Life at the end of the road

May 12, 2011

Only five :-(

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings, Land Rover, pigs, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:27 pm

A long and protracted farrowing an old Land Rover and a dinner round at the neighbours prevented any posting after a very long yesterday.

The forecast for the whole week is showers so any roof or house painting is firmly on the back burner so I decided to dedicate this week, or at least a good part of it to the ‘Old girl’, my 25 year old baby 🙂 Not having any shed large enough to get her in it wouldn’t be ideal but at least I could dodge in out and under her between the frequent showers.

The first job however was to take advantage of the still cracked earth to do a little reseeding in the barn field. This was the small field that Shona and her eleven piglets had turned into a swamp recently. The recent long dry and hot spell had turned the bog into a patch of dried out ‘crazy paving’ with deep cracks between the black hard chunks of earth.

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Knowing that this would not last I took the opportunity to pour grass seed into the many fissures then rake it  over. Hardly ideal and quite back breaking it seemed to work very well, as just after I finished the heavens opened to water it 🙂

Too wet to actually do any work on the Land Rover itself I retired to my workshop to make up some oil cooler fittings for the radiator. The standard Land rover has in internal oil cooler in the radiator but mine has a 15 row external air cooled one. This I felt was inadequate when towing the old ‘Thomson Glenelg’ caravan up steep hills in the height of summer so had decided to replace it with a larger 25 row one.

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New one on the left, old one on the right.

Although reluctant to use the Land Rover’s own internal oil cooler for fear of heating up an already inadequate cooling system I decided to fit the unions to it just in case. The two unions are difficult to access insitu, and as the radiator would require removal to replace the air cooled jobby I thought it would make sense to do it whilst the rad was out. Only problem being that I didn’t actually have the right 1/2” BSP to M16 connectors, or a lathe.

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What I do have however is a pillar drill so I put a double male 1/2” BSP connector in the chuck and turned one end down to 16mm with a file 🙂 This made a fine job of reducing it sufficiently for me to be able to thread it with an M16 x 1.5 die.

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Well it did until the piece of cr4p die from India broke 😦 hardly a surprise really as it’s the second one that’s done the same and the whole set was cheaper than one decent UK made ‘Presto’ one. You really do get what you pay for 🙂

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Whilst I was busy dodging showers in the workshop Bramble started ‘nesting’, a sure sign that she was about to farrow. The swineherd had moved her into a field on her own a few days ago ready but this made it imminent.

It had stopped raining now and I was just about to start dismantling the Land Rover when wifey informed my that the oil depot had been on the phone wondering why my bowser was not at the pier. Well my bowser was not at the pier because they’d never told me they were coming to Raasay 😦 It wasn’t for me personally but for heating oil at , something that I’m responsible for and something that I need time to arrange.

Luckily they were going to be on the island for a while delivering tons of diesel to the forestry machinery that was removing timber on Raasay. Not having time to rig up the oil tank on the trailer I loaded four barrels for the 800lts ordered and rushed south to find the tanker.

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Spotting the MV Lyrika steaming past Ben Tianavaig on her way to Gent in Belgium with a load of the lower quality Raasay wood for pulp or chipboard or something.


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I tracked the tanker down to the wee village of caravans that has sprung up around the old iron ore pier where Scottish fuels were busy filling generators, fuel tanks and the huge Fendt tractors with diesel.

My four barrels were soon filled and I headed back north with my ‘just legal’ load, 750kg is the max for an un braked trailer and the steep hills took their toll on my rear brake pads 😦

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Luckily it was on the ‘to do’ list and I had spares 🙂 The brakes on the ‘Old girl’ have been seriously upgraded with discs on the rear and vented discs on the front, coupled with all new calipers and stainless steel pistons they’ll stop her ‘on a sixpence’ . The cooling slots and holes do however wear the pads out quite quickly and these rears have done less than 10,000m. On normal roads this would not be a problem, but ‘Calum’s road’ with it’s hairpins and 1 in 4s is a challenge for any brake or suspension system.

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The rest of the afternoon was spilt between removing the radiator, checking on Bramble and hiding under the Landy during showers cleaning the chassis.



Around 17:30 the first one arrived, followed an hour later by two more, the swineherd and I spent a couple of hours with her before going to visit our neighbour for dinner. We returned a couple of hour later to find one dead deformed piglet and one live piglet with no tail a kink in its spine and back legs that did not work. Over the next hour she produced two more fine healthy ones and the after birth, making five healthy piglets in all. The live deformed one was loud and lively but would not survive, so rather than stress both it and mum I took away whilst it was sleeping and drowned it.

It was not easy and I’m not proud but what are the options? I could have left it to suffer causing distress to mum or I could have shot it. I figured a shotgun going off at 22:30 would have caused more anguish to Bramble, wifey and the rest of the herd so I killed the poor wee soul quietly 😦


I was up ridiculously early today to check on Bramble, who nearly took my face off as I poked my head in her ark, Bramble is a very protective mother 🙂 She was fine and the five remaining piglets were all thriving so I tempted her out with some much needed grub and sneaked in to take a picture.

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Three gilts and two boars, who are already a bunch of mischief 🙂

The rest of my day was spent servicing the Land Rover and painting the chassis, doing the outside jobs in the sunshine and the underneath jobs in the frequent showers. I got all the axle oils changed, did the engine oil, topped up the gearbox with a very expensive synthetic oil from at over £20 a litre I wasn’t changing it 🙂

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Though I have to say I’m very proud of my filler made from an old bilge pump, a shower pipe and some plumbing fittings 🙂 This oil may cost an ‘arm and a leg’ but it really does improve the Land Rover’s notoriously notchy LT77 gearbox. A gearbox which in all honesty is cr4p 😦 BL as it was then) could not make a decent gearbox to save their life, when compared to a Ford or Vauxhall gearbox of the time the British Leyland offerings were like stirring cold rice pudding with a paddle and the Land Rover’s was no exception.

The LT77 was designed for the Rover SD1 and adapted for the Landy, it was weak, notchy and unreliable, however this ‘Evolution’ oil does go some way to mitigating those faults.

That was about it really on the ‘achievements’ front, I got the ‘Old girl’ mobile again, though I am going to replace all the discs and font pads for the impending   MOT in June.


The Lyrika was somewhere east of Aberdeen, though if the AIS is to be believed she’s now 12,000tons and a warship 🙂

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The wind and rain were giving us plenty of power

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and now I’m off to bed bed 🙂



  1. What an amazing expression Bramble has. Is it concentration, urgency or something else?

    Comment by Carole,Finnie and the Quarryman — May 13, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

    • Hi Carole and QM,

      she really is a most amazing pig 🙂 great at climbing, we call her the ‘circus pig’ 🙂

      PS, think I need your ‘gun running’ services again 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 14, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

      • Hi Paul,
        No problem. Is wednesday OK? Working in the court monday and tuesday. Hear Raasay School had a visit there on friday, hope they enjoyed it? Is it to deliver, pick up or both? Whatever is fine.

        Comment by Carole,Finnie and the Quarryman — May 15, 2011 @ 8:15 am

      • Wednesday is perfect Carole, I’ll be back at work then 😦 The children certainly enjoyed their visit too 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 17, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

  2. That’s a heck of a cute video Paul. Thanks for showing us. Even more cute a few hours later.

    We were over on Arran last week and noticed a laden and an unladen container ship and a cargo ship in Broddick Bay. Do they ‘queue up’ there until they can go up the Clyde ?

    Saw several impressive RN war ships too and thought about you 🙂

    Comment by Rienza — May 13, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

  3. Thanks for the info about mv lyrika. She is sailing to GENK right in the middle of northern Belgium. Amazing to think that the Raasay trees are now on a cargo boat on one ofthe busiest inland waterways in N Europe. Wouldnt mind hitching a lift one day

    Comment by joep — May 14, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

    • Hi Joep,

      small world indeed 🙂 That’s why they use the Lyrika with her low ‘air draft’, I think she has to go under something like 16 bridges to get there.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 14, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

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