Life at the end of the road

April 28, 2012

Chook watching :-)

Filed under: animals, daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:23 pm

Reluctantly I’m in the house, the sun has finally slipped below the horizon and my Seiko automatic divers watch says 21:50 but it’s lying 😦 The time is actually 21:20 and I’m just through the door after a rather active and productive day.

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The red rocks of Arnish arrived about 40 minutes ago as the golden ball of the sun disappeared behind the Storr. The watch confusing me somewhat by racing forwards half an hour, probably on account of all the rock breaking I’ve been doing today. This watch just does not suit people that lead a lifestyle involving hammers or lots of fist shaking, not much good for a carpenter or Italian taxi driver I guess.

The day arrived bathed in sunshine much as it has the last few but this one was not accompanied by the Baltic nor easter that we’ve been lumbered with of late. Consequently it was actually warm and the jumper stayed unworn all day, in fact the boots came off and the sandals went on in their stead 🙂

The first job was, of course to go and look at the chooks, who were split roughly twenty out and ten inside. Foolishly we’d not shut them in last night after the excitement  of them actually coming outside. The last few batches of ‘point of lay’ pullets we’ve had stayed well and truly put in their house for days. It’s not that we were worried about predators or anything just that we want them to get used to laying in the coop and not outside.

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I suppose this great big leylandi that’s directly in front of their coops is almost like being inside the house

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with it’s low branches that cut out much of the light.  We put the houses there because the tree sucks all the moisture out of the ground with its roots so it’s exceptionally dry underneath and around it. Also from watching past hens they seem to love its cover and having dust baths under it. Quite how it will cope with thirty is another thing entirely but we’ll see 🙂

That done, feed unloaded from the Landy, pigs fed and Jamie Lea check for milk I had breakfast number one, two boiled eggs with home made bread and headed up to the barn site to do yet more fencing.

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Awkward fencing that required strainers and stays to be concreted in

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so I did the mixing and barrowing whilst wife and child filled in the holes and tamped it down.

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We spent most of the day at this, resting frequently to admire the view and occasionally wandering down to see how the chooks were doing. Every time we went down they were a little more hen like, getting nearer and nearer to the edge of the tree, with more and more of them starting to scratch the earth. They never actually came out from under the tree but they were definitely  getting bolder and more inquisitive  by the hour.

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By the end of the day we’d got the two posts and strainer on the left concreted in

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the Dude having removed all the nails out of those planks behind.

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These posts were all in, a gate fitted and a couple of extra strainers just because I had them and some concrete, cheers Lachie 🙂

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After dinner we put the chooks to bed, being pleased to see that all but two of them were milling around happily outside.

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That was about it really, I cut the lawn in front of the house and came in as the sun set 🙂

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

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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 🙂

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