Life at the end of the road

May 6, 2013

A rather splendid hen house

Filed under: daily doings — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:12 pm

Back in the Minch today and a return to some kind of routine after that wee spell in Aberdeen, the rather dismal greys of the ‘granite city’ being replaced by the dismal grey of mist and rain that the rest of Britain seems to be avoiding. The only colour here that isn’t subdued is the vivid yellow of the prickly gorse bushes that festoon the hills and roadside verges of Skye. It may be a nuisance fit only for grazing by the hardy mountain goats of Kintail but it sure does bring some much needed colour to this most miserable of springs.

Saturday’s puncture may have turned into a bit of an epic but on the whole I was quite pleased with what I’d achieved, the HR2 Lister was well and truly serviced so should be good for at least two years, perhaps three without any further attention other than fuel. Even at that it’s unlikely to clock up 1000 hours ever again once we’re in the new house but it’ll still need the odd service I’m sure. My mate got all his diving cylinders filled and I even managed to convert the old foot pump so the fittings fitted on a spare diving bottle, giving me an independent means of blowing up tyres etc.

Darling wife and the Dude did a little work on the new hen house that she’d decided to build rather than repairing the one we’d been given a few months ago. At first glance the ‘Donald the Hen’ coop that we’d brought over from Torran on the back of the quad trailer in March (a little epic in itself)


had seemed repairable.

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To be honest it was, and had they been my hens they’d have been going into it, however nothing is too good for the wife’s hens and she’d got it into her head that she could make an even better hoose than Donald Smile 

Donald the Hen

Now bearing in mind that Donald Macdonald of Struan has been about hens since he was at school and has just turned 65 I very much doubted it. Also when you consider that this very hen hoose had been lying out in the elements for some eighteen years, many of them upside down you begin to realize just how well made it is. However in all fairness to the henwife, we do have one of his houses and she’d identified areas for possible improvement in her own version. So, during my long absences herself and the Dude had made a start using Donald’s as a template.

A sturdier floor was the start, not because Donald’s planked base was inadequate but because we’re building a house and have some larger timber ‘off cuts’ spare Smile Then between them they cut the two 8 x 4 OSB sheets to the same size as the original, Donald’s cunning design uses just two 11mm sheets of Sterling board. A diagonal cut on one sheet produces the pitched sides and a straight cut on the other sheet the front and back. That unfortunately was as far as they got, basically the four sides and a floor that needed putting together, so that turned into Sunday’s project.

It was a family affair and we even managed it without falling out Smile



This will be the Dude’s sturdy floor getting the sides attached


and this will be an all too brief spell of sunshine that almost had us removing our coats Smile



Careful dismantling had us managing to save Donald’s ingenious guillotine style ‘pop hole’ made from an old road sign, well what do you expect after 38 years working for HRC in the roads department Smile


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Copied straight from his was the fishing line, washer and screw affair to hold it open.


The door however was the swineherds own design, a central version rather than the original offset one,


her reasoning being that she could put a nest box either side rather than the ‘one above the other’ that the ‘Henmaster’ Donald prefers.

After all that excellent days work with all the family I can’t believe that I didn’t take a picture of the finished effort Sad smile



Donald the Hen

A picture taken from last weeks West Highland Free Press who also ran this article about the man himself.

Donald Struan

Also from the WHFP of last week,


as it says ‘business as usual’ and we’ll be visiting him next week for fourteen more Smile

Hens, feeders, drinkers, sturdy hen houses and the best advice around available from Donald at Struan who delivers throughout the North West or at least can arrange to get hens to some far flung places Smile 01470 572213 Can you believe I just ‘Googled’ ‘Donald the hen Struan’ and got his phone number Smile


Well that’s me back on the Heb now after leaving home on another fine morning,


honestly it really was that bad, I know I say it every year but seriously I’ve never seen the place so waterlogged. The journey from Arnish to the ferry being memorable in that I saw a rabbit !!!! Gone are the days when I used to shoot one or two before work, in the past two years the Raasay rabbit population has become virtually extinct. Sure me shooting one or two a week probably contributed but it’s not just Arnish they’ve vanished from, it’s the entire island, from Eyre to Kyle Rona they’ve vanished. No sign of myxomatosis or any dead ones, they’ve just vanished, no doubt as a result of the explosion in birds of prey numbers. One morning recently I saw four white tailed sea eagles and one kestrel within a few hundred yards!!!!

So slightly buoyed up by the sight of a rather fat and hopefully pregnant bunny I continued on my way to catch the Loch Striven, where the crew outnumbered the passengers Sad smile Not only was it miserable but everyone was on holiday Smile 


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Quiet it may well have been on the MV Loch Striven but the Hebrides was certainly busy with tourists and that’s before this documentary goes out . As you may well know because I keep telling you ‘I don’t watch telly’ well after hearing about ‘Hebrides : Islands on the edge’ a new BBC wildlife series narrated by Ewan McGregor I thought I’d make an exception. The critics were raving about it this morning on the radio and saying how busy it was going to make the islands this summer Smile So I looks on the ‘puter to see what time its on and notice that it’s only being shown on BBC Scotland, the rest of the UK will have to put up with Johnny Depp. Far more folk would visit Scotland from England if they could see it. There’s a thought, perhaps they have and that’s why it’s so busy Smile


  1. Nice looking hen house,can you at some time put more pictures up of it finished,i would like to copy it, with wifeys permission of course!

    Comment by Philip Hoad — May 6, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

  2. love reading your stories!!

    Comment by Brenda Menzies — May 6, 2013 @ 10:04 pm

  3. The Hebrides on BBC1 was amazing, ( really looking forward to the next episode). It seems so well balanced for a change . Any use up there for old white Hygena kitchen units to kit out your shed or a hen house ? They would need to be collected tho. Glad you are back on the correct side of the country,and easier for you to get home. Hope the weather dries up soon, but good for spring planting if it warms up !!

    Comment by SOTW — May 6, 2013 @ 10:23 pm

  4. Oops, meant to wish you a very happy birthday, and many happy returns of the day being spent at the end of the road x

    Comment by SOTW — May 6, 2013 @ 10:28 pm

  5. Happy Birthday Paul, looks like you might even get a lovely spring day to celebrate, enjoy 🙂

    Comment by Carole and Finnie — May 7, 2013 @ 7:33 am

  6. Happy Birthday Paul!

    Very good looking hen house, sturdy looking base that should last years.

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — May 7, 2013 @ 7:56 am

  7. happy birthday Paul

    Comment by cazinatutu — May 7, 2013 @ 8:04 am

  8. Happy birthday, Paul – half-way to 114! Personally, being halfway to 150, I intend to live forever – so far, so good!


    Comment by Anne Macdonald — May 7, 2013 @ 8:49 am

  9. Happy birthday mate.

    Comment by MW — May 7, 2013 @ 11:12 am

  10. Hi Paul

    Happy Birthday, not too heavy on the old Vimto tonight 🙂
    You see the Hebrides programme, excellent photography and not a bit of cheesy bagpipe/fiddle music in sight 😉

    Comment by simon — May 7, 2013 @ 11:55 am

  11. Happy birthday, Paul. All the very best.

    Comment by Callum Mackintosh — May 7, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

  12. Happy Birthday – hope the chef has been warned so you get get another happy meal – sorry I mean Smiley Stew!

    Comment by nonehpets — May 7, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

  13. Happy Birthday Ivan. And hasn’t it been a great one weatherwise! We went for a long walk around Morvich this morning with Jean and the dogs, then sat in her garden having lunch – wonderful! It’s been so grim recently….. Would really like that recipe for the lamb with anchovies, etc. that Barbara did on Sunday – sounds delicious – was it a casserole?

    Comment by Sue from Sallachy — May 7, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

  14. I definitely never watch television but having been to a talk by the producer of Hebrides, where he showed clips and explained how they got some of the shots (notably Corryvreckan) I watched it and wasn’t disappointed. They had the best of film crew.

    Comment by may cruickshank — May 8, 2013 @ 7:13 pm

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