Life at the end of the road

December 7, 2012

Back on line :-) :-)

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, life off grid, pigs — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:09 pm

Well this is going to be quick I can tell you, I’m loaded with the first cold I’ve had in years and am now feeling like carp despite spending £40 on medicine Sad smile The worst thing was that it was a present

that I’d bought for someone, but after spending long hours with Ellie for her first farrowing and feeling the first wheezes of a cold I broke the seal Sad smile What else could I do, I’d just spent nine hours listening to ‘Whisky Galore’ and like the inhabitants of Todday Mhor and Todday Beag had convinced myself that a ‘wee dram’ could cure anything Smile


Of course it didn’t cure it but it certainly eased the symptoms and I’d little trouble facing a dark and wet Friday morning to take my son to school. A journey that was far easier this morning than it was last night, rising temperature throughout the night and a few good showers doing more work than a convoy of gritters could have done .

After dropping the boy off, spending almost an hour in the car park on my ‘dongle’ and dropping off six dozen Arnish eggs at the shop I tootled home


with the knowledge that the weather would be stopping no one today Smile  I know the picture is squint but I was hanging out of the Land Rover widow and dodging a shower, that’ll be the Crowlin islands to the right  and Kyle in the distance. Not wanting to stray too far from the house until Mr Q-sat had been I pottered about in the fresh and mainly dry north wind, checking the pigs regularly


and soaking up the fresh air. There is nothing worse than being stuck inside with a cold, you really can’t beat fresh air for clearing the head.

The engineer arrived, just like they said he would, around midday, after what sounded like a week circumnavigating Scotland in an anticlockwise direction from Thurso.



Once he’d sorted me out with a new ‘LNB’ I turned my attention to a burst pipe on the ‘Stream Engine’


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after first diverting the water from the header tank.



These ‘Viking’ type couplings have given me no end of grief, for a pressurized system, as in a water main they’re probably first class, especially if buried, but for a hydro turbine penstock that runs downhill over wet grass disturbed by pigs they’re a pain. In all fairness, with the correct steel inserts inside they’d probably be better but they still have no real way of gripping what is notoriously slippy stuff Sad smile Not that I can complain, they’re over £50 each, I’ve got dozens and never bought one Smile Still at around £13 these compression fittings with ‘teeth’ that dig into the pipe have never failed me yet.


Though I did have to pull the pipes together with a ratchet strap first.





Anyway, that’s it, I’m off to bed, after a ‘wee dram’ of course Smile

Back home (again) :-)

Filed under: daily doings, harbour, Trucks and plant, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:25 am

The ‘Old Girl’ may well be the perfect commuter vehicle for me on Raasay but she’s far from ideal for what I’ve been asking of her of late. Regular two and three hundred mile journeys to and from ‘civilization’ is not what a Land Rover is made for, or at least not mine. Her rugged simplicity, tremendous ground clearance, long and hard suspension just aint made for rush hour in the city. Right enough people do tend to get out of my way but that’s hardly a good reason for driving something at 40mph and 25mpg for four hundred miles in four days. The up side is that I managed to listen to most of Compton Mackenzie’s classic ‘Whisky Galore’ on some nine hours of audio tape Smile


A great read, a great listen and a great film, all the more so for me as I’ve dived the wreck that the book was based on, lifted a few broken bottles of the ‘water of life’ and even got the ends of a couple of whisky crates somewhere. No doubt Hollywood will at some point remake it, but I say don’t waste your time going to see it, buy a copy of the original remastered B&W Ealing film and sit down in front of a warm fire with a ‘wee dram’, priceless Smile

There and back again

Well, you’ve probably gathered I’m back home and still have no internet or I’d be filling you full of links, info, and pictures of the SS Politician and it’s story but that will have to wait for another day. Mind you at this rate you could probably order Roger Hutchinson’s excellent book ‘Polly’ off Amazon and read it before Q-Sat come and fix my dish Smile To be fair they are supposed to be here tomorrow so we’ll see.

Anyway, the Dude and I left my parents for Glasgow on Monday morning, travelling down roads that had obviously been pretty treacherous only hours before.



Despite tremendous amounts of rain and melted snow of late, the remains of a bridge on the old A87 just past Cluanie were still visible in the depleted loch.



We missed the worst of the rush hour traffic but even so my blood pressure was well up by the time I reached Barrhead Smile


Tuesday we all got ready for Drew’s funeral and were picked up at 13:30 sharp for the drive to the crematorium.


It was a lovely humanist affair, a celebration of life without the usual ‘fire and brimstone’ that I’m used to. Ok, I was still an emotional wreck at the end of it but at least I didn’t feel like a ‘sinner’ or ‘it was my turn next’

Wednesday had the Dude and I leaving wifey and family once more, I had to get back home to prepare for work, Holland, pigs, satellite repair man, Arnish eggs and the boy needed to get a little schooling done. Once more it was on overnight stop at my parents and yet again we were treated to at least three different pine martens eating eggs and peanuts. I know the picture is carp and the video not much better but just look how good the dogs are Smile


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Mara and Leah who greet everyone and anything with an enthusiasm that is at times overwhelming just sit there, eyes transfixed on the sleek creatures and don’t move a muscle. Even when my mum clambers over them to open the door a little  to give one an egg, which it takes out of her hand they don’t flinch. My son slept in the porch and said he saw one come in the night and scurry off with a metal cage full of lard for the birds, I would have loved to see that, for the cage is quite large Smile

The clear blue skies, dry roads and snow capped mountains of the drive north could not have contrasted more with what arrived today. The heavy frost, crispy grass and frozen glass that we arrived to on Wednesday night was replaced by pishing rain, puddles and river of water down the roads, the weather really has gone barmy Sad smile


Arriving at Sconser in a lull, to see work progressing well on the new slipway works



I thought it was ‘all over’ and we’d get home dry. Loch Sligachan was like a sheet of glass and the air had a sharp blue hue about it that you often get after a deluge, a kind of clarity that is hard to describe but usually means ‘that’s it’. Not a chance, even before we’d boarded the MV Loch Linnhe for home, it started once more Sad smile 

Raasay seemed ‘lower in the water’ under the weight of it all when we arrived off the 13:00 ferry and after having a strupach with Jessie and picking up ‘wee dog’ we headed for home once more. The eleven mile trip north filled me with dread Sad smile It had obviously snowed a lot, the gritter had not been up, probably on account of it being broken and the road was treacherous. Glam Brae was a sheet of ice with water running over it and even the ‘Old Girl’ had to have her diffs locked to climb it Sad smile Great, just great I thought, I’ve got to get my son to school tomorrow, the satellite repair man is coming, my mate’s arriving with two pigs and so is the wife and mother in law Sad smile 

However, we managed to arrive back home in daylight and all thoughts of anguish were, for a time at least subdued.


Twelve weeks late, but here at last, twelve healthy ‘spotties’ Smile


I just knew she’d wait until we were away to have them, I also knew that Ellie was not far behind so went to check on her immediately after.

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A swollen vulva and a drop of milk from one of her teats told me she was imminent  but I still had much to do.



Like go down to the ‘secret cove’ and turn up my hydro turbine,



with the house being unoccupied I’d thought it wise at this time of year to reduce the output. All my ‘dump loads’ at the moment work through the inverter and some of them are on a thermostat, so with no loads actually being used it was possible that the radiators would switch off and perhaps cause the Proven to ‘disconnect’. That is to say ‘run off load’, something (unlike most other turbines) it does quite happily but I’d rather it did it when I was at home Smile


I also had a run over to Torran to do the same, again for similar reasons, the track, as you can see was a little waterlogged to say the least, not to mention the ‘wee dug’ Smile

After returning home and making dinner I went to check on Ellie,


who initially looked to be on her own, however a little rustling of the bedding caught mine and Molly’s eyes Smile


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Buried in the bedding was a wee piglet who was old enough to have had his fill and dug himself a wee hole,


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over the next hour another two ‘popped out’. Molly cleaned them whilst I put them onto a teat and over the next couple of hours Ellie took the total up to nine.



This will be Ellie’s first litter so it will be interesting to see how she fares, she seems a good mum, quite concerned when her piglets made a noise, yet not too protective to take a chunk out of Molly or myself. She relaxed and closed her eyes when I petted her and was always very cautious when she moved so as not to squash any. However, she is new to this and if all nine are still there in the morning I’ll be very pleasantly surprised Smile 

So, at well past 23:00 I’ll leave you with the weather before I set off out to check on Ellie, have a bath, hang up my clothes above the stove and go to bed Smile


weather 061212

As you can see the ‘wee house’ is at last warming up Smile


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