Braw banter.

With relatives (exotic ones, all the way from the US) coming for a flying visit in their whirlwind journey through Europe, I decided we better beef up their itinerary while they are here (I’ve seen pictures on Facebook of their stay in France). So…

A personal chauffeur (autocorrect is pants, that should have read Crofter) will pick you, your family and your belongings up from the train station (in a Suzuki Swift, one of the UK’s smaller cars to ensure full cultural experience; I’m borrowing it solely for this). The scenic drive home will allow you to fully take in the single track road without needing to drive at snail pace like most tourist drivers do to the annoyance of locals). It will give you a chance to enjoy the heart racing adventure like you’re in a Formula One car when in actual fact, I’ll be going a whole lot slower than you really think (part of this is due to road variations in width and do expect potholes).

Once at our destination, a tour of the estate (the terminology is used loosely, but it means help round up the sheep) will be followed by a hands on experience of crofting (you can help shear, I still have six to do). Dinner will be a ribeye roast from one of our very own huggable, horned beasts (it’s actually one of the steers that broke my electric fence, I don’t hold grudges, it was sent off with the ‘Steer’s blessing, see previous post for the full blessing).

Friday will be started off with a continental breakfast (while we can still offer it before we become fully Brexitised). The excursion for the day will be to the local national park (our place is more like Jurassic park so figure it’s better to go somewhere to chill). Tea will be provided by the local chippy and a selection of fish, black pudding, white pudding and haggis suppers will be bought for all to sample to ensure we help provide customers for vascular surgeons in the future, always plans ahead).

Saturday will commence with porridge to compensate for the previous night’s tea. A short trip will give the back drop of the setting of a crofting version of ‘Landmark’. Our version includes games such as ‘Pick up stones’ (rules: each person has a bucket, the count down timer will be set and the winner will have the most stones in their bucket). This will be done on the newly ploughed section. The top three winners will then have a chance to compete in the advanced championship (the rough bit with bigger stones; throwing the stone put or tossing chabers doesn’t help get work done; this though, helps keep our plough intact). Refreshing drinks will be provided during this time under the canopy of sunshine with cloud and possible showers; or showers, cloud and a chance of sun (depends which forecast you’ve looked at). The afternoon will be completed with enjoying a hogget on the Argentinian spit roast so that the full smoke aroma is attached to everyone, but will help keep away the midgies (we’ll keep that hidden until you arrive as I feel they need little introduction). Evening will commence with a quick trip to the local hall for a ceilidh (if they allow us in).

Sunday’s full cooked breakfast will be provided to ensure you cope till safely on the train to enjoy the extortionate food prices of whatever train company you are with that day.

We like to offer a high quality experience that encompasses all senses. Smidge, Deep Heat, and plasters are all included in this trip. May the banter be braw.

Everywhere you go…

Think the song is supposed to continue with ‘always take the weather’. Thinking crofting-wise, I always take baler twine everywhere I go (or at least that’s what it feels like). Although, the penknife follows suit at a close second, and then third place is ear plugs (tractors, brush cutters, lawnmowers can all be fairly noisy, although if you do wear ear plugs, the local postie can sneak up behind you without you knowing).

However, a recent excursion was to go to Edinburgh for two ‘treats’. Treats that did not require baler twine or ear plugs.

First, an all day trip to the Royal Highland Show (including going along to the Women in Agriculture Breakfast). The second, a trip to Cheyenne’s York Place to get a hair cut from Joe. Yes, Joe. Yes, the guy who was cutting my hair when I left the big sticks eight years ago. But if you want not just a cut, but someone who can look at your hair and take in your lifestyle: ‘I have two kids under 3, 12 cows and 11 sheep; I want stylish but I don’t spend much time sorting hair’ without going, ‘this woman doesn’t need a hair cut, she needs a psychiatrists’, is a good find! This is the guy who just seems to understand hair. Now, I’m sure there are other hair stylists at the same place who equally cut hair well. But, well, when you have a pro do a job well, you really don’t want to go anywhere else. So you go back. And don’t deviate (although I was introduced to Joe by a hairdresser called Kipps, a man who headed off to London after finally convincing me that hairdressers do not have to be on par with the dentist. A dentist usually means you come out worse than going in, which was my understanding of hairdressers).

If only I could offer our flock the same standards. I have no qualification in sheep shearing, my experience is fairly limited, and I have never been shown blade shearing. I think if any hair stylist looked at Chunky and Skyver, they would be horrified. Chunky is a Cheviot; Skyver is a Blackface. Two different types of wool (and different personalities too as Skyver tried to skyve the shearing, Chunky placidly lies there for you). Working on them and with them was very different. I still have all the Jacob and Shetland sheep to do. Hopefully I’ll improve as I want to try and use the Jacob wool in spinning. And because of that, am looking for ways to improve. Not to learn how to have a one way conversation with a sheep; ‘have you any holidays coming up, what are you going at the weekend, and the usual haircut questions. But, in the handling of them, so I get less bruises on my legs and I don’t feel like I’m trying to give the sheep a Mohican.

So along comes networking. One contact has led to another and I am hoping to go meet another woman who can show me a different way of shearing. I’m leaving the rest of the sheep until I get back. Will then need a ‘Croft got talent’ show and a panel of judges to give card marks.

P.S. Just like I need a hair cut, so too do the sheep. I have seen comments by people thinking we kill sheep to get wool! No one has yet told me I should stop going to the hairdressers because I won’t come out alive. And its better for my health to get my hair cut. Same for sheep. So if anyone wants to know more about what we do and why, feel free to get in touch (about sheep, if you want hair advise, go see Joe).

P.P.S. Joe, if you’re reading this, apologies for the photo. I appear to be much better at taking farming pictures than inside pictures.

Sunshine on Leith

The Proclaimers were in Inverness this past weekend. No, I didn’t go, I’m not really a concert goer. Besides, it’s the holidays. So while everyone else (in Scotland mind you) is putting up pictures of their holidays, I too thought I should post a picture of the Italian skiing holiday eating up the Mediterranean cruise holiday.

But, going back to The Proclaimers, their songs still sing away in my head. And as usual, they get applied to the workplace. ‘Sunshine beneath’ Works quite aptly while shearing Chunky. And man, that boy is big.

Now, the shearing isn’t perfect. But he got only one small nick. I am now struggling to stand upright. So two done, nine to go.

Now if anyone wants to make comments about my shearing, you’ll be signing yourself up as the instructor for blade shearing next year. I have four other people interested so just need a pro.