A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Posts tagged ‘Soay sheep’

Down, but weather saves the Day.

It is just as well the weather is amazing as it feels most things I touch or am involved in either fall apart or are difficult to deal with. Feel a real need to take time out but so much to do and with Spring not far away everything is going to go into overdrive. The weather is making the “problems” not quite so bad, in fact there is not too much harm in a little exaggeration to get it off your chest.
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Health still rubbish up to the end of the week but turned out for the Community Company Board Meeting on Saturday evening. I find these employment decisions very hard as you know more than one good candidate for each of the jobs, the main reason for setting up an independent recruiting panel, still stressful. That is the Community Company employing four people on a full and part-time basis. Although this is bound to fluctuate over time these stats for a new and small Company in a fragile Community is pretty impressive. Continuing downside is we are being let down badly by our Filling Station software and I am expecting a complete crash if the rate of failure keeps on the current course.

Good turn out of customers for the Sunday lunch shift, at one stage the reserve ticket was out keeping a table for the group having a pre-food bottle of wine in the Garden. Good to get talking to visitors again, takes your mind of your own “woes”, the Kiltarlity joiner/crofter, the fisherman from the North of Skye and the couple from Strathpeffer meeting the couple from Findhorn. Although it happens on practically every shift it is great to see it happen. Chatting about anything from the price of prawns to the state of shinty in the North, good to work with Jill again, back from South Africa, both behind the bar and both out front with one end …to serve the guests. Judith having headed off to Edinburgh it was us in charge for a few hours. Watched an astonishing rugby match in the evening when I saw Scotland well beaten in just about everything except spirit and the score. Almost felt sorry for the Irish.

Today, it was off fishing, if not for me leaving the engine room light on last week. Off with the batteries yet again,back on charge, but since then although not feeling in the best of form managed a better end to the day. A constructive chat with the sparky , followed by resurrecting our sick car which has been sitting outside the church for a couple of days,  Ruairidh headed off with Chris on his three-day Inner Hebrides kayak trip, taking in Rona, Raasay and Scalpay,

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and then it was down to Toscaig to pickup a falling apart armchair for a reupholster in Inverness tomorrow. Dougal came down for a wee wander and there are sick people down here as well. Before Dougal jumped out and tried to make friends with them, the Soay sheep were lazing about on the grass.

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Last job of the day was the most apprehensive as it was another first and this was following Audrey’s instructions to treat the hive for varroa mites, a task that was not expected when I picked up the bees last September. Audrey had been so careful not to go outside the area for any bee contact but as the varroa arrived in Plockton she was no longer optimistic that she could escape infestation and last week found that she had some. So today it was my turn to use oxalic acid down the seams of the brood box. This is a derivative of the rhubarb plant and does not build up any resistance in the mites and this seemingly is perfect weather to treat. I am still not used to having bees and was nervous that I had not seen them for weeks on end although knowing they would have been silly to come out in some of the weather we have had. It was great and not a little relieving to see a full, healthy and in the end a quite cross hive. Used up 30 ml on 6 seams so hopefully if there are mites this will control the outbreak. Paper was pushed under the box to see if any mites drop, giving an indication how many are in the hive. When you go through what has happened it turns out it was not a nothing weekend…I just fish a lot less than I used to and am not used to that yet.

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I still get a disturbed feel to a few events that are taking place. The selling of the Raasay shooting and fishing rights from under the noses of the crofters for a mere £2,000 extra “profit”. Now some one from Aryshire comes to the island to shoot deer, an activity built up by the crofters over a couple of decades….not progress in my eyes. Good news from The Coigach as we hear they have been awarded funding to buy the Summer Isles Smoke House. But even there is an element of discontent that seems to personalise the discussions and must take the edge of the achievement for the guys working on the project, but we all have elements in every community that seem to react to change. Possibly fear of change itself is a factor and if it was okay to do it a certain way in the past why change it? Also the new Creel Federation is having some fairly major teething issues that desperately need a meeting round a table to sort out…inevitable due to the stroppy nature of inshore fishermen. So an unsettled time but the weather saves the day yet again.IMG_1652

Who Mentioned Spring?

It is very windy and the only item on today’s agenda was off down to Toscaig to measure the fiefdom/croft for a Species Rich Grasslands ploughing and planting in May hopefully. Went down with Robert and he left happy with the prospect of enough off cuts for the rest of his raised beds. Dougal loved Toscaig, maybe a little too much, as he tried to say hello to the Soay sheep and ended up taking his first shower…was not impressed.

Soil engineer and Duncan on the other part part of the croft and  if all goes well there will be three new houses going up in the next couple of years. Lots of life in the Old Place yet. Wind direction still with just enough westerly in it to take the edge of it coming into the moorings. Not good seeing your £60/70,000 bobbing up and down on the end of a bit of rope and a shackle. The wind is forecast to swing round to the NW and that is our bad one especially at high water.IMG_1355

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Not a patch on the wave sizes further north and west but big enough for me. Nice to see glimpses of the sun in between the showers. Yesterday the Hill was blocked for a time and although the weather was poor and mid winter there were still 25 customers in for food and drink at the Inn before 2pm. There is always a debate at this time of year about businesses shut down, I suppose that is one of the markers for the Inn ……everyone knows it is open all year round. Difficult for small places to offer a service when more often than not you make a loss for 2/3 months in the year but once a reputation is established it is surprising the “off season” trade that comes along.

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