A look back at 2013

As 2013 draws to an end, I thought I would do that typical thing of looking back at the year.
It wasn’t the easiest of years on the croft, with many more losses over the last winter and my lamb prices being lower than previous years, but it was still an enjoyable one. It’s been another busy year, with a full time job, playing in goal for Ness F.C., vice-chair of the Social Club and my freelance media commitments.
I’ve gone through my blog posts and chosen my favourite ones. I have chosen them because I liked them or because I think they are important for one reason or another.
Thanks for reading!

My first one is from January and is a video of Bud struggling to come to terms with the laminate flooring in the kitchen.

In February, I had a Buzzard attack some of my chickens. I haven’t chosen the post about the attack, but I’ve chosen the video I managed to get of the Buzzard returning a couple of days later, enticed by a chicken I had to cull. I think this was the single most viewed post in 2013, with thousands of views on facebook.
Easter is my favourite time of year; lambing is usually in full swing and the local football season starts! Love it. Here are a couple of my lambing related posts, including Lasarusina, the lamb that came back from the brink of death (I kept her, she’s a beaut)

I also used my incubator for the first time, it wasn’t as successful as I wished, but at least I got some chicks out of it.
May is peat-cutting season, this year a group of us helped a neighbour who wasn’t able to cut his own. A very enjoyable evening for all of us.
Now, I fancy myself as a bit of an amateur photographer and was quite chuffed with myself for getting these pictures of a cuckoo – a bird I had never actually seen in the flesh before, despite hearing them all my life.
Every now and again, something happens that reminds you how susceptible livestock are. In June, one of my older ewes had her eye removed by a black-backed gull. Don’t look if you’re too squeamish. The sheep is fine, and still with us.
My egg-laying empire took a big step forward this year, with the introduction of my new hen house. I had to assemble it myself and I also got a 60% CCAGS grant for it (which I am still to claim), otherwise it wouldn’t have been viable.
I ended up with an extra cat for a few days in September (can’t believe it was that long ago). She was a stray but has successfully been rehomed, elsewhere in Ness.
One of the most important acts in the crofting year – releasing the rams. This needs no further explanation!

Cat in car accident

Unfortunately one of my cats was hit by a car last night but fortunately the person that hit her let me know asap, so I found the cat and took her in.

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She was hiding in a bush & only spotted her because her eyes reflected the torch. She ran away from me but I managed to catch her. She seemed ok, apart from a graze above her eye but her eyes were responding correctly to light, so hopefully no concussion/brain damage.

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She spent the night on a cushion by the fire in my parents’ house and, by the time I had gone to check on her this morning, she had been up and about and even rolled over to let me rub her tummy.

One lucky cat, with only 8 lives left

Lambing holidays over

It’s 7.42am on Tuesday. I’m back to work today after over 2 weeks and I’m putting it all off by writing a blogpost instead!

I’m just going to summarise my Sunday & Monday, with the aid of pictures, before I go to work. I’ve always taken pictures of the things I do, long before the blog, and it’s a good way of remembering all you’ve done.

My Sunday started off with the big cat acting weird. I soon found out why. He had taken me home a present. This wee fellow was soon released back outside. We have a big problem with rabbits here but I couldn’t dispatch this guy at all!


Lambs were still coming thick and fast. This cross-cheviot was born on Sunday afternoon.


I had a wee bit of a panic on Sunday too, one of the day old lambs went missing. It took me half an hour to find her – snuggled up in a corner.


We had a wild night on Sunday. The wind was sustained at 77mph and gusting to 86. Not ideal lambing weather but this ewe had the right idea. Use the hay ring as a shelter for her newborn.


On Monday morning, I had to take Bud to the vet for his vaccine booster. This is how he felt:


He’s not a fan of the car, especially not long journeys to Stornoway. I feel his pain.

There were several off-jobs to be done. First up was cleaning the hen houses. Look who I found sound asleep in one of them.


Last summer, we got a boat. We haven’t taken her out yet and she spent the winter beside the barn. We took her in yesterday, as my dad is off this week and will get her ready.

It means I can get my green bin back, it’s been home to the engine for the past 7 months!


While I was out at my parents, I transferred the chicks from their kitchen, out to a corner of the barn. They’ll be here for a few weeks now.


I have a few ducks, 2 of them are Khaki-Campbells. I haven’t got close to the KCs since I got them over a year ago, but I managed to catch the drake yesterday. He had got himself stuck in a net. What a fine beast he is!

Shame the photo is out of focus…..


And with that, it’s probably time I got up and went to work.

The day in pictures

It’s 11.30pm as I write this. I’m in bed and I’m exhausted but it’s been another great day.

I did my first rounds of the sheep some time after 6. I don’t set an alarm or go at a particular time, I just wake up around that time and go outside asap.

I nearly always go back to bed and did so today, sleeping until nearly 9am. The morning was quite easy, as I was still stiff from football training last night. Quite often, a boy from the next village comes to help me on the croft and today was his first visit of the year. Here is Uisdean holding the lamb that was born on Saturday (no lambs since)


We did the usual stuff while Uisdean was about: fed the sheep, tidied up etc.

When I was cleaning out the shed, I came across the big cat, sound asleep, chilling in t


The day wasn’t all good, though. Dolaidh Beag, who uses a croft near mine, came to me to say he’d found a dead sheep that wasn’t his. I went up to have a look and it wasn’t nice. The poor thing had jumped a fence, for its rear legs stuck and its neck rested on the top wire, choking the poor animal. It was still warm when I reached it, probably dead no more than 10 mins. I’ve been in touch with the owner to let him know and covered the carcass, to stop birds getting to it.


I got this quick snap of one of the pullets jumping up onto Murdo’s car. Chickens really make me laugh – great animals to just sit and watch.


Finally tonight, I put 24 eggs into the incubator 10 days ago. I candled them tonight and looks as if 12-15 will be ok. Delighted with that, if it carries on. They’re due to hatch on Thursday 11th April – when I’m at a friend’s wedding! Fortunately Innes is home and will be on duty.



Saturday was one of these insanely busy days that seem to be cropping up too often these days!

The day started with lamb number 2 awaiting me on my first round of the day.


As usual, I had to collect the eggs. I got a new hen house on Friday and the big cat just had to have a look around it.


The sheep have all been moved into the lambing fields and I had to move the big bale down with them too – no point wasting it.

We moved it with the tractor transport box, quite easy really!


My afternoon was broken up by football. I play in goal for Ness and we had a pre-season friendly against a local Welfare team. We won 9-1, so it was quite straightforward. It wasn’t the busiest afternoon I’ve had between the sticks…


My brother, Murdo, is home for a week too. I think he’s agreed to give me a hand one day doing some bits and bobs. He hates having his photo taken but I did snap him driving the tractor last night!


So that was Saturday. I had a wee night out in the Social Club and won £100 – great coming home with a profit – checked the sheep at 1am and was back in bright and early after 6.


Now to rest and get ready to do it all again tomorrow!

A week in pictures

I’ve had a busy week and haven’t really had time to blog so here is a quick summary!

Myself and the crofter next door both lost a sheep each on Monday, so we buried them in the same grave, instead of digging two.


Chops’ son Neil came in to dig with me. Here he is digging away, while I….supervise


Bud was his usual mischievous self this week and I always get suspicious when he goes quiet and this is where I found him the other night. Somewhere he isn’t allowed to go!


I had a day off on Friday and moved some sheep. This is one that had the yellows as a lamb and she was covered by a swarm of black


There is a moose loose aboot this hoose, well the shed. My dad spotted one, maybe 2 this morning. I picked up my big cat and took him into the shed. Within 30 seconds, he had stalked and caught a mouse. What a killing machine!

Within half an hour, he was back in the shed, patiently waiting any further mouse moiv