It’s been a helluva week and due to lack of energy, camera and enthusiasm it’s been yonks since I posted. I’ve barely turned on ‘Lister’ the laptop since Tuesday and the start of a nasty cold that drained me of life. Well I say nasty, had the female of the house caught it she would have just got on with life as usual but when yours truly gets a wee sniffle it’s the end of the world so every night this week I’ve been in bed before the primary school pupil in the house and I’ve slept like a baby. The down side of all this beauty sleep has been a host of nightmares, now my bad dreams are usually restricted to getting up late for work or hitting the pier with the ferry but this week I’ve had third degree burns, been shot with an air rifle, lost some piglets at Sconser and been hit by a truck! Anyway dreams aside I’ll try and recall the weeks events in some kind of order.
Tuesday 26th August
As I recall was kind of midgie and I chose this day to make a mark 2 piglet crate, I say chose but it was kind of thrust upon me. Neal Hately of http://www.halistra-pottery.co.uk/ had ordered a couple of piglets of us months ago and when I phoned him to say they were ready he jumped at the chance to get them early so I knocked up another ( larger ) crate so I could ship them over to Sconser without using my trailer. I’d told Neal he could take away the crate and bring it back later but he said he’d transfer them to his own trailer at Sconser which provided excellent material for my first nightmare of piglets running down the A87 on Skye! The mark 1 piglet crate is fine for half a dozen wee ones but it loads from the top and it’s a case of catching them putting them in then moving them as quickly as possible. The mark 2 version is front as well as top loading and can be used as an ark until it’s time to ship them yet it’s still small enough to fit in an estate car, being made out of the ubiquitous fish farm cage floats it’s light, strong and most importantly pig pooh proof and easy to clean. With the crate finished I made an enclosure out of steel hurdles near the house, for a quick getaway at 6:30am on Wednesday, piled some logs on top to stop the wee darlings tunneling out
then went off and caught them and whilst I said that very quickly the reality was much more drawn out involving lots of squealing, buckets, pig food and mud.
Pretty soon and after a good feed the two 10 week old gilts were well settled in and the trapdoor set for a quick getaway in the morning.
Wednesday 27th August
Up early for my first day back at work on the ferry and of course to send our piglets to Sconser. The first job being to close the trapdoor whilst the wee darlings were still asleep then slide the whole crate into my wee trailer for the run down to the ferry terminal. Once down at the ferry slip the whole crate was slid into the cargo van and shipped over to Sconser. My assistant going over on the next ferry to transfer them to Neal’s trailer but by the time she arrived Neal had already done it without managing to lose a single piglet on the A87! The rest of the day is a bit vague in my memory bank apart form me going home and straight to bed at 8:30! The combination of a cold a 12 hour day on the ‘Loch Striven’ and not having quite recovered from dragging 430m of 63mm water pipe halfway around the north end of Raasay had just proved too much for my ailing body!
Thursday 28th August
Feeling like cr4p but still fit for duty I dragged myself out of bed and down ‘Calum’s road’ on what seemed like a quite unremarkable day. Still it was on the whole fine so I thought a bit of handrail painting was called for. The handrails on the ferry are a frigging nightmare to paint being round and either 19 or 50mm diameter, no matter how many times you run the roller over them you miss a bit, however it requires little phyisical or mental effort so seemed like the perfect task. As the day progressed so did my mood and by the afternoon I was begining to feel almost human. Over the next 4 hours or so I was postively bouyed up by the sight of a school of dolphins that kept swiming along the shore and right behind the boat whenever we were on the Raasay slip, well OK I only actually saw them twice but it was pretty amazing they were only a few yards away from both the boat and the pier and there seemed to be all sizes from large to tiny. It was hard to judge how many as they were never all on the surface at the same time but we reckoned 18 or 20. Thursday was also a day of rainbows, two in particular being being well spectacular, one a huge coloured arch right in the path of the ferry and another one that I can only describe as rainbow mist which shrouded the new harbour site, the latter coinciding with dolphin sighting and driving a Japanese couple on the top deck into fits of camera clicking ecstacy. We tied up as usual just after 7:00pm the tide was high and the dolphins were so close to the shore that they had to turn out to sea to avoid the pier and I went home to my bed!
Friday 29th August
Today I was feeling a wee bit better and approached the day with a little more enthusiasm helped no doubt by some cider vinegar and honey forced down my throat by the other adult in the house. a number of years ago I purchased this book for her ‘Vinegar, natures secret weapon’ or something like that. Now if this book is to be believed vinegar (especially organic cider vinegar) can cure anything from the common cold to obesity as well cleaning your drains and polishing your copper. In fact after reading this marvelous little book I emptied my medicine cabinet and threw all the cleaning materials out from under the kitchen sink and replaced the contents of two cupboards with 1 x 750ml bottle of ‘Aspall’s cider vinegar,actually I just made that up but what I did do was start drinking cider vinegar every morning! and I tell you it’s DISGUSTING! I have to say that I did feel better for it but even after doing it for 2 years I never got used to the taste and used to look at that bottle with dread every morning. The trouble was I was frightened to stop taking it in case I became ill, it doesn’t matter if the vinegar was making me be better or not the point was that I thought it was so if I stopped taking it I’d probably get ill because I was expecting too. So the first thing I had to do was convince myself that it was doing me no good and with that done I stopped with no ill effects. The trouble with that being that now I am ill and I’ve convinced myself it won’t work then there’s no point taking it, is there? Anyway if your still following this I did feel better. I felt so much better in fact that I almost felt like going clam diving again!
These boys work up and down the west coast from this unimpressive looking craft, but don’t be fooled it always has a newish pair of 75hp outboards on the back and is a very seaworthy craft. They usually turn up once a year for a week or two and no matter who’s been there before them they manage to get a good picking. The guy in the boat in particular being something of a legend in clam diving circles, using ‘Nitrox’ these days and regularly diving to 40m these chaps earn every penny, though like me they’ll probably end up with poor hearing and bad joints, still I don’t regret any of it!
There was a good bit of activity today ( not that I saw any of it), a large crane was loaded in kyle in bits, shipped to Raasay then assembled. The guys that came to assemble said that at 85ton it was only a small one and the 180ton one would be along in a few weeks! Though from where I am a mile away it looks pretty big to me.
whilst I was at work pig related stuff was going on back at the croft. Our new girlfriend for Ginger went in with him for service. Lilly who we’ve had on a diet for 3 weeks and who’s now looking great came on heat, well her vulva was a little swollen and she started charging around with big mouthfuls of bedding and hanging around the adjoining fence so if she wasn’t actually on heat then she wasn’t far away so in she went with our rather large Tamworth boar. The trouble is her eyesight is abysmal even by pig standards and once in Gingers very large enclosure she must have been a little disorientated so when he went up for a little sniff and startled her she picked him up with her snout and tossed him!!!!! now Ginger must be 250k if he’s an ounce and she picked him up and threw him against the fence. The pair of them have a few battle scars now but I’m sure like any couple they’ll work it out.
Saturday 30th August
Supercharged with my vinegar and honey this morning I feel positively human again and what’s more I’ve got my appetite back. Of course I’m somewhat cheered by the fact that this is the last Saturday of August and the last late ferry until next June. OK I know I shouldn’t be happy at the withdrawl of a public service and as far as I’m concerned there could be a late ferry every Saturday but there isn’t so even though I love my job I love it a little more when I have to work three and a half hours less! The day itself was pretty ordinary for a Saturday with just the bin lorry coming over at 8:30. The foreman was in the lorry and I asked him about providing a bin for the end of ‘Calum’s road’ as the ‘BIn Bag Fairy’ doesn’t visit Arnish. Now I don’t mind anyone wandering, camping or whatever at the north end I just wish they’d take their friggin shite home with them instead of leaving it in black bin liners for the ‘Bin Bag Fairy’ or more precisely our pigs to destroy and deposite around the car par. Now you can’t leave a firkin black bin bag out in the town without a dog, cat or effin fox ripping it open so why do these planks think they can do at the north end of Raasay? Today it was a bin bag containing amongst other things nappies. Now someone carried these stinking nappies all the way from Fladda so why not take them down to the village and put them in a bin instead of ‘hiding’ them under a stone behind a car?
Anyway now I must get off my soap box and start up the ferry for that last run.