Rum’s wild larder

Readers who have been with us since this time last year will know we were about to embark on our wild camping part of our traveling adventure in September and October 2011, still with no real idea of where we’d end up at the end of our year.

We had various objectives for that section of our plans which included seeing red deer, golden eagles, the northern lights, leaping salmon…we also wanted to do some hunting, fishing and foraging. We ticked a lot of things off our list, although the irony of how many of the things which were such a novelty for us this time last year yet are now a part of our daily lives here is something we remark on almost daily. We look out of our bedroom windows at red deer, sea eagles and golden eagles every day, in the last hour while sitting typing with a cup of tea I have watched a pair of sea eagles soar overhead and two deer in the field next door. We’ve yet to see the northern lights but are coming close to the time of year when they may be visible and I have seen spectacular photos of them from Rum in years gone by so fingers remain firmly crossed for that yet to happen.

Back to the fishing, hunting and foraging though. Armed with a mini library of books including; Collins Gem – Food For Free
The Wild Life: A Year of Living on Wild Food
Edible Seashore: River Cottage Handbook No.5
and Self-sufficiency Foraging
 we never managed this while travelling but it forms part of the rhythm of our days and weeks here on Rum. The wild larder here is jam packed with produce. I have gathered raspberries and blackberries weekly for the last few months and been turning them into jam, cakes, pies and crumbles – for us, for sale and for stashing for the winter months ahead so we can open a jar of August sunshine to spread on our homebaked bread even when it is February outside. We’ve picked herbs growing wild including mint and Ady has enjoyed foraged mushrooms (I don’t like mushrooms, neither do Dragon and Star). We missed the gorse and the elderflowers this year but did pick a bucket full of broom flowers which were lovely with salad. We have eaten mackerel and pollock for lunch and dinner on several occassions, pulled from the sea with our tiny fishing rods and onto our plates within hours. I’ve experimented with rowan berries and plan to make some more rowan jelly to accompany the next big treat coming – Rum venison. The deer cull is in full flow and Ady and I are very excited to be doing butchery training next month and being part of a new community interest company on the island, Rum Venison Processing, hoping to be up and running and selling lovely venison cuts and produce to locals within the very near future.

We’ve had a handul of fruit off our soft fruit trees (raspberry, blackcurrant, redcurrant and gooseberry) and of course we are rich in eggs from our chickens and ducks but we have yet to get any other crops started on the croft. Come next year we will be dining on our own produce as often as possible but it’s very exciting to be living somewhere where we literally pull handfuls of free food off the trees as we walk by, watch nuts and berries ripen on the trees ready for next season, have an ever changing menu of fish swimming by in our rivers and lochs. Ever mindful of only taking what we need, sharing with the other locals and most importantly the wildlife, along with leaving enough to guarantee a supply for coming years. It is a lovely feeling to be nourished by our island and feel so provided for.

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