Personal Favourites Category

  • Saturday – 2nd half!

    Agricultre, Personal Favourites, SheepComments (0)

    On November 24, 2012 • By

    I posted earlier about the first half of my Saturday – the second half was even busier! I am absolutely shattered now but agreed to be bingo caller in the Social Club tonight so no chance to relax.

    First up in the afternoon was taking some of the lambs out to the village park. Each crofting village has common grazing, communal area for animals. Most villages have an area on the moor, while some in Ness also have a machair area. Our village has machair land but no common grazing, so out to the moor side for them.

    Between lambs I kept and bought, there are 17. 10 or 11 of these will be breeding stock, while the rest are for the freezer. I kept one as a ram lamb but already sold him.

    Of the 17, I put 11 out to the park. The other 6 are the small ones that are freezer-bound this time next year. They are very small though and I’m not sure they’d survive the winter out in the park so they get to stay closer to home and get some extra feed.

    Here are some of the lambs that went out.




    And here they are coming out of the trailer at the fank and heading out into the park.

    [wpvideo V6HUHl14]

    The lambs staying at home have been started on feed as of today. They are penned beside my house for the night, with feed in the trough. I’ll feed them again in the morning and them out. Hopefully, they’ll get used to it quite quickly. This will be handy for when the other 11 come home too, as they should follow these ones to the trough.

    I then did some power washing around the house, and cleaned the hen houses with the power washer too. I really need to get my finger out and get a bigger hen house built. Fed up of 2/3 smaller ones that aren’t sturdy enough! One of them had the hatch for the neat box blown off in Thursday’s gale (was around 84mph in Ness), so I had to fix that as well!

    Think that was it for the day, just had to move the pigs back up to their original pen (and bed) and take enough peats in for the weekend. I’m fit to drop!

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  • Saturday – first half!

    Agricultre, Chickens, Personal Favourites, PigsComments (0)

    On November 24, 2012 • By

    It’s currently 11.30am and I’m sitting down to have my breakfast – mainly because I forgot! Got a lot of work to do today but I thought I had to share what I’ve done so far!

    The chicks have been outside for 2 weeks now, so I decided to extend their run a wee bit this morning. Didn’t take me too long and you can see from this picture, how bare the ground on the right had become.


    I sold 4 of the chicks this morning, these are the first ones to go. I started off with 24 but 3 died in the first month or so. Since being outside, I found one of them dead inside the henhouse, taking me down to 20. When I went out yesterday morning, I could only find 19, so there was obviously another one gone and when I had a proper look this morning, this was all I found of it. The only thing I can think of is if it flew up and got stuck in the netting above them and then crows/gulls took it. The leg was found inside the run, with the rest of the chicks.


    On a cheerier note, before I move onto the pigs, I’d better show sone pics of the other chicks!

    What you lookin’ at?



    This one has a bad hair day.

    The pigs are off to slaughter in 2 weeks, so they are pretty big now, almost ready for the chop. I have to admit that it is a bit of a chore feeding them in the dark before work every day, but I’ll still be sad to see them go. The sausages will be appropriate compensation!

    Due to the recent wet weather, their pen has become very wet, so I’ve been moving them down to my main pigpen during the days, before they are taken back up to their current pen, where their bed is.

    I move them most mornings, when it’s quite dark and I’m usually in a rush but I decided today to film them as i find it quite entertaining! I stopped before they got into the pen because one of them had smelt food somewhere else and done a runner! I caught her before she got too far.

    Anyway, I’m off to do some work, lambs to move, sheep to check and henhouses to repair. Enjoy the video!

    [wpvideo Vd51q3e0]

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  • Feeding in the dark!

    Agricultre, Chickens, Dog, Personal Favourites, Pigs, Poultry, SheepComments (1)

    On November 19, 2012 • By

    Man, it is a miserable morning out there!

    Got up today around 6.45 but took me a wee while to get myself ready for going outside – psyched myself up first then put on the survival suit!


    It was pitch black when I went out, around 7am. My usual routine is feed the pigs first, then the hens and chicks. Bud comes with me every morning – you should see how excited the wee fellow is every time I put my wellies on!

    Today, did the pigs as usual but I found it darker than normal. I usually feed them nearer 8 but since I had extra to do, they were earlier this morning. Don’t think they fancied getting out of their warm bed at that time but funny how powerful an influence food is!

    Next I walked out the croft to leave Bud with my mother for the day, and I picked up some crystalix mineral licks for the sheep that we got on Friday but I forgot to put them out on Saturday!


    The sheep go wild for this stuff. I fought off the temptation to use my pickup to take it in to the sheep (as I was soaking and filthy) so the tractor got fired up instead


    As you can see, it was still pretty dark at that time.



    A quick spin in the croft – the sheep are in the furthest sections away of the crofts, about 1/2 or 3/4 of a mile away – and I was greeted by sheep hiding behind the shelter myself and Innes put up 2 years ago. They need it on a morning like today.

    As soon as they realised I had food, they came flying over. They love it! The only problem for them is they have to lick it – even though they’d love to bite off a big chunk!


    They’re always a bit ott with the stuff at first and it can lead to some bullying but they settle down quite quickly. I gave licks to 3 of the 4 flocks this morning. I’m leaving the blackfaces as I think they’re ok without.

    Took the tractor out to my parents house after that, it’s going into the barn for the winter – and hopefully some TLC!

    Walked home, fed the chicks and hens, now I have to contemplate a shower an going to work! The joys!

    Why do I do all this, you may ask? Because I love it. Real sense of satisfaction – even on days like this!

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  • Mornin’!

    On November 12, 2012 | Agricultre, Personal Favourites, Sheep | By

  • Pictures from a beautiful morning (23/10/12)

    Agricultre, Personal Favourites, SheepComments (1)

    On October 30, 2012 • By










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  • A terrible day

    Agricultre, Personal Favourites, SheepComments (7)

    On October 6, 2012 • By

    I think today may well be one of the worst I’ve experienced as a crofter. I lost one sheep and will probably have to have another put down in the next few days.

    To tell the story, I have to go back 2 weeks. When we were dipping, we noticed one of my sheep had a burst eye. The vet came over, gave her some antibiotics and cleaned it up a bit. He said in the ideal world, the eye would be taken out as it could cause problems but it could be a danger to the sheep to put her under general anaesthetic so we left her as she was and she looked like she was improving

    Anyway, today we were taking all the sheep home from one of the village parks, where they’d been since dipping

    As soon as I went into the park, I noticed that one of my sheep was acting strange. I recognised straight away that she was blind. As soon as I got closer, I saw that her eyes were clouded over and quite swollen. I phoned the vet straight away, as I guessed it was probably related to the sheep with the burst eye.

    We got them all into the fank and checked the rest of them over, it looked like there were 5 or 6 others displaying the early symptoms of the eye problems.

    Here is the blind sheep.


    The vet came shortly after and had a look. I can’t remember what he said the problem was but it is a contagious eye infection which they can sometimes pick up from eating silage. I don’t feed my sheep silage so she must have picked it up somewhere else.

    The treatment for this is an injection into the eye lid


    Tony the vet injected both the sheep’s eyes. The left eye looks to be too far gone to regain sight, but there is an outside chance the right one may recover. The treatment should work within 3 days and hopefully she’ll have some sight in the right eye, otherwise she’s a goner.



    We then went through the pens where the rest of my sheep were and injected the eyes of 5 or 6 of them. They were all showing symptoms, either clouding over, or discharge from the eye. They should all make a full recovery. This is when things took a turn for the worse though. We discussed the sheep with the burst eye and decided to have a look at it, seeing as Tony was over anyway.

    We caught her and noticed that things had got worse, a cavity about an inch behind the eye itself had also burst and there was a bit of a mess. Again, the prognosis was that it would be best if the eye came out. Tony and I deliberated over it for a while and I agreed that we would remove it. Instead of general anaesthetic, she was to be sedated and then local anaesthetic applied to the eye. This would lower the chance of things going wrong – but there is always a risk.

    We took the sheep into the barn and were going to use the freezer as the operating table. We waited probably fifteen minutes for the sedative to kick in but as soon as it did, that’s when things went wrong. Tony lifted her up onto the table and it was then that it appeared that she had a heart attack.


    I had popped out for a few minutes and came back in just as Tony was realising that she had stopped breathing. Her heart was beating but she wasn’t breathing at all. We tried a few cheat compressions but it wasn’t long until the heartbeat became irregular and stopped completely.

    So that was it. A sheep that was only 18 months old and as lively as can be half an hour before was now dead. I felt terrible at the time, and still do. I think it’s a feeling of guilt and maybe letting the sheep down. She may have gone on to lead a healthy life if we’d left her – but she may also have picked up multiple infections in the eye and suffered a lot.

    I felt a bit for Tony too, definitely put his day/week on a downer but these things happen and I don’t blame him at all, it just didn’t work out.

    I’ll bury the sheep after work on Monday, as it was getting late-ish when we’d cleaned up and I wasn’t really in the mood to do it anyway. I just hope that there won’t be another sheep to do on Tuesday, should the other sheep be left blind in both eyes.

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  • Burst eye – unpleasant but doesn’t look too bad!

    Agricultre, Personal Favourites, SheepComments (4)

    On September 22, 2012 • By

    While we were getting ready to dip the sheep, we noticed that one of the gimmers had a problem with her eye – it looked like it had burst! As you may know, I’m not really squeamish when it comes to animals, but I draw the line with eyes! Something about them that freak me out when something goes wrong. Anyway, we dipped the sheep but didn’t dunk her head under like we do with the rest. We penned her with 2-3 others just so she’d be easy to catch later and I phoned the vet. Here is the sheep as she was first


    As you can see, it’s pretty intense! The vet couldn’t come until after 5 so we had to wait. When he came, he said that the eye was actually in the process of healing and that it had indeed burst. As soon as we had her, he held up the cornea, that had been hanging loose. He cleaned the eye up as best he could and gave her anti-biotics. I have to give her a second jab on Thursday. This is how we left her. The blue spray is anti-septic stuff the vet applied.


    Not sure what caused it, possibly a bit of fence or something. We had them gathered last Saturday and didn’t notice anything when drenching her but the Hector, the vet, said that it would only have been a slight bulge then so wouldn’t be really noticeable. The sheep is fine, behind my parents house and will be ok to go to the ram at the end of next month.

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  • Fishing with Lìn-bheaga

    Agricultre, Fishing, Personal FavouritesComments (2)

    On May 20, 2012 • By

    First questions for many of you will be what are Lìn-bheaga?  I think the English for them are Small/Short-lines.  Basically a long-ish line with baited hooks on it.  There are also Lìn-mhora – Long-lines – that are used, in my experience, for commercial fishing.  I’ve had experience of fishing with Long-lines in the 90s, on my fathers fishing boat.  Would use the Long-lines to catch Bioraich (Dog-fish).  I was always told these would be used in shark-fin soup but I’m not sure if that was the truth or not.  We would also catch Dalagan (Spotted Dog-fish).

    Co-dhiu, these Lìn-bheaga were an experiment my father had been wanting to try for a long time.  He is originally from the island of Scalpay, off Harris, famous for their fishing, and used to use Lìn-bheaga quite often but had never tried it in Ness, in the 33 years he’s lived here.

    We’d prepared and baited the lines (with mackerel) several weeks ago and kept it in the freezer until weather conditions were better.

    There are about 15o hooks on the line.  This box was home-made to launch the lines

    This is us parked up at the bottom of my croft, above Traigh Chrois, about to set the line.  The beach is about a mile from my house.

    There is an anchor attached to each end of the line, which are set at low tide.  The tide then comes in and covers the line & baited hooks.  Here is my dad attaching one of the anchors to the line.

    My dad surveying the beach.  I must point out that I did most of the hard-labour but it’s not easy taking pictures at the same time!!

    It took us about 90 minutes to set the line.  By this time, I had been waist deep in the sea. Fully clothed. My wellies had to be emptied 3 times….

    We finished setting the line at around 2.30pm, just in time to go home and watch the Scottish Cup Final.  We returned just after 6pm, before the tide got too high.  As you can see from this picture, there was quite a lot of seaweed on the beach, something which I have never seen here before.  We had rough weather earlier in the week, so a lot of it has come loose and come ashore.  This was to prove to be a problem, as we will see shortly!

    Starting to haul the line in.  All this is done by hand.  You can see from the nearest breaking wave, that it is full of seaweed.  This ended up catching onto the hooks, instead of the flat-fish we were hoping to catch.  It also made for hard work hauling it in!  The line was gathered into the basket at my father’s feet.

    We took about an hour to haul the line back in, with difficulty at some points.  I would love to show you a picture of the basket we had down for all the fish we caught  – but we got ZERO!!!!

    All the hooks are safely tucked away into the foam rim of the basket.

    So time to head home and plan our next assault on the beachhead!

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  • Bud up to 4 months of age

    Agricultre, Dog, Personal FavouritesComments (0)

    On May 18, 2012 • By

    Bud arrived in mid-March, in place of my old dog, Jim (who I may write about at some point)

    He settled in quite quickly, here he is dozing in a basket of clean clothes!

    On his first walk in the croft.  In this photo, I think he looks like one of these toy dogs that does flips!

    Training him early to get used to the tractor!

    And the 4×4!

    But all this work makes Bud a sleepy boy!

    At least this time it was dirty clothes!

    He gets hungry too – this is him eating his first rabbit!

    My very own meerkat

    This was his first time on the beach

    Just Hangin’

    He disappeared on me one Sunday afternoon – found him sound asleep on my bed!

    Big Yawn

    Full of energy


    Trying to chew a whale bone in the front garden!

    For the time being, I will leave you with this picture of him feeling sorry for himself, after hurting his paw running around the kitchen!  There will be many more Bud pictures – I guarantee that!

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  • Peat-cutting in the 21st century

    Agricultre, Peats, Personal FavouritesComments (2)

    On May 18, 2012 • By

    Peat was traditionally the fuel that kept island homes warm throughout the long, cold winters.  Families, neighbours and, sometimes, whole villages, would go out to the moor together and cut their peats, using their taraisgeirs tar-ash-kerr (the much more interesting sounding Gaelic for peat iron) to cut each 12-inch square piece of peat by hand.  Things changed a lot in the early 90s, when lots of homes installed oil heating systems.  With heating oil costs having trebled (now around 60-65 pence per litre), many homes are going back to peats.

    Our family have always had  fire of some type, but for the last 5 years or so, we’ve switched to machine cut peats, rather than hand cut. My father used to be a fisherman but an accident on his boat in 2005, and also lack of time for many of us, mean that it is the preferred choice for us.

    Anyway, the reason for this post is that our peats were cut over the last 24 hours.  A man in Ness spends many of his evenings at this time of year out on the moor with his tractor, harvesting our winter fuel.

    Of course, it’s a Lamborghini that we use for our peats in Ness……

    The peat-cutting machine is mounted on the back of the tractor.  This picture was taken at the fank in North Dell, with the village in the background

    The chain/blade is angled downwards into the earth and works a bit like a chainsaw/conveyor belt.  The blade cuts into the ground and carries the peat up into the rest of the machine.

    The peat is the forced out of the other end of the machine, into long sausages – hence why we call them sausage peats!

    The peats will be left to dry for a few weeks, and I will blog again on the next stage, once we reach it.

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