Woolly Fun

Another busy week here. We’ve had mixed weather – plenty of sunshine and showers, enough wind to put us off heading out to sea for the weekly wildlife watching boat trip and cancel a trip to a neighbouring island for me for a (routine) doctors visit. It’s meant virtually no midges though, which is always a blessing worth celebrating at this time of year.

Outside we are still waiting for hatchling news from the broody ducks. We’re not quite sure what’s going on really as we are well past the due date for the first clutch of eggs but the broody duck continues to sit. We’ll see. More strawberries have been turned into jam and the fruit cage is looking very promising indeed with redcurrants and blackcurrants, gooseberries and raspberries all ripening and changing colour in there. We also have several tiny apples growing on a few of the trees for the first time ever.

Ady has been mostly cutting grass – for money, working cutting the grass around the castle, and here on Croft too. We have massively reduced the ragwort on the croft by cutting the grass regularly in certain areas and are seeing a real increase in the wild birds and butterflies on the croft along with the wildflowers and grasses on the land.

I spent a few hours with my trusty paint pens branding up our car. It now sports adverts for our crafts and produce at the shed and the fact that we take orders for freshly baked bread, cakes, pies and quiches and all of our various contact details and social media information. I think I will go over the paint pens at some point with some enamel paint to make it longer lasting and brighter but for now it looks pretty good and will advertise our various offerings as we drive around the island.

I have been mostly turning fleece into wool. I have now spent hours and hours using the drop spindle to create spun yarn, then plying two balls of spun yarn into one length, winding it on my arm into skeins and then washing and drying it to create balls and balls of soft, fluffy white wool. It’s amazing! Like a superpower!

And today Ady and I decided the conditions were right to shear the sheep this year. We were slightly off in that we had a very midgey second half of shearing the first sheep and the cleggs (a sort of horsefly type creature that bites hard enough to draw blood) were also out in force so there was a lot of slapping ourselves as we went. But shear all three sheep we did and with an acceptable level of leaving only a tiny amount of fleece on but not cutting the sheep. They won’t win any prizes for speed or technique but it was a stress free experience for us and most importantly for them. The result was three happy sheep who are now frolicking around like spring lambs again freed from their very heavy winter coats, two happy crofters who have done yet another new thing all by ourselves and a HUGE sack of fleece which will represent hundreds if not thousands of hours of spinning activity over the coming year.

A crofters life’s a very diverse one!

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