These are no ordinary piglets

They are cute as all piglets are. I do think that piglets are one of the cutest baby animals, particularly as they manage to be very cute despite being kind of ugly. But these piglets, a week old tomorrow, currently spending their days feeding, getting a wee bit braver and venturing a little further every day, squabbling with their litter mates and snuggled up in a piglet heap sleeping are a little bit special.

They are the first livestock born to crofters on Rum. They are proof that Tom and Barbara are both fertile, that Barbara can carry to term and birth and be a good and attentive mother. They – and their dead brothers and sister have already taught us more about pig keeping in the last week than we had learnt previously in the last year. Books, the internet, even listening to previous pig keepers never tells you quite so much as living it yourself. I shared that quote with Dragon and Star just this past week:

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” 

Benjamin Franklin

But more than all of that these piglets are the realisation of a dream. We kept chickens and ducks in our little back garden back in Sussex, we grew some fruit and vegetables in our allotment and in tubs on our patio but pigkeeping was always out of reach back in our old lives. We didn’t have enough space, or time to focus on them.

Keeping pigs, building a shelter for them, moving them around, learning about electric fencing and powering it from a little solar panel, dealing with them when they escape, building a relationship with them over the last year is all steps further toward our dream of self sufficiency. Actually breeding pigs – two of which will provide meat for us and two of which will be sold to cover costs of feed is more than a step in the right direction, it’s one foot actually arrived! We need to fatten them, slaughter them and butcher them to get the other foot and the rest of our bodies there too but this is it, we’re doing it, we’re making it happen.

Watching those little piglets today gave me such a sense of how far we’ve come. The planning and sharing our idea about traveling and WWOOFing back in 2010. The packing up and fund raising to make all that happen. The scary milestones of packing in jobs, giving back company cars, telling people about our plans and watching them try to be enthusiastic and pretend they thought it was a good idea! The actual WWOOFing – the highs and the lows. The days when it felt like maybe we should have listened to the people who questioned us with concern, when a comfy chair in a warm office and banter with workmates followed by a bubble bath, glass of wine, takeaway on the sofa watching telly before going to a safe warm bed in a solid house felt like a good trade off for traffic jams, unfulfilling jobs and this nagging feeling that there was another, different life out there for us if only we’d be brave enough to go and grab it. That interminable limbo period between finishing WWOOFing, feeling we’d found our dream life but had to wait for applications to close, business plans to be pondered, interviews to be held and then pack up once more and head here to start from scratch.

Those piglets represent the challenges, the not-out-of-the-woods-just-yet ness of our lives. We’ll not be naming them – they will all be food within six months but if I were to name them it would be Faith, Hope, Dreams and Belief. That’s what got us and these piglets here to this point.

How low can you go?

Or life as a limbo dancing. As in we’re living in limbo but still dancing.

This week we learnt that our tenants are leaving our house back in Sussex next week. That rather throws our finances into a bit of a fix as it will mean we’ll be paying the mortgage for our house again. Oh the irony – while we live our off grid lifestyle with no bath, no shower, no central heating, washing machine etc we’ll be paying each month for a fully fitted house back in our old life we’re no longer living in!

They are leaving because the house is on the market, it is us that have effectively given them notice by trying to sell the house even though they were welcome to stay there til it sold. We’ve already dropped the price once and it’s been on the market for a few months now but with no real interest. I am ever hopeful (you know me, mistress of optimism!) that it being vacant will make it more attractive to potential buyers and have fingers firmly crossed for a speedy sale now. We’ve talked about the house a lot these last few days and have all four made our peace with the fact that it is no longer our home, just a house we used to live in once upon a time.

So as ever more uncertainty clouds our here and now with us trapped right here unable to move further forward with building a home or investing in the croft fully until the house sells and our capital is freed up we find ourselves desperate to move forward with things. I was taking to our neighbour this morning and we were discussing grants and subsidies and whether various hoops are worth jumping through. We discussed how living so close to nature means the spring makes you feel precisely like a coiled spring – full of promise and anticipation, expectation and the need to expend energy, make things happen and more things along. All around us buds are bursting into flower, seeds are sprouting, animals are pairing up and building nests or rearing their young. Life is starting over again for this year and it allows us to wipe the slate clean and do just the same – start afresh for this year, work out what we want to give birth to for this season and how we’re going to do it. Ideas are germinating, visions are clearing and the little things are begging for our attention.

It’s time to resign ourselves to some things being beyond our control and let them take care of themselves while we focus on the here and now, the stuff we can control, the bits we are in charge of.

So turn up the music, lower than rope and lets dance!

Crofters R us

Our first year done. Every month on the calendar marked off, every season survived, every birthday and annual holiday celebrated, every extreme faced, every emotion felt, every weather experienced, every challenge survived, every box ticked.

From a bare field with thigh high reeds and rushes, boggy patches up to your knees in places, no water, no power, no internet connection, no supermarket, no petrol station, no prior knowledge of island living, no friendships yet forged, no means of earning money, no inkling of just what might happen next to today. A year on.

A home. Not a forever home, not a perfect home but a home nonetheless. It’s provided shelter, warmth, a place to sleep, to cook, to eat, to entertain, to shower, sing, laugh, cry, shout. We’ve had people for dinner pretty much every week since we arrived, we’ve had overnight visitors, day trippers. It was an epic journey to get the static on to the croft, one I suspect will be talked about long after we’re gone and it won’t ever leave the croft in one piece. We have power thanks to our generator and a range of solar panels, water thanks to the burn and internet and mobile phone signal. We can bake bread, cook dinner, listen the radio, watch a film and go to bed. It’s home.

Livestock. Aside from Bonnie and Humphrey (Star’s hamster) who arrived with us we only had a very small time here without livestock. I think our chickens and ducks arrived two weeks after we did and were residents on the actual croft land long before we were. We’ve only lost one of our original birds so still have nine hens, our fine cockrel, two geese, six ducks – two chicks hatched but were lost last year but the exciting news this week is that our broody hen who has been sitting on a huge clutch of eggs got off them for a drink and some food this evening I noticed at least one egg was pipping (starting to hatch) so more chicks to come soon. We now have a drake for our five ducks and are hoping for the patter of tiny webbed feet at some future point. Our pair of geese turned out to be pair of geese rather than a goose and gander but reinforcements are on the way in the shape of another six geese arriving next month along with ten turkeys bringing our flock of birds up to a very respectful number.

Seeing the chickens free range and scratching about on the croft makes my heart sing. Seeing the ducks swimming on Kinloch river and the geese roaming about trimming the grass feeds my soul. Happy, happy birds living a wonderful life here giving us gorgeous eggs and making our field into a working croft.

I’m so proud that we made all of their housing from foraged and donated materials, we now have a market for chickens, ducks and geese eggs in the shop, to various islanders and on-island businesses and do a fairly healthy trade from our honesty tables at the croft gates selling to tourists and visitors too.

Our other livestock is our breeding pair of Gloucester Old Spot and Kune Kune pigs, Tom and Barbara who gave us the best anniversary present ever of four little piglets this weekend. Our brood grows and with these latest additions come the beginning of true self sufficiency – animals bred to sell and to rear for meat. For the next couple of weeks they will mostly be being cute and making us coo 🙂

Within our first year we have managed to sow our first seeds too, in the (finally erected!) community polytunnel, hosted up here on Croft 3 we have various fish boxes, plastic containers, eggs boxes and recycled ice cream tubs filled with seeds. We have loads of salad leaves and lettuce, plenty of herbs, lots of tomatoes, chillis and peppers. We have seed potatoes in sacks and I have my first raised bed with some onion and garlic sets planted in. Plenty more to come if the weather ever warms up and we have more raised bed timber ready to go, more grow bags and compost ready to plant up containers and some shelving on its way to create multiple layered areas within the polytunnel but it’s a great start – germinated seeds shooting little green leaves up to the sun.

Our life here is so much more than what happens on our croft though. We moved here for the whole package of life on Rum – the community, the people, the wildlife, the beauty of the island and we have also spent our first year throwing ourselves into all that that entails.

I am a director of the Isle of Rum Community Trust, of Rum Enterprise, the trading arm of the trust which runs money making commercial projects on island such as the community bunkhouse we have recently been awarded a massive grant by the National Lottery to build and will make a huge difference to what we can offer visitors here on Rum. I am a director of the Venison Processing Community Interest Company – a grant funded small company which buys the culled deer from SNH and turns the beasts into venison products to sell to islanders, tourists and local small businesses. I am on the Visitor Service Group which works towards delivering the best experience possible for visitors to Rum. I help run the website, managing content and keeping it looking good and staying informative and up to date. I edit the Rum Rumble, a community newsletter for Rum residents which we print and distribute monthly and is a real collaborative effort with content from all the various people and organisations which make up the Rum community. I am on the events committee which sets up events for locals and visitors. Ady plays his own active role, working for the Venison processing company to butcher and process venison and help sell it, cleaning the community hall toilets, supporting me in my various endeavours and helping fellow islanders wherever possible. Dragon and Star play their part in the community too offering their own viewpoints and opinions on things, getting involved in poster design for events, getting involved in consultations for ideas for moving the community forward, being consulted on design and ideas for a kids playground and generally having input. They are part of the Junior Ranger programme and are always up for helping out whenever it is needed.

Alongside all of this we still manage to do our day to day stuff – bake bread, make jam, have time together, drink tea with friends, have our own seperate interests along with things we enjoy together as a family. Dragon and Star both have fledgling businesses up and running – Dragon is selling his postcards at three locations on the island, Star is busy collecting more sea glass to carry on making her jewelry and is in charge of the honesty tables selling eggs. I make my knitted and crocheted bits and pieces and carry on dreaming of a cloning machine so I could take on another 100 things without compromising anything!

We always knew year one would be about laying down foundations for our new life. Starting to put the first stones down to build a whole life on over time. Testing, discovering, learning and experimenting.

The end of our first year sees us still at the starting line in many ways but utterly confident that this is the right path to be walking along, in the correct location with the best people, no real clue as to what is at the finish line but a really excited feeling about what we might see along the way.


When we went off WWOOFing we took with us a bottle of fizz. We had a party just before we left Sussex and as is the norm with parties you get left with random bottles of alcohol afterwards. We had a few random bottles of post party drink plus the contents of our own drinks cabinet (we didn’t actually ever have a drinks cabinet as we were not really a couple from a 1970s sitcom but we still had a collection of drinks that seemed to kick around for years). Most of that eclectic collection got drunk along the way while we were on the road. Medicinal purposes, desperation, decluttering… the bottle that made it all the way round with us though was this bottle of fizz. I don’t actually know how we came by it but it lived in one of the bench seats and I think we planned to either have some celebratory occasion and break it open or hit a point whereby we were needing to drown our sorrows and call an end to the whole silly idea and toast going home again.

When we arrived back in Sussex in November 2011 and parked Willow on my parents driveway we brought the bottle in with us and shared it with them. It turned out that although we could have just left the bottle with them at their house along with lots of our other stuff it was somehow appropriate that it traveled round the country with us and came along for the ride.

If it taught me anything it was that sometimes the time to celebrate is the end of the adventure. I think our WWOOFing was just that, a finite adventure with a clear conclusion. It was right that that bottle of fizz helped us celebrate the completion of that period. A safe return to family and friends, Willow making it all the way around, us having set out to achieve all our many objectives and returning victorious.

One of the great highlights (and there are many) of 2011 was meeting Jill and Johnny, some amazing friends who we crossed paths with by chance but returned to spend time with in Glastonbury on several occasions. These are people we feel almost destined to have met, to have in our lives. When we pulled away from them the last time (and we visited them in all of the different vehicles we were driving in the 18 months or so they knew us including Willow, my old Sharan and the Pajero back when it was capable of driving on roads!) it was with a bottle of fizz, a gift from them to us.

We planned to crack it open when we arrived on Rum. But just getting here didn’t feel like quite enough of an achievement. So we deferred it until we were actually in the static, except of course the static arrival didn’t quite go as planned. So maybe when we finally got the static on the croft? That day was amazing, fantastic, wonderful. It was also the 19th anniversary of Ady and I being a couple. It felt like it might have been the right day to crack open the fizz, except we were exhausted that day, utterly overwhelmed with emotion and just desperate to have dinner and crawl into bed finally on the croft. It would not have done the fizz justice to open it and not savour it and all it represents.

We had Christmas, New Year, my birthday and on each occasion I have pulled the bottle out with thoughts of opening it. None have felt right so it remains intact, ready for the perfect moment. In my head I thought perhaps it would be today – the celebration of us being on Rum for a year. We’ve toasted that – Ady and I had a beer with our barbecued sausages at lunchtime at the community beach clean. We had planned a curry, a few drinks with friends down at the bar and then home to maybe crack open that bottle. But the weather is wild and the ferry was not running to schedule, the shop had no chicken for a curry and Barbara Pig is birthing. So Ady drove around meeting boats and chasing our deliveries, I sat in the mud with Barbara eventually hitting a point where I had to either decide to miss dinner and sit in the mud with her all night or come in, have a shower, get into warm, dry clothes and eat dinner conceding that actually nature will have a far better voice for what Barbara should do next that me.

So a very late dinner, hopes that Barbara will do just fine and high levels of exhaustion all round after a full day of beach cleaning mean that fizz remains full and waiting for the right moment still…

Anniverary Eve Eve

A year ago tonight we were at friends in Sheffield. We parked outside their house many nights over the years – first in fuel paid company cars, then in Willow the campervan and finally in our Pajero and horse box. When we arrived in their cul de sac with the horse box we messed up the reversing with a trailer thing and had to un-hitch and re-hitch and drag it around by hand. A year ago today we were doing a big supermarket food shop trying to think of what we’d need and not be able to get on Rum. We were buying jerry cans ready to send off island regularly to get filled with red diesel or petrol. It all seemed such a novelty prospect back then, now it’s just a fact of our lives.

A year ago tomorrow we got up super early and drove from Sheffield to Fort William, collected Bonnie, drove back slightly south and stayed in a camping pod for our last night on the mainland. A new puppy, all our lives packed up in our horsebox behind us and the adventure of a lifetime all ahead of us. In some ways I can’t believe it’s already a year ago, in others it feels like a whole lifetime ago, almost as though that happened to different people rather than us. In many ways I guess it did – we are not the people who once lived in a house and had regular jobs. We’re not even the people who spent a year WWOOFing and living in a campervan. When you live somewhere like Rum, where the longest serving resident has still only been here a decade or so you are merely the person you are today – who you have been since you got here. It’s the shared experiences with the rest of the community and what you do right here, right now, today that make you who you are. It doesn’t matter what you used to do, who you used to be, what you once had. It’s a face value existence here where you can reinvent yourself and decide afresh what you want to do and how you want to play it.

We quite literally started with nothing a year ago, arriving to a bare field. On Saturday we celebrate a year since we arrived. For tonight I’m looking backwards to a year ago, come Saturday we’ll be looking forward and deciding what the next year will bring, where we’re going and which direction to head off in next.

More visitors and some rain

After eight dry weeks we have had almost 24 hours of solid rainfall. Accompanied by some very gusty wind. It’s south, south east in direction which is fairly untroubling for us on the croft or in the static although it does mean our bed gets rocked a bit, a slightly unnerving experience when you are trying to sleep in it!

We had more day tripping visitors yesterday, friends who have been with us at every step of the way on our adventures so far and ones we have missed dearly having not seen for a year. It was very special to share Rum with them yesterday and catch up over tea and venison sausages. They got a great 10 hour between boats overview of the island, the village, the croft, what’s happened over the last year and what we plan on happening next. It was all too brief and the only down side to the day was waving them off on the ferry yesterday evening.

No new birth or seeds popping their heads out of the ground news just yet and the rain has meant that Barbara Pig’s maternity pen is rather a mud bath so we spent the dry spells in between showers today collecting some strimmed reeds (ah the benefit of 8 acres of croft land which is mostly reeds is that you have ready made straw to strim and collect when it has been sunny and windy for weeks having turned the croft into a big field full of animal bedding. Who says we don’t have crops yet!) and throwing them into her pen. We chopped some wood and checked on the broody hen. We got all five duck eggs today so overnight penning of the ducks and drakes has proved the right move. Mice have been raiding our planted seeds and stolen all the sunflowers and some of the more tasty herb seeds so we need to pay some attention to the holes around the foot of the polytunnel and install some frames or staging inside to keep our crops off the ground – a next dry day job that one. I chopped lots of firewood so we have a few days supply incase the rain sets in.

We used the weather to give us a reason to take most of the day off though and watched a couple of films – War Horse and a re-watch of Nim’s Island which is a bit of a family favourite, ate popcorn and had a lovely Sunday roast. The weather has meant nobody walked the nature trails today so we’ve not seen anyone at all or left the croft. One of those days when the four of us was enough.

Maternity Wing (and trotter!)

We’re very excited on the croft at the prospect of all the new births on the horizon.

Barbara Pig is beautifully pregnant and I think it’s fairly imminent – yesterday we build an extension to the pig pen, put up a new house and moved Tom Pig into the side wing. He broke through the fence to get back to Barbara. So we moved Barbara Pig out into the side wing and she broke through the fence to get back to Tom! All of the advice insists that we must seperate them though, much though she seems to want his company and he seems to want to play the proud expectant father. So we constructed a pallet and post maternity wing with cunning lift off section for access, filled the house with new straw and finally she seems nice and settled in there. I hung out with her for nearly an hour this evening and she seems pretty chilled out if clearly rather uncomfortable and ready to be done with pregnancy.

Our broody hen continues to do her thing on her clutch of marked eggs so fingers crossed for chicks within the next couple of weeks (chickens incubate for 21 days) and the penning of the ducks has paid huge dividends with two eggs collected yesterday morning and four today!

Watch this space for news from the polytunnel – three fish boxes filled with salad, loads of old ice cream containers sown with tomatoes, chillis and peppers and plenty of egg boxes ready to sprout herbs, sunflowers, peas and just because she could Star planted some watermelon seeds too!

And finally I’ve been adding to my willow fence around the static by weaving in some more whips. It’s all very experimental but I was gifted the willow so all that I’ve invested is my time. If the geese don’t eat the new buds I think it will all take okay actually as the ground is perfect (ie very wet!) and the early whips took really well so I’ve just added new ones. I’ve also set up two nursery sites where I’ve planted some smaller straight whips for future use and I’ve put willow around our very first chicken house which I always felt was adequate for purpose of chicken sheltering but rather ugly. My next willow plan is a hedge around the polytunnel. Maybe next week…

Ady and I had one of those perfect moments earlier today when we stood while the ducks swam below us on the river, the chickens scratched around, the kids and dog were playing beside the river and we’d just finished constructing the maternity wing for Barbara. We decided that if anyone else had our lives, if we’d WWOOFed for anyone with our set up we’d have felt so envious of their perfect set up. We’re not there yet, not by a long way but the potential to realise our dreams here is so strong and that feeling that there is no one else who’s life you’d rather have than your own, at no other time than right now is such a precious feeling it makes you want to bottle it, revel in it and celebrate it.

one minus eleven

A fabulous crofting day today. A fabulous day all round really. I meant to do a photoblog day when I realised it was April again and today would have been a perfect day to do so as it was all the very best bits of our lives here.

This morning Ady was off putting the finishing touches to a pen to keep the ducks in overnight. We are losing all five of the duck eggs each day (retail price at least 50 pence each) due to them roaming so much and ducks being a bit rubbish at laying their eggs in a consistent place plus the hoodies (hooded crows) being very shrewd about watching them and swooping down ready to grab them as soon as they have laid. So we’ve decided to pen them when they return to the croft for their evening meal and then let them loose to free range and swim up and down the river all day again once they have laid their eggs. Ady did make the pen last week and very successfully lured them all in with their evening feed then watched in dismay as they all just waltzed through the gaps in the fence he had assumed were too small for them to get through! So today he has staggered the fencing and put some netting over it and they are all safely in there tonight with high hopes of five freshly laid duck eggs tomorrow to put on the honesty tables for sale in the morning.

The honesty tables have already netted us over £20 since installing them five days ago – hurrah for produce selling from an unmanned shop front!

Meanwhile I was making dough for bread rolls for lunch, chatting to Dragon and Star while they breakfasted and clearing up the kitchen from having our new neighbour Gav over for dinner last night. We all reconvened for Popmaster at 1030am for a mid morning cup of tea and family pop knowledge challenge.

Then Dragon joined Ady down by the heap of potentially useful stuff we have acquired since moving here which includes pallets from Calmac ferries which were being used as bridges across the mud on the croft but as we have now hit week seven without rain and the croft is as dry as a desert are no longer required, various pieces of wood from the castle renovations, off cuts from various carpentry projects of other islanders, old fence posts rescued from being burnt, cast off tools and screws from people clearing out their workshops and sheds, a variety of plastic containers, buckets, dustbins, washed up fish boxes beachcombed after storms and a water butt that got blown across the croft and split, catering sized food containers from the castle kitchen and the teashop. Dragon got busy with the hammer, saw and some scrap wood and made two wooden swords for play duelling with Star. He has decorated them and bound the handles with garden twine for decoration and comfort. That was his morning’s work.

Star spent some time with Bonnie while I put down the black ground sheet matting in the polytunnel, carried across some fish boxes, collected some small stones to create drainage and carted across a bag of compost, gathered some seeds and a pen and some eggboxes and then she joined me for some sowing. We planted up two fish boxes with lettuces and other salad, one with spring and salad onions and Star sowed a load of herbs in old egg boxes.

Back to the house for lunch which was a feast of freshly baked bread rolls, leftover roast chicken, salad from last night, cheese and crisps and we were joined by neighbour Gav in an impromptu manner as he happened to appear as we were about to eat. Gav left and fellow Venison Processing Company director Neil arrived bringing some paperwork and venison business news so he joined us for cups of tea and chat on the sporran.

I then put the finishing touches to the Rum community monthly newsletter which I edit, replied to a couple of emails and we all walked down to the village together. I popped into the Community Trust office to set the newsletter printing (I had planned to stay but the printer was too slow for my busy day!) and Dragon and Star went home with Bonnie while Ady and I caught up with more fellow islanders for cups of  tea and chats at their house. These half hour social calls with visitors calling in at the croft or us popping down to the village to catch up are what makes Rum feel more like home than anywhere else I have ever lived I think. Everyone is a neighbour and a neighbour in the style of a soap opera where everyone is in and out of each others houses, involved in each others lives, helping and supporting and living alongside each other rather than exchanging brief nods at either end of a ten hour working day or arguing over boundary hedges and fences.

Back home again for Ady and I and the children rushed down to greet us. Dragon joined Star and I for a while sowing some chilli, pepper and tomato seeds in the polytunnel then he went off to help Ady get the animals fed and the ducks penned. Star and I sowed some herb seeds and plan to create a couple of herb spirals on the croft once they have taken – nothing beats freshly snipped herbs from just outside the kitchen door when cooking.

Barbara pig is definitely pregnant so we’ve been refresher reading the relevant pages in our pig keeping books and checking online accounts of other pig breeders. We already have new homes for at least four piglets, Dragon and Star want to keep the runt and we always planned to rear several for food for ourselves but that’s all a way off just yet anyway – don’t count your piglets before they’re born… On the subject of new life Star marked five eggs under a newly broody hen yesterday and she (the hen, not Star!) is still ferociously guarding them today so we’ll mark another five or so tomorrow and let her hatch them. Along with the additional geese and new turkeys hopefully on their way soon and fertilised duck eggs we should now be getting thanks to the drake and the duck pen hopefully it won’t just be our new seeds that mother nature lends a hand to getting productive and bountiful!

At 7pm (7pm!! A matter of a few weeks ago it would already have been dark for two hours by then!) Star
 and I closed up the polytunnel and came back up the hill where Ady was making the last cup of tea of the day (before wine o’clock is declared!). More bread dough, this time some for roasted garlic bread to go with dinner and some for three loaves to see us in morning toast and lunchtime sandwiches for the next couple of days and dinner of spaghetti bolognise. I can’t wait til the herbs, garlic, tomatoes and onions are those grown by us, not to mention the chorizo lacing the meaty sauce being from our own processed pigs one day.

On days like today self sufficiency and the Good Life feels but a hop, skip and jump (in the sunshine) away.

To every season…

Sure I’ve had that title before on this blog. But the turning of the seasons and the pages of the calendar continue apace and we are now just days away from our first anniversary. What a year!! But I’ll save that for a specific anniversary post.

Since last I blogged we’ve enjoyed our first two sets of visitors of the year, had the summer ferry timetable begin with the new Sunday service introduced, celebrated Easter, had a Spring Fayre, seen the Craft Shop and the Teashop open for the season along with the newly opened Bluebell Cafe and had the first of the day tripping tourists visiting and spending money.

Our first visitors of the year were my parents – lovely as always to see them, it’s been a long time since October. Infact my Mum tells me it is the longest she has ever gone without seeing me in my whole life! Missing family and friends was something we knew would be a fact of this new life and something we are mentally prepared for and the trade off is worth it most of the time although there are times when it is hard not to be able to just spend time together or pop in for a brief visit rather than trek 600 miles  and a ferry trip to be together. It’s always a squash and a squeeze fitting extra people into the static and finding enough crockery and cutlery to feed everyone with not to mention enough fridge space to fit in the extra food but we managed it and a lovely week was had by all.

We also enjoyed a lovely day trip visit from friends on Saturday (the summer timetable gives the chance of a 10 hour trip to Rum which is perfect for people to come and visit us) – lovely for Dragon and Star to have kid friends over to explore, adventure and free range with for the day.

We’ve got some honesty tables set up at the top and bottom gates of our croft to start selling eggs and other produce. In just four days we have already sold a fair few eggs and a couple of jars of jam. I know I’d love to buy free range duck, chicken or goose eggs from the gate of a croft I can see the birds wandering around on or next to the river where they are swimming about.

And although it’s been a lovely, productive, sociable week I am utterly exhausted at this end of it, particularly as our Sunday has been spent working with fellow islanders and a couple of helpful additions to finally get the plastic on the community polytunnel!!!

A classic Rum project – in turns frustrating and unnecessarily complicated, taking way longer than it should have done. But in equal measures inspiring for the level of help from unexpected quarters, the feeling of camaraderie and being something bigger than the sum of its parts and as always against the magical backdrop that is the scenery of Rum and makes you sigh with pleasure and remind yourself ‘ah yes, that’s why’ whenever you have a moment of wondering just what on earth you are doing this all for! It’s up, it works (as in we all had to strip off a layer of clothes and come outside once the polythene was on it was that warm inside) and we’re really looking forward to getting our little corner of it productive with some seeds in over the next week or so.