All at sea

Tonight I launched my dad’s boat and my neighbour’s boat. It was a perfect, flat calm night here and we headed down with the boats after work.

The boats are easier to launch in Skigersta and then taken round to their moorings in Port of Ness. Out boat went in first, before I went to get Donnie’s boat.

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My pickup was the best vehicle for the job, so all I had to do was reverse down the slipway. Sounds easy but Skigersta is very long and very steep!

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This was my view, we got it down easily.

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Within 20 minutes, both boats were in the water. Donnie and James took his round, while my dad took ours round. A perfect night of boys and their toys!

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Last week I bought a fertiliser spreader and this week I got some fertiliser. What’s left to do? Spread it!

I got home from work last night and got cracking straight away!

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The fertiliser itself is available locally in 25kg or 600kg bags. Obviously 600kg is a bit much for me, so 12 x 25 kg bags for me. The spreader could take 10 of them, but I left space to carry the remaining bags in to the section of the croft that I was going to apply it to.

Didn’t take too long either. Can you spot all the baby rabbits here? They’ve made some mess in at the shore end of the croft.

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It only took me half an hour. We’ll see how it goes now. I don’t think any fertiliser has been spread on our crofts for a generation! It certainly won’t do any harm!

Here are a couple of pics from inside the cab

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So yesterday I may have, kind of, agreed to take on some turkeys! When we went down to see the piglets, I asked Karen, the owner of the pigs, if they were turkeys I could see in the distance.
“Yes, do you want them?”
Before I could think of an answer, I’d said yes!

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Two females, mother and daughter. One & two years of age. Now I need to find a male, any out there?


I usually get piglets every second year and this year is no different. I have got them off Cudaig in previous years, but had to find an alternative supplier this year, as he didn’t have as many as he usually does. Fortunately, I found some in Ness, so I went to see them yesterday.

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I love pigs and piglets, so much fun and personality! They’ll be ready to pick up the week beginning 9th June, so I don’t have to wait long.

Costs for keeping pigs have gone up a bit in the last 18 months, as the feed prices increased. This means that many people have got rid of their pigs, so there aren’t as many around. I think I might keep 2 of these for breeding this time. A gap in the market & nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Drenching & vaccinating

I’m quite sore and tired from all the work yesterday; every single sheep drenched and all the lambs vaccinated.

It was a miserable morning, so I didn’t get started with the sheep until nearly 2pm. I got the hens out of the way in the morning, cleaning out the hen house and topping up feed & water. All under the watchful eye of Bud and the relaxing cat

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I also removed a trio of birds that I am going to breed from. I hatched these Speckled Sussex from eggs I got online last spring. Fantastic birds and I’m going to hatch a batch of my own now.

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So on to the sheep. They are split into 4 smaller flocks, to spread them amongst the crofts. That means more work gathering and penning them. We’d probably have been done in an hour, had they all been together.

Uisdean passed the lambs to me and I doses, injected and checked them all.

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We worked quite well and efficiently, just the way I like it!

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Uisdean is volunteering with me as part of his Duke of Edinburgh award. He is down most weeks and enjoys working with the sheep. He’s considering getting a couple of his own, which I think is a great idea

More chicks

I ordered some eggs from Andy at The Chicken Street about a month ago, and they hatched on Mon/Tue of last week. This was quite a surprise, as they were due to hatch the previous Saturday! I candle the eggs and saw that 7/8 of them were fertile and waited patiently for them to appear. Nothing on Saturday and nothing on Sunday. Oh. I was worried.

I’ve had workmen in for the past 3 weeks (they came at short notice, otherwise I wouldn’t have had the eggs in the incubator) and I thought the fact that they switched the power off now & again may have affected the eggs. I was all set to switch off the incubator on Monday morning, but thought I’d leave it until I got home that night. I hadn’t heard any cheeping from the eggs, so was convinced they’d all failed. I was quite surprised to be greeted by these wee ones when I came home!

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Another three hatched over the next 24 hours, leaving 5 in total.

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These are Speckled Sussex and the second batch I’ve hatched of them. Hopefully they’ll be just as nice as last years ones. 2 hens & 2 cockerels. Here is one of the cockerels.

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Incidentally, the work happening at my house is applying external insulation to the walls, as part of a funded scheme. It should be ready in the next couple of days and currently looks like this!

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This week I ordered 300 hens. Yes, I know it might be crazy but it’s something I’ve been working on for a few months. I have been looking at the supply and retail of eggs in Lewis for a while now and have had some good feedback from the shops I have approached. The hens are ordered, now I just need to arrange their housing. I won’t be using the CCAGS scheme for this, as I’ve found it to be more a hindrance than a help – I’m still waiting for over £800 from my last hen house. Definitely not worth the hassle.

Anyway, watch this space for progress with the hens. I hope you all want some eggs!

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Goodbye Lasarusina

This week I lost one of my favourite sheep. I know that sounds a little bit stupid it was a lamb hand reared from birth. Lasarusina was touch & go to survive her first night last April, unfortunately she died 12 months later. I went to check the hoggs that I moved to Cross about 4/5 weeks ago. I check them about once a week and this time I found Lazarusina on her side, very weak.

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I took her into the shed and gave her food and water. With a bit of help, she managed up on her feet.

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I suspected liver fluke so gave her a drench straight away. All the hoggs were drenched when moved to Cross, so it should have eradicated any issues then. I also phoned the vet but deep down, I knew it was too late. She lasted another couple of days but deteriorated. I eventually made the decision to have her put out of pain, but she died before I could arrange that.

Lambing is over

I’m lying in bed at 9.30 on a Sunday morning, thankful and relieved that lambing is over for another year. It’s my favourite time of year, but it is exhausting. I worked out that i was up at 5am in 32 of the last 35 days, with my dad doing the early shift those other days.

I’m not sure why this happened, but most of my lambing problems occurred late at night this year, whereas they were all early morning issues in 2013.

Last year I had gimmers rejecting lambs and ewes with no milk, but this year was significantly better. A few late night lambing issues resulted in 1 or 2
am finishes, and that makes it even tougher to get up at 5!!

If it hadn’t been for the set of triplets I lost, I would have said it was one of my most successful lambings ever. Quite often there are a couple of lambs lost to crows/gulls or simple stuff like membrane covering their mouth after birth. Fortunately none of that this year. Every sheep has a lamb, except for the one that lost triplets (she was unwell for a week after her prolapse).

The last one to give birth didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked, but the lambs made it out ok.

I came home from work at around 5.30, expecting to spend the evening tidying the house, as I’ve had workmen in. This was not going to happen! First thing I do is check the sheep that’s to lamb and noticed that her water has broken. Excellent, twins will be along shortly. Wrong.

I waited patiently but after an hour or so, I decided to catch her and have a look at what was happening. I needed help doing this, as there was no pen in the field I was keeping her. We caught her, took her into the shed and discovered that it was a breech. That means lamb coming tail first. It didn’t take too long to get the lamb out. While we were discussing how long we should leave it before going in for the twin, out it slipped! Two healthy twins.

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So that’s it. Spent the night inside and let them out early in the morning.

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I’m going to make the most of my sleep for a while now!