Life at the end of the road

July 19, 2011

A good testing :-)

Filed under: animals, daily doings, hydro, Land Rover, life off grid, pigs, stonework — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:30 am

Having four helpers to amuse and keep busy certainly takes it out of you, I was in my bed at 21:00 last night without putting pen to paper so to speak. Not through lack of trying right enough, but I’ve been attempting to upload a video to post on the blog now for hours. Thinking that I’d get up early and have another go I retired to my ‘pit’ whacked. No problem sleeping last night after an epic day with the boys and no rain 🙂

It’s already 7:30am so I should be feeding the pigs right now but it’s pishing with rain again, and from experience I know the pigs will forgive me 🙂 The full team of four is awake, dressed and ready for action so I’ll just quickly put something down on here before I forget.


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The day, as usual started with the morning feed, though unusually Jamie Lee’s six piglets had climbed through the gate to have a chat with Molly and our Soay tup lamb. This little chap is exceptionally bold for a sheep and most mornings chases Molly under the Land Rover, Molly is more accustomed to sheep running away than standing their ground so doesn’t really no what to make of him 🙂

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Before setting off to meet the 9:25 ferry from Sconser and boys pal number three we emptied the trailer of yesterdays beach stones in preparation for another load.

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Using the Quadzilla to put it through its paces after the numerous repairs. The Chinese machine has never done any real work so I though it was about time it did 🙂

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After picking up our largest and strongest helper from the ferry I wasted no time in putting him to work loading up the trailer with more stones for the path 🙂 The high tide however made manoeuvring on the beach a little tricky, so I had to improvise 🙂

Returning to the croft we unloaded the stones onto the veg patch paths and got ready for a survey of the hydro pipe we’d laid from Loch Beag to Tarbert. I had paced it all out, which is fine for calculating what I need but I wanted to find out exactly what it was in meters for the pressure drop calculations. So with a 100m length of twine, pen paper and four boys we set off.


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The Quadzilla may be poorly made but its high ground clearance, wider track and tyres make it very capable on the hill, especially on soft ground. It also has by far the best brakes of any quad I’ve driven, being ‘full hydraulic’ on all four wheels.

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Young ‘Lightning MacLennan’ may have short legs but he handled the large machine with ease 🙂

Once at the loch we paid out the 100m length of twine along the full length of the penstock,



discovering it to be 680m long with only 112m required to make up the shortfall. I must have longer legs than I suspected 🙂


pourspout calc

Using the that gives a respectable output of over 900w and with moving the turbine from my original planned location has reduced the cable length from 1500m to around 1Km. Of course that was measured by my legs, so it could well be shorter 🙂 Not only that but that first 500m or so would have been the most difficult to lay.

The weather was rapidly improving, so after a late lunch we got on with some bedding cutting and cleaned out the pigs.

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That was after I’d greased and adjusted up the trailer wheel bearings that is.

Back to North Arnish

The three boys were still eager to work but yours truly was knackered so I took the easy option of going up to North Arnish to check my neighbours, frog supply, sorry, I mean water supply 🙂

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I often wander up here on my own with the gun for rabbits or even just to admire the view but today that wasn’t and option, I was tired and the boys prefer the infernal combustion engine 🙂 Still, they had worked hard so deserved another jaunt so we motored up and parked by the old Post Office.


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Built as a hunting lodge in the 1850s by the Wood family it is of much grander design than your normal croft house and once boasted a slate roof. I don’t know when it became home for two crofting families but I’m guessing that connecting door by the middle fire place was sealed up then to make two separate houses. Latterly, I guess in the sixties it was used as a sheep fank with the entrance at the back through a window where the boys are. The trough being just out of sight by that cast iron pot.

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This, I think was the only house up here, the rest of the many ruins being byres and walled gardens.

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After exploring the ruins we went to check on the well that supplies my neighbours frog tank 🙂

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At the bottom of a cliff behind the houses it seldom runs dry and produces fine clean water,


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the expertly built well has a fine stone door that even has a hand hole.

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As usual the water tank had a good selection of wildlife in so we left them in peace and put the lid back on. I’m told that frogs and newts only like clean water and this supply watered many folk that lived to ripe old ages with few ailments so I’m not worried. Indeed were this supply not so far from my house and so prone to freezing up due to the altitude I’d use it myself.

Apart from repairing the old iron gate that divides the Torran and Arnish common grazings and almost cutting my lawn that was about it.

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And now at almost 10:30am on a Tuesday with little achieved other than feeding the pigs and acquiring a haircut I’d better drag the boys of the Xbox and do some work 🙂


  1. ‘Almost cutting the lawn’ is our purreference too…in the interests of wildlife, of course😀 What a grand life for boys of all sizes!

    Comment by Kingdomcat — July 19, 2011 @ 10:37 am

    • Sprinkle whisky or vodka on it and it will come up half cut. 😀

      Comment by Phil Cook — July 19, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

      • Sprinkle whisky or vodka on it Phil and I’ll cut it with my teeth 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 19, 2011 @ 7:41 pm

    • Almost cut the lawn again today KC, as well as almost doing the VAT return and almost not having a glass of wine, yup, almost rules 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 19, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

  2. I’m with KC on this one. Though having only roof terraces at present I’m not even remotely tempted to ‘almost cut a lawn.’

    Comment by Iain — July 19, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

    • Probably need to fill in a ‘risk assessment’ for that one Iain 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 19, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

  3. When I was travelling in Kerala in India many years ago the local villages used to draw there water from large deep square well. The wells were always full of frogs. Some of the local kids used to fish for them. every time they caught one they would cut off the legs and thread them on a sting tie them on there belt and go off too the local market to sell them. I used to buy them they weren’t all that expensive and my land lady used to fry them in deep batter and make a frogs leg curry. So you are going to try that powerspout machine with the converted washing machine motor are you Paul and they can generate some serious voltage from what I gather I think you can order one model of 800 volts what ever you do should keep your cable loses down. When that comes on stream and all are working that is about 4.5k/w that is some serious power over 100k/w/hr a day. I don’t know if you know but the rule of thumb for electric cars is about 4miles/k/w/hr that makes refuelling an electric car very feasible at the end of the road perhaps you can put one of these on your wish list now



    Comment by Yorkshire Miner — July 19, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

    • Hi Dave, pretty impressive electric Landy 🙂 Seriously thinking of an electric vehicle for the daily commute to work but I think I’ll get something a little lighter, no point lugging any extra weight 🙂 Yes, you’re right, I was contemplating putting frog on the menu, I’ve eaten them in Italy, just like chicken, though that’s what they say about everything and I really was too young to remember 🙂
      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 19, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

  4. Looks like you need to be re-calibrated 🙂 Walk along a 30m tape on the flat and see what you pace.Having said that pacing up hill and down dale is never going to be easy.We loved the shots of the piglets.
    Andy & family

    Comment by Andy — July 19, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

    • Hi Andy, the hills really are the problem, I discovered a 25% discrepancy between pacing up hill and pacing down, good idea with the tape right enough 🙂

      Cheers to you all, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 19, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

      • You could use the 1:25000 OS map and draw up some cross sections of the awkward slopes, then scale or calculate the slope lengths.10m of horizontal distance on a 1in1 slope will produce a slope length of 14.14m.Failing that fix the tape to Molly and then have a helper at the other end of the slope, with a handful of biscuits, call her 🙂


        Comment by Andy — July 20, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

      • Or I could time my next epic to coincide with your visit Andy 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 21, 2011 @ 5:25 am

  5. Ciao Paul!
    Sei il figlio di Luciano e Jean?
    Siamo dei loro amici, per parecchi anni ci siamo incontrati a Ratagan e una volta Luciano è venuto a trovarci in Italia.
    Da parecchio tempo non abbiamo più notizie e siamo preoccupati.
    Comunque anche se non sei la persona che immaginiamo, ti facciamo i complimenti per il tuo blog.
    Amiamo molto la Scozia in particolare quella…..estrema,e ci divertiamo a seguire le tue avventure!
    Scusa il disturbo ! un cordiale saluto Sandro e Franca Cafaggi

    Comment by franca e sandro cafaggi — July 20, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

    • Ciao Sandro e Franca Piacere di leggere il vostro messaggio sul mio blog. e
      mi fa piacere che ti piace miei scritti ogni giorno! Sì, io sono figlio di
      Luciano e Jean `s e ho passato il messaggio su di loro. Essi vorreste e-mail
      con il tuo indirizzo email e poi si raggiungerà con tutte le tue notizie. Il
      loro indirizzo e mail è lo stesso. Grazie ancora per i tuoi commenti
      piacevole. Cordiali saluti Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 21, 2011 @ 9:53 pm

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