Dog Category

  • Boys lifted, girls out

    Dog, Rams, SheepComments (2)

    On January 1, 2016 • By

    The rams have been in with the ewes since the 7th of November, so the boys had been doing their thing for 45 days, before being taken out on Boxing Day.  Sheep have a cycle of around 17 days, so each ewe should have cycled at least twice in that time.  I’ll be keeping an eye out for lambs from the beginning of April.


    With all this in mind, I gave the ewes a once-over, drenched them, and put most out on the moor.



    They all got a drench for Liver Fluke – the biggest sheep killer I have – and moved onto fresh ground.  After problems over the past 2/3 winters, particularly in the hoggs (last year’s lambs), I am drenching the ewes every 6 weeks and the hoggs every 4.

    I had 82 ewes at the rams this year; mainly Blackface and Cheviot, with some crosses too.  All the Blackfaces and those Cheviots and crosses which are suitable were then walked out onto the moor.  About 65 in total.



    It’s about 1.5 miles out the back road, across the main road and out the peat road to where I leave them


    They sheep are out on the open moor here but don’t stray too far from the glen which has plentiful supplies of grass, heather and shelter.  The crofts are so flat and exposed, they have next to no shelter from the gales that hit us in January and February, they also have very little grass left on them at this time of year, and can also harbour things like liver fluke.  Being out on the moor solves a lot of these issues.  image5

    I also take out mineral licks, which provide the sheep with the nutrients they need but which they don’t get from the poorer grazing out here.  The licks also provide the added bonus of keeping the ewes where I want them to be.


    Back at home, the remaining 18 are between my parents’ house and Cross School.  Plenty shelter and a bale of hay to keep them happy.


    In this photo, there is a wee cross gimmer on the right hand side (nearest to the camera, with the dark face), she suffered majorly from fluke in early Spring. I thought she was a goner, as she went about a month without standing, but has made a great recovery.  I can’t wait to see how she does this winter.

    And while the ewes are all set for the toughest 6 weeks of the winter, both in terms of their pregnancies and weather, the boys are recovering after their year’s work.  They’ll be pampered a little more than the ewes just now!


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  • Drenching Hoggs

    Adventures, Dog, Lambs, Medicine, SheepComments (1)

    On December 13, 2015 • By

    Over the past few winters, I have had some problems with Liver Fluke – specifically in the lambs that I have been over-wintering.  I have spoken to my vet about this on numerous occasions, and this year I am increasing the regularity of my drenching from every 6 weeks, to every 4.

    There are 2 reasons for this: the primary one being that I would like to reduce losses of ewe hoggs to an absolute minimum.  Nearly all my losses in the past few years have been due to liver fluke, a parasite that is transferred via water snails in wet ground, that feed on the sheeps’ liver.  The secondary reason is business-related. This year we have the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme, which means I get paid around £73 for every female lamb from 2015 that I overwinter until 31 March 2016.  As a result, I have kept a couple more females this year, so I want to keep on top of any fluke issues – and prevention is way way better than the cure. It’s better to cut out any liver damage before it happens.

    With all this in mind, I have added an extra drenching in my usual rota.  They were drenched in October when they were dipped and normally they wouldn’t get another one until nearer January, but last week I gathered them and drenched them all.  Since dipping, they have all been out in the village park, so Bud and I went out to get them last Saturday (5th).  The green area is the park, the red line is the route I use to walk the sheep, and the blue is their home for the next month.


    We took a wee while to get them all gathered, it’s quite a big park with tough terrain, and the 40mph+ winds meant that Bud couldn’t hear all my commands!  He still enjoyed himself.

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    Once in the fank, I separated my own lambs from everyone else’s and gave them their drench, along with a mineral drench.


    After this, Bud and I walked them home.



    That’s them now in towards the shore, in a 1 hectare field that has been empty since September.  The hoggs will be here until the Christmas holidays, then I’ll take them closer to home and start training them to eat feed! January and February are the critical months for surviving the winter, so it’ll be make or break then!



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  • Calendar

    Adventures, Agricultre, Chickens, Dog, Fishing, Lambs, Peats, Pigs, Poultry, Sheep, tractor, WildlifeComments (2)

    On October 25, 2014 • By

    2015 is just around the corner, fancy an Air An Lot calendar? I’ve printed a few using some of the most popular photos from the past year and I’m selling them for £10. Leave a comment if you’re interested, payment via PayPal.

    Here are some of the photos:








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  • 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


    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.


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

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  • Poor Bud

    DogComments (1)

    On April 14, 2014 • By

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    Seeing as I was going to the vet, I took Bud along with me, as he was booked in for a vaccine booster this Friday anyway. I just chanced it and he got seen.

    The vaccine went fine, as did his check up. The only thing I queried was whether or not he had both testicles. He’s only 2 and last time he was over, there was a chance that the 2nd one would still drop. A bit late now and I was advised that it was a cancer risk, as the other one was in his abdomen. So poor Bud went over for a chance visit & ended up with an appointment for the snip!

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  • A new(ish) helper

    Adventures, Agricultre, Chickens, death, Dog, Lambs, Poultry, Rams, SheepComments (0)

    On March 2, 2014 • By

    I had a busy day on Saturday, but made a little easier by my new assistant. Uisdean here has helped me on the croft sporadically for the last couple of years, but should be more regular for the next few months as he is volunteering with me as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award. Here he is in a typical pose, having helped me drench the hoggs.

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    My brother Martin is now a regular when it comes to Saturday morning chicken chores and he was with us too. He collected the eggs, while Uisdean & I cleaned out the house. It’s a lot dirtier when we’ve had some wet weather. The hens spend more time indoors, pooing inside and dripping water on the floor. Nice.

    After that, we fed the sheep and then went to bury the ram that had died . We had to take him in to the machair to make it easier. Of course I was going to take advantage of having an able assistant – he has to learn how to do these things!

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    (I removed the turf and first spade depth of soil, he did the next)

    The hoggs were next. I didn’t want to have to start making a pen or move them to a new field for penning, so Bud came in handy. Didn’t take a minute to corner them & he held them in place while I drenched them.

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    That was it then, another busy but enjoyable Saturday. Next week will be quiet as we have our first pre-season (football) friendly in Harris against a Uist team. I’ll have to leave home around 9am for 11am kick off and who knows when we’ll be home!

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  • More chicks

    Agricultre, birth, Chickens, chicks, Dog, PoultryComments (1)

    On February 25, 2014 • By

    So tonight I am up to 4 chicks successfully hatched. I expected a fourth tonight and I expected to be able to turn off the incubator. I was half right; there are now two more hatching!

    Here is the fourth, sitting in my hand

    It has now joined it’s siblings under the heat lamp in the barn. Bud cannot get enough of them!

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    Martin was also quite keen to join in!

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  • A look back at 2013

    Agricultre, birth, Cats, Chickens, chicks, death, Dog, Ducks, eggs, Lambs, Peats, Personal Favourites, Poultry, Rams, Sheep, video, WildlifeComments (2)

    On December 31, 2013 • By

    As 2013 draws to an end, I thought I would do that typical thing of looking back at the year.
    It wasn’t the easiest of years on the croft, with many more losses over the last winter and my lamb prices being lower than previous years, but it was still an enjoyable one. It’s been another busy year, with a full time job, playing in goal for Ness F.C., vice-chair of the Social Club and my freelance media commitments.
    I’ve gone through my blog posts and chosen my favourite ones. I have chosen them because I liked them or because I think they are important for one reason or another.
    Thanks for reading!

    My first one is from January and is a video of Bud struggling to come to terms with the laminate flooring in the kitchen.

    In February, I had a Buzzard attack some of my chickens. I haven’t chosen the post about the attack, but I’ve chosen the video I managed to get of the Buzzard returning a couple of days later, enticed by a chicken I had to cull. I think this was the single most viewed post in 2013, with thousands of views on facebook.
    Easter is my favourite time of year; lambing is usually in full swing and the local football season starts! Love it. Here are a couple of my lambing related posts, including Lasarusina, the lamb that came back from the brink of death (I kept her, she’s a beaut)

    I also used my incubator for the first time, it wasn’t as successful as I wished, but at least I got some chicks out of it.
    May is peat-cutting season, this year a group of us helped a neighbour who wasn’t able to cut his own. A very enjoyable evening for all of us.
    Now, I fancy myself as a bit of an amateur photographer and was quite chuffed with myself for getting these pictures of a cuckoo – a bird I had never actually seen in the flesh before, despite hearing them all my life.
    Every now and again, something happens that reminds you how susceptible livestock are. In June, one of my older ewes had her eye removed by a black-backed gull. Don’t look if you’re too squeamish. The sheep is fine, and still with us.
    My egg-laying empire took a big step forward this year, with the introduction of my new hen house. I had to assemble it myself and I also got a 60% CCAGS grant for it (which I am still to claim), otherwise it wouldn’t have been viable.
    I ended up with an extra cat for a few days in September (can’t believe it was that long ago). She was a stray but has successfully been rehomed, elsewhere in Ness.
    One of the most important acts in the crofting year – releasing the rams. This needs no further explanation!

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  • Sheepdogs

    Agricultre, Dog, Freelance Pieces, SheepComments (1)

    On October 15, 2013 • By

    I’m in Glasgow now, about to record the last day’s voiceover for series 6 of Farpaisean Chon-Chaorach. This will be going out in January.

    Hampden bound for Scotland v Croatia when I’m finished. This is a good day!



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  • Sunday Morning Walk in pics

    Agricultre, Dog, WildlifeComments (1)

    On June 16, 2013 • By

    I haven’t been for a walk in to the beach in a few weeks, so did so this morning – along with Bud.

    There is so much more life around the shore just now, teeming with flowers and birds.

    Here is the machair part of my croft, full of daisies.


    One of my favourite places in the world is where Abhainn Chrois meets Traigh Chrois. My brothers and I played here a lot when we were younger.


    Down to the shore and someone has lost a lamb to the river. This might have died a year ago and only now been washed down. Who knows. Young animal anyway.


    Myself and Bud played on the beach for a wee while. Full of beans!




    This is Traigh Chrois, from the south, looking north. Love this place.


    I walked south along the coast to Traigh Dhall then. I almost stood on this wee fellow, an oystercatcher chick. Parents were buzzing around but he was as still as could be!


    Can you spot him here? Bud remained totally oblivious of him.


    Once I reached Traigh Dhail, there was a flood of gull chicks awaiting me. I came across these two, spotted another 15 or so and then decided to leave, as I didn’t want to disturb them too much.


    This one needs to work on it’s hide & seek technique.


    And then on the way home, I passed Boais’ cows – and calves



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