Life at the end of the road

August 9, 2010

A full house :-)

Filed under: daily doings, food, How I — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:03 pm

What goes up must come down and that’s what it felt like this morning at 7:40am when I arose. After the excitement and high of the weekend at Belladrum, pishing rain on my bedroom window and the prospect of a full days work on the croft on my own filled me with dread. Not the work or even the solitude but the frigging rain! As if we’ve not had enough of it, fortunately the rain gauge on my weather station is so inaccurate that I can’t depress myself any more by looking at it 🙂 It was indeed a supreme effort (aided by a phone call from mum) that dragged me out of bed. All the jobs that I’d got lined up for the day would be seriously hampered by rain and it’s faithful companion mud 😦

However upon consulting UKWind who assured me that it was going to clear up my mood lifted, I went to feed the pigs and rearranged my day, putting off the worming of piglets until later and concentrating on house work and a mountain of washing. Before that though was the serious matter of breakfast.

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Half a dozen ‘spoots’, part of a consignment left for me on the ferry yesterday, which was a bit of a bizarre coincidence after Friday nights conversation with the Ballachulish Hellhound 🙂 A conversation that had centred around the very bivalve that was now residing in  my kitchen. The great musician and shellfish enthusiast that had recognized me from a brief appearance on ‘River Cottage’ had been much impressed with Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall’s olive oil, white wine and paprika recipe.

Now up until that program was made some years ago I’d tried on and off for twenty years to catch these elusive creatures commercially with varying degrees of success. The suction dredge powered by a Honda 2” water pump was OK if there was some tide to carry away the silt. The 4” air lift powered by a huge Lister diesel compressor broke too many shells and I could never get the hang of just pulling them out by hand. Digging or salt at low tides worked well enough but you can only do that when the tides out 😦 Whilst my fishing had occasionally succeed and even paid a few wages my cooking of the humble razor fish had always been a disaster, no matter what I did to them the tasted like rubber, very tasty rubber but rubber nonetheless, the meeting with HFW had changed all that and I now have the knack. With razors, less is most definitely more, the less you cook them the more succulent and tender they are.

Hugh, if I remember correctly heated up a pan with olive oil and paprika in, threw in half a glass of white wine, stood back to avoid the resulting hot shower then tossed in the spoots till they opened up and that was it, the first decent razor fish I’d ever eaten. Me I had no white wine this morning, I considered sherry but thought it too early in the morning so opted for strips of bacon instead.


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Once the bacon was cooked I cranked up the heat and just threw in the spoots, turned them over once when they’d opened  then polished off the lot with a couple of fresh brown rolls from MacLennan’s bakery, divine, though next time I’ll put more bacon in 🙂

After that feast the rain did not seem quite so bad so I went and did a few fence repairs until the sun came out, which it did around 11:30 :-)  With the waterproofs off I headed over to Torran to borrow my mates trailer to shift some rocks and aggregate to improve the ‘hard standing’ by one of the pig fields.

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It was whilst over there that I came upon a new retail outlet on Raasay 🙂 That despite the hoard of cyclists who emptied the contents and left only 5p was doing OK, for another customer left £5 for one scone, I hope the cyclists are plagued with punctures 🙂

A bit of a set back

Arriving home after a fine piece of chocolate cake with my mates trailer behind me I was dismayed to see petrol pouring out of the carburettor overflow on my Honda TRX 350 quad. Nothing for it but to remove the offending article to investigate.

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Residing, as it does under the seat and behind the air filter with a myriad of pipes and cables attached to it it looks quite daunting. In fact it’s possible to remove the carb and turn it upside down whilst leaving just about everything but the fuel inlet pipe connected. With the carb inverted removal of the float chamber is just four screws and once they’re undone the float and needle can be removed by extricating a small pin. The carb, was, as I suspected full of gunge that I cleaned out with a screwdriver and cloth before giving it a good blast of air from a diving cylinder. Rebuilding the carb and testing it for leaks before reconnecting everything else up.

As I was in the guts of the quad so to speak I though I might as well have a look at the starter motor which failed some weeks ago. The starter is a bit of a weakness on these quads and brushes are readily available through dealers and on eBay. Though I suspect the eBay ones are Chinese copies and as they’re no cheaper than originals I’d be inclined to go to one of their many dealers. As I had an old set of brushes I thought it worth stripping the motor to have a look as I might be able to bodge something.

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To my delight it was just the top brush stuck in its holder and once cleaned up and rebuilt it worked a treat 🙂

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And whilst my minor breakdown had set me back an hour or so, I now had a working starter and could start my rock shifting, much to the interest of the thirteen ‘wee piggy’s’ in the next field.

Many hands make light work

That just left the most important job of the day, for which I required a crate and my boy, both of which were residing at the ‘south end’ eleven miles away so reluctantly I abandoned my rock shifting and headed south in the ‘Old Girl’. What I had not counted on were his two pals who wanted to return with him, as if they’d not seen enough of the ‘grumpy old git’ at Belladrum 🙂 Still, the more the merrier for I had thirteen piglets to inject and three boars to remove for tomorrow.

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By 18:00 the ‘wee darlings’ were hungry enough to follow my boy into the pen in the corner of their field.

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A scoop of feed had them distracted enough to trap them.

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After which I cornered them with another hurdle and let them settle.

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And with me injecting, my boy marking, my neighbour filing the syringe with 2ml of ‘Panomec’ , young ‘Lightning MacLennan’ on the camera and crush, Robert on guard duty we soon had it done. Seven boars and six gilts, the first time that I’d actually managed to sex them all 🙂

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All that was left to do was pluck out three young boys for a customer tomorrow and put them in a small pen over night.

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