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.