End of an era

The last of my Scots Dumpy bantams has died. She is the one on the right hand side of the photograph below, taken in November. She must have been at least 10, possibly, 11 years old. There were white feathers in her wing so she may not have been 100% pure Dumpy, but she had their characteristic shorter legs, and bags of character. We will miss her. We bought our first Scots Dumpy hens in 1989 from a member of the Scots Dumpy Club in Oxfordshire if I remember rightly. They are an endangered breed, and have an interesting history going back about 700 years. It feels like the end of an era to me, and a resolve to get some more one day, and help nurture the breed.

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Happy New Year!

We saw in the bells in Tobermory last night – crowds line the street by the clock and after the bells have rung, a locally funded and organised fireworks display. It was lovely to watch the impressive fireworks and think about the year ahead. A really friendly place to see in the new year. A dance follows the fireworks, but we came home before that started.

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All in one day

The day started off dry and slightly dull, but it gave us a steady variety of sunshine and showers for the rest of the day. Farmer moved the ewe hoggs into the field below the farmhouse. Their troughs share the same view, out to the island of Coll and Calgary Headland, as the dining tables in both Shian and Duill.

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And did we imagine it was a little bit lighter at 4.30 today? We are more than a week past the solstice after all!

A corridor across the fields.

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I love this view from the road looking across our neighbour’s wall to the in-by fields below the farmhouse and the Treshnish Cottages, with the dramatic headland beyond. The shadows from the low winter sun show the contours of the fields. It is across here that Farmer is creating the ‘wildlife corridor’. We began about 8 years ago by fencing off the fence that divides the hill from the fields. This keeps 90% of the red deer out! Slowly, slowly we are fencing off small parcels to allow natural regeneration to take place, and in some places planting saplings to speed up the process.

A Christmas walk

Merry Christmas!

Farmer had his usual cattle feeding and farm chores, but managed to switch off in between, so a relaxed day was enjoyed by all.

We walked the dogs down to the Ensay Burn-mouth, before it got dark and before we started cooking the Christmas dinner. It was windy but not as wild as it has been.

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Happy Christmas

Haunn wetland area Rum in distance

Wishing all our guests, past, present and future, a very Happy Christmas and New Year.

Christmas is coming

We stopped to walk on the beach this afternoon on our way to the post office.  I had a long over due parcel to send, and some very late Christmas cards.  We also had a bigger problem.  Our number round the table on Christmas Day has doubled and the original bit of pork we had bought was no longer big enough.  It was our lucky afternoon as Dougie still had some of Fiona Boa’s local pork in stock, so that will work well to compliment the smaller bit we already have.

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In the haunnblackhouse blog I have been writing for the last few years I always refer to Somerset as ‘Farmer’.  I am not quite sure what to call him on this blog, so for the moment, until it becomes clear what will work for me best, I will try not to refer to him at all.

The wind is forecast to get stronger again tomorrow, with little respite until after Christmas.  We have just written to the guests coming for new year to offer them an extra night if they cannot get here the day they are booked to arrive.  The ferries can be disrupted, but it is rare that both Lochaline and Oban are off on the same day.   Best to check before you travel though.

A pre solstice walk

This morning the Studio guests left, in the dark, rushing for the ferry, along with lots of Mull families hoping to get away for Christmas early in case the ferries were disrupted again by more wild weather! I had been worrying about whether they were enjoying their winter break or not, as the weather had not been very settled during their 2 week stay. However C assured me yesterday when we said goodbye that they had loved it, even in the bad weather, and when they came next time they would like to stay at Haunn!

Winter stormy sea

I walked the dog to Calgary this afternoon. I had not realised quite how windy it was, and with the wind behind me, I was nearly blown off my feet at times. A wild and wet walk felt like a good way to celebrate nearly being the shortest day. The tides are really big at the moment and huge waves with spindrift were breaking on the rocks half way along the bay. Half way we found some shelter from the storm, but there was no way I could have walked back into the wind, it was just too strong. Finally I met up with Farmer and got a lift home.

This is a photograph of Shian and Duill taken last winter, as the sun was setting.

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This is my first blog and as I am sitting by the fire, with a solstice storm blowing outside, I thought I would keep it short and just wish you a happy solstice for tomorrow.