Life at the end of the road

September 5, 2016

Barefoot slating and the outside loo :-)

Filed under: animals, daily doings, food, life off grid, stonework — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:04 pm

That’s it, the fortnight’s rest is over, or as good as, tomorrow it’ll be back on the Hallaig after a trip to Aultbea to see me Pop. Considering I’ve adopted a less manic and more relaxed approach to my life I seem to have achieved a lot more, which seems a little odd. Despite what was effectively three days on a course in Glasgow I seem to have done ‘hunners’ of stuff. My bit of ‘dry stane dyke’ outside the back door being my most satisfying achievement   of the ‘rest period’.

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We’d lifted a few stones from down near the fank at Tarbert the night before so as soon I felt like starting work. Which was around two hours later than I would have done a month ago, I got on with it.

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Took me most of Sunday right enough but I was pretty chuffed with the result.

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Not in the same league as most of the stonework around here but I don’t have it in my genes like the locals Smile

The evening was spent fruitlessly searching for rabbits with the 12 bore, can’t remember the last time I shot or ate one. Whenever it was, it was too long ago, I suspect the mink has been responsible for their depletion too.


Not too mention the sea eagle, golden eagle and buzzards. This one is a sea eagle I saw at Glame this morning, two things gave it away, one, it flew straight off the ground, a ‘goldie’ needs a little height to get going. Secondly the ‘wing to tail ratio’ 4:1 for a buzzard, 5:1 for a golden eagle and 6:1 for a sea eagle.


Today I was out of the house early to take my son to school, or more correctly for him to chauffeur down to the ferry and me to bring his car back. Once back home I spent an hour or two trying to make a graph in Excel.

Battery current photo Battery average current_zpsq2nprmu5.png

This will be the battery current from my inverter from midnight until about 7:00am. I just need to work out how to get the time along the bottom axis. The peaks are the immersion coming on, for some reason the SI reads discharge as a positive and charging as a negative. The wind must have got up around 5:00, hence the wobbly negative line.

I’m still no nearer sorting that so any advice welcome Smile

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Next it was some work up at the hen enclosures, trying to keep on top of the rushes and ‘shrub birch’. As we only have five chooks now I don’t want this reverting ‘back to nature’ so burned a tank full of fuel in the brush cutter giving it a trim.


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Also did a fine bit of ‘bodgeneering’ on this ‘gate’, that being a loose term to describe a piece of security fencing that we’ve been dragging across a gap for a couple of years now. It now proudly boasts ‘builders band’ hinges and a ‘rabbit latch’ instead of rope and string at each end Smile

A blocked nozzle

After another ‘laid back’ cuppa I turned my attention to my ‘Stream Engine’,  the small Canadian hydro turbine that lives down at the ‘Secret Cove’. This little turbine just utilizes the burn that divides the two crofts, more of a drain than an actual watercourse it only really works when it’s raining. Even so I would have expected a few Watts out of it recently.

When I checked it at the transformer it was only reading 12VAC across the phases, so no wonder it wasn’t generating. A nice gentle wander through the birch woods with the ‘wee dug’ lead me to its little shed down at the shore.

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Hmmm, it must be a while since I checked it!!! twas a little overgrown in there and one of the nozzles was blocked. Soon had that sorted and then we went down to the ‘shore proper’. A narrow secret gully that leads out to Loch Arnish,


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at least it did, last time I was here, today it was blocked by a tree.

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Hardly surprising really as the birch, rowan and aspen cling precariously to the top of the cliff.


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It was here that the fishing nets would be brought ashore, a path leading all the way up to the ‘net shed’ at the foot of my croft.


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After picking enough chanterelles to make a mushroom casserole we headed home for a rest.

The outdoor loo Smile

Next task was to make a drain to direct water away from the barn doors and into a drain around the side of it.

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A suitable length of ex fish farm feed blower pipe was acquired from my ‘stash’ and I towed it back to the house with the Honda. This drain from the hen field just empties out from this bank normally and runs away through the gravel in the drive. Not ideal and I’ve always meant to sort it by building or buying a proper one for it to empty into and then pipe it around the back of the shed.


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Well today, in true bodgeneering style I had a brainwave, combining some proper recycling with an ‘outdoor loo’ Smile

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The turbine worked too, with almost 260V ‘phase to phase’ and 1.2Amps going into the batteries, only about 55W but ‘every little helps’. The Stream Engine is some 700M from the ‘power station’ so generates a relatively high ‘AC wild’ voltage which is then transformed and rectified to charge the DC battery bank. This turbine has been in service for many years, before the concept of ‘AC coupling’ was fully understood. Were I to do this again I’d rectify it at the turbine and use a normal GTI (grid tied inverter) at the house, which would be more efficient and cheaper.

Firstly rectifying the voltage at the turbine not only raises it but enables you to use two core cable instead of three. Big saving on cable there and easier to manage. Transformers are expensive too and these days GTI’s can be had for ‘buttons’ on eBlag.

As if all that wasn’t enough I made dinner then went up on the roof to refit a loose slate.

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of course I’d no proper roofing ladders so removed my shoes and socks so I could get a grip on the roof Smile After I’d done a ‘Risk Assessment’ and filled in a ‘Permit to Work’ of course.

A mushroom casserole

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Now, this delicious and dead simple, olive oil in pan, fry off one onion with four cloves of garlic, salt and pepper, and a dozen cherry toms plus two tins chopped toms, mixed herbs and a spoon of stock. Slice three or four Rooster with the skins on, cook for 15 minutes  then add as many shrooms as you can fit in the top of the pan and bung on a tight fitting lid. Then just leave to simmer on a hot plate whilst you take ‘wee dug’ for a walk, not too long then your various shrooms won’t go soggy.

If you have enough will power you’ll be able to stretch it to two days if your son is at school Smile



  1. So this is laid back? Cracking Paul interesting as ever.

    Comment by Andrew — September 6, 2016 @ 5:22 am

  2. Plenty of juicy looking rabbits still around West Suisnish!

    Comment by Rosemary — September 6, 2016 @ 7:47 am

  3. Eighteen months and more in the Brecon Beacons and haven’t seen a single bunny yet! 😦 . Great post, Paul. I’d dearly love to visit Raasay again one day and share a meal and wine once more, in the new hoos. Who knows. It’s looking good, mind!

    Comment by Lloyd — September 6, 2016 @ 5:10 pm

  4. Hi Paul…re. your Excel query…within your chart object you should be able to click on the Y axis so that it is selected (there will be 2 blobs at either end). If you do that, then right click and you will get a “Format Axis” option. On the “Scale” tab there is an option to set the value at which the X axis intersects. Hope that helps!

    The blog is as good as ever…keep it up. Haven’t been up your way since last summer when we had a night at anchor in the north harbour at Fladday when heading south. We went up the other side of Skye this year…had a good time up around Taransay / Scarp. Hope to make it to Rassay next year.

    Comment by Andrew Thomson — September 6, 2016 @ 5:48 pm

  5. If you can fight “fire with fire” then why not drain a “bog with a bog”.Great work.

    Comment by Andy — September 6, 2016 @ 8:46 pm

  6. To invert your Excel graph would multiplying each data point by -1 resolve the issue? Negative numbers become positive and vice versa.

    Comment by ron — September 8, 2016 @ 7:32 am

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