Life at the end of the road

December 10, 2011

Not a good time of year part 2 :-)

Filed under: daily doings, pigs, shed/house, stonework, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:49 pm

Probably last nights full moon or something but things are decidedly rosier today than they have been of late.  December is always the time of year when things go pear shaped, It’s the annual dry docking and something ALWAYS goes ‘tits up’ around then. Of course being one of the windiest, darkest and coldest months doesn’t help and me having to be away from home for a week or two ensures that any disasters happen then 😦

Last year it was deep snow, frozen pipes and the wife and child cut off for ten days, most of them without water, then when the water did come on the stop tap burst and emptied the water tank. The year before the A82 was closed for 8 hours due to an accident so I missed the ferry to Bute and spent the night in the Land Rover at minus ten. Not normally a problem but the Eberspacher diesel heater ran out of fuel at 2:00am and left me frozen 😦 The year before that it was a landslide at Letterfinlay on the way home leaving me with an eleven hour drive via Inverness in torrential rain.

In 2007, whilst in the dock I got a frantic call to say Ginger was stuck in a ditch drowning

“The first I knew about it was when Mrs. C phones me up hysterical telling me that Ginger is stuck in a drain with just his snout sticking out of the water! Apparently his ears and eyes were submerged and just his 2 nostrils were sticking out of the water. Luckily she managed  to wedge his head up with a shovel and get the water flowing round him. As I said we are miles from anywhere I’m 200 miles away and mrs C is all on her own with 2 0r 300k of boar in a ditch! the mobile don’t work and it’s a Sunday, luckily there are 2 strong heroes staying about a mile away at ‘the old schoolhouse’ and one of them has his phone switched on. I can’t thank these 2 guys enough for dropping everything to go and help Mrs. C and Ginger.  The 2 knights in question dropped everything and went to gingers rescue,  they managed to get him turned so he was well clear of the water and got some blankets and hot water bottles round him. At this point Ginger was pretty hypothermic and extremely stressed but after about an hours warmth and rest he still could not get out under his own steam. So the two shinning Knights managed to get a towel underneath him and with brute force lifted him out of the ditch. This was further complicated by one of the gilts coming in heat and wanting to get intimate with him!!! Ginger at this point was pure wrecked and was almost put back in the ditch by his amorous girl friend. Me I’m 200 miles away and feeling pretty useless but somehow it all worked out and after a wee spell of recuperation Ginger is back to his old self.”

Only a few weeks later this happened


Just a week after we’d fitted a new floor and covering 😦

The list goes on and on, boar stuck in fence, gale of wind lifts huge plastic lid smashing it to my oil tank tap and emptying 800lts of kerosene onto the lawn. All of these incidents and many more happened in December, and this one, for a time at least seemed like heading the same way.

It started or at least threatened to exactly a week ago today, with me in Bute and wifey having to take three pigs to Dingwall for slaughter. It had all the makings of a disaster, tight deadline, deep snow, live cargo and a driver not proficient in either navigation or reversing a trailer 🙂 Fairplay to the swineherd and the boys who pulled it off without a hitch, leaving pigs and very explicit instructions as to where and when to deliver them. Two to be collected on Friday and one to be delivered to Portree  Thursday for Kevin and Catherine of Garybuie B&B near Uig.

Of course the pig never arrived and would not now be coming till Monday when it was a week old 😦 OK, it would be fine and chilled but that’s not the point. Our customer was all revved up for the long and arduous task of butchering a full pig and it wasn’t there 😦 No problem says I, my mate is collecting the other two on Friday and bringing them to Raasay. I’m sure he can squeeze an extra one on the back seat of the hire car 🙂 Sure enough I phoned him in London on his way to the ‘sleeper’ and he said he’d oblige. He was aiming for the 13:00 ferry from Skye and could meet Kevin from Garybuie at Sconser.

Things could go wrong so we all exchanged mobile numbers and left it at that. My mate phoned me from Dingwall on Friday morning with pigs sitting comfortably in the Mondeo and confirmed the 13:00 sailing. Two hours later the Mondeo, only 40 miles from Sconser is heading eastwards back towards Inverness on a 140 mile diversion 😦 The road is blocked near Strome and there’s no friggin sign until Strathcarron only a few miles away!!!! The 13:00 sailing is not going to happen but now the mobile phones don’t work 😦 Kevin is sat at Sconser awaiting his pig without a clue what’s happening, and guess what, the call box doesn’t work 😦

Eventually all the pigs arrived at Arnish in the dark, two went to Torran for butchering and wifey delivered Garybuie’s today 🙂 The road is still blocked at Strome, the ‘rest and be thankful’ only open during daylight hours. Many homes were without power on Skye for twenty hours or more and my parents had theirs restored at 11:00am after a day and a half without heat and half a day without water 😦

Wed have got off lightly really but it’s only a third of the way through the month and I have to go back down the Clyde on Tuesday 😦


Not a great nights sleep but at least I managed to stay in bed until after 7:00, though it was still pitch black, in fact it wasn’t even fully light at 9:00am when we’d finished feeding. We being the regular army of weekend helpers that frequent the north end 🙂

The day was meant to be good, and after yesterdays strong ‘drying wind’ it would be good to get more bedding cut and stored. Of course before I could actually cut the rushes where I wanted to we had to build a road 🙂 The regular access to field has become impossible to all but people with a good sense of balance 🙂

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There is a small gate around the back of the croft but it’s not great getting the quad in with its trailer.

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A steep slope a blocked drain, large rock and bog making a slow and sensible approach impossible. Added to that is the fact that some of our pigs have forsaken their insulated ark for the old Arnish ‘net shed’ that belongs to my neighbour 🙂 That’s it top right and there tramping up and down to it has not helped matters.

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Whilst I concentrated on clearing the drain prior to laying a pipe in it the boys set about the big boulder with a 6’ steel bar.

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And by lunchtime we had the pipe in place, not finished by any means but enough to get the quad and trailer up for bedding.

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The beans on toast devoured I felt it was time for a change from roadwork so we walked over towards Tarbert to joint the power cable supplying our barn.

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Well it will when it’s built 🙂

It’s SWA or steel wire armoured cable and requires special waterproof resin filled joints to couple it which are surprisingly easy to use.

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Though I did put the special resin filled pouch in my pocket before leaving the house on our half mile trek. This tuff, like most epoxy based stuff is far easier to use when warm 🙂

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The three minutes kneading of the special two part sealed pouch that’s required  being a pure joy. Well it was after twenty minutes of almost frostbitten fingers joining the cable 🙂

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After pouring the epoxy into the snap together casing we walked the hundred or so meters down to the waiting quad at Tarbert.

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Where the council had at last repaired the cattle grid, or should I say removed and filled it in :-(  Still, at least the bin lorry got up here today 🙂

The warm work of quarrying and road building that we did next being a pleasant change from freezing on the hill. Arriving back at the ‘net shed’ to find six contented pigs and piglets.

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Seems a shame to have to evict them but it’s not actually my shed 🙂

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It wasn’t long before they were up, the sound of the quad getting them to thinking it was around feeding time 🙂

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A few more loads

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and just as light was fading we had it almost finished.

Where did that come from ?

By 16:30 it was pitch black once more and felt more like 19:30


and by 19:30 the 20mph wind promised by UKWind with gust of 30mph had almost doubled, for a short time at least.


It’s settled down now right enough but it arrived with a right bang that shook the windows, very unusual for our sheltered nook 🙂

Anyway, that’s it, the 2008 ‘Chateuneuf du pape given us by has been ‘breathing’ now for far too long and I’m hoping it will help me sleep 🙂

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