This week saw the eleventh month anniversary of our arrival slip by. It’s been a Rum sort of week – lots happening and nothing happening. The weather has been our usual little micro climate of extremes with no real correlation between us and what is happening on the mainland. Still no snow, no rain either but plenty of wind and a real chill to the air. The boats have been disrupted to the other Small Isles although we have had all of our boats this week.
The community polytunnel is another step closer to being put up. It has been a saga of epic proportions to get even as far as it has with it’s location changing countless times even down to us being around for three lots of measuring out where holes were to be dug and digging a fair few of them. Last weekend had some people bringing pieces of it to the croft, others lending tools and a few of us getting hands on with the putting up the frame. We also had help from various people who will never actually have a plot in it but wanted to help including a visiting fellow WWOOF host who had come for the weekend to deliver some drakes to us and volunteered his time to lend a hand. It was in turns frustrating – several tools got broken, there were at times too many chiefs AND too many indians, the instructions were treated as more of a rough guideline than a bible and we were making constant modifications due to the mud, the hill and the mistakes we’d made in not reading the instructions from four steps previously. Yes it probably should have been up last summer, or last autumn or even last month and it’s still not at grand opening with visiting celeb cutting ribbons with oversized scissors but progress is being made and when it one day yields the very first edible leaf or delicate flower it will all have been worth it.
We have finally sorted out our water so instead of trekking up the hill and gathering it in 20ltr jerry cans it is now piped down to a standpipe right next to the static. This will save about an hour a day and means showers are no longer a speedy endurance test to see who can use the least water but an almost luxurious experience. We have a footpath up the croft made of pallets so the final thing on my list of stuff we should have sorted out during our first year is the toilet – we have a composting toilet parcelled up ready to get to us once we can find a courier to get it from Argyll to here – we’ve been making phonecalls this week to no avail but hopefully have another couple to try next week. As it goes the road to the loo is currently closed due to snow anyway.
Our new drakes arrived and very beautiful they are too. They led our five ducks far away (just like in the song, over the hill and far away) and on day one we all had a go at rounding them back up – Bonnie swam way out of her depth around in the river chasing them for ages until we had to call her out and get her home to dry off and warm up, Ady went thigh deep into boggy ground to try and grab them, Dragon and Star tried luring them home with food, Star caught two of the five and I carried them all the way home only for them to get back onto the river and swim back downstream again. We were convinced they were too far from the croft to make it back home again but they have proved us wrong and the next morning I looked out of the window to see a duck parade all waddling along the path towards the croft! The geese continue to provide two eggs some days which leads us to speculate that both Margo and Jerry are geese and we don’t have a gander at all. I’ve been in touch with a poultry supplier that advertises as delivering to the highlands and islands about some more geese and some turkeys – our other big plan for this year.
I think Barbara Pig is in season. Tom pig seems to agree.
Monday was work at the school in the morning for me and a meeting of the Visitor Management Group in the afternoon. We’re planning some Open Day familiarisation visits to Rum for local tourist trade people to come and see for themselves what we have here so they can help us spread the word to their customers and encourage them to visit Rum. We’re gearing up for a full season of events, new business ventures, crafts, produce and activities for this year aswell as thinking ahead longer term.
Tuesdays’ boat brought our new neighbours for Croft 2 and the islands latest residents -we’re all really excited about their arrival including Bonnie as they bring with them a boy collie pup who is already Bonnie’s new best friend. The two of them have spent many happy playtimes chasing each other all over the crofts and we forsee many happy hours ahead for them. This is perfect timing as Bonnie is responding really well to our training and various focussed attention but nothing can quite take the place of proper puppy play with a fellow pup and now she has that too. It’s great getting to know new folk and we are really looking foward to living next to, working alongside and sharing lives with Gav and Laura.
Wednesday saw the scary sight and sound of the medical helicopter hovering and landing which is never, ever a good sign. Sure enough it was coming to take one of the contractors working on the castle temporary accommodation away having suffered a heart attack. Those who were on the scene were very shaken by the whole experience and it rocked our small community not least because he is a fellow islander with family and links to next door Eigg. He’s doing well and we’re looking forward to seeing him back on his feet before too long but it was a real reminder of how remote and vulnerable we can be here on our island.
On Thursday we had a Venison processing company get together to plan our strategy for the coming year and work out what we’ll invest the remainder of our grant money on. We have some plans for marketing and promoting aswell as finely tuning our packaging and labelling. I’m working on a website to help promote the venison and give a bit of background on the red deer and venison meat. If you’re visiting Rum be sure to take some venison home with you or sample some while you’re here!
Inbetween all of the above I’ve been knitting whenever I can to add to my very small stash of crafty bits ready to sell – my plans to spend the winter making came to nothing due to lack of light, lack of time and lack of urgency – I’ve always operated best at the eleventh hour, or indeed the eleventh month! Dragon has been designing a range of Rum postcards he hopes to sell and I’ve been giving further thought as to just how best to capture the midges when they come to set in resin.
Tonight we turned off the lights for Earth Hour and we’ve been listening to the news reports of places without electricity due to the weather. It makes you realise that having something and relying on it leaves you far more vulnerable than simply not having it in the first place…