Life at the end of the road

December 26, 2011

Violent storm 11 !!!!!

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings, food, pigs, weather, wind turbine — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:26 pm

First of all, sorry for not replying individually to all the Christmas greetings, Andy, Jeannette, Walter, Graham, Sue, Frances, Mimi, Celia and all. Yes I know that’s not all of you, Richard and the rest but I’m thinking of you 🙂

I’m a little miffed at the blog right now, at least three hours of my Christmas day was spent posting yesterday, how sad is that, and it just vanished into cyberspace, not a trace, no ghost, nothing. To say I was pi55ed off would be putting it mildly, it’s not like you can accidently delete it, it just disappeared some time before midnight before my very eyes 😦 Which is a shame because it was quite good 🙂

I think I left you on Christmas eve, again shortly before midnight after returning from a wee ceilidh  at my neighbours chalet a few hundred yards away. Being the miserable old git that I am I left early to wander back on a clear night and check on Jamie Lea.

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Our contrary pig showed no sign of piglets but the sky was boodly amazing 🙂 The distinctive ‘W’ of Cassiopeia being visible top right and Auriga bottom left, the brightest star in Auriga, and the whole picture being Capella. They were all on show that night, Great bear, Little bear, Orion and Polaris but the strainer post in Jamie Lea’s field was the only place I could put my camera for the 8 second exposure 🙂

Christmas piglets 🙂

Considering that we had a houseful of dogs, family and a twelve year old son it was a surprisingly late start to Christmas day. The pigs getting fed just after 8:30 and present opening commencing shortly afterwards 🙂


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A long and pleasurable affair interspersed by a fine fried breakfast and revealing such treasures as an iPod, infra red thermometer and pickled onions 🙂

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Though why we need a plastic Christmas tree in the house when we’ve got that monster outside the window I don’t know 🙂

It may have been Christmas day but I still had stuff to do, though I can’t remember what it was 🙂 Probably another puncture but certainly to go and keep an eye on Jamie. To be honest I’d have gone outside even had I not had stuff to do, I am not an ‘indoor person’ 🙂


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At last Jamie Lea had started ‘nesting’, a sure sign that piglets were on the way 🙂 Despite having an insulated Bidgiemere  pig ark already full of bedding she’d decided to collect more,

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and more 🙂 ‘Experts’ will tell you not to put too much bedding in as it causes piglets to get lost and squashed, obviously the sow thinks differently 🙂 Not really a great deal we can do about Jamie’s ‘bedding obsession’, the best part of three hours later she was still at this carry on.

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This was her in August of last year, believe it or not there is a 200Kg sow under there with 14 piglets!!!!

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Her previous litter was in February 2010 and she produced that outside in a blizzard !!!!

She really is a most contrary pig 🙂


The same gremlin that stole last nights post has been at work on this video 😦 The original has the actual moment of birth on it but severe weather seems to have prevented its upload 😦

As Christmas dinner of a lovely free range turkey from Alex Townhend in Plockton was progressing nicely I went to feed the herd early.

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Arriving just in time for the ‘big event’ in Jamie’s ark,

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I think this was piglet number three, the first one arrived feet first within minutes of my arrival, the second shortly after. Forty or fifty minutes separated two and three with number four around two hours after the first. It was about then that things went a little ‘pear shaped’ 😦 As I went to get relieved, Jamie got  up and left her brood, no doubt at the smell of the feed bucket that was just outside the ark. After eating her fill she carefully nested back down to continue farrowing, only she managed to (within a matter of seconds) squash one piglet and produce a still born one 😦 This produced a huge dilemma of what to do, try and get the ‘still born’ one breathing by massage and swinging it around or try and remove the live one from under Jamie.

I opted for trying to do both, and for a few moments felt that I’d achieved neither, the large ‘still born’ boar was cooling and still, despite vigorous rubbing and ‘mouth to mouth,’ and the flattened wee gilt was looking decidedly ‘iffy’.

Mouth to mouth resuscitation is not really recommended for ‘jump starting’ piglets, as quite often it’s stuff inside their throat that has stopped them breathing in the first place. However I’d done all the rubbing and swinging to no avail and was getting desperate. The flat piglet recovered but the still born one didn’t, I have no idea how long I spent trying, but the poor wee thing was cold before I gave up.

Worn out and a little dejected I returned to the house to swap shifts with the swineherd. She togged up with oilskins whilst I got on with the roast spuds and gravy 🙂

It really is strange where life takes you if you let it 🙂 Fifteen years ago I could barely boil and egg and thirty years ago the only ‘mouth to mouth’ I’d ever done was at my diving school. Had someone told me I’d doing the same thing on a piglet in a boggy field two hundred miles north I’d have told them to ‘keep taking the pills’ 🙂

The ultimate roast potato

With wifey away out to the ark, and in all honesty probably glad to get out of the house, I set about the spuds. I know that I’m ‘full of 5h1t’ at times but I have to say that my roasters are awesome 🙂 First off you need the right spud, and a Rooster, or Golden Wonder fits the bill nicely. Then you boil them for five minutes in a pan of salted water that has a good fitting lid. Once they’ve done the five, tip out the water, which can be added to the gravy or even saved to make stock. With the spuds sitting in a colander to drain and dry put some olive oil and chopped rosemary in the pan. Next tip the tatties back in, place the lid on the pan tightly and give them a good shake to mix up the olive oil and rosemary. When they’re nicely ‘distressed’ brush a little more olive oil on them and bung them in the oven on a tray for half an hour or so 🙂

Me I chuck  few whole cloves of garlic in the tray too but that’s because I’m married to a vampire 🙂 By the end of the evening there were seven lively piglets, though one more had been ‘still born’ 😦 Funnily enough the swineherd did exactly the same as I, including wondering what the hell she was doing kissing a piglet 🙂

Happy birthday Charlie

After dinner I wasted a good few hours of my life trying to upload video’s and blog posting but gave up and went to bed. Boxing day arrived with a bang, a 60mph bang that had me filled with dread. The rain was lashing, the wind howling and I had to work 😦 Not work on the croft but work on the ferry, for I was doing the first run to let my ‘back to back’ back after the festivities.

It did not sound good for the only sailing of the day from Raasay, UKWind was forecasting severe gales and the blasts through the opened windows seemed to confirm it. All the windows in the house have been opened slightly for days on account of the excess power in the house. Skye, Raasay and the mainland may have been suffering blackouts but we’ve had ‘oodles’ of power.

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Even with the oven on, the wind and hydro turbines have been dumping power into the three oil filled radiators in the porch, bathroom and bedroom.

Anyway, after feeding and checking the herd

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I headed south. Jamie Lea’s seven piglets were all doing fine but the sea was looking far too wobbly for the ferry 😦

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Here’s Manitoba near Oscaig and the Sgier Cnapach was getting a fair pasting even though it was two hours after ‘high water’.

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In all honesty I didn’t think we’d be sailing but a mile or so further south it wasn’t half as bad.

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So the good ship Loch Linnhe poked her nose out and we did the one and only sailing to Skye and back.


violent storm 11

An hour after leaving Sconser I was back home to discover an even worse day than the one I’d left, the weather station regularly recording gusts of well over 76mph and constant winds of up to 72mph or ‘violent storm eleven’ on the Beaufort scale .


Over 72mph is classed as a hurricane and it certainly felt like that at times,


certainly glad I wasn’t going around the Mull of Kintyre today 🙂

Still, it was pretty fresh on land, with water going uphill and the old Proven 2.5Kw wind turbine belting out the amps 🙂



This video of the burn above Torran was actually taken yesterday but it was even more spectacular today 🙂


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The piglets may have been born yesterday but one of our guests celebrated his first birthday today 🙂 Young Charlie was born this day last year on our bed 🙂


That’s him far right with all the black 🙂

Anyway, it’s after 21:00 now and I’m going to call it a day, just to thank you all once again for all your kind words and support over the four years that I’ve been bashing away on here 🙂



  1. Paul what stunning video of the piglets being born gosh you and Barbara have your hands full! I loved the picture of Manitoba, the wind was howling-and the sea just glorious! I just felt I was walking along the road to Holman from Oscaig- felt the freezing cold too Brrr! Sometimes I am greatul for the winters in California , we complain when it is below 60 ( whatever that is in in centigrade I haven’t a clue!).

    Comment by Maggie Maclean — December 26, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

    • Morning Maggie, all is calm now, hope you had a good Christmas over there, just checked my ‘converter’ and we’ve been having a rather unseasonable 53 degrees of late, that will be 12 in ‘real money’ 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 27, 2011 @ 8:39 am

  2. Wow, really good stuff, i had no idea that pigs made their own nests..I learn more every time I visit… we have been working on clearing a space for john to build the pig area. i still want a sow but i have idea who to deal with the boar issue.. working on that.. Thank you.. you get massive weather! .. celi

    Comment by ceciliag — December 26, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

    • Morning Cecilia, apparently AI works very well with pigs, we don’t use it only because of the issues with postage (we only get deliveries twice a week) 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 27, 2011 @ 8:41 am

  3. Thank you. I enjoy your blog so much.

    Comment by Marjorie Stintzi — December 26, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

    • Glad you’re enjoying it Marjorie, it’s its fourth birthday today 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 27, 2011 @ 8:43 am

  4. lovely to think of jamie lea continuing the christmas trad started by molly, and of you and mrs. LATEOTR each trying to resuscitate piglets. their nesting on christmas day –molly in your bed, and jamie lea arranging reeds in a gale — is touching. nature is astounding, thank you. nice to see pix of molly’s child, how handsome he is! and the piglets as usual are charming too.

    i was just twirling around the scotsman and came upon this, didn’t realize sorley maclean had been born on raasay, though i am sure you have said so.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — December 27, 2011 @ 1:49 am

    • Awesome weather you’ve been having! Hope the piglets are doing well. Love the blog.

      Comment by mactaff — December 27, 2011 @ 8:26 am

      • Morning Mactaff and welcome, just about to go out and survey the damage, I know at least one fence and a bush have been blown over 😦

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 27, 2011 @ 8:30 am

    • Morning Jeannette, yes I’ve been in the house he was born in several times and some of his relatives frequent these pages, in fact some are very close to you 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 27, 2011 @ 8:45 am

  5. Paul It’s not often I could say this,but we have had gales,and how ,here in Fife.The weather has been atrocious and we still have weather warnings (amber) for tonight.So the front door is locked and the refreshments are out.Merry xmas to you and all your family and a guid ne’er to you.

    Comment by willie46 — December 27, 2011 @ 7:16 pm

    • Hi Willie,

      pretty miserable and dark here right now 🙂 More wind, more rain, but I’m not caring, it’s Hogmanay and I’m heading home 🙂

      Have a good one yourself

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 31, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

  6. Good thing your house is made of stone so you wont blow away! Hope the pig ark is well anchored too. Pigglets are darling and I guess the mom squishing is one reason they have so many. Good on you both for trying with the stillborn ones, I would have too. A turkey baster can make a good lung clearer, or you can acutually get one of the bulbs they use in hospitals for newborns from your doctor, might work in the future. Hopfully mom wont squish any more. Take care and Happy New Year!

    Comment by Kate — December 27, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

    • Happy New Year Kate, one pig ark did go AWOL 😦 luckily there were no pigs it at the time 🙂 Good idea about the hospital thingy.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 31, 2011 @ 6:11 pm

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