December

In December on Mull the days are at their shortest, meaning you can enjoy the luxury of long evenings by the fireside. Time for putting your feet up and relaxing!

In late November the tups (rams, male sheep) are put out with the ewes for mating, and this continues throughout December! The hill Blackface sheep are ‘hefted’, which means that as they are born here they learn from their mothers their way around the hill, where to find shelter and water, as a wild animal would.  The Cheviot sheep, living on the in-bye pasture, are moved from field to field, cleaning up the grazing on the grassland after the summer grazing by the cattle. As we no longer have our own cows, the cattle shed has new winter occupants (I suppose I will get used to calling it the farm shed, or the sheep shed eventually) – our ewe hoggs (female young sheep, less than one year old). We bring them in to learn how to ‘feed’ – how to eat sheep nuts and hay. This enables us to boost their nutrition (by giving them supplementary food) in bad weather and before lambing, avoiding conditions like twin lamb disease.

We gather seaweed to scatter as natural fertiliser on our kitchen garden and sometimes for the fields. December is a good month for spotting Buzzard and Kittiwake.

It is often said that there is no bad weather only inappropriate clothing and in the middle of the winter, this is very true! Enjoy the drama of the winter weather during December on Mull with wild waves crashing against the cliffs of the Treshnish headland, Atlantic rollers coming in on Calgary beach and on cold still sunny days when the air is so clear you can see the Outer Hebrides from the top of the hill and return to the snug tranquillity of your cottage. 

There are good island shops sourcing local produce for Christmas shopping. In late November and early December on Mull there are pre Christmas craft fairs around the island and these can be a great opportunity to meet local Mull artists and craftspeople and sample their produce.