Yesterday started off just like every other day this week has by going to feed the pigs and hoping Jamie Lea would turn up, then a quick bite or slug of tea before going looking. Having pretty much exhausted every nook an cranny of the Arnish hill we moved ‘through the gate’ on Thursday to the Torran grazing’s in the hope that she’d passed through there. It is possible (but unlikely) that she scooted through whilst the gate had been left open by some thoughtless walker. It is after all the ‘silly season’, and this was confirmed by 4 x 4 tyre tracks down the path left by some ar5ehole too lazy to walk. Said dimwit getting as far as the gate then having to reverse all the way back, I’d laugh it wasn’t for the fact that the plank had ruined some of the drains on the way.
Sadly there was no trace of the errant sow but ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ as they say and I did come across what must be the largest and oldest willow tree I’ve ever seen.
A good three feet in diameter at the base and with some tell tale ‘pig rooting’s’ in the foreground it had obviously been visited by at least some of the herd. However I can’t blame everything on people leaving the gate open for a little further along the fence there was a good 100m long section of it blown down!!! More like the posts were rotted at the base first right enough but even so it must have taken a good breeze of south or south west wind to flatten a 7’ deer fence.
This is what was once a well cultivated area know as ‘the Green’ and even I remember when it was an apt name. Only as far back as the early nineties this was a smooth lush green slope without a tree or bracken shoot in sight, indeed it was a great spot for ‘magic mushrooms’
Since the sheep were taken off and the deer fence went up the place has become like a jungle.
Mind you, some of the sheep seem to have found a way back
Just another of the many ruins that we’ve ‘rediscovered’ this last week thanks to the ‘silver lining’
and of course a happy and well exercised ‘wee dug’.
The ‘hen lady’ having finished ‘on the post’ for a week meant that she could continue with creosoting the outside of the hen house whilst I got on with wiring in some lights.
A good hefty 6mm square supply feeding a pair of 13amp sockets at each end and a single ceiling batten in each of the four sections will do for now.
By the time I left for dinner at around 19:30 it was to all intents and purposes finished as far as being ready to accept hens goes. I’ve still a mountain of rocks to shift to make a firm track to it. The facia boards, gutters, downpipes and drains need doing, and of course the whole reason for building it in the first place, the solar PV panels! The sides and back I’ll keep creosoting but the OSB front I’ll paint, I want to do it in camouflage but I can’t see wifey going for that
Discussion over the smoked salmon pasta turned towards introducing the new hens to the flock. The plan being to take up the twenty or so Blackrock’s and new ISA browns first to get them settled in and put the 50 new pullets next door and partition a bit of the run for them. This is how we’ve always introduced ‘new blood’ and we’ve never had an issue with ‘henpecking’, however I had a brainwave to speed up the process and decided to cut a few holes in the dividing wall and door and cover it with mesh. This would give the two flocks chance to eye each other up prior to moving out into the run.
So, whilst wifey awaited darkness and ‘hen bedtime’ I scooted back up to the shed with an old oyster growing bag to convert it into dividing mesh.
By around 22:00 by the light of my lamps we started moving the first batch of birds,
and I have to say that I was severely pleased with my ‘oyster bag’ windows.
By the time the birds were settled in it was almost 23:00 and I turned in without even a wash, never mind bath!
Another beautiful day met us this morning but I skipped searching the hill for Jamie in favour of looking at sea. My mate had arrived with his Pioner Maxi and we were going to do a search around the shore of Loch Arnish.
The old fish farm slip is too narrow for the trailer so we lowered it into the sea on rollers cut from the ubiquitous ‘feed blower’ pipe that has in the past been used for miles of hydro turbine penstock.
A few minutes later we were ‘seaborne’ and scouring the cliffs, caves and gullies for signs of Jamie Lea.
It was a perfect day for it, though there was still no sign of our missing sow.
That done, I left my mate at sea and went up to the hen house to check on the chooks and implement another ‘oyster bag brainwave’.
What joy it was to be greeted by six spotless eggs!!! these really are going to make wifey’s life easier and cut down on the broken and rejected eggs. To be honest I was surprised that they took to the nesting boxes so readily and was expecting some to be laid on the floor.
And that was my ‘brainwave’ to put mesh over the Land Rover windows so they could be opened fully without the hens escaping
So, that done, bacon and mushrooms eaten it was off to Skye for hens, feed and ammo. That’s another brilliant thing about the ‘hen hoose’, we can feed the hens inside without fear of them carping in the feeders or being overrun by pigeons. Still, I did buy a couple of hundred ‘number 5, 70mm 12 bore’ cartridges just in case. Being able to stand inside and clean the shed will be so much easier than crouching and leaning in to sweep out the current ones. Having the feed and bedding under the same roof and not outside in a dustbin will stop stuff blowing away or getting wet. Yup, it should make hen keeping far less of a strain on both them and us.
Heading south I spotted Ron busy on the Old Mill Heritage Centre which is looking good.
Catching the 12:15 ferry after dropping off eggs at our community shop I headed first for Harbro then the Co Op and then to Highland Ordnance Company in Dunvegan.
Ben there is a mine of information and stocks just about everything a shooter or fisherman would need.
Then it was ten or so miles up the road to Struan and ‘Donald the Hen’ for our new pullets and of course Katie’s home baking and a cup of tea. By this time the day had ‘gone to the dogs’ and I arrived back home at 17:30 complete with son, shopping hens and feed.
Twenty minutes later they were in their new home
and then the sun came out, but by that time I was too tired to care.