Life at the end of the road

February 28, 2012

Rural skills at Arnish

Filed under: animals, daily doings, hydro, shed/house — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:39 pm

When our vet, Rhona Campbell phoned me a few weeks ago asking if it would be OK to bring some students up to see the herd I thought she was kidding. especially as it was part of a ‘Rural skills’ course run by the West Highland College and University of the Highlands and islands . What do we know about pigs  I thought 🙂 OK we’ve been keeping them for seven years but our approach is rather unconventional and we certainly don’t do it for the money.

Then when I found out that the group would also be visiting other crofts on Raasay to see how sheep and cattle were moved, gathered and handled it began to make more sense. We may not be experts in the field of pig husbandry but our herd is friendly and used to being handled. They’re all of good temperament, even the boar, we have a couple of different breeds and a good spread of ages.

However being a Tuesday I did at first have to go to work, or at least to Sconser and back to collect my ‘back to back’ who’d come in early to let me away 🙂 Of course I’ll have to do the same for him next week 😦 But what are friends for 🙂

The group would be catching the 9:25 ferry and heading to see my good friend and fellow crofter Nairn Duncan at the south end of the island first to find out about cattle. This would give me chance to do a little tidying up around the place and clean out Bracken’s bedding before they arrived. In retrospect I should have got them to do it for some ‘hands on’ experience 🙂


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Not being in a particular rush I stopped around the back of Raasay house and clambered onto the bonnet of the Land Rover to have a look over the walled garden at progress.

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I’m guessing that this hole is where the new concrete staircase is going in


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and here’s some of the beautiful lead work and expert slating at the eastern done by who are no strangers to historic buildings.


Here’s one they did earlier 🙂

Home just after 10:30 and with ‘second breakfast’ out of the way we gave Bracken a good clean out and washed down the yard outside the barn.


trailer bearing

Then it was a new set of bearings for our livestock trailer

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and yet another puncture on my mates quad trailer. It turned out to be a leaking rim but I’ve already re seated this tyre on the rim so fitted a tube instead.

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With of course a little help from Bracken and her wains,

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pigs really are inquisitive creatures.

The group of six students, Richard their lecturer and Rhona turned up, I guess around 12:15 and we spent an hour or so showing them around and answering questions. The herd behaved impeccably, though it did take us quite a while to find Rocky, Bramble, Toots and Jamie Lea who were ‘out on a mission’.

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So after a good scrub with disinfectant they headed off to Glame and the North Raasay Sheep Stock Club who were gathering sheep.

After a spot of lunch and a wee sleep (it’s my age 🙂 ) we went up to the new house and barn site to admire Hookies holes 🙂

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These are the seven for the barn uprights, the odd one being for the sliding door

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and these the four corners of the house.

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That done I went over to the Torran Schoolhouse to check the battery bank then down to my turbine shed to check the Stream Engine

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The turbine was just fine but I was somewhat surprised to find a dead heron in there !! Perhaps it was sick and sheltering in there getting a little warmth off the turbine, whatever it was doing it had been dead for a couple of weeks at least 😦

February 27, 2012

The Sunday wash :-)

Filed under: daily doings, pigs — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:46 pm

I really had intended to post last night but managed to leave my camera lead at work so couldn’t download the pictures 😦 For reasons beyond my comprehension the particular SD card in my ‘bombproof’ Panasonic DMC- FZ38 does not work directly in the laptop. Works fine via the lead but not in the slot, it’s not the computer as it’s only the one card that don’t work and that just happened to be the one in the camera.

Anyway I’d left you on the ferry just before 23:00 having been called out to collect an ambulance from Sconser. The one ‘casualty’ turned into two (unrelated) and by the time I got home it was 00:50 and the grouse remained firmly corked 🙂 It was straight to bed and there I stayed until just before 9:00am leaving me no time for brushing teeth or shaving before I headed back to the still warm Loch Striven 🙂 Leaving wifey to do the pig feeding and cleaning, normally I’d leave her in bed and do it on the Sabbath but not today.

Today I had to rush once more down Calum’s road to fire up the ferry, well I say rush but the lovely morning had me stopping to rake a few snaps.


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Like this pile of deer fencing material at Sreapadale all neatly bundled ready for the chopper to lift it and then drop it in place.

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That’s a fine bit of work by Donnie from Glenelg, I forget his last name but he does grand job of cutting my mums grass in the summer to 🙂

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A lovely wee ruin near Balmeanach with the birch just starting to get that purple tinge they seem to acquire before spring 🙂

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Holoman island with a mist capped Ben Tianavaig in the background and then onto work a mere three miles down the road.

The day on the ferry was the usual Sunday drills and maintenance before we gave the mess room a good power washing  🙂 Not that we normally pressure wash the mess room, or even that it particularly needed it, I know we’re all guys but we’re not that dirty. This particular ‘cleaning’ was unscheduled, rather OTT and should have been the car deck 😦

It started just after the safety meeting and ‘fire in the engine room’ drill when we set about cleaning the boat, skipper was doing chart corrections and the purser greasing the lifeboat davit. Yours truly starts on the car deck with the 150bar pressure washer when he realizes there’s no detergent coming through. Well there wouldn’t be would there cos the pressure washer is in the same space my ‘back to back’ and I have been painting for weeks and we’ve removed the detergent drum to paint behind it.

Down the hatch I disappears to refit the drum leaving the turned off lance on deck to top up and fit the 25lt drum, of course it’s not straight forward and  as I finish it I hear the pressure washer being switched off. Just before I holler to the purser to tell him I’m using it he shouts to me something about ‘you’d better come up here’.

The pressure washer hose that I’d laid down on the car deck had chosen that particular moment as I went down below to burst 😦 Not normally a problem as it just sprays water and detergent about on the deck, only this time the mess room door was ajar, not open but just ajar and the fountain of spray was gushing in there at 11lts a minute 😦 It was everywhere, my broth was ruined, the sugar container (with lid on) was wet inside and there was at least an inch on the floor. The ceiling was dripping the papers soggy and my overalls saturated, still, by the time we’d mopped and dried it, it was spotless 🙂

That was about it on the cleaning front, I turned the hose pipe on washed away the suds and had a sleep 🙂

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Setting off home in daylight to catch Toots and Jamie Lea munching away at the bracken roots near the fish farm slip. We moved this ark down here a few months ago, or should I say my mate Hooky moved it down here with his Hitachi in November.

It’s a good bit of fresh ground for them to turn and it keeps them away from the croft

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it’s also handy for the the new barn and house site which is just up the hill.


Well, with the new houses at School Park finished it was a good deal quieter on the ferry than a normal Monday, with just the traffic from Mansell for the Raasay House rebuild to boost numbers.

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Having been totally peed off with trying to use my sons ‘touch screen’ phone I decided against zapping it in the microwave or throwing it overboard and gave it him back. Choosing instead to try and fix my £20 Nokia who’s speaker had turned into a whisper, not much use when you’re as deaf as me. Prising off the front cover I removed a black piece of fine mesh that covers the earpiece and cleaned it out. I suppose living in a grubby engineer cum pig keepers pocket it had got blocked for I can now hear the phone once more 🙂

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The rest of the day was spent down here

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just for a change 🙂

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There’s a lot going on in this space, saltwater pressure set on the left for the toilets, blue box in the middle for the batteries that power the ‘standby’ 24v sewage plant compressor. Pressurised hot water cylinder for the shower and mess room, plus of course the sewage plant, Voith unit and prop shaft.

That was it really, after much messing about with different coloured paints I headed home

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in the gloom

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and yes, I know that after 23 years I don’t need a ‘pratnav’ to find my way home 🙂

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