularly for the 11 lambs I sent away. I think I might try the Stornoway Mart next time, at least I can take them home if I’m really unimpressed!

    Read More
  • Progress, progress, progress

    Adventures, Agricultre, Chickens, eggs, SheepComments (1)

    On August 31, 2014 • By

    I can’t wait for winter. There, I said it. This summer has been the busiest I’ve ever had; 320 hens, sheep, filming, football and a job are all catching up with me. I’m looking forward to getting into a routine and being able to focus on getting things running properly instead of getting them started.

    I have 2 sheepdog filming trips in the next fortnight, the World Trial and International, while our football season ends next week with a cup final on Saturday night. That should mean a little more time to myself, once they’re done.

    There has been so much happening here in the past 3 weeks and I haven’t been updating this as much as I should have, purely down to long long days.

    The hens are settled and starting to lay their eggs. Buckie, the joiner, has built a fantastic hen house and decorated it in his own unique style.

    IMG_2480.JPG

    I’m currently getting around 20-50 eggs a day, a far cry from the 250 I need to fulfil orders. I hope to be in the position to sell eggs when I’m back from filming, probably week beginning 22nd September.

    Buckie has also been busy getting the portacabin ready too. One of the rooms is where I’m going to have my egg packing station. It’s coming together nicely. Just about ready, just needing a clean.

    IMG_2570.JPG

    I also hope that I’ll be able to show you my egg box labels some time this week. Fingers crossed anyway!

    I’ve also been fortunate in that I’m now using a barn on the croft next to mine. It has been particularly useful for storing feed and Buckie was also hard at work here, fitting large double doors that make it much more practical.

    IMG_2516.JPG

    I was at the lamb sale in Stornoway last Wednesday and ended up buying 17 sheep; 9 lambs and 8 ewes.

    IMG_2538.JPG

    I’ve since agreed to buy a few more ewes, so I’ll have to sell some lambs soon and maybe move on a few sheep. I have twice as much land this year, so I have plenty scope for expansion. I’m not sure my father will agree, though!

    On that, I am putting sub-tenancies in place on the crofts I use. First up is my mother’s croft, which I received confirmation of this week.

    IMG_2531.JPG

    Read More
  • What a fortnight

    Adventures, Dog, Freelance Pieces, SheepComments (1)

    On August 10, 2014 • By

    First of all, my apologies for lack of blog posts. Summer is a really busy time for me, with croft work, day job, filming and football keeping me busy, never mind throwing 320 new chickens into the mix!

    I’m relaxing in Glasgow just now, having spent the last 3 days filming at the Scottish National Sheepdog Trial. We’re filming series 7 of Farpaisean Chon-Chaorach, a programme I have been co-presenting since BBC Alba launched in 2008. This is our Scottish Team

    IMG_2355.JPG

    Our typical day at a trial begins with us recording our links during the morning and then, after lunch, interviewing the top placed handlers of the day, before a winner’s interview and then our closing piece to camera. Some days, like Thursday of this week, can be very long. We weren’t clear of the trial field until around 9pm. We have two elements to the film crew; the majority film the runs, while the Single Camera Unit (us) film the links & interviews. This is made up of presenters, cameraman and director. Here is a post-National selfie of myself, Catriona, Craig and Neil.

    IMG_2370.JPG

    I go home tomorrow and prepare to do it all again next month for the International Sheepdog Trial.

    Read More
  • A big day

    Adventures, Chickens, eggsComments (0)

    On July 29, 2014 • By

    I write this sitting at Glasgow Central train station. I am about to get a train to Lanark on the first leg of my journey to take the chickens home.

    I have been away from home since last Thursday, as I was filming Farpaisean Chon Chaorach in Ireland at the weekend. Because of this, I had to rejig most of my plans. The 320 chickens had been due to arrive last Friday, but obviously that wasn’t going to work as I was in Ireland, and I couldn’t really turn down a trip that was going to pay me 1/3 of the cost of the chickens!

    The company I’m buying the chickens from, JSR Services, have been very accommodating. They were initially supposed to drop them off in Inverness, as part of a bigger delivery that they were making, but said I could pick them up from a farm in Lanark if I wanted to delay things. The problem then was getting a van down to Glasgow so that I could drive it back up. This is where the new series BBC Alba are filming came in handy. They obviously want to film the arrival of the chickens, so it made sense for the cameraman to drive the van down. The next problem was lack of spaces on the ferries. At very short notice, I had to delay everything by another day, as there were no bookings available on ferries to or from Lewis/Harris.

    So why am I getting a train? Well, John the cameraman, quite rightly, wanted to avoid Glasgow this morning, so I am getting the 6.50am train to Lanark before I take over at the wheel, pick up the chickens and start the long drive home. Due to busy ferries, I have to go home via Uig/Tarbert, so that adds to my journey. So many things can go wrong today, I just hope they don’t!

    Read More
  • Air An Lot TV

    Adventures, Agricultre, Freelance PiecesComments (5)

    On July 28, 2014 • By

    What an exciting time here! Air An Lot is going to feature on it’s very own series on BBC Alba (it’s not going to be called Air An Lot tv!)

    I had a meeting with MacTV last month and they got the green light 10 days ago. They’ll be following me over the next year as I set up the egg production side of things, along with the croft tourism and everything else that goes on.

    We start filming tomorrow, with a cameraman following me as I pick up my 320 chickens.

    I have a very busy and very exciting year ahead of me. Bring it on!

    Read More
  • Progress

    Adventures, Agricultre, Chickens, tractorComments (2)

    On July 20, 2014 • By

    I am currently in the middle of the busiest period of work I’ve ever had, and I love it! Full steam ahead right now with getting everything ready for the chickens and the tourism side of things, so much going on and I don’t have time to blog about it all.

    Last week I erected my new signage, and I’ve already had lots of nice feedback about that. I bought a portacabin a couple of weeks ago and I hope to have it in place in the next week. I actually had a local contractor, Danda, here yesterday, clearing the site for it.

    It is right behind my house, on the site of the original house (latterly a barn) that was on the croft. My parents knocked it down in 2004 as part of the extension had started to come away but I am now majorly regretting allowing this to happen. It would have been PERFECT for what I’m doing now and would have had such a nice story behind it. Anyway, what’s done is done. Danda (from the next village) was actually the contractor who knocked it down initially, so he knew what was in store.

    20140720-124804 pm-46084033.jpg

    20140720-124805 pm-46085052.jpg

    20140720-124805 pm-46085878.jpg

    The stones had been left there for 10 years, just in case they’d be handy at some point, which is now the case.

    They were an eyesore to be honest, but one that I had grown accustomed to. You’ll notice that there is still a pile of stone behind the site, that’s being saved for the barn I intend to build in the next year. No point getting rid of that stuff if I then need to go any buy more infill later.

    The haulage company I intend to use to get the portacabin over from Stornoway have been busy with the Heb Celt Festival, so hopefully they’ll have time this week to move it. Once in place, I hope that one of my Ness FC teammates is going to paint it for me and I’ll get it up to the standard required. One of the two rooms is going to be my egg-packing station for when the 320 chickens start laying. I had someone from Environmental Health cast their eye over it last week, just to provide advice on what I need to do to get it up to scratch. It won’t need too much work or money thrown at it.

    The chickens themselves are due to come in the next week. I was initially supposed to pick them up in Inverness on Friday but I’m now going to be in Ireland until Sunday, filming Farpaisean Chon Chaorach. Plan B is now leave Glasgow at 6/7am Monday, pick up the chickens in Lanark, drive home and get the Uig-Tarbert ferry, drop off the chickens at home and play a cup semi-final for Ness at 7pm. I’ll be over the moon if all that works.

    My hen house will hopefully be ready in time for this. It has to be! I’ve been badly let down by a timber merchant and my joiner is short of 4×2. If I can’t get them to him early tomorrow, I’m in serious trouble. I’m so lucky I’ve reduced my hours at work though, there’s no way I’d be able to get everything ready otherwise!

    There’s also one major piece of exciting news that I’m not allowed to share yet. Hopefully I’ll get permission to do so this week!

    Read More
  • New signage

    AdventuresComments (0)

    On July 14, 2014 • By

    I am delighted today, I have my new signage up. I approached Comunn na Gaidhlig a few months ago about signs and they are funding 60% of the costs, given that they are bilingual.

    My friend Domhnall Cheocaidh designed the logo while I used Hebridean Graphics to produce the signs. I can’t recommend them highly enough.

    I now have one sign on the main road

    20140714-114111 am-42071387.jpg

    And a smaller one at a wee junction in my road

    20140714-114147 am-42107439.jpg

    No more cage directions!

    Read More
  • Portacabin

    AdventuresComments (1)

    On July 4, 2014 • By

    I bought a portacabin!

    I am buzzing just now! Shearing was cancelled so I nipped over to Stornoway this afternoon to do a little deal. I’d been looking for a shed/unit to use as a base for Air An Lot for a few weeks now and the For Sale sign in two portacabins caught my eye yesterday.

    20140704-055359 pm-64439972.jpg

    The one that looked great on the outside, didn’t look as good on the inside, while the tatty exterior on the other hid a nice, practical interior.

    20140704-055523 pm-64523501.jpg

    20140704-055524 pm-64524315.jpg

    So I bought it. I’ll have to arrange for it to be taken over to Ness next week and figure out exactly where I’m going to put it.

    My idea is to have somewhere for people to wait, get changed, hang their jackets etc, while also giving myself a wee office that’s not in my house.

    I am very excited!

    Read More
  • Work/Life Balance

    AdventuresComments (0)

    On June 27, 2014 • By

    I am extremely happy crofter tonight. The schools have closed today and I’m as happy as all the teachers and pupils who have the next 6 weeks off. Why? Well, I never have to work a Monday ever again!

    I have been juggling croft work, Air An Lot, media work and football along with a full time job for quite a while now, so a couple of months ago I asked to reduce my hours. As of now, I am on 3.5 days a week; every Monday and every 2nd Friday off.

    I think this will benefit all parties; I will have more time to get my Air An Lot plans up and running, along with plenty other things, while my work will get a happier, more motivated employee.

    There is loads going on behind the scenes, which I’ll be able to share in a week or two; mainly getting ready for the 300 chickens which are due to come in a month!

    Read More