Friday, November 21, 2014

Around the Croft

 

It's been so long since I posted a croft update - two whole seasons have come and gone and here we are heading into Winter already. Even James remarked this evening on what a quick year it has been.  This year has been so different for us, with John's cancer diagnosis and treatment, and all our focus has been on just getting through.


The work still goes on though - and I've had to keep a lot of plates spinning over the last 6 months. I've managed - just, and I've had help from friends and neighbours too. But, there's no getting away from it - changes have had to be made to suit our current circumstances.


The livestock have been sold. The sheep went to the August sales, and the cattle were bought by a lovely man who is building up a new Dexter herd. We were sad to see them go, but it really was the best decision for me - and for them too. My step-daughter was here to lend a hand, as well as some of our neighbours, and we soon had them loaded and on their way.

Their new owner is delighted with them, and, reassuringly sent this picture of them enjoying the lush pastures. I have to say, too, that during the recent gales and storms here, it was a real relief not to have to worry about them.


The sheep and lambs went to the mainland too, but we still have a flock on the croft. One of our neighbour's is using our top field for tupping. The ram is fitted with a harness containing a coloured marker. When he has had his wicked way with a ewe, the evidence will be clearly visible ;) A different colour is used each week, until all the sheep have been covered. It's a good way to work out when the lambing season will begin and end.


The garden was badly neglected this year. There have been some small harvests - and I still have chard and broccoli on the go, but there have been a few steps backwards this year. Never mind - the garden will still be there next season.


I'm still picking sweet tomatoes, though - very pleased about that.


I planted a lot of spring bulbs outside, but I am going to do tulips in pots this year. The ground is just too wet for them, so I will bring them on and then plant the pot out. I've brought a few plants and cuttings in to overwinter in the polytunnel. You can see the broad bean plants, still in their root-trainers, where they gave been since last Spring. When I, at last, got a chance to plant them out in June, I found they had rooted solidly into the ground. Obviously they didn't do terribly well in that restricted space, but I managed to get a few pods, which have been saved for next year's seed.


All summer, I have been steeping herbs and fruit in vodka. Now they have been strained out and the liquor added to a sugar syrup. By Christmas time, they will be just perfect for tippling. I have fennel, elderflower and raspberry. 


So that's my quick roundup of crofting matters for now. I'm sure there has been more, and certainly there have been ideas and plans for the future discussed, but so much is on hold while we wait to see how John's treatment has worked out. Next week we travel to the hospital on the mainland to see the neurosurgeon and oncologist, so we should have a clearer idea of where we are then. xx

Friday, November 14, 2014

Eight


Sharing a moment that I want to remember. No words, just a single special image. Joining in with Soulemama for This Moment. Wishing you all a happy weekend xx


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Autumn scenes















We may not have forests full of autumn colour here, but we can still enjoy the shades of the season all around us. The moor has a burnished glow that is just as glorious as any woodland right now. The grass and the shoreline are full of different shades of browns, golds and reds and oranges. The leaves of the potentilla are like a golden carpet, and mushrooms and fungi are appearing everywhere.
Mick and I are still walking this same route everyday. He has an ongoing excavation down by the shore - a rabbit hole, most likely. He spent a fair bit of time today, snuffling and scratching at it.  I left him to it and wandered around. I saw a wren, and almost got a good shot of a buzzard (I think). I went to sit on my favourite rock, looking out to sea, and eventually Mick came and joined me. The wind was strong, and there was a fair bit of swell in the water, but the rain stayed away while we were out. It was a good walk.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tattie Holidays

 



















Back in the day, this long October midterm break was known as the Tattie Holiday, as children were given time off to help with the potato harvest. Times change, and nowadays, we take things a bit easier. The Autumn holiday has become a chance to catch a last blast of sunshine and fresh air before the Winter sets in. Last year, at this time we took a trip down to London, but this holiday was spent at home. John still had his final cycle of chemotherapy to undergo, and travel plans are not really an option for us right now - times change...

But still, I was blessed with the visit of two dear friends and their boys. It was absolutely magical time. We did some touring around, ate out a lot, visited beaches, watched our boys play, while we three Mamas chatted and laughed, knitted, and laughed some more. Such balm for the soul - and even the weather conspired to keep them on the island for longer, giving us time for one more lunch out, one more day of their precious company.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

High Five











Big seas, gigantic pies, new yarn shop, lunch out with my husband, and walking the dog. Good things - normal things. Love to you all xxx



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Snippets of Yarns.


Just completed this lovely hat, using a gorgeous silk/merino handspun which I bought in Skye. A great quick knit, which I actually finished in a single evening!


Because, you know, I am not renowned for my speedy knitting, or crocheting skills. Witness the Bullseye blanket, begun at the beginning of summer - the pile of circles has grown v e r y  s l o w l y. Still, I am almost ready to start squaring them off in dark brown now, I have run out of some of the colours, and I want to make 4 of each, so need to order those. Not sure about the fawny/grey colour though. Might change that - decisions, decisions.  Meanwhile the Ripple blanket is still unfinished, the odd stripe or two being added when the notion takes me, and a summer shawl languishes in a basket for another season..


Never mind. I have, this very day, cast on  the Annabel cardigan, using the grey Rowan Purelife aran, that I bought specifically for this project. Well - it's what we do... :)


I've no books currently on the go right now - other than Stuart Little, which I am reading to James at bedtime, and various magazines, but I am listening to We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates. I do like her writing, and this is a good one. 

Lots of little bits this week - joining in with Ginny forYarn Along. 




Sunday, September 28, 2014

Constancy and change


It has been a long time - a lost time, really. So much happening, and yet nothing much has changed. The sun still rises and sets and the rain falls - sometimes even at the same time!



The tide rises and falls, and the waves crash in - each one leaving its own unique, elusive pattern, yet the eternal rhythm beats on.
There is such a comfort in the constancy of nature - the reassuring optimism of each new day -  of every new wave breaking on the shore. Such  relentless hope...




There have been a few setbacks. An emergency admission to hospital with pneumonia and pleurisy, and a subsequent pulmonary embolism meant that John's chemotherapy regime was delayed. Thankfully he has now recovered and is back on track with his treatment - one more cycle to go. A preliminary scan shows that the spinal tumour has shrunk, the lung lesion has not grown, and the disease appears to be "stable". Rain followed by sunshine ... and flowers still bloom in the garden.



Tomatoes grow and ripen, despite my neglectful stewardship. Sungold cherry is a clear winner - little bombs of pure sweetness lighten up this dark time.  



My trusty travelling companion - another constant feature in my life. Funny how animals just know... and he certainly does. I am glad he is here, with that unconditional gaze.
We didn't get Independence. Such a disappointment. I was genuinely shocked at how grief stricken I was after the result. All those hopes - dashed. Forty-five percent of us voted for Scotland to become an independent nation - so close. I am still upset, but I believe we will get there one day - soon.


So - it may be low tide right now, but, you know, soon enough the surf will come sweeping up over the beach, obliterating our footprints, creating the shoreline anew. There is such hope in that thought - solace in the constancy of change. xx

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hello


I've been absent from here for almost two weeks now. To be honest I am pretty much taken up with caring, and working for a Yes victory in the Referendum on Scottish Independence. Polling day is18th September, and the vote is going to be very close. It's exciting, nerve racking stuff, but I am so enjoying it. To see my country wholly engaged in the debate in such a positive way is truly inspiring.

John is still going through his chemotherapy - 2 cycles to go. Its leaving him really quite washed out, but we are focussing on the healing aspects of the treatment. We have been hugely buoyed by your thoughts and prayers.

I am not sure if I will be popping back here before the big day, if not - see you on the other side!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cloud spotting


Sharing a moment that I want to remember. No words, just a single special image. Joining in with Soulemama for This Moment. Wishing you all a beautiful weekend xx

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Last days of Summer



The heather is blooming now, turning the hillsides into a haze of purple. It's a lovely sight, but a sure sign that Autumn is on the horizon.


The school holidays are over again, although we enjoyed the very last evening on our favourite beach.


We also managed to pick some of the brambles growing down by the shore, before the birds finished them off - so we have some tiny jars of blackberry jelly!


We've been eating fresh salad from the polytunnel every day...


... and the tomatoes are beginning to ripen. Slowly, mind you, but still, it's more than I had expected.



The vegetable garden has been pretty much neglected this year - I lost two lots of seedlings while we were on the mainland for John's hospital treatments, and the raised beds have become choked with weeds. Ah well - nothing else for it but to begin again - slowly - one spadeful at a time. I am pleased to have been able to put a few crops in the ground, at least - and there is always another season...



I've been developing a herb plot near the house, and I am pleased with how it is turning out. The hens also like to hang out under the trees here, so some protection is needed from foraging chooks.


In other news - we have sold the cattle. It was a hard decision, as they have been such a  well-loved part of our lives here. But looking ahead, realistically, it is unlikely John will be able to get back to active crofting, and looking after them involves a lot of work - particularly in the Winter. With a heavy heart, I put them up for sale, and within the week a deal was done. Happily, they are going to be part of a new Dexter herd in another part of Scotland, where the grass is lush and the Winters are kinder.


 The sheep too, will be going for sale next month. Another hard decision, but better for us and for them at this time. It is not what we planned at all, but this is where we are right now.


So - our focus is on the cancer treatment - the next cycle of chemotherapy is in a few days time. We don't know what the eventual outcome will be, and whether livestock will feature again in our lives, but - its not a bad place to be while we wait... xx

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