Just after 20:30 and I really did not want to come in but light is fading and I have been at it since ‘stupid o clock’. Yes, it definitely is spring, all we need now is the cuckoo to confirm it, wouldn’t be surprised if he’d already been but was blown out into the Atlantic and drowned. It really has been the wettest winter and spring I can remember, having said that we’ve certainly had the warmest winter ever inside the cosy wee house. We normally leave the little oil stove running 24/7 during the winter but with all our excess power the house has been far too hot for that and we’ve only been lighting it to heat water. In fact there’s been relatively few nights that we’ve actually lit the wood burner either, even then it’s been more for effect or cremating stuff rather than the need for heat.
If we were getting paid for all the electricity we’ve produced this winter we’d be rich and bare in mind that we don’t get power cuts either. There will be very few people in the UK reading this that hasn’t had a power outage this winter. Ours can be counted in minutes and on one hand in eight years, not six months. There is much to be said for life ‘off the grid’ and on the whole ‘off the radar’, though that’s rich coming from one who has had several million visits on here over the last seven years It’s a determined Jehovah, Mormon, double glazing salesman or tinker that calls here, but there have been at least one of each in twenty five years. Me, I reckon that if they’ve made such an effort then I will at least listen to them.
Back to the ‘chicken run’
It’s a sad indication of how mundane my life is when I can’t stay in bed for the excitement of wanting to do some fencing, but that’s what it’s come to. Midlife crisis long gone, years of risking my life daily fishing and diving and a few close shaves with the ‘grim reaper’ have all contributed to me getting my priorities right. So, a fine day fencing with my son gets me far more excited than the latest iPhone or being one number short of the jackpot. Yep, after feeding the pigs well before 7:00am I headed for the shore and a telegraph pole, one of my last telegraph pole no less
It’s hard to believe that I once had a hundred and now I’ve only two left, well one and a half now, for I lopped 3m off it and towed it up to the ‘chicken run’.
When after almost four years BT finally came to install a phone line for us for the regular connection fee I managed to blag 100 telegraph poles off them for free. We’d applied for a phone as soon as wee moved in but couldn’t get one until the old copper overhead lines were replaced by an underground cable. There were only two wires and both were in use, well I say in use but they were both in houses that were unoccupied for 90% of the year and there were no mobile phones in those days. Of course BT didn’t see us a priority and it was probably only constant badgering of them by my mother that got it so quick Well what are mums for, it’s hard badgering anyone when you’ve no phone and only get mail once a week, though like the phone we improved on that.
Anyway, the whole phone thing was a pure epic and we ended up with a ‘fifty pair’ cable as far as the car park!!!!!! This was someone in BT’s idea of using up several miles of the stuff that was lying in Aberdeen, some nine miles of it !!!!!!!!!!! Cock up number one was that the lorry they sent couldn’t get on the ferry, so they hired a smaller one. Cock up number two was the cable was too heavy to lift onto the wee lorry so a crane had to be hired also. Cock up number three was trying to take a brand new cable laying tractor down the Torran path and getting it well and truly ‘bogged’. And this is where I came in one Friday evening, “I’ll get your tractor out by Monday in exchange for 100 telegraph poles” say I, quick as a flash Mr BT says “phone (which was a laugh cos at that time we still hadn’t got one) Kyle and tell them the situation and I’m sure they’ll agree, I’m off to Crete tomorrow so don’t give a feck”.
Several hours with a Land Rover and Tirfor later we had the bright yell tractor on the car park and I was the owner of 100 standing poles. I can tell you that moving those with a Peugeot pickup was a bit of an epic too, how I wish I’d had a camera in those days. It probably took me a year or two to get the lot as some were way off the road and quite a few were rotten but I made good use of them all, even if some of them did go in the fire.
I got that strainer up and the rest of the ‘deer stobs’ before calling on my son to help, it was pretty easy going down this leg with everything being in peat.
This little square with three spirit levels on is really handy for getting the tall ‘deer stobs’ plumb, when stood on a step pelting the ‘cyberman’s head’ onto the top of the post it’s hard to get a perspective on how straight the post is.
I’ll let you work out which is which
The soft ground being one of the reasons why I opted for square posts even though they’re £1 dearer. Round posts are far easier to put in, for a start they don’t have any ‘right way round’ so to speak and whilst they’re much better in stony ground they’re pretty rubbish in peat. Due to their shape, almost like the bow of a boat they offer much less resistance when pushed against a soft medium, unlike the 4” flat side of a square post.
This is where the extra pair of hands came in, as you can see we’d strained a wire top and bottom. The top one would give us something to hang the netting on, the bottom one for a guide to place the poles in line and also for fastening the bottom and discouraging rooting pigs.
The netting is 6’ high but we set the top wire at 5’ which would give us a foot to play with at the bottom. This allows the netting to be folded outwards and have rocks placed on it to tension it and discourage rooting pigs.
Pretty soon the grass and heather will grow through it and make it impossible to lift, if you were doing this to keep rabbits, foxes or mink out you could bury it.
That leg took us up until lunchtime, by which time I was a wreck, enter the Tramadol
I haven’t taken it in over a year as it makes me constipated, fart, prevents me from drinking alcohol, dries my mouth, stops me sleeping, makes me grind my teeth and gives me nightmares. However, unable to get a doctors appointment on Raasay and being in agony I relented, for it does actually work if you can put up with those side effects. The talking rubbish, hyperactivity, general ‘spaced out’ feeling and indecision I can cope with, it’s just my family that get annoyed with those
By around 17:30 we’d completed two legs and my son had worked like a trooper, so prior to stopping for dinner I sent him off on ‘pigeon watch’. Another advantage of our new run and large shed will be the ability to feed the hens inside, thus saving a fortune in feed costs. I wouldn’t mind so much if we could eat the ‘flying rats’ but the last one I tried made me ill and it’s really put me off, especially as it was so tasty fried with chanterelle mushrooms.
Probably as a result of the Tramadol I was back outside after dinner, ostensibly to clear up my tools but in reality finishing off fitting the battens to hold the wire on.
I much prefer this method to staples, it gets a better grip of the wire, does less damage to, doesn’t flap in the wind and is easier to remove if you want to reuse the netting. Which by the way came from here http://www.boddingtons-ltd.com/acatalog/Chicken-Wire-Netting.html quickly, cheaply and great quality. Boddington’s didn’t slap on a huge surcharge for delivering to my parents on the mainland and 200m of the stuff was £211 inc VAT and delivery.
Speaking of delivery
I am absolutely sick of being ripped of for delivery, there’s this marvellous thing enshrined in law called ‘Universal Service Obligation’ which amongst other things includes Postal services at an affordable, uniform tariff across the UK so why don’t people use it instead of losing custom in the highlands or just plain robbing folk.
I’ve been trying to by a ‘wet and dry’ vacuum cleaner now for weeks, my Karcher one (which was frankly carp) died and a new motor was £75 (more than a new vacuum), there’s been plenty for sale but as soon as you mention an IV postcode they bang £15 on the cost and I’m friggin sick of it. The best one had to be this clown.
This dude in East Kilbride will send a hoover 560 miles to Lands End for free but wants £15 to send it the 178 miles to my parents house on the mainland!!! Anyway, I got one from Buckinghamshire for free,
well free delivery at any rate.
Hmmmmmmmmmmmm 23:00 I’m not falling asleep but my jaws are killing me and I’ve drunk about a gallon of tea, methinks it’s going to be a long night