Life at the end of the road

April 17, 2008

Crows aren’t daft & Raasay’s last peat cutter!

Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:46 pm

Been another wonderful day here at pig paradise but I spent most of it away so didn’t get much done on the croft. Mrs C sprung an opticians appointment on me yesterday so off we set at 8:15 to drop the Dude off at school, pick up our friend Jessie and catch the 9:00 ferry. The first thing of note I saw after all the usual magnificent stuff was a crow picking something up flying up in the air and dropping it on the road. I’ve seen them doing this with mussels on the stoney beach at Sconser to break them open but never on a road. There were two of them at it and I’m not sure weather they were fighting over it or doing some kind of mating ritual any way I stopped to investigate and found it was what looked like the knuckle of a leg bone.

Curiously it looked like something had been nibbling away at it but what a crow would get out of it was beyond me. Even stranger when I returned back up the road several hours later the knuckle was still there but had been joined by several other broken bones. I wondered if they were after the marrow. With all yesterdays happenings I forgot about the sea eagle we saw, there’s nothing unusual in that but as the morning sun was quite low it really stood out. These birds have to be seen to be believed, with a wingspan of around 6′ they are MASSIVE and unlike other eagles don’t need some kind of perch or drop for take off. On more than one occasion I’ve seen one lift off the road with a dead rabbit, this one however was being chased by a single crow about a third of it’s size. Quite often you know there’s a sea eagle about when the crows or gulls start to chase them and make a racket but I’ve never seen one as bold as this. It was flying low, heading south and I had to speed up to 30mph (it’s no wonder the Dude was late for school yesterday) to keep up with them. As well as not being daft they’re pretty bold too, the other day mrs C caught one in the garden shed stealing the cat food! I do go through spells of shooting them (or should I say at them) usually around now at the lambing as they will peck the eyes out of living lambs and sheep but I don’t really like killing things I don’t eat. I’ve also got a wee bit of admiration for anything that can dig up potatoes and chase a sea eagle. It probably has a little to do with the Nicolson’s of Torran who are great friends and known locally as the ‘crows’ on account of one of them not shooting crows ( probably 60 years ago ) because he thought they were the souls of lost sailors! Many years ago I was over at there house in Torran, the phone rang, ‘John the Caley’ answered it with the greeting “the crows nest”! and I nearly wet myself! Though that was not as funny as when another friend caught a crow in a trap and put it inside the cab of ‘Willy the wizz’s’ pick up truck!, I’d have loved to have seen that.

I wish I’d got a tape recorder

We made the hospital in Broadford in plenty of time and the 3 of us sat waiting patiently me reading the paper and mrs C chatting to Jessie, despite the 40 year age difference they get on like a house on fire. We were soon joined by 2 elderly ladies who you could just tell were sisters and must have been pure stunners 50 years ago. I could not help but get drawn into their conversation as we all had mutual friends and acquaintances. Turns out Nan and Mable along with a third sister and a brother who sadly died at the age of 25 had spent their lives at sea. Nan had worked for P&O on cruise ships, Mable on the Macbraynes steamers ( please forgive me if I have your names the wrong way round) and the third sister had been head matron on the QE2, Mable had worked with ‘Murdo Raasay’ on the Loch Mor. I don’t know how long ago that was but Murdo Raasay’s son was born in our house and he retired 10 years ago! I could have stayed there all day listening to their stories but as usual we had a ferry to catch.

Raasay’s last peat cutter

When I first moved here in 1989 I drove past half a dozen peat stacks every time I went up or down the road. Now there’s only one stack left ‘Korea’s’, John Macleod or Korea as everyone calls him is Raasay’s last peat cutter and when I drove home today he was hard at it.

I don’t know what age he is but he retired years ago and is as fit as a butchers dog! He was busy taking the turfs off and placing them at the lower level as this maintains the rough grazing and ecosystem.

This is this years turfs placed at the level of last years cut and you can see a few fresh peats on the left.

This is the most essential item apart from the ‘peat iron’ which I forgot to photograph, The peat barrow with a nice big wheel for riding over the heather.

Apart from collecting the Dude from school, loading up my trailer with rocks for a bog and checking the progress of Ron’s wall that was about it.

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