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 😦


  1. Hi Paul.
    What a buisy day you’ve had. Just one question what are the rings in the orange case for? in the picture about changing the bearing. Walter

    Comment by Polite Scouser — February 28, 2012 @ 11:06 pm

  2. Hi Paul,

    Have been quietly enjoying the blog in the background. I hadn’t appreciated how big the holes for the barn were until I saw the quad in the picture, you could easily lose the quad in one! Looking forward to watching the ‘barn raising’ when it commences.

    Comment by Iain -Down under — February 28, 2012 @ 11:24 pm

    • Glad you’re still keeping up Iain, looking forward to it myself 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 29, 2012 @ 7:14 am

  3. Scuse my hignorance……but whats the tool in the red box?

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — February 28, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

  4. Dear Paul,
    I have just been reading this drivel concerning this “Rural Skills (full time) course” a few years ago this sort of guff would have had my blood pressure rising and my neck would be assuming the colour of a turkey cocks anal orifice although I very much doubt that many on this course would know what that meant, you of cause being well versed in rural skills know what colour that is. Now I just shake my head and sort through the obfuscation of the text. It gives this stupid old fart of a pensioner something to do when he gets up in the morning. When I think about how I think, I find that my thoughts have a surrealistic tinge, comes from reading too much Spike Milligan and watching Monty Python, of cause being a Tyke doesn’t help. Spike once wrote that the essence of good humour was to take things too there illogical conclusion, so following Spikes good advice I have sifted through some of this gobbledegook and come to some amusing conclusion about what it means. I quiet liked the SPECIAL FEATURES section.

    Agriculture — being able to recognise a field
    Forestry — being able to recognise a tree
    Gamekeeping being able to run a bingo parlour
    Horticulture —- Knowing what a spade looks like
    Estate skills — learning not to throw a brick through your neighbours window
    Equine studies— being able to recognise the basic difference between a horse and a cow for people like me and you it is quiet easy one goes MOOOO and the other goes NEIIIIIIIIGH
    Industry approved training courses (LANTRA)—– This I assume means learning social skill, learning how important it is too drop your trouser before you have a shit
    Core skills in numeracy, IT and communications—- This is really the difficult part learning how too talk is essential playing warcraft on the computer equally so, solving polynomial equations and the Reimann hypothesis would obviously be simple for this lot, who when they count go one two and a lot.
    Rural business investigation—— checking if the blackberries are ripe.

    The qualifications amused me

    National Progression Award (NPA) , Intermediate 2 (SCQF Level 5)

    I certainly don’t know what it means, I can only assume that level one is learning to crawl , this intermediate level I presume means learning how to stand up, the advanced qualification is learning how too walk, and after that if you have a modicum of talent taking a Phd. in running.

    I was of cause duly impressed that this course is being run by a top tier university.

    Thank you Paul reading your blog is always a pleasure and you never know where it will lead you

    knowing how interested you are in the Reimann hypothesis and how difficult it must be for you too keep up to date, I have added a link to get you up too speed.

    Deep Regards


    Comment by Yorkshire Miner — February 29, 2012 @ 9:52 am

    • I’m finding page three a bit difficult.

      Comment by politescouser — February 29, 2012 @ 10:04 am

      • Buy the Braille edition of the Sun.

        Comment by Yorkshire Miner — February 29, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

      • Noticed at my local paper shop on Sunday morning that the 20 Sunday Sun that had been sent to them for sale had all been sold, to the old cynical farts who still have outside toilets. They still use the nail for anything from the Sun.

        Comment by Polite Scouser — March 1, 2012 @ 10:46 am

      • “Noticed at my local paper shop on Sunday morning that the 20 Sunday Sun that had been sent to them for sale had all been sold, to the old cynical farts who still have outside toilets. They still use the nail for anything from the Sun.”

        Ahh the ‘SOS’ the aptly named comic that Admiral Murdoch has launched to try and save the foundering MV News Int. Lets hope she sinks 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 1, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

    • Cynical old fart 🙂 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 1, 2012 @ 7:18 am

  5. The `piglet` axle stand looks quite handy.A bit like an episode of Wallace and Grommet were the dog doubled up as a saw horse.Wish our two terriers were as helpful.When working under our car they either,lick my face when I cannot defend myself,steal stuff out of the tool tray,pee nearby or finish off any drinks I happen to leave within reach.They had new blankets for their bed yesterday with bones printed on.All the scissors have been hidden, today, in case they attempt any precision bone- shape cutting when they realise chewing does not get the right shape 🙂


    Comment by Andy — February 29, 2012 @ 10:01 am

    • “The `piglet` axle stand looks quite handy” 🙂 🙂 it won’t keep still Andy

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 1, 2012 @ 7:19 am

  6. Hi Paul, the barn and house sites are coming on nicely, and the views you will have up there every time you go out the front door will be astounding! Did I read correctly recently that you have got the “old” house on the market already?……or will that be when the new one is completed?

    Comment by Lloyd — February 29, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

    • Morning Lloyd,

      the ‘wee hoose’ will be on the market shortly, just had it valued at £177,500 ?? why not 177 or 178 is probably a reflection on its uniqueness and why we had to pay someone £300 plus VAT to come up with that figure 🙂 We’ll be moving into a fine caravan I’ve just bought 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 2, 2012 @ 7:21 am

  7. Wow the house site is amazing, what a view. I hope youre putting in a big bank of windows and a porch on the sea side. I can just imagine you and the wee dug, rocking away enjoying the peace and quiet! Seems nicely snugged between the stone fences, hope the builders can get in there without knocking them down. They are beautiful.
    One question, all seems very wet, all the holes filled with water, I bet you dont put a basement in, will the foundation be above ground level? How do you handle all the runnoff? I think the damp would drive me nuts, Im pretty used to Colorados semi arid desert air now. Even if it does make us more wrinkley than folks living in the humid.
    Cute pigs, nice they can be helpful. Now you just have to teach them to fetch things for you!
    At least some of those kids had an interest in learning about a more rural life, so many have no clue where food comes from or the amimals that turn into it. I bet they enjoyed your sociable pigs.
    Poor herron…

    Comment by Kate — February 29, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

    • Morning Colorado Kate,

      one of the walls will have to come down but the stone will be going into the gable end of the house that faces the sea.


      No huge windows or patio doors, I want to keep the heat in and the weather out, I see enough of the view during the day 🙂 Foundation will be a thick insulated concrete slab on the rock. Run off to a nearby burn (creek 🙂 )

      site plan

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 2, 2012 @ 7:41 am

  8. Old maps of the island on line


    Comment by rob — March 1, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

    • Thanks for that Rob, very interesting, somewhere I do have a poor copy of the same map.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 2, 2012 @ 7:43 am

  9. […] Rural skills at Arnish ( […]

    Pingback by Cleaning the byre | Musings from a Stonehead — March 1, 2012 @ 10:26 pm

  10. “I’m guessing that this hole is where the new concrete staircase is going in” ? are you sure paul 🙂

    Comment by Gaz — April 8, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

    • Morning Gaz, wondered where you’d been 🙂

      “I’m guessing that this hole is where the new concrete staircase is going in” ? are you sure paul

      Not sure at all, but the staircase has gone in and the hole is now gone, though it must have happened on my ‘week off’ as I missed it 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 9, 2012 @ 5:17 am

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