Life at the end of the road

March 29, 2008

Staring at the monkey puzzle

Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:42 pm

It’s a really nice day here and I’m stuck inside staring out the window at our mad monkey puzzle tree in the garden. Despite the fact it’s completely out of place here and quite bizzare looking I’m quite attached to it. Upon moving here in 1989 it was the same height as me and now it must be over 30′, a friend of mine who lived here in a caravan for a while brought it up on the bus from York as a present for the previous owner in 1978 so like me it has put it’s roots down and flourished far from home.

monkey puzzle

I hate being stuck inside at the best of times but when the weather is like this and I’ve some exciting things arrived off ebay that I could be playing with I’m well miffed. Just to make matters worse mrs C is now coming down with it so I can’t even look to her for sympathy now!

Think I’m on the mend now, which is just as well because mrs C is going down hill and has spent most of the day in bed. We did have one important thing to do today and just about managed it between us. Jamie Lea, one of our ‘old spot’ gilts is due to have her first litter tomorrow. Though to be honest she doesn’t look like it  as her teats don’t appear to have filled yet but we took Shona (her sister) out of her field anyway just in case. This would normally have been very straight forward with 2 people and a bucket of feed but with 2 invalids in their pyjamas it was a little tricky but eventually we managed it. We got Shona into the next field, it wasn’t the field that we’d intended to put her in but it was good enough for now. Well apart from having 3 old apple trees in which I’ve been burying rabbits and lobsters under for 18 years so I suspect there’ll be a few bomb craters in it by the morning.

Thursday 29th March 1990

Another nice spring day with a light south westerly, sunshine and the odd shower. I spent most of the day sectioning off part of the byre to put a foster mother and orphan lamb in after first having skinned the foster mothers dead lamb to tie on to the orphan. My wee jack russel, Malin (who I only buried 3 years ago in June) caught 2 rabbits which I skinned, hung and later ate.

Sunday 29th March 1992

Again a good day this time with a light south easterly, cloud but no rain. I spent the day out in the ‘Sylvia Jean’ loading up creels and setting them. I’d wintered my gear in the north anchorage at Fladda, there’s a spot there that is as good as a harbour wall where you can tie alongside and load/unload gear with no fear of damaging your boat and I put a further 25 creels in the water. I think my heavy creels

ross n creel

like these were in fleets of 10 ( that’s the Dude setting one last year ) and the smaller lighter ones were in fleets of 15. In fact initially they were in 5s and 10s and even a few singles as I’d been hauling by hand in the ‘Annie V’ Though I’d fitted one of ‘DM Macleod’ of Raasay’s excellent hydraulic haulers to the ‘Sylvia Jean’ which had made life much easier. There’s no record for the days catch other than we ate all the prawns!

March 28, 2008

Abandon ship

Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:44 pm

Well the dreaded ‘man flu got the better of me today and I had to jump ship! I really thought that I’d knocked it on the head last night when I got stuck into the ‘spoots’. I’d barely eaten for a couple of days so when I started craving the razor clams, cooked them, ate them and enjoyed them I thought that was it over. But no this morning I felt like cr4p and every joint in my body was aching so after a couple of hours my opposite number came in and let me away, whereupon I arrived home to a hot bath and went to bed. So having nothing to write about I thought I’d go back through the old diaries (though I’ve only found 2)

Wednesday, March 28th 1990

That was my first winter at Arnish out of the way and it felt like spring was really on the way. We were already well into our first lambs, having bought 12 ‘gimmers’ ( young virgin sheep ) from Portree auction last year and these had proved irresistable to our neighbours ram who kept jumping the fence to serve them. The lambing was fraught with difficulties for one who’s Knowledge of sheep was confined to ‘The TV vet sheep book’ and John Seymours ‘ A practical guide to self sufficiency’. Firstly most of them chose to arrive around the 20th of March when it was snowing and secondly as we’d been feeding them well throughout the winter allot of them had twins and a few lost huge single lambs. It sort of worked out because we managed to split some of the twins up and put them onto foster mothers but it was an inauspicious start to my career as a sheep farmer. I was busy getting my Q17 dory and it’s 70hp engine ready for the seasons fishing, fortunately I proved to be a better fisherman than shepherd.

Saturday 28th March 1992

Today was a big day as it was the day I launched my new fishing boat ‘Sylvia Jean’ a 23′ Wilson Flyer with a 150HP Volvo petrol engine. Having done so well with the ‘Annie V’ my 17′ dory I decided to go up a few feet in size and horse power as this would give me more days at sea and extend my fishing season throughout the winter as It was becoming plainly obvious that I was not destined to earn my crust through sheep. After spending months reading the ‘Fishing News’ and every other publication that may lead me to suitable craft and after traveling the length and breadth of the country looking at piles of cr4p, I did what anyone in my position would have done and that is buy something totally unsuitable! The unnamed boat that I purchased from the flatlands of Norfolk was a bare hull with a brand new engine and outdrive in it so it was a clean slate and it was cheap. I bought it last year and had spent the winter fitting out and apart from the fact that I burnt between 60 and 80 gallons of petrol a week it did me proud for a few years. The fuel at the time I think was about £2 a gallon but claiming the VAT and duty back brought it down to less than £1 and I certainly got round my creels quickly with a top speed of around 22knts. My entry for the day says Landrover struggled towing down ‘Calum’s road’ put out 20 creels for crab and 25 for prawn and got in around 6:30.

In the week prior to this I’d been lifting the 100 telegraph poles I’d been given by BT for rescuing their new tractor from down the Torran track.

pig in a hole

And until recently I was still using those telegraph poles for strainers and here’s an ‘old spot’ helping me dig a hole for one!

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