Winter has arrived

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A winter scene at the Mishnish Lochs this afternoon on my way back from Tobermory. Luckily for us, this is not the norm! Last night Farmer had gone to collect Daughter from a Mull Youth Theatre workshop at An Tobar, and on the way home they had to abandon the car near the distillery reservoir because of the snow. Today we got a lift in to town to retrieve it!

Another calf born this morning.

Mull-winter-cottage

A winter scene at the Mishnish Lochs this afternoon on my way back from Tobermory. Luckily for us, this is not the norm!

http://www.treshnish.co.uk/1403/

Northern Lights on Mull in pyjamas

Farmer woke me at 5am to say he thought there was a green glow in the north sky. Sure enough, there was a faint glow of the Northern Lights, incredibly beautiful stars, but there was also a lot of cloud.

The longer you gaze at the stars the more you see, and that was certainly the case as I stood outside in my pyjamas! The glow from the aurora borealis wasn’t very strong, barely discernible with the naked eye, but just the experience of standing outside, in the clear night air (fresh to say the least) was pretty magical.

These are the photographs I took. They show, during the course of an hour, the changing colours in the night sky.

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Good intentions

The builders had all good intentions of rendering the sun spaces yesterday, but were put off by the rain so they knocked out the door way for the Duill sunroom. We considered ourselves extremely lucky that they came to work on a Saturday! Coco was bemused by the huge hole in the wall.

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Sunday morning and Farmer is off to feed the hoggs down below the house.

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This week on the building project we are hoping for a visit from the plumber, as well as finalising the kitchens! And on the farm, growing calves and some drier weather would make all the difference!

Today the northern lights are active but we still cannot see them, it is clear over head – but cloudy to the north where we should see them… I live in hope.

The winter sea

Winter-Mull-sea

The winter sea looked calm here but it must have been stormy on the other side of the island as the 4pm ferry from Oban was disrupted – our weary guests arrived to stay in Shieling only a couple of hours later than expected.

Tonight I have been out a few times to see if the sky has cleared because the Aurora Borealis is forecast but it is cloudy! There are lights in the north, but they are from boats out beyond Coll and Rum.

A fine pair

Farmer spotted this fine pair of rainbows when we were down in Shian and Duill this afternoon seeing how the builders were getting on. The sunset wasn’t bad either!

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The first Aberdeen Angus calf of the year

Here she is. The first calf born this year – the father is a pedigree Aberdeen Angus bull called Rochester! This is his first born calf too. It has to be said he was not paying it much attention this afternoon.

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Farmer was cleaning out the cattle shed, stockpiling the dung, which will rot down in a dung heap, for the next 12 months. He will spread it on the 2015 silage ground. Planning ahead for the wild flowers next winter’s food.

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Cap, our chief sheepdog, spent the afternoon sitting as still as could be watching a lamb that Farmer has brought in for extra feeding.

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A trip to Tobermory

I had to go to the doctor’s surgery in Tobermory yesterday. I dropped Daughter off at High School on the way, instead of her taking the bus from Calgary. It was trying to snow as we left home, and the temperature display in the car hovered between 2 and 3 degrees all the way to Tobermory.

There weren’t many folk in the surgery yesterday, so I was soon out and able to go to the bakery for coffee! It was very relaxing sitting with the sun coming in through the shop window.

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Although some of the restaurants and cafes close for the winter, there are still places in Tobermory to go for a coffee or a meal, and most of the shops are open too. The Mull Museum is closed in the winter, but I noticed the sunlight reflecting on the window as I walked past. And just now in selecting the photographs for the blog, it was interesting to see on the map in the museum window, that there was no track connecting Haunn to Treshnish when the map was drawn, but there was a connection between Haunn and Crackaig instead. I suppose because our main route to and from Treshnish is via Calgary and Dervaig rather than Torloisk and Ulva Ferry, that seems to be surprising when it shouldn’t be. Hundreds of years ago, when these villages were full of families, there were more settlements on the south facing coast than further north.

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Tobermory main street was pretty deserted, but I bumped into someone who has one of Cap and Jan’s puppies, so couldn’t resist going over to see her – I can’t believe they will be 3 years old in March! The tide was very high again, but no seaweed on the street today.

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The fishing pier was deserted but for a lonely red van and some seagulls.

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By the time I reached Dervaig it was much warmer (5 degrees), the tide was still high and the water calm in Loch Cuin.

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It turned out to be a beautiful winter’s day at Treshnish! This photograph is of the gateway into Scoma field next to the Haunn gate wall, looking north across some natural regeneration woodland (early stages!) towards Calgary and Caliach headlands. I was on my way to see how the new shower for Middle Cottage was coming along.

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Warm and cold – winter on Mull

It may be very cold outside but it is lovely and warm inside. In the middle of the storm force gale yesterday the builder and electrician were hard at work. Whilst it may have been bitterly cold outside, with gusts of wind which nearly blew me off my feet, inside it was warm and cosy. The wood burner was lit, and even with only a sheet of plywood as a door on the new sunroom, the space felt lovely and inviting.

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The builders have been working on apace. This week they have replaced all the windows in Shian, finished the 2 sun space kits, and glazed the Shian one. This is now insulated and beginning to feel like a room. Fantastic!

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It was pretty cold for Farmer as he headed off to feed the hoggs (last summers ewe lambs being kept for breeding) this morning down below the Treshnish cottages.

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Quite often we are asked if we get much snow in a typical winter on Mull. Last night was the first fall of snow for us, so I guess at the beginning of February we can say no, usually not. This is the un-gritted road between Aros Bridge and Dervaig.

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This is Thimphu who is one of our 3 farm cats. She will come and sit on the window sill and look in longingly. (Note to Treshnish guests, please do not let her in. She has a perfect dry sheltered bed in the steading to go to!)

Aerial views of Treshnish

The main plus for me of aerial bracken control is that it gives us a chance to get some aerial views of Treshnish! For 10 years we were organic here, which meant we could only control the bracken that we could reach by machine or cut by hand as chemical treatment was forbidden. Farmer was very effective in reducing the spread of bracken in the areas he could easily routinely mow, but so much of the hill and coastline is inexcessible by tractor or quad, so aerial control is the only way to curb its enthusiasm for marching across the hills – unless we could draft in an army of volunteers with scythes, three times a year..?? Towards the end of our 10 organic years, we could see that the biodiversity in certain areas was beginning to be dominated by encroaching bracken, and so a decision was made to stop being organic.

I came across these photographs today in amongst the thousands of un-catalogued images in my photograph library and thought I would blog them before I lost them again! When the pilot lands the helicopter it is a question of grabbing the nearest camera and rushing for the door. Farmer hadn’t used this camera before, so he can be excused for the occasional wobble or fuzzy shot, especially as he was having to guide the pilot to the areas of bracken we wanted to control, at height (he suffers from vertigo) and at speed. On the ground the cattle shed was full of sheep waiting to be shorn. A busy day in the summer of 2012, taken mid July.

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This photograph, at a jaunty angle, shows you the track between Treshnish and Haunn with the sea beyond.

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You can see the cattle shed hidden away from the traditional farm square with a tight concentration of sheep in the fields nearby. (It was shearing day).

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The Treshnish headland coastline, beyond Haunn, showing the raised beaches.

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This is my favourite one as it shows the Treshnish Cottages. Shieling, with its white porch, sitting in its own garden by the farm yard gate. Our own house in the trees. The Studio a little further back with its sunroom. Duill overlooking the little lochan and Shian with its big windows looking straight out to sea. Obviously when the sun spaces for Shian and Duill are finished these photographs will be out of date, but the views will be the same!