Life at the end of the road

October 2, 2008

In the shadow of ‘Rainy’s wall’

Filed under: daily doings — Tags: — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:23 pm

Well we’ve certainly made up for the summers dry spell this last couple of days so much so that the croft is beginning to resemble the Somme in places. Not really wanting to but feeling I had to, I spent the day moving rock from Tarbert ( Raasay’s narrowest point ) to Bramble’s field in the hope of making a path that I could walk along without loosing my wellies! Tarbert is about half a mile down ‘Calum’s road’ from our house and is where one of Raasay’s most brutal landowners chose to build a wall to keep the population that he’d driven from more fertile ground in the south to the barren rock of the north. Don’t get me wrong I much prefer the rugged thinly covered rock of the north to the more fertile and gentle south but then I’m not sharing it with 2 or 300 other people all trying to grub out an existence from 6″ of soil. George Rainy on the other hand much preferred sheep to people so those he could not force to Australia and Canada he drove north to Arnish, Torran, Fladda, Kyle Rona, and Rona. Building a 6′ high wall from coast to coast to keep them there.

It’s over 150 years old now and is as secure as the day it was built which is quite a testament to the ‘dry stane dykers’ that built it. Being breached by ‘Calum’s road’ and a cattle grid you’d hardly notice it these days but I’m sure the locals of long ago must have hated it. Me I just spent the day quarrying rock in it’s shadow. Well at least I did when I was not dodging the frequent rain and hail showers brought in by a freshening northerly wind.

The only good thing being that at least you could see them coming and here’s one just racing across Loch Arnish flanked by a rainbow.

Fresh at Manish

Fresh at Manish

By the time I’d had my lunch after my third load the sea was looking like this.

By the fourth load it was looking pretty wild and I’m glad I wasn’t out clam diving!

We only went for 1 piglet!

Filed under: daily doings, hydro — Tags: — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:35 pm

I dunno what I’m doing up at this time. It’s 6:00am on Thursday morning black as pitch outside and the rain is lashing down. Yesterday got off to a fine enough start and the whole ‘lifeattheendoftheroad’ household was up early as the swineherd and I were off to get another boar from the ‘garden of Skye’ well that’s what they call the Sleat penninsula and I always enjoy an excuse for a run down there especially on a bright autumn morning. GB Wind had predicted rain for the late morning but for now it was fine and after rushing round feeding everyone we headed off for the 8:00am ferry and being in something of a rush I’d not brought a cover for our ‘mk 2 pig crate’ which was sitting in the trailer and this was causing chief pig person some concern. However once at Sconser my employer came to the rescue http://www.calmac.co.uk/

by loaning me a ‘Welcome to Sconser sign’ which had never been fitted, probably because some wise person had advised the sign fitter that such a flimsy piece of aluminium was likely to come off in the first gale and tear large holes in anything parked on the car park.

I had a feeling

We were buying a 6 week old Tamworth boar to bring on as a replacement for Ginger who is now 4 years old and whilst still performing I was thinking ahead to when we turn him into sausages and by getting one young, firstly it would work out cheaper and secondly we could get him used to being handled. The chap who was selling him ‘only had 2 piglets left’ as my swineherd informed me last night and I could tell by the way she said it that we might be coming away with 2 despite me informing her that we were up to our eyes in pigs at the moment. Sure enough when we arrived at the bank in Broadford and I went to remove cash I was told ‘make sure you get enough, just in case’ to which I replied ‘we’re only getting one!’ of course I drew out plenty just to keep the peace but knew I was wasting my breath when I kept hearing the ‘they and them’ words instead of ‘it and he’. Sure enough when we arrived and saw the two little darings in their wee pen there was no way we could leave the little girl on her own so after chasing them round in the mud the owner deftly caught them and we loaded them into Mk 2 pig crate and headed back to Sconser for the 11:20 ferry and still the sun was shinning. Getting a little distracted on the way back by a skip full of steel shelving in the Co op car park, being big on recycling I filled up the back of the Land Rover with it and we still made the ferry. So after replacing ‘welcome to Sconser’ back in the shed we boarded the 11:20 to Raasay only problem being that the two piglets were now in plain view of the ferry crew who knew I’d only gone for one so I had to put up with their jibes on the way back. However we arrived safely back at Arnish and settled the 2 beauties into their new home.

Despite the now torrential rain the wee piglets ran around gleafully inspecting their new surroundings.

The Raasay primary coffee day

Once they were all settled in and I was dried out having got soaked due to not being able to retrieve my oilskins and wellies from under the mountain of steel shelving in the back of the old girl we headed down to the school. Probably the biggest single yearly event on Raasay is the annual school coffee day which attracts pretty much the whole Island to a day of games, food, bric a brac and a car wash and today we were going to a meeting to sort a few things out not least of which was the date and so you can put it in your diary it’s happening on Saturday 29th November.

Water water everywhere

After the driest summer I can remember we seem to have had  3 months rain in just a few hours with water pouring from places I’ve never seen before. With  the abundance of  rain I was a little surprised that the hydro turbine had stopped generating so went to investigate. Starting at the inlet which is near where I feed the 14 piglets I could see there was plenty of water going in and both filters were clear so I went to check the turbine end which is down through the birch woods near the sea 270m away and 40m lower. The ‘Navitron 200w hydro turbine’ or any of their small turbines has got to be the cheapest way of producing  electricity if you have a good water resource and mine has performed faultlessly for the last month or so. However today it was barely working and upon investigation which was a simple matter of turning off the water supply and undoing 4 x 6mm bolts I found that the nozzle was blocked with 3 birch leaves!

Quite how the leaves got through the 3mm filter is a bit of a mystery but it was easily sorted. The turbine is actually designed to work with a lower head than my 40m ( I think it’s 10 to 14 ) so I’ve reduced the nozzle size from 18mm to 7.5mm so I suppose it’s more prone to blockages but as I’ve designed my system to work at around 1 lt per sec water flow as opposed to the 4 or 5 lts per sec required at the lower head it’s something I’m gonna have to live with 🙂

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