Life at the end of the road

April 27, 2012

The hens are here :-)

Filed under: animals, daily doings, shed/house — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:20 pm

It’s just after 20:30 on a Friday evening the sun is still above the Storr the rocks on the valley opposite are glowing red like the dying embers on a fire and I’m just out of my bed 🙂 I was only there for an hour right enough, driven to a nap by a rock, well almost  a boulder but more of that later.

For now I’ll try and cast my mind back to ‘H’ day minus one, the day of final preparation for the first registered egg production facility at Arnish since world war II 🙂 Though this is more of an actual guess than anything based on hard facts 🙂 I’m just reckoning that every Tom Dick and Harry with more than a postage stamp sized bit of land was keeping chickens for the war effort on account of Admiral Doenitz and his U boats. As well as surmising that Arnish was amok with chickens in WWII I’m guessing that the Ministry of Food


had a note of every cow, sheep, chicken and pig in the land so they had to have been registered somewhere 🙂

Well that was a long time ago and the couple of hours that I’d set aside to assist wifey with the latest venture at the north end of Raasay in the food production department had, as usual turned into a bit of an epic 😦

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When the ‘Hen lady’ says “I’ve just cut a hole in the fence, can you put a gate in it” she does not realize that the wire is ‘strained’ between two very substantial posts and if you cut it, it goes ping. Luckily she only cut the ‘Ryloc’ before I intervened.

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However it did take us most of the day to cobble up some kind of gate that would keep the wires that stop deer getting in the garden tight and repair the fence that the boys had put up, bless em.

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The boys had done a fine enough job of putting up the chicken wire using a combination of old metal ‘droppers’ and wooden battens. The droppers were from the old wrought iron and wire boundary fences that were long ago replaced. The battens scrounged from Harbro in Portree where they’re used between layers of timber to allow air and water through whist being stored outside.

Don’t let the coat and hat fool you, it was in fact a beautiful day,  just very, very windy from the north east, a chill wind that had with it a Siberian nip.

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Eventually I managed to tear myself away from the hen run and go up to the new barn and see how Lachie and Angus were getting on with our concrete floor.

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Just ‘damn fine splendid’ was the answer to that, by 14:30 they’d almost finished it!!!

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Seeing that they were a little busy I left them to it with a promise to clean out the mixer afterwards 🙂

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Not a great picture but it’s at 18x zoom of Aird Torran, Grian a Sgeir and Brothers Point

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from up there.

H Day’

Apart from cleaning out the mixer for Lachie and concreting a stay into the ground for a strainer post I didn’t do a great deal else apart from sleep. No blogging not even a bath, I crawled into bed whacked at just after 21:00 and awoke this morning feeling like carp. I’ve not had a drink for over a week and I felt hung over 😦 perhaps it was withdrawal from the Tramadol because I’d not had any of that either 🙂 Surprisingly the one thing that was not aching this morning was my back 🙂

Anyway despite feeling a little vacant I got everyone fed, caught four hens and we headed south on another fine but cool and breezy day.

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A light fresh dusting of snow contrasting with the lush spring greens that were becoming more evident daily.

Dropping our four old but still laying birds at a friends house on the way to the ferry.

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After loading up with hen food at Harbro and drugs from the chemist we did a little shopping in Portree.

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This will be the old ‘ice house’ at the bottom of the brae to Portree harbour, a sturdy but neglected old building that was used to, well store ice 🙂

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Taking the single track road from Portree we turned west for Struan with its fine views of Loch Bracadale to go and see ‘Donald the hen’. Donald has been at hens since he was in short trousers and there’s not much that he doesn’t know about them. From Oban to the Outer Isles, if it’s got feathers and clucks the chances are Donald has supplied it 🙂

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Light Sussex, ISA brown, Black Rock, Bluebell or Rhode Island, layers, table or dual purpose Donald can supply them all.

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He can even supply his own well made coops for £135, they’re good for around 15 hens and will last for years. I can vouch for this as we have an old one and are about to acquire another. This batch had labels on for Iona, Oban, Tobermory, Tiree, Lerags, and Roag so delivery is obviously not a problem. Donald MacDonald 01470 572 213 for all you hen needs 🙂

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So with a little help from the ‘wee dug’


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we got 32 loaded into the rear of the Land Rover, had a cup of tea and trundled off for the 13:00 ferry from Sconser some 20 miles away.

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Before we got home though we just had to go and check out the almost finished barn

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and walk (carefully) on the new concrete floor 🙂

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Then under the watchful eyes of Toots and Jamie Lea it was time to unload the chooks into they’re new homes.

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We put twelve into this one, which is one of Donald’s houses, and twenty into the larger one next to it as Donald’s is only ‘legal’ for twelve.

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What’s betting that by the time they’ve sorted their selves out there’s twenty in the small hoose and ten in the big one. OK, I know that 12+20 = 32 but two of them are for our neighbour :-) 

Having spent enough time around chickens to last me a month at least I finally got back up to the house/shed site some time after 16:30 to get some more strainer posts put in.

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The ground is quite soft around here so I’m going to concrete these in so I dug a big hole and pushed this long one down with the telehandler.

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The one next to it however was not ‘playing cricket’, around two feet down I met a huge boulder that sorely tested my back 😦 An hours battering with a long bar or should I say ten minutes battering then ten minutes lying down with a dog on my chest for an hour managed to break about a third off it.

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After heaving it out with a rope wrapped around my waist to utilise my legs rather than back I was well and truly whacked, had my dinner, fed half the pigs then went to bed 🙂



  1. The barn looks wonderful. We farm full-time for a living and ours are hovels in comparison. Lovely chooks. What breed did she buy?

    Comment by Marjorie Stintzi — April 27, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

    • Morning Marjorie,

      I’ve always dreamed of a BIG BARN, some folk dream of winning the lottery, me I aspire to large sheds and don’t bother gambling 🙂 ISA browns are what wifey bought a prolific hybrid the ISA stands for Institut de Sélection Animale

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 28, 2012 @ 5:55 am

  2. Buck! Buck ! Buck! Buck! That’s a sound familiar to chickens plus the name for folding money in the States, so I hope you hear it a lot in future. Should there ever be eggs, don’t forget to charge customers for cartons and free if they recycle their old ones. Any chance the telehandler can drive the bar that breaks rocks, thus saving your back for another day? Spot welder to glue it on? The telehandler, I mean, not your spine.

    Comment by drgeo — April 28, 2012 @ 4:30 am

    • Morning DrG,

      hmmmm rock breaker on the forklift, sounds like a cunning plan 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 28, 2012 @ 5:56 am

  3. The barn is certainly coming along and looking great. Not posted for a while but have been watching and reading all about your hard work. It amazes me how you manage to cram it all in!
    Looking forward to hearing how the egg sales go once the chooks have settled in, no egg is tastier than the free range ones in my humble opinion and no doubt they will become very popular. Next question is, when are you getting Turkeys? Well it would be handy for the islanders at Chrisatmas, lol!

    Don’t know if you have been following the FB or forum pages for Thomson Caravans but the reason for my short absence in replies has been a bad dose of the damp in our Thomson. some pictures on FB and the forum showing just how bad that we 1inch bit really is, hoping to get it all rebuilt before mid June. Slow going though as my fingers are now riddled with artritis and keep locking up, painful and very quickly slows things to a crawl! Thankfully our Keven is keen to learn how to do the repair work and is doing a great job helping out while I supervise! My biggest problem to date is sourcing 3mm plywood sheets! They are either too expensive or not the right size. Might have to use hardboard instead )-;
    Keep up the great work and as always my regards to the family.

    Comment by Graham Thompson — April 28, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

    • Morning Graham,

      yup, I know what you mean about these ‘little jobs’ that turn into pure epics, can you post some links to the pictures Graham, just had a quick look and couldn’t find them. Think I’m heading down the arthritis route too 😦 I seem to have less and less grip in my hands daily. As for the turkeys it’s something that we’ve been considering for a long while, one day 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 30, 2012 @ 6:25 am

      • Link to the forum page is
        And this picture shows the worst bit!

        FB is

        Managed ti finally get the bench saw out of the shed today, afraid my shed is only a wee thing at 6×8 and it doesn’t give much space to cutting down 8ft lengths of timber, lol!
        Still thats the main struts etc cut to thickness and width and it just leaves me having to buy one at 100mm x 27mm x 6ft, its a long plank under the front window. First time I have seen this as the other older vans I have seen in bits are usually made up of a framework to get that size, still determined to do it the same and as the outer front handles are screwed into it for maneuvering the van I want them to be as strong as they always have been.
        I will start a page on the website detailing the repair as it goes and will try to do it to the standard of pros that you have on here!

        Arthritis gets everywhere! I don’t think I have a joint that is not affected in some way now, Joan, swmbo, reckons I creak more than the caravan in a strong wind! )-;

        Look forward to hearing when you get the Turkey’s, Joan had some as well as Geese and ducks when she lived up Harburn way with her first hubby, they also looked after the pheasant chicks, some of whom met their demise early when the youngest lad mistook them for ducklings and decided to teach them to swim in the garden pond! Something he still gets reminded! lol

        If you want I can e-mail you pics of the van, let me know!

        Comment by Graham Thompson — May 1, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

      • Nice work so far Graham do you really need marine ply??? I used to think that way but my good friend, perfectionist and master carpenter Willie Eyre would use ordinary exterior ply on such a job. A nice piece of Raasay House timber would fit under your window just fine 🙂 Good to see how it comes apart as my Glenelg took a bash over the winter in the same place, no sign of dampness yet but I’d like to repair it (once I get it in the barn 🙂 ) before the next summer trip 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 2, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

      • Hi Paul, yes the timber from Raasey house would indeed be perfect but shipping cost would be more than the £8 I have been quoted for a 2400 x 27 x 100 piece from the local hardware shop. Will price up the exterior ply as well, 8×4 sheet 3mm from same chap will be £9 and I reckon I could do it with two sheets. Managed to get a bit more done yesterday and as per the way you do things I have taken pictures troughout the process. All of which will be (eventually) added to the website along with sizes and location for parts etc. Biggest cost so far will be a new window rubber, on further investigation around the window the water at that point would appear to have been coming in at the join so when replacing I will make sure that area is tighter than a drum and glued together tnning in the future.
        Seen as its a gorgeous day today I will cut the timber I need for the shelf and cupboards at locker height. Not all of which needs replacing but due to the way we had to remove them the sides where damaged. The front table will be used as a donor for the facing as that needs replacing but the ply sheet on it is OK. Another penny saved lol!
        Re no sign ofdampness, if you have the same inner pannelling as mine, ply faced with melamine then use a damp meter and sharpen the tips to pierce the outer skin, for several years mine showed nothing and then last year the dark patch appeared. Only on removing the panel was the full extent visible, there was no sign of damp on the left but as you see it was there too!
        Better let you get on and I will go get some timber cut. Off to put my x on the paper first though!
        All the best

        Comment by Graham Thompson — May 3, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

  4. ISA Browns are lovely chooks. Mine would talk to me when I went in their coop. They are very quiet compared to Leghorns.

    Comment by Marjorie Stintzi — April 28, 2012 @ 6:17 pm

    • Morning Marjorie, right enough they are pretty quiet, I was just thinking it’s because they’re new 🙂 Wish we had a cockerel to go with them but wifey doesn’t like them on account of being attacked by one 😦 Well that and the alarm clock thing 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 30, 2012 @ 6:28 am

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