The cousins are here!

It’s always interesting to see our island – and indeed our lives, through others’ eyes. Sometimes we see the bleaker side of our current existence; life off grid is tough. No toilet, no guaranteed always on power, a two mile round trip to get laundry done, diesel and petrol and food at the mercy of the ferry, the post, the weather. At othe times you see the very best of our lives reflected back at us through other people though. The freedom for the children to roam, safe, adventuring, discovering, exploring. The interactions they have with fellow islanders, always happy to share a story, some knowledge, listen to the children’s chatter. You see the wonder of the islands nature and beauty and unspoilt qualities – the amazing wildlife, stunning scenery. In an afternoon working alongside and chatting yesterday we saw a herd of red deer wander across the hillside from the static window and later an eagle soaring overhead.

We lost all three of the newly hatched chicks. We’re not sure how or why – it could be they were taken by predators – hooded crows or maybe bigger birds, they may have been lost to rats or perhaps the in places knee deep mud claimed their little lives. Losing lives is a sad fact of keeping livestock – the cost is financial in terms of feed, potential sales of eggs or meat. The cost is emotional in terms of any life lost being sad. With life comes death however and the opportunities to learn, to move on and to change things for next time are also there. So yesterday we moved the chicken house to a drier patch of the croft. The current animal corner is decimated from a year of animal and person foot traffic and while continually moving them on will eventually trash the entire 8 acres if we didn’t have a proper plan we can certainly spare the space to move the animals for now while we work on our plan. A new reinforced floor, a path around the front made of stones to prevent a huge puddle forming and this morning our efforts were rewarded with a newly hatched chick. The mother hen is a resiliant, determined type and despite already having lost four chicks she continues to sit on her clutch of eggs, even with the move and the improvements going on around her yesterday afternoon. To her this is a simple process where she will keep trying until the fittest chick finally hatches and survives. I think there is a lot to be learnt from her.

The Great Pig Move is next on the agenda. We’ve been debating the various options for pig housing, both short and long term as we currently need a house for Tom and another for Barbara and the piglets. We are hoping to get another sow before too long so need to have flexible housing options for the future possibility of two sows with litters one day. Creative thinking, clever use of cast out building materials and scrap stuff will hopefully lead to solutions over the coming week and the pigs will be moved to their next earmarked spot before the fortnight is out.

In the meantime island life marches on – seeds continue to sprout in the polytunnel. Plans for a mainland visit to the dentist, possible trip to the country show and visit to a neighbouring island for some puffin watching are all on the agenda. Directors meetings, a visit from the new island doctor, talk of the community run bunkhouse, whether we should buy a tractor or a manitou for the community’s use, planning for various events in the summer and remaining ever hopeful for news from Sussex that our house has sold are all keeping us fully occupied this week.

Oh and the rain stopped and the sun came out yesterday!

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