April continues even though today is June with sunshine, showers and still no midges to speak of (sshh!)
Since last I blogged we have been getting further into our summer groove. Thursday was Sheerwater trip day. We did this two hour boat trip every week last summer and fully intend to do the same again this year. It is a fabulous way to leave Rum for a brief period each week without actually landing anywhere else, thus getting all the good bits about the amazing views of our island from out at sea without actually having to really go anywhere. Ronnie, the skipper is so gifted at spotting sealife and taking us off on weekly adventure safaris and as the weather warms up and the summer gets closer you can feel the marine life moving in. Last year we saw regular dolphins, including our amazing superpod experience (‘the sea is alive’ remains an on-island catchphrase) and minke whales. Loads of seabirds including gannets (my favourite), great skuas, puffins, shearwaters, guillemots and all sorts of gulls including kittiwakes (the true seagull). I love how much the four of us have learnt about sealife and how able we are to spot things and identify them now.
So far this year we have just seen birds although there have been sightings of dolphins and porpoise already this season so they are about. My dream is to spot basking sharks and killer whales, maybe this year…
We’ve been losing eggs off our honesty tables to the hooded crows or hoodies as they are locally known. Despite best efforts they have decimated whole table-fulls of eggs so we have temporarily removed them while planning a solution. I tried covering them with a sheet of polythene weighed down with stones but the crows pecked through the polythene and actually as the weather warms up we would be selling cooked eggs that way. Our current thinking is some sort of cupboard at each table which will help protect the eggs from the wind, rain and sun and also mean the crows can’t get to them. We’ve put word out on island that we’re looking for some suitable cupboards to re=purpose so we’ll see if the cosmic supply company provides again…
Meanwhile we’re doing a storming trade providing the shop, teashop and B&B with eggs. We’ve sold six bags of salad through the shop already so I’m glad I’ve been sowing more every week or so to keep that coming as we’ve decimated the first two trays now. We’ve got posters up at the castle, the shop and hopefully soon the campsite advertising our eggs and fresh produce for sale and I’ve also advertised freshly baked bread, cakes, pies etc to order to see if there is a market for that at all. I am able to do some sale or return stuff for the shop so may look at that once the school job is finished and I have a little more time on my hands. I reckon some Rum venison pies would go down well…
Star and I noted some elderflowers just starting to bloom this evening so preserving and bottling season is just around the corner again. I can’t wait for the brambles this year – I have boxes full of jam jars waiting AND a freezer this year. We are down to our last three jars of homemade jam from last year and I could have sold those were they not in rather random jars! Half my scarves have already sold from the craft shop so I need to get knitting too!
Ady has been doing more plumbing – we now have constantly running water thanks to a header tank and the grey water is taken away from the static, down the hill and into a series of gravel filters into the ground. We don’t use any chemical cleaners anyway but it’ll be good to take it further away from the static. My willow fence is doing really well around the static and will hopefully also be sucking up some of that surface water.
Meanwhile down at the polytunnel, neighbour Gav has dug a big hole and drainage channel which should both remove water from the entrance and give us a pond to collect water for the plants. It’s raining now so that should have filled up by tomorrow :). I’ve been in there today sowing more peas and salad and celebrating more germinations of sweetcorn, borage, cucumber, nasturtium and cabbage. I’ve thinned the carrots, given up on another tray of beans and considered chanting or waving my arms about over the comfrey which clearly needs some form of magic to help it along because sunshine and watering just isn’t cutting it!
I’ve also filled five of the ten raised beds with a cardboard sheet mulch, gorgeous pig treated soil and pig bedding. Five down, five to go. I have a blister on my thumb from the fork despite sensibly wearing gloves today otherwise I may have done more.
The compost loo finally made it here – thanks so much to Ed and Carina, WWOOF hosts extrodinaire and to neighbours Gav and Laura for bringing it. We have had to rethink our original plan to install it in the static simply because it won’t actually fit. It won’t fit through the bathroom door and then it wouldn’t fit in the bathroom. But we’re planning to set it up in the horse box and have the quirkiest compost loo going 🙂 A bit more work to do there to get it sorted but another huge leap along the way to getting things done.
We have a date for the turkeys and more geese arriving too so more bird housing on the agenda for next week. We already have our first Christmas turkey confirmed sale – one down, nine to go!
This week I gave a telephone interview with a national press journalist (will link to that story if it actually runs, a follow up to the coverage we had this time last year when we arrived on Rum), exchanged emails with a film researcher who is planning to visit to do a programme on Rum as part of a series on Scottish Islands and arranged to send photos, a write up and get Dragon and Star to make a short film for The Big Lunch which we’re taking part in tomorrow down at the village hall. More on all that after the events.