Agricultre Category

  • 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!

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    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.

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    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!

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  • 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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

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    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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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    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!

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  • Pedicure

    Agricultre, Medicine, SheepComments (0)

    On July 13, 2014 • By

    I spent a relaxing morning in the fank yesterday, all on my own, tending to the sheep’s feet.

    The hooves of the sheep are like our own nails; always growing. You can get things like foot rot, which causes the sheep pain/discomfort and is not nice. When shearing last week, I noticed a couple of the sheep had longer hooves that needed trimming, so I took them all back into the fank to sort them.

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    A before shot

    The shears snip through the hoof easily and the sheep feels no discomfort.

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    The end product looks much neater, just the way it should.

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    The beauty about our traditional stock management system here, is that things like foot rot are minimised by methods that have been used for generations. Sheep here have traditionally spent part of the winter on the moor. The heather is perfect for cleaning in between their hooves, meaning they are clean and don’t need as much human influence. Mine have just spent 2 weeks in my apportionment, which cleaned out their feet nicely. No sign of foot rot or any diseases, just some superficial trimmings required.

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  • New water

    AgricultreComments (0)

    On July 13, 2014 • By

    Scottish Water are working in our end of Ness just now, replacing the mains water supply.

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    I have had 3 diggers working on my croft for the last few days, as the line for our road goes along the length of it.

    I was talking to the guys working on it on Friday and they told me that my croft will be much, much drier once this work is complete. The old asbestos piping has been leaking along its length but that should all dry up.

    I had a contractor in last year digging new drains because of how wet that part of the croft was, now it all makes sense!

    Increased water pressure will be a bonus too!

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  • Vasectomy (for the ram!)

    Adventures, Agricultre, birth, Medicine, Rams, SheepComments (0)

    On June 15, 2014 • By

    I now have a ‘teaser’ ram. One of my friends told me about his a few years ago, but I didn’t pay much attention to teasers, until I saw the affect it had on my neighbour’s lambing last year; numerous sheep lambing each day, while I was having a max of 2/3.

    Anyway, the process is quite simple. A ram is given a vasectomy and this does strange things to the sheep! The teaser is put in with the ewes 10 days before the ‘intact’ rams. This brings the ewes into season and also synchronises their systems, meaning your lambing period is much tighter. This year I was up at 5am 39 times in 42 days. I was exhausted. Hopefully next year won’t be anywhere near 42 days!

    The process with the ram was quite simple.

    1. Choose a ram

    I have this ram lamb from last year. Wasn’t sure what to do with him, as he is related to too many of my sheep, so this was an easy decision.

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    2. Get the vet out

    I made the appointment when Bud was over for his own ‘sensitive’ operation. The vet wanted it booked as soon as possible, to avoid fly strike. Suits me, so we got it done the following week.

    I had to sit an hold the ram, while the vet did his thing. The animal is given a sedative, the area is given a local anaesthetic and then cleaned.

    The job takes around an hour and I’ve been told it’s similar to the process on humans. Tubes from the testes are snipped and a length removed, to ensure it doesn’t grow back and repair itself.

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    Quick and painless for the animal. It will actually mean he will have a nice long life here now, given that I won’t have to move him on. Fingers crossed this all works now!

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  • Catch up

    AgricultreComments (0)

    On June 15, 2014 • By

    I’ve had an insanely busy fortnight, and another busy 10 days before me. I haven’t made the time I would have liked to update the blog (this happens every summer) but I’m going to catch up today, as there have been quite a few interesting things happening!

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  • Fertiliser

    Agricultre, tractorComments (0)

    On May 30, 2014 • By

    Last week I bought a fertiliser spreader and this week I got some fertiliser. What’s left to do? Spread it!

    I got home from work last night and got cracking straight away!

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    The fertiliser itself is available locally in 25kg or 600kg bags. Obviously 600kg is a bit much for me, so 12 x 25 kg bags for me. The spreader could take 10 of them, but I left space to carry the remaining bags in to the section of the croft that I was going to apply it to.

    Didn’t take too long either. Can you spot all the baby rabbits here? They’ve made some mess in at the shore end of the croft.

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    It only took me half an hour. We’ll see how it goes now. I don’t think any fertiliser has been spread on our crofts for a generation! It certainly won’t do any harm!

    Here are a couple of pics from inside the cab

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  • Piglets

    Agricultre, PigsComments (1)

    On May 25, 2014 • By

    I usually get piglets every second year and this year is no different. I have got them off Cudaig in previous years, but had to find an alternative supplier this year, as he didn’t have as many as he usually does. Fortunately, I found some in Ness, so I went to see them yesterday.

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    I love pigs and piglets, so much fun and personality! They’ll be ready to pick up the week beginning 9th June, so I don’t have to wait long.

    Costs for keeping pigs have gone up a bit in the last 18 months, as the feed prices increased. This means that many people have got rid of their pigs, so there aren’t as many around. I think I might keep 2 of these for breeding this time. A gap in the market & nothing ventured, nothing gained!

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