Dancing by the light of the moon…

One basic task: give a bale of straw and hay to the cows in the byre.

Add some entertainment: work three longer days while mother-in-law babysits Mini Crofter while the Crofter is away.

Result: The tractor and I out doing a jig by moonlight (buffalo gal I am not but the tractor’s quite good with making my knees knock and toes rock (more from nerves of tipping it then any Strictly Come Dancing potential). No, I do not have holes in my stocking. Yes, it was a clear sky with a bright moon that I was able to use as could I figure out how to turn the fullbeam lights on? Fat chance. I eventually gave up trying and went for what I was successful at: one small light on the front and two useless ones on the back.

Eventually, two bales in the byre later I discovered that even though it was time for bed after the job was complete, the cows wanted to sing for a supper and where not giving up on the idea about it either. So, out went buckets before the lights were turned off and their good night bellows echoed through the glen under the canopy of stars.

Mole catching

After spending another ‘nap time’ (the Mini Crofter’s, not mine) out with mole traps, how else do I spend the Friday evening but swotting up on blogs and websites by mole experts. Two days ago I retrieved all our traps from the hay field and moved them up nearer the house. Wednesday’s job had been with the chain harrows flattening the mounds in the top field before seeing where to place the traps. And yes, I am sure I’ll get asked about why I could be so cruel catching moles. However, the implications of moles in the past on the croft have a significant effect on parts of our land. Mounds slowly get covered by grass and winds can leave a field looking like taking a tractor over it at any speed should be added to the summer olympics as they have something similar in the winter one, but with skis, not tractors. You can minimise the hills by collecting the soil and adding it to raised beds but lugging even one wheelbarrow back this afternoon wasn’t a walk in the park (these were hills that I hadn’t been able to get to with the tractor so not in the easiest of localtions and definitely not supplied by easy going wheel barrow wheel access). And leave them even briefly and the mud turns into a solid mound needing more umph then weetabix can provide (ok, maybe it’s better if the ground’s not as frozen for shifting soil and you’re not as sleep deprived).

Up until now the mole traps have been the Crofter’s job. However, having discovered how much devistation they can do, they have been added to my ‘how to improve the ground for crops and cattle’ to do list. So on the subject of moles, anyone know about mole drains? For those who aren’t aware, mole drains are not highly trained moles taught to tunnel on specific grid references to help drain a field. Although training a mole might be easier than finding a mole drain…

The Goat House

Well, this shed was used by various animals in multiple locations. It came to us having already served a purpose. Sadly the wind last week became a wee bit too much and pushed it over the edge. The pink interior and external flowers that creasote couldn’t even cover will be missed as a refuge by all flocks and herds. It was a rough way to go but bright hope for a bonfire…

 

And for all those wondering, no it never housed goats. We needed clarity in regards to The Shed…as in: The Green Shed, The Cow Shed, The Potting Shed, The Log Shed, The Wood Shed…and not naming the field shelter, the chicken coop, the lean-to, or the goose hut as ‘sheds’. So, randomly, it got called the Goat House. And sheds are always of use as shelter in the time of storm. However, I advise concreting…

Reed reduction and stress management

The past two days have been filled with flail mowing and brush cutting. This is for two reasons. One, we have a problem with reeds that we have mounted war with. The battles have been long and slow, often with set backs but the opportunity arose to hit while the enemy would be weak. A cold, hard frost arrived on a day I had off and Tim was home which meant the ability to take out the trusty Dexta for a spin without pouching the ground, cutting the reeds when they will hopefully be further hit by the cold weather. The brush cutter was taken next as the armour of choice to reach places the tractor couldn’t.

This coincided with the end of a week at work where stress levels have been high and the insomnia has returned full strength. To counteract this I find the job as a good stress reliever. My stress levels had even reached the point of wanting to complain to a local politician about some of his comments regarding the NHS.hospital I work in. Never before have I been rattled by a politician as one this week. I gave him the element of courtesy (don’t believe everything you read in a newspaper) and went to his own site. Bad mistake, as not only did he have the same comment, he made further ones. Response: out came the brush cutter with full force, only as it was day two after several insomnia nights I was out of omph within an hour. I don’t think when the makers of brush cutters talk about stress reduction they are thinking mentally but maybe more in line to wearing a harness when out doing the job. However, it is a job with great satisfaction while taking your concentration. It is a way to use up energy and give time to think things over. Whether it is flail mowing, brush cutting, or mowing they are all jobs I can do for hours. So, maybe I should look at getting a different job…

Edinburgh delivery and beef for the unromantics.

There will be an Edinburgh delivery available tomorrow if anyone is interested in ordering beef or eggs. Please be in touch by 8am tomorrow (Tuesday 13th February) if you wish to place an order.

Some of our beef are looking for their forever homes, can you provide it? It may well be a week where consumerism is pushing steaks for two but why follow that path? Buy two packets and get your friends round. Or why not order some diced and make a delicious Steak and Ale pie for six? Busy but need to feed a family? Go for a pot roast and slow cook it (and watch everyone drool as the smell wafts through your house). Ideas, cooking suggestions and recipes can all be provided on request.

All deliveries will be provided by a hardy Rose, the Mini Crofter is the most likely to be in red though due to his newly washed snow suit. My romantic innerness really does shine at this time of year…

Ring fencing the ring feeder

Having cold weather is nothing new. Discovering that the weather had been cold enough in January to freeze the ring feeder to the ground meant that the usual weight lifting excercises didn’t work (picture attempting to push up the top bar at each gap while looking like a wannabe weight lifter at the gym). I have in the past only once had the ring feeder freeze to the round and been unable to manually unstick it even after several ‘rounds’ of it. However, on that occasion I had the wee dexta so attached a ratchet strap between the two to unlock the feeder but also snapping the strap (although I didn’t feel too bad as I had wondered why I was turning into a light weight lifter). This occasion the next bale was already in the field so the tractor was substituted for a mattock (as you do). There was still hay in it but due to weather and other jobs required over the following few days knew it needed doing regardless. The entire feeder needed dug out before finally managing to uplift it and rolled to the next bale. Anticipated time slot for job: 20 min. Actual time taken: 1 hour 20 min. Och well, the other jobs were not a priority and the weather was one of the few none whites of last month. Weight lifting gym session complete.