Life at the end of the road

November 12, 2009

Soay sheep proof?

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid, listers, wind turbine — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:08 pm

The first task today after the usual feeding and checking of piglets was to climb up the very tall wind turbine mast behind the house.

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Winter is well on its way and and I wanted to have a wee look at the Rutland FM 910 that resides 50 or 60 feet above the house. I can never remember how tall it is because I keep lengthening  it, 20 years ago it sat on top of the 4 legged bit, then I raised it up to the 2nd antennae in search of more wind and finally where it is now.

This old 50w 12v relic has been kept going by the grace of God and a huge pile of scrap ones given me by Marine Harvest many moons ago. Rutland stopped making spares for them years ago and I’ve now just about used them all. Once up there my worst fears were confirmed, the yaw bearings were on their way out, the blades were loose in the hub and it will be very lucky to see the year out, let alone the winter.

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Whilst it has on the whole been pretty rubbish I’ll miss it when it’s gone! It was my main source of lighting for many years and I must have spent hundreds of man hours keeping it going.

From wind to diesel

Once down from the dizzy heights of my mast and with legs like jelly I headed over to Torran to do some work on the Lister’s over there. Regular followers will remember my last ‘week off’ involved removing a broken fuel pump tappet guide from my mates ST1 Lister 3kw genny. near the bottom of the page bellow the silver knight and zombie 🙂 You may also recall the dead Lister that had been inadvertently cremated by a Buddhist (also at the bottom of the page) Well having not actually done anything about ordering one due to my hen like memory I decided to have a go  at removing the tappet guide from the skeleton on the dump.

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So armed with a 14lb lump hammer I cleared away the nettles and brambles that were adorning the old Lister’s grave and laid into it.

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Despite feeling like I was committing an act of desecration I soon had the cast iron bones that were guarding the tappet block smashed and the prize was laid bare.

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To my amazement not only did I get it out in one piece but I also got the guide out after an hours soaking in Jizer an a bit of diligent work in the vice with a socket.

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Mr Lister was not the only soul in this graveyard I also came across a certain Mr Petter a little further down the hill along with his older brother and a Mr Suzuki 🙂


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Whilst there I rigged up a temporary fuel supply for the SR2, 6kw Lister and gave that a good run under load for half an hour.

Far too good for an ark!

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After soaking up the subtle autumn hues  a calm Loch Arnish and a dark Dun Caan I headed back to Arnish for a 2nd breakfast of ‘shrooms fried in butter. It was not even 10:30 and already I felt like I’d achieved loads.

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Passing the old ‘mission house’ where John Nicolson of spent his childhood. Then the Schoolhouse where he and several of my friends went to school before moving to the mainland.

After the mushrooms I took the quad and trailer down to the shore at the old fish farm slip to pick up the old plastic tank that had washed up on Rona. Whilst it had originally landed there, my good friend Bill Cowie had kindly dropped it off on his way to Portree. Bill the caretaker on does not appreciate ‘treasure’ like I do and was glad to be rid of this ‘eyesore’. Whilst he was seeing junk, I was seeing two pig arks.

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However, once I had a close look at it and realized, A, that it had only suffered superficial wounds and B, that it had not been used for anything smelly, I got to thinking WATER TANK 🙂 At 3000lts it would more than double our fresh water storage from 2000 to 5000, probably enough to see us through the dry months of May and June without having to bowser water up from the south end.

Getting ready for Seamus

Having got our new water tank up out of harms way I spent the rest of the day preparing for our latest acquisition, a Soay tup that we’d be picking up on Saturday. The croft now not only had to be pig and sheep proof, it had to be Soay proof and Soay sheep, bred for the cliffs of St Kilda have more in common with goats and deer than their fellow woollies. He would have to be kept locked on the croft for 6 months at least to stop him heading back for Plockton, or at least the nearest point of land on Raasay to his old home on the mainland. Sheep may be exceedingly dim but the have a far better GPS than Microsoft Autoroute 2007 🙂 Security on the old croft had been getting lax of late and I had on several occasions  seen our Soay’s on the croft when they should have been off it and vice versa.

A lap of the perimeter revealed a couple of weak spots that could develop and a regular worn path along the top of a low cliff then on to a wall to freedom.

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An old pallet screwed to a fence post sorted that a few posts and staples fixed the rest and with a little help from the ‘Spottie’s’ I soon had the job done 🙂

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Mobile again

During the hours of daylight the weather had been fantastic and far better than the forecast but come dusk it went rapidly downhill with freshening wind from the south and a ‘little’ rain, the word little being the west coast meaning of the word which probably equates to a monsoon down south 🙂 Just what I needed for refitting the ‘Hardy Spicer’s’ that had just arrived from Inverness 😦

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I am really good at fitting these universal joints to prop shafts, I should be I’ve done enough of them 🙂 the secret is to get everything cleaned with emery paper, the circlip grooves scraped out with something sharp before you start to assemble it. Then when you fit the cups push them through the yolk much further than they need to go, that way you can fit the circlip easier and most importantly fit the other cup without loosing any rollers 🙂

Half an hour had it built up and on the Land Rover with only my legs and back wet from the river flowing under the old girl.

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Still at least the old Rutland was going well, at over 15v it must have been quite windy, even the 48v main battery bank was getting up to 60 as I’d turned off one of the dump loads to give the batteries a good ‘fizzing’


  1. Hi Paul
    What a day you had, I don’t know any other person who can do so many variable things in one day and with so much enthusiasm as you.

    Unlike us, we’ve had 3 fantastic days walking in The Roseland staying at . Just Wall to Wall sunshine and at times too hot

    Good luck with the Tup and the continuing Advertures of The Soay and Calum’s Road

    Best wishes C&C

    Comment by chrisb — November 13, 2009 @ 9:25 am

    • Good Morning Chris’s

      The B+B looks lovely, glad you had a great time. Must dash, I’ve got a sheep to catch 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 14, 2009 @ 6:31 am

  2. Hi Paul,
    I feel exhausted just reading about your day! Glad you’ve found a more useful water tank and hope the new tup proves himself. I didn’t know that sheep were inclined to make for their previous home if not confined!
    Cheers, Carolyn.

    Comment by Carolyn Scott — November 14, 2009 @ 7:04 pm

    • Hi Carolyn,

      I AM EXHAUSTED today 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 16, 2009 @ 9:43 pm

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