Bees and brambles

The bramble season has begun. The season here on Rum is pretty long – a good six weeks or more with certain hot spots ripening way earlier than others. I walked to meet the ferry ahead of Ady driving on Friday and collected a bag full, out again on Saturday and Sunday around and about the croft collecting more and Ady and I both walked to the village yesterday and picked nearly a kilo more. So jam making has also begun.

A combination of deciding to change the jar shape, finding a better supplier for the jars willing to give a discount for a bulk order (of 300 jars!) and deciding to give the labels an updated look means we have a new design of jar and label. We still have jam to sell through though so the new design might not be in the shed just yet. Here’s a sneak peek though…

We sent some jam, and some crochet midges, off to Mallaig to sell in a new local arts and crafts shop that has opened up there. If we return to Rum for good next spring I definitely want to explore the idea of sending crafts and produce off to sell elsewhere.

Scarlett and I spent this afternoon making bath fizzers too – four colours / scents this year – rose, lavender, citronella & lemon and camphor and menthol. We made 120 in all and then I packed them into bags of three and labelled them all up. It took way longer than I had hoped and I was pretty bored of the process by the end of it – not to mention a bit sneezy from all the scents! I’ll take a picture tomorrow once they are in the shed – we were down to the very last two from the last batch. We’re almost out of candles too so that might well be another making session later this week.

We’ve been noticing a lot of bee action in a particular spot behind the caravan over the summer and had assumed solitary bees but today when Ady was doing some compost loo maintenance he uncovered a whole clump broken off of a nest of bee larvae. It was amazing – loads of little creatures in varying stages of hatching all contained within waxy eggs. The whole thing smelled really strongly of honey.

The ‘hive mind’ of facebook really came into it’s own as I uploaded a picture and tagged a few friends who keep bees to ask if anyone could help identify them. Within minutes the picture had been shared all over the UK with people tagging friends and friends of friends to ask for help. Half an hour and a few extra pictures from us later they had been identified as white tailed bumble bees, we had watched some brand new bees hatching and I had learned a whole load of new bee facts.

My dreams of beekeeping had still not quite come to fruition but maybe the bees have chosen us here after all! Shame we won’t be enjoying their honey but providing a home and benefiting from their pollination skills is still pretty amazing.

It’s been the start of the annual red deer cull here on Rum and Ady has already done a day’s ghillying, we have done a day of butchering and processing a beast into a well stocked freezer full of venison and on Sunday I joined Ady and another islander bringing a couple of the Rum ponies back from Harris on the southern tip of Rum back to Kinloch village ready to head out again on deer collecting duty later this week. It’s a long slow, but very beautiful walk across the island, even at a plodding pony’s pace through some dire weather.

I have to be very honest and confess that only held the pony’s reins for long enough for Ady to take the picture and Angus the pony to realise that it was me rather than Ady holding him! I am slightly scared of them and was most surprised to note looking at the photo afterwards that Angus seems nowhere near as big as he did in real life!

The hills are turning purple with the heather and the first of the deciduous trees are starting to change colour. The nights are drawing in and rumour has it people have already heard the stags begin to roar. Autumn is definitely chasing summer away.

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