Life at the end of the road

February 4, 2017

A lean mix :-)

Filed under: daily doings, Land Rover, pigs, wind turbine — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:06 pm

Saturday night here at ‘the end of the road’ and I’m feeling suitably contented after a productive day, a fish pie and the promise of a glass or two of red later. It won’t be my first this week but it will only be my second. The week has been a rather busy one and there’s been little point in having a glass or two. Firstly I’d have fallen asleep after a mouthful and secondly we’ve had no wine in the house Smile 

The ‘ole

As you’ve probably guessed most of my week, indeed my fortnight off has been spent filling in the ‘ole with concrete. This will be the base for my new wind turbine which I planned would be 7 or 8 cubic meters and ended up nearly double that. Anyway my days since last posting have been an endless cycle of getting up early and getting ready for mixing which usually commenced around 8:00am. The trailer with its 2 tons of ready mixed aggregate being parked conveniently close to the mixer the night before.

I’ve mixed 4 trailer loads plus 3 tons I already had with just over a ton of cement so I guess that’s about a 10:1 mix. A bit lean for anything structural but there will be just as much of a 35 Newton mix going over the top of it.  I’m sure it’ll be just fine with 25 or 30 tons of concrete  in total, plus around a ton of steel directly bolted to Scotland.

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By far the hardest part of the job has been getting it to flow into all the ‘nooks and crannies’ and getting the air out of it. I really should have bought a vibrating poker for this rather than just borrowing one for the big pour on Monday. I’ve seen them on eBay for £50 and it would have been money well spent I guess. I severely doubt that this will be my last big concrete project.

The actual mixing has been pretty easy really with the trailer being the same height as the mixer there’s been little in the way of bending involved.

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This is as far as I got on Thursday night, I mixed one more load on Friday and took a final trip to Sconser quarry for doing one last mix.

Ozzy and Django

All this reversing with over three tons on the back of the ‘Old Girl’ convinced me that it was about time I replaced the gearbox on her. My Landy is of 1986 vintage and fitted with the rather lame LT77 5 speed gearbox, more suited to a high power saloon car than an abused diesel truck. The LT77 has many faults, sloppy gear change, premature main shaft wear and most annoyingly, jumping out of reverse gear. The latter being caused by the teeth on the lay shaft, reverse gear and idler wearing out. When I bought her in 2001 she had the same fault and I fitted a recon box then. Well sixteen years of hard graft later it needs another.

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I found this ex military reconditioned one on eBlag from a chap called Darren who runs Jedi 4×4 in Waterfoot, near where I used to live. It came in the strongest case I’ve ever seen and was bolted to a steel frame that was bolted via rubber mounts to the wooden crate!!! I guess it must have been designed for dropping by parachute or something cos the package came in at 130kg of which less than half is the gearbox!! It was dated 2010 right enough but it’s the latest LT77 suffix, G which has bigger bearings and wider teeth on the reverse gears. I also got a drivers door off him and have to say that Darren had packed that almost as well as the army had their gearbox×4 .

It’s actually been jumping out of reverse for over a year so it’s a job that is long overdue and when I finally do get around to doing it I may well fit a Discovery transfer box. The Disco LT230 transfer box has a higher high ratio than the Defender, probably not much use to me really with those huge 33×12.50×15 tyres I use but I just happen to have one. The box I have came from the vehicle I got the engine from.

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Having driven said Disco to Arnish I know the box is good and quiet, unlike mine which has a rusty set of gears in it Smile

Anyways, enough of this Landy ‘anorak’ stuff, back to today and ‘two little piggy’s’ from Auchtertyre.


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My son and I caught the 8:55 ferry and went to collect a couple of fine Large Black/Saddleback cross boars. We could have taken gilts but went for a couple of boars instead, for some reason most folk want gilts! This is usually people that are under the misapprehension that boars are aggressive and can suffer from something called ‘boar taint’ . Supposedly if you don’t castrate boars or keep them for longer than 22 weeks the meat becomes tainted by their hormones. Well, that may well be true of commercial breeds kept indoors but we’ve never experienced it in all the years we’ve kept pigs. In our experience the opposite is true, boars are less trouble and put on weight quicker, as for keeping them longer than six months, well we ate one that was five years old and he was delicious Smile

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Django and Ozzy were as ‘good as gold’ and soon settled into their new home for the next day or two.


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The weather was so boodly awful today that we put them in the hen house. We’ll keep them in there for a day or so before letting them out into the wind turbine field. Once the other two are away at the end of the month we’ll  let them out on the hill.

June 1, 2013

Back from the brink :-)

Filed under: animals, boats, Croft house for sale, daily doings, food, pigs — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:47 pm

Well hardly the brink but I was pretty sick that’s for sure, a busy hot and eventful Thursday culminating for me in a dose of some two day fever that’s been doing the rounds. Not that I knew that at the time, busy as I was removing the air from the bags of several hundred sausages. No when I caught the lurgee I thought it was a full two week bout ahead of me and sorely pished off was I. Well I was in between bouts of shivering, aching and running to the loo, I was not a happy bunny. No siree, two whole weeks of hard earned holidays ahead of me and I’m at deaths door within an hour of setting forth over the threshold with five boxes of pig parts and gazillions of sausages, that all need dealing with.

The day itself started off pretty grey in Lochmaddy but with the promise of heat to evaporate the mists that shrouded North Uist.

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There was never really any doubt about the day really for this is what it looked like on Thursday night around 22:00 as I went for a wander around Lochmaddy.


Half an hour or so later it was even better,


and not long afterwards I was tucked in my bunk for the last time Smile

Anyway, after leaving the good ship Hebrides on Thursday afternoon in Uig and collecting ten boxes of pig parts from George at Portree butchers on Wentworth street  I headed for Sconser. Once on Raasay, and with over half of my cargo delivered I headed home with the unenviable task of dealing with one and a half pigs.


Hardly an onerous task for the rewards at the end are great indeed, but it had been a long and stressful day and one and a half of those boxes is full of sausages all joined together Sad smile I must have been feeling ill by now for I wasn’t hungry and after around the twentieth bag of nine sausages I caved in, departing to my bed a shivering wreck still wearing my fleece. This left wifey all on her own to bag, label and sort ‘pig 2 and half of pig 3’ of which she made a fine job. However the smell of ‘pig three’s’ head boiling away later on that evening did nothing to help my ailment Smile

Sadly that was me for two whole days with nothing more than two tins of soup and I missed the event of the summer. There are no festivals for us this year on account of house building but we were much looking forward to Brathain’s (John William Gillies’s) 60th birthday bash in the village hall. Still I’m sure it passed off just fine without us, in fact I bet it was still going on when I awoke this morning at 4:30.



Right enough I was back in my bed ten minutes later after two more Paracetomol and a glass of water but by 8:00am I was ‘fighting fit’ and even managed some fresh Raasay sausages Smile Far far better than tins of soup Smile

May is out

Not only is the month of May by with but the mayflower is at last out,


only one this morning but by the time we came in for dinner there were a whole lot more.

Ne’r cast a clout till may is out, refers to the flower and not the month, well today they both happened together, at Arnish at least. Mind you the first thing I did was put on my oilskins and climb onto the roof with the power washer to remove loose paint and pigeon carp.


Well that was after I’d blasted another one of the flying rats out of the sky, feeding hens is expensive enough without feeding half of Skye’s pigeons as well.

A couple of hours of that was enough, and with the sun now high in the sky the Dude and I got on with cutting rushes for bedding.



That done we went up to the new house site to collect a converted oil tank, converted into a pig house that is.



This 1590lt Balmoral oil tank is one of many that developed cracks due to faulty plastic, not so good for oil but great for keeping pigs in, with a little modification that is. Actually cut in half around the waist they’re good enough for four weaners but this one is for Ellie and ten wains so has been widened.


It’s amazing what you can do with old corrugated iron and pallets.


Not the prettiest of structures but it’s been well tested, having housed two full sized sows and a boar in the past, don’t ask me how, but that’s pigs for you, they just love company.

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Anyway, as soon as it was in position in the field in front of the house we filled it with bedding and then screwed the roof back on, all the while watched by Ellie and her eight boars and four gilts, imagine that, eight boys and two girls !!!

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For the life in me I can’t understand why most people prefer gilts, indeed some breeders charge extra, boars are far less trouble, grow quicker and are a heck of a lot quieter on the whole. There seems to be much hogwash with regards to ‘boar taint’ which may well be an issue in intensive pork but we’ve never experienced it and I’m dead against castrating anything.

So in mind of my two day absence and lack of photographs here’s a few of George Rankine’s,



Heb Princess

the ‘Hebridean Princess at 19:00 last night, probably heading for Brathain’s party Smile



always good for a laugh

 Puff 2

a puffin full of fish trying to fly Smile

Peace boat (1)

The ‘Peace Boat’ somewhere off Waternish point on Thursday.

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