Life at the end of the road

July 1, 2013

I wish I’d taken a picture

Filed under: boats, daily doings, food, life off grid, pigs — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:08 pm

Well it’s 5:30am now and I’ve been up for almost an hour doing everything I should have done last night, pack the bag, buy my shares in the Raasay shop and lock my shotgun away for the week.

shop shares

Just a reminder that you don’t have to live here to have in interest in this exciting community venture, my mate from Scalpay on Harris informed me that their shop is doing great and has shareholders from all-over the world. This is despite the bridge that now links it to Harris and the supermarkets of Stornoway.

The Inver fish farm

I did fully intend to do some posting last night after digesting my smoked salmon risotto from the Scottish Salmon Company’s recipe book.

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Though we used hot smoked salmon and skipped the zest, just adding a little juice instead, we’d had quite enough lemon zest at lunchtime in a tomato and butter bean soup. The book was given to us by Rebecca dean and Mark Edmonds

26jun13 010 

of the Scottish Salmon Company who held an open day in the village hall last week. With plans to extend their Portree operation by increasing its size and placing some cages in the vicinity of Inver, the SSC sent a delegation over to answer any questions. As with most fish farm applications there’s bound to be opposition, there always is, some people seem to make a career out of it. However I worked in the industry twenty years ago, much has changed and mainly for the better. Sure they don’t employ anything like the same amount of staff as when I worked on the small site in Loch Arnish but the jobs that do remain are safer, cleaner and the staff are better trained.

Gone are the days of burning fish feed bags on the shore, throwing rubbish in the sea and tossing the ‘morts’ (dead fish) over the side. They have much stricter guidelines to adhere to, sites are regularly monitored  both above and below the waves. These standards were just starting to be applied when I was employed as a sub contract diver for HFF, the company that would eventually become the SCC. We would do sea bed surveys with a long tape and camera at various distances from the cages, it was all a little haphazard but things were moving in the right direction even then.

Of course it’s not a particularly ‘sustainable’ method of producing food but then its far better than the pork and poultry industries and I don’t see many of its critics giving up their ‘eggs and bacon’. Me, I’d rather see a fish farm in Inver, or anywhere else for that matter than the jobs exported to Norway or Chile. The island of Raasay was never as prosperous and vibrant as when HFF and Rona Salmon were operating at the north end. Sure they made a mess and you could follow the trail of Golden Virginia  and Benson & Hedges packets from Inverarish to Arnish but that was a small price to pay for the first proper ‘industry’ since the iron ore mine closed in 1919.

Although the actual ‘onsite’ jobs may have decreased the amount of ‘knock on’ jobs must have increased with the production capacity. Certainly the ferry I’m working on just now gets its fair share of fish farm related traffic. Whilst much of the feed and harvested fish leave by sea now, we still see our fair share of lorries carrying fish tubs, vans full of mobile staff and at least two or three pickups a day. The demand for fish farm type landing craft has never been stronger with many of the orders going to Scottish yards, Noble of Girvan’s Lady Catherine,

At the Alexander Noble boat yard in south Ayrshire, the team undertake work on fishing vessels, trawlers, pleasure craft, RNLI fleet and build catamarans and many other types of boat

Ardmaliesh of Bute Clare Anne


and Kishorn Mechanical services ‘Scorry’


all doing sterling work locally.

Some folk say they’re an eyesore, and nobody made more noise than I when the Arnish one was proposed in 1990 but pretty soon ‘I swallowed my pride’ and worked there for a couple of years on and off. They were happy times and the ‘craic’ was always good, it brought a family back to the island and kept a few more here with well paid jobs, pensions and holidays, something that there is precious of little of these days.

Raasay site plan 14x100s


Inver fish farm

The site, as you can see is well to the south of Inbhire bay itself and will only be visible from the sea so is hardly going to spoil anyone’s view and it’s a long time since the queen was there. I wonder if anyone has told her Smile seriously I wouldn’t put it past some people, for it was once a favourite picnic spot of her and Charles. Indeed it is often known locally as ‘Queens bay’ and many is the time that the Royal Yacht Britannia anchored off there whilst they all went ashore.


Inver OS

Seriously, you won’t even be able to see this from Raasay, not very many places on Skye and the local economy needs all the help it can get.

Only three left

Sorry, got distracted for a while there, where was I, well Sunday methinks and a far better day than I was expecting, or at least it was from 4:30 until 7:30 when I went back to bed. The beautiful start to the day went ‘pear-shaped’  around then, making me wish that I’d fed the pigs early and not waited for the torrential rain that was forecast. However, after another hour or so of sleep the day had returned to normal and I got up, fed everyone, then, as the wains were sleeping, led Ellie out into another field.

The ten Tamworths didn’t notice and their mum was glad to see the back of them, six weeks is plenty long enough to have ten hungry mouths hanging off your nipples I’m sure Smile There are just three of the ‘wee darlings’ left if anyone is interested

016 017

and a cracking litter they are too.

020 006

A hen seems to have taken place of mum, this one spending the whole day with them and standing guard by the door when they were asleep Smile

Batteries again

As is quite often the case, Sunday was a ‘battery day’ checking both my ‘fork lift’ cells and my mates Rolls ‘deep cycle’ cells. One thing that I’ve noticed over the last twelve months that these batteries have been installed, is that they consistently return the highest SG readings of any lead acid battery I’ve seen, and believe me, I’ve checked the SG on hundreds, if not thousands.

003   004

They are quite often ‘off the scale’, or at least some of them, cells 14, 22, 23 and 24 were a little lower so I decided to initiate an ‘equalization charge’. This is basically over charging the batteries for a couple of hours to ‘stir them up’ and even out the cell voltages. The MorningStar TS45 controllers can be set to do it automatically (every month) but as there are two on this application, one set as a ‘diversion load controller’ and one as a ‘solar charge controller’ I’m never quite sure if it will work so I do it manually.


It’s dead simple, you just press that button in for ten seconds, all the lights flash and then the green one starts to blink slowly to tell you it’s ‘EQing’. Once the cycle is complete it then returns to manual.

That done it was back home to check my own and to watch the solar array at work, that’ll be its ammeter on the left.

010 007

I refrained from doing my own battery bank as the wind was too strong, the Proven was consistently hitting 40amps and the solar 17amps, which at 58v is actually 986w, from a 940w array Smile

YouTube to the rescue (again)

As well as pottering about in the battery shed, shooting several pigeons, cutting bedding,

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with a few helpers


and repairing a fence, I cleaned out my Hatsan Escort 8 shot semi automatic shotgun.


Methinks that this is what I bought in my middle age instead of a motorbike Smile It must be a ‘guy thing’, you know that the ‘sperm count’ is going down when you buy something large and macho like a Harley Davidson, Aston Martin or in my case a BIG shotgun that makes loads of noise. Having said that, it is a vital tool on the croft so unlike an Aston Martin or Harley Davidson I can claim the VAT back Smile Seriously though we have serious pigeon problem and it deals with them very effectively.


However, unlike my rifles which are very simple to strip down and clean the semi auto shotgun is a little more complicated to say the least, using as it does spent gasses to cycle the next cartridge. Fortunately there is YouTube and a whole army of rednecks posting videos of how to do it Smile Though, when the gun was only a couple of weeks old it stripped itself down Smile If you want a reliable semi auto, buy a Mossberg or Beretta Smile 

All that took me up to that fine risotto I was telling you about and I could kick myself for not taking a picture of it with the home grown salad, cherry tomatoes and hot smoked salmon, it was nicer than the one in the book Smile

The early night went west with the wife’s labelling gun, who’s name escapes me right now but it’s a quality affair she uses for putting on the ‘use by’ date. Unlike me, who stopped reading instructions long before I bought a shotgun to prove my manhood, the wife studies them intently. However they made no sense whatsoever in their translation  from Japanese to English and after an hour of frayed tempers and fingers covered in ink we gave up.

The first thing I said to her when I saw her struggling was “YouTube” but somehow, once asked to help I decided to prove just what a man I was by doing it without any help Sad smile Fat chance, as soon as she went for a shower I fired up the laptop and ‘hey presto’ a nice man showed me exactly how to do it Smile

There was more, I’ve not even started on today, but it’s 23:00 here alongside Lochmaddy pier and it’ll have to wait until tomorrow as I’m off to bed.



  1. Now that I know I can buy shares in the shop even though I don’t live on Raasay I shall print off the form and buy some. Good news if the fish farm comes although presumably everything, including the work force, will have to go in by sea – somehow I can’t see anyone being keen to scramble down that track every morning!

    Comment by Anne Macdonald — July 1, 2013 @ 10:46 pm

  2. Hi Paul

    As a proud owner of some shares in the shop I hope the fish-farm gets its permission. It can’t detract from anything (fag packets or not) and so few people go down to Inver that even if it could be seen from the land it wouldn’t interfere with the view of large numbers of people.

    I remember seeing the Britannia, by the way, some time on the 1980s, moored off Inver whilst, one assumes, the occupants took to the shore for their picnic.

    Enjoy the Hebrides, both the boat and the islands.


    Comment by Sue — July 2, 2013 @ 7:57 am

    • Morning Sue,

      aye, the fag packets degenerated after a year or so but the three families left before that 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 3, 2013 @ 4:21 am

    • Norwegian salmon is great. Taste improves in the north and open sea farmed is the best. Size 6 kilo+ and north of Alta fjord. It is daily air transported to South Korea and Japan.
      I personally like salmon sushi. Fish must be large and taste clean. Chilean and South Norway farmed salmon taste often “muddy” and algae like. It is problem when sea water temperature goes up too much nitrogen and phosphorus in sea. Algae grows an O2 go down…

      Cheers, Jaska

      Comment by Jaska. Finland — August 4, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

  3. anything for you Paul ?


    Comment by Yorkshire Miner — July 2, 2013 @ 10:02 am

  4. Well said , I totally agree with your comments on fish farms.

    Comment by Nigel Macleod — July 2, 2013 @ 11:19 am

    • Morning Nigel, as my good mate once said, “the view is beautiful right enough, but I can’t feed my family on it” 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 3, 2013 @ 4:17 am

  5. Need a spare ‘gun up ther in a couple of weeks for the woodies, Paul? 🙂

    Comment by Lloyd — July 2, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

    • Morning Lloyd, yes indeed, please do, and plenty of ammo 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 3, 2013 @ 4:15 am

  6. Hi Paul
    Glad to see the shares in the shop are going well. I was very proud to receive my share certificate a couple of months back – especially when I noticed it was certificate number 3! I wonder who got number 1 and number 2 🙂
    Looking forward to coming up in a few weeks and hoping for some good weather.

    Comment by Derek — July 2, 2013 @ 9:49 pm

    • Morning Derek, I’m looking forward to buying something in a shop that is actually open in the afternoon 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 3, 2013 @ 4:14 am

    • Morning, Derek

      The share numbering must be in reverse order – I had mine in April and it was no 110!


      Comment by Sue — July 3, 2013 @ 7:53 am

  7. Hi Paul. Your battery bank voltage is 48V. Are you using external sine wave inverter or UPS. Anyway flooded lead acid deep cycle is good value, but flooded NiCd is preference.
    Lighthouses use it.,d.bGE&cad=rja

    Cheers, Jaska

    Comment by Jaska. Finland — August 4, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

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