Life at the end of the road

July 7, 2012

Piglet pooh, bogalless, boar wee and a ‘BIG day out’

Filed under: animals, daily doings, New hybrid ferry — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:04 pm

I really can’t cope with blogging every night but I make a total hash of it if I don’t, the memory being so bad that unless I photograph everything I just forget what I’ve done. How on earth I’m gonna cope with all this back to college stuff for the new hybrid ferry beats me 😦 The excitement I felt three years ago when it was first mooted

John and Kurtis

is being tempered somewhat by the prospect of building a house whilst 300 friggin miles away in South Shields 😦 OK, it’s not actually me that will be building it, but living here is seldom straight forward and leaving wife and child to cope with pigs, hens, turbines and builders is far from top of my ‘must do list’.

Still the bright side of it is a few extra permanent jobs on Raasay, six temporary ones until the end of June next year and several years worth of ‘anoraks’ coming to visit and sail on her 🙂 All of which will pump much needed money into the Raasay economy and hopefully encourage more folk to stay and live here.

The ‘Big day out’

Not sure at what point I left you all last night and I’m not going back to re read it so if I repeat myself I’m sorry but I’m just going to open my second can of Fosters now and just get on with it. It my be a little jumbled up, factually incorrect and repetitive but that’s old age for you and I’ve never ever let the facts get in the way of a good story 🙂

Anyway Friday was busy old day involving a trip to Kilmuir in the very north of Skye to drop off Rocky our Tamworth boar, who was going to service a couple of sows there. He’d already done the job in December and sired over twenty piglets to a couple of ‘old spot cross wild boar sows’ there. The piglets were all weaned and sold the sows back in heat and the owner eager to engage Rocky’s services once more.

The way these things quite often happen he’d just phoned me up after I’d made an appointment to see Catriona Purll in Staffin, just around the corner. Well it was half an hours drive, but in these parts that is ‘just around the corner’ and the beautiful drive from Kilmuir to Staffin is a ‘must see’ for any visitor. Either over the Quraing or around Rubh Hunish it’s spectacular whichever way you go.

Just to make sure that there would be no drama getting Rocky into the trailer on Friday morning I took him off the hill, brought him on the croft and set the trailer up ready in a field.

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He used to go in no bother but a few long and bumpy voyages abroad have made him less enthusiastic the last two trips.

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It was whilst sorting out Rocky and feeding everyone else that our two Soay sheep turned up, only now they had with them a fine ewe lamb that will going in the freezer shortly 🙂 I’d given up on these two months ago thinking they were dead, the old ewe and young tup had vanished in March or early April before the good weather. As they have turned up just about every day for the last three years to be fed or at least try and steal some pig food I thought they were ‘gonners’. Sheep have an uncanny knack of surviving the winter then falling off a cliff early on in the spring, whilst trying to access some bit of green grass on the edge of a precipice. Or getting tangled in a bramble bush with their wool and dying of starvation after the crows have removed their eyeballs 😦

I can’t say that I’ve actually spent much time seriously looking for them but am seriously surprised that I’ve not seen them in all my wanderings over the hills with pipe, wire, and shotgun 🙂

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Anyway after an early start then a late arrival on Skye due to fog we headed north and dropped off Rocky before the spectacular drive around Skye’s northern tip. It’s years since I’ve been this way and I’d forgotten just how rugged and beautiful it was. The drive was a little rushed due to my appointment with Catriona in Staffin and it was not the clearest of days but many of my favourite dive sites of old were clearly visible. Trodday with the wrecks of MV Nordhuk and FV Alexanders, Fladdah Chuinn with the MV Apollo and Poseidon. Then the island of Tulm off Duntulm with the wreck of HMT Rhodesia beneath the ruins of Duntulm castle. Kilmaluag bay with the wreck of the Sympathy and the lovely twisting road around the boulder strewn north and west.

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Arriving an hour late just as the sun started to come out at whereupon I got a good ‘pummelling’ by Catriona who informed me that it was exactly a year ago to the day that I’d last visited her 😦 Probably why I’ve been knecking so much of the Tramadol 😦

After skipping  out of her consulting room  we drove the mile or two to the Staffin Community Centre for lunch.

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It may not look like much from the car park out the back but it’s a busy and well used resource for the local community, has a great shop and provides good food for the weary traveller 🙂

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It’s also a good source of information on local history and has some excellent photographs on the walls. This one catching my eye in particular of cattle being swum across from Staffin Island with the fishing boat Harmony in the background. A sturdy Orkney built, perhaps Duncan’s of Burray, I remember her well from my holidays there in the late seventies, early eighties. I even stayed on Burray a couple of times in a house belonging to the Duncan family and visited their ‘yard’ though it was more of a shed. Still the built magnificent and seaworthy boats, beamy boats for the Pentland waves and tides 🙂

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Whilst we enjoyed our cool chocolate milkshakes and lunch inside the sheep panted in the shade outside, it really was getting quite warm.

The mornings fog had meant that it was almost 17:30 before we finally arrived home, minus Rocky but with a mountain of shopping and feed to be put away.

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Now it wasn’t in the original plan of ‘what to do on the week off’, I was kinda hoping wifey would deal with it but feeling great after Catriona’s massage had eased me out of my usual ‘grumpy old git’ mode and I agreed to some ‘family time’. That would amount to a trip to Dunvegan to buy an air rifle for my son (with his money), dropping off some piglets on the way and then going to THE BIG DAY OUT.

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This sudden change of heart and plan meant that we’d have to worm the piglets, something that we quite often do in our very versatile CLH trailer . Taking the roof off leaves a nice piglet proof enclosure for trapping and injecting the wee darlings with 1ml of Pannomec worming solution.

The last thing I wanted to do today was drive another hundred miles in the Land Rover with a trailer on, but it would get them out of the way and some money in the bank. It would also ensure I spent some time with my boy, he’s been off school a week and I’ve hardly seen him 😦 Hardly surprising really as his pal is staying over at Torran and they’ve been doing ‘boy stuff’, camping out, lighting fires and hunting. The dude just don’t realize how lucky he is having never known any different, you just leave the two of them to it and they’ve the whole of the north end of Raasay to themselves.

It’s after 22:00 now, the pair of them are out hunting, my boy with his very own Webley Hornet 🙂 He’s got a more powerful CO2 Crossman Ratcatcher that he’s had for years but no matter how many CO2 cylinders I buy for it there’s never one here when his mates are 😦 So he bought this with his own money and is off after a rabbit, he’ll probably not get one I’ve no idea where he is or even if he’ll come home tonight but I’m not in the least worried. He is after all thirteen now 🙂

Tattie Bogal

Another reason for the ‘day off’ was the fact that the four piglets were going down Carbost and Fernilea, both on the ‘Tattie bogal’ trail . Having been down there last year we were hoping for more of the same . So after loading the four ‘spotties’ we all left at 8:00am for the 8:55 ferry, I say all because we’ve a couple of foster children staying with us too, another reason for taking ‘time out’ 🙂

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Unlike yesterday the ferry was where it should have been, though there was a strange cargo on board 🙂 Hope he hadn’t driven it all the way from Staffin 🙂

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An hour later we were at the start of the Tattie Bogal trail but unfortunately this was the only one we saw 😦 the festival not having actually started.

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Here is just a tiny selection of last years excellent scarecrows 🙂 Just check out Rambo’s nuts and the very realistic crofters enjoying the sun 🙂

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The first lot got dropped off into a field with four saddlebacks in it but three of the disappeared as soon as they saw us, leaving just this one dominant male to ‘square up’ to the two spotties 🙂 They’ll all sort each other out in the end 🙂

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Back on the 13:00 ferry we went straight up to the join in the fun


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that included bouncy castle, food, drink, kayaking, canoeing, coasteering, archery and much more for a fraction of the normal cost.

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And if there was a prize for best achievement of the day it had to got to this young lady

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for climbing up all those crates without falling off, they were actually throwing them up to her, she was catching them and then standing on them 🙂

That was it really, after dinner I went to worm the three remaining Tamworth piglets and got covered in pee and pooh so I’d better go and have a bath 🙂



  1. Hi Paul

    Great day out! And your boy is fortunate indeed to be able to do ‘proper stuff’ in safety. Hope the heather and the underlying peat is wetter than it was a month ago if he and his pals are lighting fires out there – it was tinder-dry then at the north end. Nothing, but nothing, is even within a hint of being dry around here.

    I heard from your skipper about you all having to be re-trained for the new ferry – did he say six weeks or is it three? Long enough, whatever.

    Hope the back stays good.



    Comment by Sue — July 8, 2012 @ 8:19 am

  2. Hello Paul,

    the Url doesn’t currently link to a web site (though it’s registered to 22-Mar-2013) It appears that Raasay House Hotel & Activities are now using as their main domain name.


    Comment by Graham Sutherland — July 8, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

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