Life at the end of the road

March 30, 2012

Eggstremely difficult :-)

Filed under: daily doings, hydro — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:42 pm

I know, it’s been a while but I’ve been a little preoccupied of late, as if the turmoil associated with selling a house and building another was not enough, wifey is going into eggs :-(  I’ve tried to talk her out of it but she’s having none of it, the mountain of paperwork associated with egg production instils no fear into the swineherd. The visits from official bodies does not fill her with dread and she reckons she can fit it in between pig duties, part time posting, occasional fostering and house building, so who am I to argue 🙂

She fist mooted the subject some weeks ago and yours truly diplomatically tried to steer her away from the enterprise, at least until we had another roof over our heads. Hoping that a positive reply along the lines of “fantastic idea darling, we’ll get on it as soon as the house is up” would do the trick. Not a chance, the next thing I know the kitchen table is full of forms from SGRIPID, Animal Health, and a few more who’s names I forget. When the ‘Haynes Chicken manual’ arrived through the post I knew there was no stopping her.




  My fears being confirmed when I got the phone call at work last week along the lines of “Now don’t go ‘off on one’ but I’ve just ordered the hens from Donald” 😦

Donald the hen

Donald being ‘Donald the hen’ from Struan on Skye, a more knowledgeable and helpful chap you could not wish to meet. To say that Donald, now I guess in his sixties has been into hens all his life is not an understatement. When the rest of his school mates were taking back pop bottles to buy Mars bars Donald was saving up for a hen 🙂

Well you know what they say “If you can’t beat them, join them” so I’ve been reluctantly swept along with the tide of enthusiasm for ‘Arnish Eggs’, especially when wifey came up with the idea getting the school children to design a label. The idea was floated past Wilma Duncan the headmistress, who took it onboard willingly as it would fit in nicely with their Easter themes.  Since the boy has gone to high school we’ve kind of lost touch a little with the school so it would be good to get involved a little more.

Finished at last

Wednesday was a pure belter of a day and I made the most of it by finally finishing painting the roof of the house 🙂


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The 18:30 finish giving me just enough time to get changed and head down the road to the village hall to get my wife stolen 🙂

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Actually it was for a meeting hosted by our two ‘Community Development Officers’ Joan MacKay and Lloyd Gudgeon. Various options for taking the ‘community forward’ and encouraging growth were discussed with the more than sixty people that attended. A pretty amazing turnout from a population of around 140 with pretty much every household represented.


As that turned into a late night it was straight to bed after with an early start on Thursday, beginning with weaning Bracken’s seven piglets.

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That was followed by yet more painting,

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the wood store getting some of the remaining green paint from the house 🙂 Eventually, after more work around the croft tools had to be put away and set off for school. The primary school and egg box judging that is,

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of course we had to have some green jelly and ice cream first 🙂 After all it was a ‘green day’ 🙂 Next followed the hardest job I’ve attempted in a long while, the judging of the labels for the ‘Arnish Egg’ boxes.


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Tabatha Carslaw (4) and Jennifer MacLeod (10) and I’m sorry I put your label upside down Tabby 😦

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Rachel MacLennan (10) and Amy Crook (11)

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Chloe Gillies (10) and Morgan Carslaw (10)

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Kirsty MacKay (7) and Emily Gillies (7)

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Logan Carslaw (8) and Leia Croy (7)

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and finally Lauren MacLennan (7) and yet another talented Carslaw, this time Ethan (6)

Faced with such eggcellent works we found it impossible to choose a winner, settling instead to use every single one of the twelve. Hopefully people will collect and swap them 🙂

Next job, and a complete surprise to us was to judge the contents!!!

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Sadly I cannot remember who’s they are apart from the winner which was Amy Crook, above centre with the pipe cleaner arms and legs 🙂 The top right one was a close second I’d say 🙂

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Though, as you can see, they’re all excellent,

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The staff, children and parents have every right to be extremely proud of them all.

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The next competition, we had no part in, and that was to pick a name and picture for the clothes recycling bin that was due to be officially opened shortly by Joan and Lloyd.

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Chloe’s Raag Baag Reggie was the winner

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and after a short and very enthusiastic song in Gaelic Reggie was officially opened 🙂

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That was about it on Thursday, well apart from going over to Torran to look at my mates Harris turbine

harris runner

which had a worn out Pelton runner 😦

I was in bed for 20:30 and didn’t arise until 7:00am, the beautiful day that greeted me once more had me working ‘flat out’ until the rain came on at around 18:00, just as well really or I’d probably be in bed right now, and I did get much done 🙂


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Me concentrating on selling the house and wifey on the ‘Arnish Eggs’

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or at least one of ‘Donald the hens’ excellent hen houses that we’d been given 🙂


  1. Once you get used to them you’ll just love the hens, Paul. Free ranging hens are such funky creatures – quite different from the poor things in their cages, laying eggs like fury for the supermarkets! Glad to see the school is as vibrant and exciting as ever – what a great start in life these children get!

    Anne Macdonald

    Comment by Anne Macdonald — March 30, 2012 @ 10:11 pm

    • Morning Anne, I am used to them, that’s why I didn’t want any more of the blessed things 😦 Digging up the garden and leaving unwelcome parcels everywhere, six is plenty, thirty six is a mess 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 31, 2012 @ 6:06 am

  2. I see in the last pic you still have the log holding thingy. Did you get to keep it or is it still on loan?…..Looks a very handy device, I’m thinking of making one.

    Comment by Lloyd — March 31, 2012 @ 2:41 am

  3. Eggciting times, indeed, Paul. Must say, I wouldn’t have liked to shoulder the judging of those box designs. I reckon you chose the best and ‘right’ option.

    Comment by yractual — March 31, 2012 @ 7:10 am

    • Morning Iain, it was indeed the only possible decision 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 1, 2012 @ 6:08 am

  4. Blimey Paul, 36? You’ll never get 36 hens in that hen house… or is it a Tardis-alike? I suppose 36 perhaps answers my query as to why you are bothering with flock registration (although the magic figure for England and Wales is 50+ before registration is required). Every small/hobby producer I know of hereabouts keeps their flock number below that to avoid the pain of EU-alike regulation and form-filling – and as a result relies on word-of-mouth ‘farm gate’ sales… Ah, yes, now I see your wife’s ‘marketing’ problem when stuck at the end of Calum’s Road. What a pain in the arras these regulations are for small producers!

    As a hobby keeper myself I would say that ‘free range’ is not all that it’s made out to be – and unless you can keep hens off your gardens and immediate property, (as you say) you surely find out how destructive they are and how short is their digestive tract! But perhaps no foxes on Raasay? – that would be a bonus. I prefer a solution involving a degree of deep-littering and restricted ranging via an electric fence myself, but net fences are high maintenance too – and clearing the bottom of the netting of debris is a tedious daily chore, or twice daily if it’s wet. But perhaps not so bad with electrified standard post and wire fencing?

    Whatever, there are many management solutions that provide a really good life for the hens and a quality end product without unrestricted free-ranging. (When I say this I usually get damned by the ‘free-range is the only way to’ purists :-)) )

    In the hope this is not teaching… to suck eggs(!) I imagine your wife (btw, does she have a name?) knows about Stonehead’s poultry keeping pages? [] Good stuff there. Another useful source is Andy Cawthray, the excellent ‘chickeneer’ behind the Guardian’s Talking Chickens series – Andy’s blog is at Yet another source of interesting and informative observations about keeping/raising livestock (inc poultry) – and a site I enjoy reading as much as yours! – is in the states. [] There are a couple of good articles on the (free to register) Small Holder Series website. []. I could go on but as there are many good sources on the web written by very experienced keepers… And also, as I’ve found out the hard way, plenty of sources of poor advice too!

    Comment by Carrie — March 31, 2012 @ 9:37 am

    • Good morning Carrie and thanks for all those links, I’ll pass them onto the ‘Henmistress’ 🙂 Aye you’re right about the house at 1.3 square meters it’s good for 13 hens (9 per square m) but we’ve been given 2 more. Only problem being that one is at Torran and the other Staffin 😦

      I think the 50 applies here to but you need to register as a producer and be inspected to retail or wholesale them. All our hens so far have had total free range but the most we’ve ever had is six so not too messy. As you say, no foxes or predators here apart from birds of prey but this lot will be going behind 2m high security fencing which we can move, mainly to stop them ‘laying out’ rather than anything else. it was bad enough searching for the nests of six hens, never mind thirty 😦

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 1, 2012 @ 6:22 am

      • Ah, 2m security fencing – I guess you mean that stuff they use around building sites? – what a good idea. Perhaps have some left over at Raasay House that you could get at a good discount. Save them the cost of the ferry back, eh? :-)) For the Henmistress, here’s another good resource (especially for feed/nutrition info)

        Enjoy the day

        Comment by Carrie — April 1, 2012 @ 8:22 am

  5. Hi Paul
    Good look with the chucks we have six the wife loves them. They will come up to Sutherland with us when we sell up and are able to buy are patch of land. May drop the price of are place to try and get a sale. When do the builders start on your place.

    Comment by rob — March 31, 2012 @ 10:06 am

    • Good luck with the sell and move Rob, “When do the builders start on your place.” good question 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 1, 2012 @ 6:24 am

  6. Hi Paul
    Hope you do well with your hen’s, like everything you seem to do it right first time.
    Look forward to seeing your house photo’s as they start happening.
    So as Cilla Black would say tarra Chuck. I do remember the film Chucky very well.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — March 31, 2012 @ 10:20 am

    • Morning Walter, “like everything you seem to do it right first time.” no matey, like everything I do I make a mess of it first time and eventually read the instructions and do it right 🙂 This enterprise however is wifey’s so it will be done right 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 1, 2012 @ 6:27 am

      • Just joshing Paul, I’ve read about some of your cock ups, but I only remember the good parts, getting it right first time.

        Comment by Polite Scouser — April 1, 2012 @ 6:44 am

  7. Make sure you get the hens that lay golden eggs.Failing that at least the type that do their own paperwork 🙂 Egg shells should be an interesting colour what with the local geology,especially, if they have Lewisian Gneiss stripes.Good cluck with the new venture.


    Comment by Andy — March 31, 2012 @ 10:35 am

    • Morning Andy and family 🙂 next time you’re passing pop in for an egg 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 1, 2012 @ 6:29 am

  8. I like your nod to ‘elf and safety, the mattress to break your fall. Frances G

    Comment by Frances Gibb — March 31, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

    • Morning Frances in typical Camilli style i put the mattress there AFTER I’d fallen off the roof 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 1, 2012 @ 6:30 am

  9. “She fist mooted the subject some weeks ago and yours truly diplomatically tried to steer her away from the enterprise”

    From that FIRST sentence I could see you were doomed, When a wifey’s FIST comes oot, yer doomed, doomed ah say. 🙂

    If it all goes FOX shaped, don’t say “I told you so” I tried “I told you so” to my wifey, once (only once!)

    Nice job on the roof by the way.


    Comment by Rob P — March 31, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

    • Must have been a ‘Freudian slip’ Rob 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 1, 2012 @ 6:31 am

  10. Will you get a rooster too? Will he become the alarm clock or will you have to give him a nudge in the morning since you’re the early riser? Fresh eggs are tasty–stores can sell eggs here as “fresh” when they are already 3 weeks old!

    Comment by drgeo — March 31, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

    • Don’t recommend having a Rooster, two gardens away got one, upset the neighbourhood something terrible he’s now a hencock!!.

      Comment by Polite Scouser — March 31, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

    • Morning DrG, no rooster I’m afraid, the wife is ‘not a morning person’ 🙂 The last one that we had was left in my Land Rover by a ‘friend’, I snook it home and hid it in a ruin behind the house. The wife was not amused when she found out at 5:00am a few days later 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 1, 2012 @ 6:34 am

  11. Too bad you can’t send some of those eggs to the States. (USA)

    Comment by Kathy Rasey Keeter — April 1, 2012 @ 11:38 am


    Comment by Thomson Caravans — April 1, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  13. oops, Don’t know why that happened! Put it down to old age lol!

    wonderful idea to have free range eggs and I am sure Arnish eggs will become very popular! Having been lucky enough to have lived on a farmyard in my late teens I can honestly say that there is nothing better than a freshly layed egg! The taste and texture is just so much better and it seems that double yokers are more likely than in the caged hen variety with all the eggsra stuff they add to the water and meal!
    Alan Parker, a very close friend and member of the Thomson Forum has been keeping around 6 eggs on his allotment for a couple of years now, nothing better than his eggs for breakfast when we visit, add to that a local farmers bacon from his free roaming pigs and I feel like I am in heaven!

    Well done on using all the designs from The primary school for the boxes, as already agreed the best decision! well done to all the kids.

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — April 1, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

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