Life at the end of the road

June 9, 2013

Five big ones :-)


They arrived at last, not during the night as I thought but about thirty seconds after I entered the ark on Friday morning, talk about perfect timing. As soon as I settled down beside our largest sow to give her a rub and a few kind words she fired out an extremely spotty piglet around 6:10. It was fine, healthy, strong and looking for milk even before I’d removed the fine membrane that covers them in the womb.


The second one didn’t arrive until 6:30 and it took the best efforts of Molly and I to get it breathing, had we not been there to empty its mouth and give a good shake and rub I fear it would have died.




After a few minutes and with a little help from myself to get it onto a teat it was just fine,



the third one popped out shortly afterwards and required no help other than a lick off Molly. It was almost 9:30 before the last two arrived, a disappointing litter at only five but they were all fit and strong and should do really well at this time of year.

I spent most of the day up on the roof once more painting away in the sunshine, though this time I kept on my boiler suit to keep me from burning.

Stupid ‘O’ Clock

Well so much for that then, ‘fell asleep’ at the wheel’ so to speak last night, it was only 20:30 and I just couldn’t keep my eyes open or just seem to get in the mood for writing. Me thinks that I’m probably pining for a wee holiday in the old Thomson Glenelg caravan Smile Anyway it’s much nearer four am than five am for a sane person to be up and about so I thought I’d try again.

There may only have been three boars and two gilts in that litter of Jamie Lea’s on Friday but what little crackers they are and so lively.


Less than twelve hours old and already they’re out in the sunshine exploring

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with absolutely no fear, dead curious and ‘full of nonsense’ Smile

More on batteries

The good dry spell has seen the wee burn almost dried up and consequently the Stream Engines generation with it so we’ve been relying totally on wind for power the last week or so. Extra pressure on the electrical system by two more females in the house caused the generator to start on Friday too, not that’s that an issue, that’s what it’s supposed to do. However, much as I love the sound of Cyril our SR2 Lister I’d be happier if he stayed silent so I got to thinking about installing some solar panels on the nice green roof just to make up the shortfall when the hydro turbine is ‘off line’. Not that that’s very often, but it does coincide with the sunny periods of the year and solar PV has never been so cheap with prices as low as 50p per watt for quality panels  Many thanks to my mate Ed of for pointing me in the direction of that bargain, I think a phone call on Monday to order four before the prices go up, because inevitably they will as the EU has just slapped a 47% import duty on Chinese panels.


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As the generator was running I I went to check out a set of forklift truck cells that I took out of Torran last year that I’d been keeping an eye on. The 800ah 24v bank has a couple of dicky cells but I’ve been keeping it charged up the last few months so that at least it doesn’t get any worse. Whilst it’s not fit for serious work I’m sure it would ‘get us out of a hole’ if we sell the house and have to move into a caravan.


The SG’s were all good, the bank voltage at 25 before putting on the charger, but I know from experience that at least one cell will ‘collapse’ under load. On the face of it this bank looks in tip top condition and I’m sure I could sell it as such were I unscrupulous, but I watched this bank very carefully for over a year in my mates house, as first one, then another cell started to die. For light duties it was just fine but if a heavy load like the washing machine was placed on it, the duff cell voltage would rapidly fall causing either the generator to start or the inverter to cut out. The generator starting we could live with but an inverter cutting out was not so good as the property was often let out. So my advice to anyone buying a battery bank for an ‘off grid’ property is to steer well clear of second hand batteries.

So with my 24v charger putting in a nice trickle of 3.6 amps I went over to Torran to check on my mates Rolls batteries

280412 009 014

and they were ‘off the scale’. I have never seen SG readings so high, I put them in the book as 1.28 but it said 1.3 on the hydrometer. Still, they were all the same and the cells got topped up whilst I was there and the hydro turned off.


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Due to the phenomenal head of over 120m the Harris turbine that supplies much of the power to this property produces 300w from that tiny trickle on the left. However, every once in a while it’s good to clear out the silt from the 600m long penstock by purging it from a valve fitted for just that purpose, which is what I did prior to turning it off. At this time of year the 1.2kW of solar panels is well capable of supplying more than enough on their own.

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The excess power is ‘dumped’ into this 1kW 24v immersion element in the 300lt thermal store and as you can see the water is at 60 degrees without any fires or heating on.


Schoolhouse wiring

Here’s the wiring diagram drawn up by Hugh Piggott of it’s very cleaver using two Tristar controllers the first one set a slightly lower voltage than the second so that excess power is prioritised to the immersion. This Tristar is set in what is called ‘diversion mode’ at 29.2v so any excess goes there, however should too much be produced then the voltage will rise further and at 29.6v the second controller takes over in ‘controller mode’ and ‘throttles back’ the solar panels.

Probably a little boring for most of you I know but I wanted to just make a note of it for myself Smile

Anyway, that was it for Friday, more time on the roof for me whilst sister in law pruned some trees and mum in law painted some fences.


The Regent Seven Seas Cruises ship ‘Seven Seas Voyager’ passing Manish point early on Saturday, no doubt heading for the bright lights of Portree Smile


MS Seven Seas Voyager.jpg

Managed to finish the roof, or at least the first coat

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and even got some of the white touched up.

The Dude went over to Torran to do his now weekly job of cutting the grass there,


though Molly, Charlie and I also went over as he couldn’t remember how to pull out the strimmer cord.

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Jamie Lea’s piglets were getting increasingly bold



or at least some of them were,


two of them ‘couldn’t be bothered’ Smile

Molly’s got mail !!!!

A surprise turned up in the post yesterday for the ‘wee dug’ in the shape of a post card


from someone she’d bitten!!!! Had I been there when it happened I’d have thrashed her within an inch of her little doggy life.



However Mary was obviously a little more understanding Smile

Up in the air

Whilst I’ve been ‘up on the roof’ my mate Gary Brindle of Scotavia has been up in his plane taking more excellent pictures.


IMG_7855 Tarbert East

East Tarbert on Harris, solid rock, just like home. The ferry berth quite clearly visible right of centre.

IMG_7931 lochmaddy ne

Not that far away to the south, North Uist and Lochmaddy, with far more water than rock, ferry berth bottom right.

IMG_8066 sound of Raasay

Braes and the Sound of Raasay with the fish farm in the middle of the bay.

A step nearer

IMG_0932 hallaig

This one’s my favourite though, the MV Hallaig on Friday the 6th of June alongside Ferguson’s fitting out berth at Port Glasgow. She certainly looks more like a ship now.


  1. Good pictures of Jamie Lea’s new arrivals, piglets always make me smile they are such characters, any thoughts on why such a relatively small litter?

    The corrugated iron roof, what type of paint do you have to use & does it require undercoat first?

    Interesting with Torran, all that hot water for free (after you have set it up). I guess you can do the same with the PV by having the electricity top up the batteries or an immersion heater (as you may guess I am new to this electricity thing & really should have paid more attention in school). Is that a better ides than the school with the hot water array you posted from Tarbet?

    Keep up the good work, trust the in laws are looking after you.


    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — June 9, 2013 @ 7:12 am

    • Morning ATB, old Jamie is fair getting on in age now, she must be six years old at least and that’s what happens, the litters start to get smaller.

      The solar hot water is marginally cheaper now than solar PV for producing hot water and we were going to have an array on the new house. However the price of PV has fallen so much this last two years that we’re going to use that instead. It’s still more expensive but not by much and it does have many (for us) advanyages. It’s far easier to integrate into our current set up. It requires a lot less plumbing, the array can be mounted well away from the house and there are far less parts to break.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 10, 2013 @ 4:58 am

  2. Hi Paul great pics as always 🙂 was just reading the Sunday mail there and seen something you or you mum may be interested in ASDA now delivers to Skye 3 days a week its on page 26 of the Sunday mail. Cheap groceries home delivered 🙂

    Comment by JAMES MITCHELL — June 9, 2013 @ 8:00 am

    • Funny you should say that James, for when I was at Mums last Sunday the ASDA van turned up. Never actually mentioned it because I’m not a fan of the parent company WalMart who’s ethics border alongside Rupert Murdoch’s. Still that’s just a crusty old hippy for you 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 10, 2013 @ 4:51 am

  3. Paul – can you email me? I have a question I’d like to ask offline please.


    Comment by Ian Jones — June 9, 2013 @ 8:55 am

    • Hi Ian and welcome aboard, you really did make my day.

      Thanks, Paul and all the family.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 10, 2013 @ 4:46 am

  4. So there you are complaining of sun burn while three women prune trees, feed chicks, and paint fences. And the Dude is busy manicuring the schoolhouse. You might wish to weave a hammock out of some rushes so you can take a nap overlooking the sound! Or perhaps the women folk can take turns fanning you? Sure sounds like a great vacation you’ve got going there! Might wish to stock up more wine though.

    Comment by drgeo — June 9, 2013 @ 8:31 pm

    • Morning DrG, yup a great holiday indeed, the only thing missing was Rockness 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 10, 2013 @ 4:45 am

  5. a few weeks ago, Paul, I wanted to send you a chunk of London sunshine … now I’d love you to send me a chunk of Raasay heatwave … it’s been really quite chilly here this weekend … (I’m jealous !!)

    Comment by cazinatutu — June 9, 2013 @ 10:06 pm

    • Bit grey up here this morning too Caz, looks like rain but I’m assured not.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 10, 2013 @ 4:43 am

  6. Hello Paul, interesting see the Seven Seas Voyager was up your way on Saturday as I’m sure I saw it in Douglas Bay on Thursday whilst I was over on the Isle of man for the TT races. I didn’t have a camera with me and it was too far out from the bay to make out the name but it certainly ‘looks’ the same. Good to see the 5 new puglets as well 🙂

    Comment by Tigger — June 10, 2013 @ 8:33 am

    • Morning Tigger, when I was up at Rona last week my good mate Bill Cowie was relating some great TT tales, hope you had a good time.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 11, 2013 @ 6:14 am

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