Winter… tapping us on the shoulder.

We’re at dark by 4pm, log burner lit for about 20 hours a day and double duvets on the beds stage. It may only be November and still technically autumn but the first snow has fallen, we’ve had the first seasonal losses of animals (sadly almost guaranteed when you have as much livestock as us, once the weather starts to get cold and wet there is a survival of the fittest thing going on which means despite there being plenty of food and shelter some of the birds just fail at staying alive).

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Ady has been working several mornings this week, helping with the dismantling of the old hostel building which is leaving the island over the coming weeks. We were here when it arrived and was opened and we’re still here when it’s being taken down again, that feels quite symbolic having seen an actual building come and go.

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The sheep are in their new pen, higher up the croft hill on drier ground for the winter. They have settled in well, are happily munching on grass and have gotten used to eating sheep nuts to supplement them over winter. They have had all their doses of medicine for various things until the spring and are growing well.

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We have various outside tasks to be getting on with when the weather allows – firewood processing, seaweed gathering to mulch the raised beds, winter pruning of fruit bushes, tree planting (we took delivery of 400 saplings this week) but while working in the cold is an occupational hazard we try to avoid working when it is raining or really windy – the windy simply prevents you from being productive… I’ve spent ages trying to chop firewood in the wind and you just can’t, your hair blows in your face, the log keeps blowing over before you can swing the axe down onto it. The rain is not only unpleasant to be outside in it means we bring loads of wet clothes into the caravan which is already suffering with condensation. So you grab your outside time when you can get it, sometimes just dashing out between rain showers, sometimes a whole afternoon of low hanging sun. This week aside from walks down to the village and trips to the ferry for various things I spent a couple of hours outside removing the netting from the fruit cage roof. Every spring I sew it on with baler twine to protect the crops from birds and every autumn I take it back off again so it doesn’t get ripped in the winter gales. Next spring I’ll be sewing on netting to the raised beds cage too so it’ll be a longer job.

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It always feels like quite a symbolic task, full of hope in the spring wondering what crops I’ll be protecting with it, full of trepidation in the autumn, wondering how bad the winter might be.

There have been indoor tasks too – tidying and decluttering – cleaning out bedrooms and storage spaces, sorting out what we need and what we don’t need, making sure the stuff we use regularly is easy to get to. We all conceded we were hoarding more stuff than we should be – for me personally it was a cupboard full of old margarine tubs. Useful for storing leftover food, filling with brambles, taking food to the freezer, transporting snacks, using to store craft materials etc. Except I had a whole cupboard full of them and in a living space this small there is no room for a whole cupboard of margarine tubs. So they have gone!

I’ve been crocheting – I finished my ten midge commission, made a set of bagpipes and a santa hat to adorn another midge for a special order and photographed and listed all my crochet bags and purses and listed them on an etsy shop. I’ve sold more of those lines online than I have in the shed (where we tend to sell loads of jam and smaller value items) so it makes sense to have them online all the time and see what sales we get. We’re at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Croft3Crafts and will hopefully have more bits and pieces listed over time. Meanwhile I have finished one Secret Santa gift, almost finished a second and am still waiting for inspiration to strike for the third. No photos of any of those for obvious reasons.

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