What a fortnight

First of all, my apologies for lack of blog posts. Summer is a really busy time for me, with croft work, day job, filming and football keeping me busy, never mind throwing 320 new chickens into the mix!

I’m relaxing in Glasgow just now, having spent the last 3 days filming at the Scottish National Sheepdog Trial. We’re filming series 7 of Farpaisean Chon-Chaorach, a programme I have been co-presenting since BBC Alba launched in 2008. This is our Scottish Team

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Our typical day at a trial begins with us recording our links during the morning and then, after lunch, interviewing the top placed handlers of the day, before a winner’s interview and then our closing piece to camera. Some days, like Thursday of this week, can be very long. We weren’t clear of the trial field until around 9pm. We have two elements to the film crew; the majority film the runs, while the Single Camera Unit (us) film the links & interviews. This is made up of presenters, cameraman and director. Here is a post-National selfie of myself, Catriona, Craig and Neil.

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I go home tomorrow and prepare to do it all again next month for the International Sheepdog Trial.

Poor Bud

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Seeing as I was going to the vet, I took Bud along with me, as he was booked in for a vaccine booster this Friday anyway. I just chanced it and he got seen.

The vaccine went fine, as did his check up. The only thing I queried was whether or not he had both testicles. He’s only 2 and last time he was over, there was a chance that the 2nd one would still drop. A bit late now and I was advised that it was a cancer risk, as the other one was in his abdomen. So poor Bud went over for a chance visit & ended up with an appointment for the snip!

A new(ish) helper

I had a busy day on Saturday, but made a little easier by my new assistant. Uisdean here has helped me on the croft sporadically for the last couple of years, but should be more regular for the next few months as he is volunteering with me as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award. Here he is in a typical pose, having helped me drench the hoggs.

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My brother Martin is now a regular when it comes to Saturday morning chicken chores and he was with us too. He collected the eggs, while Uisdean & I cleaned out the house. It’s a lot dirtier when we’ve had some wet weather. The hens spend more time indoors, pooing inside and dripping water on the floor. Nice.

After that, we fed the sheep and then went to bury the ram that had died . We had to take him in to the machair to make it easier. Of course I was going to take advantage of having an able assistant – he has to learn how to do these things!

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(I removed the turf and first spade depth of soil, he did the next)

The hoggs were next. I didn’t want to have to start making a pen or move them to a new field for penning, so Bud came in handy. Didn’t take a minute to corner them & he held them in place while I drenched them.

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That was it then, another busy but enjoyable Saturday. Next week will be quiet as we have our first pre-season (football) friendly in Harris against a Uist team. I’ll have to leave home around 9am for 11am kick off and who knows when we’ll be home!

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.
http://airanlot.com/2013/01/21/bud-and-the-door/

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.
http://airanlot.com/2013/02/26/brilliant-buzzards/
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)
http://airanlot.com/2013/04/28/lamb-pictures/
http://airanlot.com/2013/04/23/lazarus-lives/

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.
http://airanlot.com/2013/04/14/five-alive/
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.
http://airanlot.com/2013/05/20/helping-with-the-peats/
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.
http://airanlot.com/2013/05/28/cuckoo-pictures/
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.
http://airanlot.com/2013/06/14/horrible-stuff/
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.
http://airanlot.com/2013/09/14/complete-hen-house/
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.
http://airanlot.com/2013/09/29/unexpected-guest/
One of the most important acts in the crofting year – releasing the rams. This needs no further explanation!
http://airanlot.com/2013/10/25/rams-let-loose/