Life at the end of the road

January 3, 2011

Waiting for Jamie

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings, pigs — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:32 pm

Actually I started this post yesterday but never got further than the title, at that point I thought Jamie Lea was about to drop here piglets. Twenty four hours and a few false alarms later we’re still ‘pigletless’ 😦 Anyway I never got past the title because I was knackered and needed to be up extra early for work. As if 5:30 wasn’t early enough, I decided to arise at five to go and check on Jamie, feeling certain that she’d have had her litter. Wifey had checked at 1:30 and said it was imminent but when I checked this morning there was still no sign.

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Just a rather fat pig grunting away contentedly inside her insulated ark in a mountain of bedding, far too much bedding really for a pig about to farrow. Too much bedding can cause the wee piglets to get lost and squashed but it’s been pretty cold and I know from past experience that if I don’t put enough in she’ll just drag in huge clumps of wet rushes. At least the straw is dry and she won’t get a chill 🙂

Where was I ?

I kind of got distracted there for a few days with all the entertaining, festivities and late nights but I’ll try and cast my mind back to last year. Having to work on Hogmanay left me a little tired but we did manage the 400 or so meters to my neighbours chalet to take in the New Year. We were a little short on the traditional offerings so settled on some logs instead of coal, some oysters instead of shortbread and rum instead of whisky 🙂 It was gratefully accepted and we had a very enjoyable ‘bells’ but yours truly retired at around 1:30 am through sheer exhaustion leaving the rest of the family ‘to it’.

I drove back home on my Honda quad which was interesting to say the least, it had broken down outside my neighbours a few days ago when my son took it round on an errand. It had resided there awaiting my weeks shift finishing and was not really required until then. Stumbling outside the toasty chalet into the inky blackness I thought I’d try and drive it home. At the time my alcohol fuddled brain thought it was a good idea, well at least it would save me falling over. Wifey would be OK walking home with our eleven year old son to prop her up but I needed something stable too 🙂 My son had reported that it would simply not turn over so I suspected a starter fault (quite common on these Honda’s), sure enough I turned on the ignition, stabbed the starter and zilch 😦 A quick pull on the recoil had it purring away nicely but when I went to switch on the lights, nothing, total blackness, it was obviously more than a starter fault. Ah well at least it was running, so I clicked it into gear and set forth into the void.

Some people never actually experience total blackness in their entire lives. If you live in a city, village or even a town it is impossible to get away from light, even on the darkest of nights, there is always a glow from somewhere. Out here however it can at times be totally black, and apart from the merest glow from Portree to the south west the way home was BLACK :-(  I only came off the track once or twice and even the pigs didn’t seem to mind when I crashed into the trailer they were sleeping in 🙂 However I got home relatively safely and made it upstairs to bed without further incident 🙂

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Even managing to take a photograph of the exactly one week old pups before I went to bed, and I hasten to add that those are not my newspapers 🙂


Apart from tearing myself out of bed at 9:30 to go and feed the pigs I didn’t actually arise until drawn down stairs by the smell of fresh cooking bacon at 13:00 😦 this is not like me !!!!

That did not leave a great deal of daylight and from what I can remember all I did was put Bramble in with Rocky and have a look at the quad. Bramble had had her six piglets weaned three days earlier and was now ready to go in with a boar so we decided to put her in with our ‘young stud’ who is just a year old.

The quad turned out to have a bad connection on a ‘multiplug’ under the front cover and rack, I got it running OK but it still needs sorting properly.

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I also shot a ‘hoodie’ with my .22 Anschutz 1415 bolt action rifle, I don’t really like shooting anything I’m not going to eat but left to their own devices these creatures will tear the eyes from living lambs and sickly sheep. I have great respect for them because they’re really intelligent and quite difficult to shoot but if not ‘picked off’ occasionally they’d eat more feed than the pigs :-(  I don’t ever recall seeing them in England and think they’re a sub species of the carrion crow. Placed on top of a strainer post the body will keep crows away for a couple of weeks at least.


The 2nd of January saw me working as normal for a Sunday, well I say normal insomuch as we did the regular scheduled sailings of 10:00 and 16:00. However, unlike a normal Sunday I went home in between, it was New Year after all and with all the families away I wanted to spend some quality time with my own.


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After the first sailing I returned home, had a piping hot bowl of Scotch broth then went out with wife ‘wee dug’ and boy. We had intended to walk to Tarbert as I was sure there was an old path there but it petered out in the shieling above.

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That’s it circled in red, and whilst the map clearly shows that as the end of the path I was convinced that there must have been a continuation onto what is the bottom left of the map.

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We continued along to ‘Rainey’s wall’, George Rainey being one of Raasay’s more brutal landlords, who had this wall built to keep the ‘peasant’s’ to the north of it. The north of it being little other than rock and heather.


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That’s the wall in red, and whilst we never really found a proper footpath we did come across what must have been at one time a gate in the hated wall.

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Filled in now with stones, it must have been a gate at one time.

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Personally I love the ruggedness of Raasay’s rocky and desolate north end, preferring it to the more gentle and fertile south, but then I don’t have feed a family of six from its poor soil. For those that did, this abomination must have seemed far more repressive  than the Berlin wall and it served its purpose for much longer. That purpose being to keep the masses to a few square miles of rock so a select few could enjoy ‘huntin’ shootin’ and fishin’ to the south.

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As you travel eastwards the wall becomes far rougher in construction but is nonetheless just as impressive, in fact to my way of thinking it’s harder to build a wall that you can ‘see through’ that will stand for 160 years than one you can’t 🙂

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We followed the wall eastwards for a while before turning north for home leaving the fine views of Crowlin, Kyle and the Applecross peninsula behind us.

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It may not be much more than a few inches of peat and scrub birch over rock, but it’s home to me and my family and we love it 🙂


As I said earlier, I arose this morning fully expecting an ark full of piglets but it didn’t happen 😦 However I set off for worked early and armed, and whilst I never shot any rabbits I did, unexpectedly hit a grouse with the Land Rover 🙂 OK, it was 20 odd days past the December 10th ‘end of season’ but better hanging in my shed than rotting at the side of the road 🙂

To say that it was quiet on the ferry today would be a bit of an understatement but I wasn’t complaining because it gave me plenty of time to continue with my labours ‘down below’.


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Now, that’s the good half, the rest is still a bit of a ‘midden’  but we are getting there 🙂

And now at 23:30, with Jamie Lea still refusing to give birth I’m off to my bed 🙂

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