Sunday afternoon walk.

another fine day here, so I went for a walk in the croft with Bud, the pup.  I usually walk in my own croft, but went in number 18 instead, to check the new piglets, who arrived on Friday night.  I let them out of their wee enclosure for a while – and they seemed to enjoy it.

#Bud is intrigued but also a little freaked out by them!

Further on down the croft and I was greeted by a sea of daisies!

I can’t remember what the English is for this plant that’s growing on the crofts, it’s a kind of wild rhubarb.  We call them ‘gallan’ in Gaelic.        This is is growing on a patch of no-mans land and creeping onto the croft.

It usually grows quite thickly on my croft too but it’s been quite heavily grazed up until now, so it looks like this just now.

I carried on down to Traigh Chrois, one of my favourite places in the world!

While the rest of the of the country has been suffering from heavy rainfall, we have been suffering from the opposite!  The driest spring/summer in a while.  This is Cross River, which usually covers most of these stones.  This dry spell isn’t totally unheard of, we had a similar spell in 2008.

Slightly further upstream, this is where myself and my brothers Murdo and Innes used to mess about when we went on our Sunday walks.  I remember making a raft here one afternoon, as well as trying to catch tiny fish in jars!

It wasn’t just myself and Bud that were on the walk, one of my cats came too.  Here she is chilling in the shade.  She vanished on the way home, probably off hunting rabbits.

We walked back up through the gallan on the way home.  Bud was loving it.  Rather than walk through it, he was leaping! This is him mid-jump.

I sat down for a wee while and took a couple of pictures of Bud.

As I was sitting down, he jumped up on my back and started barking.  I think he spotted another dog on Cross machair, about a mile away.

Arrival of the new piglets

I have had pigs twice before, once in 2009 and again in 2011.  This year, my neighbour has got 4, one of which is mine.  Pigs are social animals, so you have to keep them in groups of 2 or more.  It makes sense to keep all 4 together – especially since these are all siblings!

I went up to Calanais to get them this evening.  Calanais is famous for it’s standing stones but that’s not why I was there!  Here are the piglets, sound asleep in a barn

I was playing football for Ness tonight (yes, I am playing despite my dislocated finger) so I couldn’t leave until after 9.  Calanais is 30 miles away, so it was a late one, not arriving back home until 11.30pm.  I prefer getting it out of the way now, so I don’t have to use up some of my Saturday – which is going to be busy!

Anyway, here are the piglets feeding, once they’d woken up.

These piglets are Gloucester Old Spots and I’ve been getting them off the same guy since I started with pigs.  This is Cudaig Macleod (Cudaig is Gaelic for cuddy, a small fish).  He is a crofter and has also just been elected as a councillor to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council).  Here is Cudaig carrying one of the pigs out to the trailer.  I know it looks a little cruel but this is the best way to hold them – the pigs are totally calm.  They tend to scream their heads off if you hold them upright but they don’t even struggle this way.  Less stress for all involved.

Here are the piglets in the trailer, with a very very excited Bud looking on.

This is back in Ness at 11.30.  The piglets new home.

My brother Innes came to help me once I got back and the pigs are now settled down for the night.  Perky (my neighbour who’s taking responsibility for them) is back home in the next few days, so I’ll keep an eye and feed them until them.  Fingers crossed they don’t escape!!

A worrying loss

Before you read any further, there are pictures of a dead lamb in this post. You have been warned.

I discovered a dead lamb tonight. Not normally a big deal at all, but I fear that this one may have been the victim of a bird of prey.  I will explain later.

On Tuesday night, I moved some of the sheep and lambs from the croft out to an apportionment we have on the moor.  I walked the sheep the mile out to the apportionment, here they are following me, with my dad behind in the van.  The lamb that died is the blackface on the right-hand side, behind it’s mother.

There is a track up along the back of the village, where we can walk the sheep, minimizing the amount of time they spend on the main road.

This is them in the field.

As I blogged last night, we are taking the peats home just now.  The peat road passes this field, so my dad noticed last night that there was one lamb missing when he counted them.  As I have a broken &  fractured finger, I can’t do anything in the peats, so I went out for a spin to see if I could find the lamb.  Unfortunately, this is what I found.

Normally, I’d say that the lamb had died of natural causes and leave it at that.  BUT, as you can see, the lamb is on the other side of the fence to the rest of the animals.  There is no sign of it having been eaten on the other side of the fence, which makes me think it was carried over the fence before it was killed/eaten.  The only predator big enough for this is a Sea Eagle.  Now, I am not saying an eagle killed this lamb, but it is definitely a possibility.  I took a couple of other pictures too.  A little more gruesome.

The other thing that worries me, is that it’s face was eaten as well.  I don’t think I’ve seen a carcass with it’s face eaten before, crows/gulls usually eat the soft tissue but don’t eat the bone.

After putting the remains in a bag, I found the lamb’s jawbone too!

As a crofter, with a small number of sheep, you get attached to them.  This particular lamb, I had to deliver myself.  This is it with it’s mother a couple of minutes after it was born.

So not quite sure what to do next, might take the remains to the vet, to see if they can make out if it was eagle or not.  One thing for sure, I am taking the sheep and lambs home tomorrow!



I welcome the fact that there are Sea Eagles here.  Magnificent creatures and, if it was a Sea Eagle that killed this lamb, it didn’t do it out of any ‘evil’, it’s just doing what is natural for it to survive.  However, I’d much rather they hunted the numerous rabbits and geese here!

No work for a while!

As well as the day job and the croft, I also play in goals for the district football team, Ness F.C.  I had been out injured for a few weeks, having suffered a whiplash injury after landing heavily while making a save.  Due to the way the fixtures worked out, I only missed one game so was quite happy when I made my come-back on Wednesday night.  It didn’t last too long though, I had to go off after half an hour with a dislocated and fractured index finger on my right hand, after an opposing player caught me with his boot.  This is the 3rd time I’ve dislocated a finger and the 8th bone I have broken, so something I’m quite used to!  If it had happened a month or two ago, it would have been a disaster, because I would only have been able to do a fraction of the work that was needed.  It’s frustrating but I’ll only miss out on a few odd-jobs with the sheep and I’m not too fussed about missing out on taking the peats home!!

This is my finger as it is tonight.  Needed 2 x-rays and I was on laughing gas while waiting for it to be popped back in at the hospital!

After lifting the peats last week, the good drying weather means that some of them are ready to take home.  This means that the tractor and trailer will be in action, so the ‘doubles’ had to be put on, before heading out onto the moor.  The ‘doubles’ are just doubling up the large rear wheels, by attaching a second set.  Here are some pictures of my dad and brother Innes fitting them.  Obviously I couldn’t help out!

Next was hooking up the trailer.  My father was driving, with Innes maneuvering the trailer into position

So after getting everything set up, the obvious thing to do was go bring home a load of peats!  Here is Innes and our cousins Iain & James heading out in the trailer.
I was long gone by the time they returned so no picture of that!  Myself and Innes also helped a guy up the road load his wee fishing boat onto it’s trailer tonight, ready for putting to sea for the summer.  Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures!  All I was needed for was putting my shoulder into it and pushing!

Injured hen

One of my hens hurt her foot yesterday.  I’d left the back door of the house open and, once I opened the front door, the draft slammed the back door shut.  I went to open it 10 minutes later, only to find that a hen had been standing there and her leg had been trapped in the door.  I checked to make sure there was nothing broken – I don’t think so – and there wasn’t much to see apart from a wee cut.  She hopped off with the rest but was a little sore today.

You can see some bruising on her leg here.  The greeny/blue colour

I sprayed on some antiseptic spray.  I didn’t know chickens were potentially cannibals!

It’s not easy being neat………

Off she hopped, back into the hen-house.

Nice night for a walk

I got home around half 5 this evening and it’s been busy!  Firstly myself and my brother Innes took a 3-piece suite to the community charity shop from a house at the other end of Ness, before I moved some sheep and did some of my last bits of ploughing.  I wasn’t going to bother ploughing anything else, as it’s a bit late, but nothing has been growing until now, so I thought I might as well do it!  Anyway, I went for a walk in the croft with Bud (the puppy) afterwards and I took my camera with me!

This is half-way in the croft, looking west towards the sea.

Bud was with me on the walk

He was totally freaked out by this dead hedgehog!

The sun thinking about setting at around 9.20 (still very light here after 11pm)

Heading back home, my mother’s croft is the one I’m walking on, mine is on the right. I use both.

Some lambs.  These are 5-6 weeks old

This is some of my ploughing

The workhorse – I must point out that the headlamp was an incident my father had – not me!

And I thought I’d end with a picture taken from my back door at 11.05, just to show how light it is!


I first got pigs in spring 2009.  I’d been talking about it for a while but did nothing about it, until my dad spoke to a guy who had some piglets and the rest, as they say, is history.

I learnt some lessons with the first piglets I got, namely not to give them names and not to get too attached!  They are brilliant animals, lively, interactive and friendly.  The first ones I had were named Bubbles & Jim Lahey.  All was good until it came to slaughter time, I had to leave the trip to the slaughter house to my dad, I couldn’t be involved at all.  However, due to a problem with the slaughter house band-saw, I had to saw Bubbles’ head off once the carcasses came home!

I didn’t get any pigs in 2010  but I got them again in 2011, 4 this time.  2 for me, one for my neighbour and one for my cousin.  Here they are when they arrived. I had to choose the 4 that would be on my croft, for the next 6 months.

They spent the first few days in the shed that would be their home/shelter, until they acclimatised

and they settled pretty quickly!

They were soon having lots of fun outside…

running around the field

They soon grew up to be pretty big….

and ended up looking like this!

The sausages were absolutely phenomenal.  I guarantee you can’t get better elsewhere!

So that was goodbye to the Gloucester Old Spots and I thought that would be that for a while, but less than a month later, with the pigs’ bed barely cold, some Kune-Kune’s arrived!  This picture was taken in my parent’s kitchen (and I think this is the first time I appear on my own blog!)

These are much smaller than the G.O.S. and will take about a year to mature.  Very cute, though

The only problem with their size is that they always escape!  This is them in with the rams!

These pigs will go to slaughter sometime in the autumn but I expect to have plenty more pictures/adventures between now and then – and there are also more Gloucester Old Spot piglets arriving next door in the next month or so!

My Chickens

I’ve only had chickens since April 2011, when I took over responsibility for my cousin’s 3 hens because she was being daft and prioritised getting married and building a house with her husband over animals (some people are crazy!) 🙂

Here are some of my hens as they are today.  Total of 10 hens and 2 cockerels.

I have two hen houses for them.  I only close them up when the weather gets bad, but they are free to come and go whenever they like.

They’re always out and about, here they are sheltering from a cold northerly by the wheel of the trailer. The trailer definitely needs a lick of paint!

Being chased by some hungry chooks!

I slowly built up the number of hens over the year, adding a few in autumn and a few more over the winter and into spring.  The two below came in February, having hitched a lift from Inverness on a lorry-load of hay that was being delivered to Island Crofter Ltd, a business run by a friend of mine.  I happened to be off work so nipped up and took them off their hands. They had laid 2 eggs on the lorry, but I let them keep them! (The picture also appeared in Fios, the newspaper in Ness)

I recently purchased 4 new hens.  This is one of them, while they were penned next to the rest of the hens during the first week or so.  I think I’ll stay at this number of hens now!

They’re pretty productive, usually ranging between 4-8 eggs per day.  Many more than I (and my parents) can use, so I have started selling them to friends for £1 per half dozen.  Quite cheap, I know but it more than covers my monthly feed costs and that’s all I want.

Some of the younger birds have just started laying – resulting in some tiny eggs!

Anyway, along with eggs, I get fun and enjoyment out of keeping chickens!

Fishing with Lìn-bheaga

First questions for many of you will be what are Lìn-bheaga?  I think the English for them are Small/Short-lines.  Basically a long-ish line with baited hooks on it.  There are also Lìn-mhora – Long-lines – that are used, in my experience, for commercial fishing.  I’ve had experience of fishing with Long-lines in the 90s, on my fathers fishing boat.  Would use the Long-lines to catch Bioraich (Dog-fish).  I was always told these would be used in shark-fin soup but I’m not sure if that was the truth or not.  We would also catch Dalagan (Spotted Dog-fish).

Co-dhiu, these Lìn-bheaga were an experiment my father had been wanting to try for a long time.  He is originally from the island of Scalpay, off Harris, famous for their fishing, and used to use Lìn-bheaga quite often but had never tried it in Ness, in the 33 years he’s lived here.

We’d prepared and baited the lines (with mackerel) several weeks ago and kept it in the freezer until weather conditions were better.

There are about 15o hooks on the line.  This box was home-made to launch the lines

This is us parked up at the bottom of my croft, above Traigh Chrois, about to set the line.  The beach is about a mile from my house.

There is an anchor attached to each end of the line, which are set at low tide.  The tide then comes in and covers the line & baited hooks.  Here is my dad attaching one of the anchors to the line.

My dad surveying the beach.  I must point out that I did most of the hard-labour but it’s not easy taking pictures at the same time!!

It took us about 90 minutes to set the line.  By this time, I had been waist deep in the sea. Fully clothed. My wellies had to be emptied 3 times….

We finished setting the line at around 2.30pm, just in time to go home and watch the Scottish Cup Final.  We returned just after 6pm, before the tide got too high.  As you can see from this picture, there was quite a lot of seaweed on the beach, something which I have never seen here before.  We had rough weather earlier in the week, so a lot of it has come loose and come ashore.  This was to prove to be a problem, as we will see shortly!

Starting to haul the line in.  All this is done by hand.  You can see from the nearest breaking wave, that it is full of seaweed.  This ended up catching onto the hooks, instead of the flat-fish we were hoping to catch.  It also made for hard work hauling it in!  The line was gathered into the basket at my father’s feet.

We took about an hour to haul the line back in, with difficulty at some points.  I would love to show you a picture of the basket we had down for all the fish we caught  – but we got ZERO!!!!

All the hooks are safely tucked away into the foam rim of the basket.

So time to head home and plan our next assault on the beachhead!

Veg plot take 2

With the weather forecast to improve over the weekend, I took the opportunity to get some of my vegetables planted.  It’s been very cold here and nothing has grown in the past few weeks.  This is how I had left the veg plot:

I got busy on my hands and knees for an hour or so, first into the ground were 20 Brussell Sprout plants.  It’s been recommended to me not to bother with seeds for some plants, because they won’t develop as they should.

Next into the ground were the Leeks, and then the Lettucs (below).  I’ve had neck problems for the last week or two and it was starting to play up so I left it at this for the evening.

I still have broccoli and cauliflower plants to get planted, probably at some point on Saturday, or Monday evening.  I’ll then get more of the seed into the ground.  The final thing I did was cover the plants with a fleece.  Hopefully this will protect them from the cold over the next week or so – as well as preventing pests from getting to them too.  And yes, I had to anchor the fleece down – it’s rather breezy here just now!