Where did the winter go...................?
Goodness it's been far too long since I sent out an update about our adventures here on the beautiful Misty Isle. I had been my intention to send you all a jolly Christmas update and wish everyone a splendid year in 2022, but life has been very busy in the past 3 months and like many good intentions that one bit the dust. I write this from Maryland USA where I am on an extended visit to my oldest daughter and her family, the first visit for two years (wonder why that is.........) and in my absence she has increased her family from 3 to 5 with the arrival of the twins, adorable Master Jasper and Miss Norah! And whilst here I have my birthday which I share with my twin, her eldest son Oliver who will be 4. It is wonderful to at last be here with them all, like so many people during these last 2 difficult years, we have felt the absence of each other very keenly. I just feel very blessed that they have all stayed safe and well.
So where did this winter go, it is definitely on its way out, there is a real feeling of spring being just around the corner. Winter on Skye is a time for hunkering down, the weather can be wild and very wet and the wind makes the air bitterly cold. This far north the winter days are very short, often there is little daylight until nearly 0900 and the light starts fading at 0330. The ponies have all grown thick coats and that as well as their long manes and tails has kept them cosy for most of the time. The only time they really start to feel it is when the rain is unremitting and their coats become soaked. Then they get a fuel top up of pony food and extra hay rations which soon warms them up and once their coats are dry they feel fine again and soon resume their usual haring around the field playing chase with one another at top speed. Before the weather really closed in for winter we managed to fit in some lovely dog walks and I attach some pics of lovely views, dawg enjoying his life and dawg playing with one of his besties! In November the chooks increased from 6 to 12 with the addition of 6 lovely black chickens whose feathers are shot through with iridescent blues and greens. They were a little shy at first and we had to keep them separate from the original brown girls to start. Introducing new chickens to an established flock has to be done slowly and carefully as the original girls can be very mean and aggressive with the new ones. The current bout of avian flu gave us a good opportunity to gently integrate them as they have all been living in the polytunnel which serves two purposes. Firstly it allows the chickens to continue to be largely free range and secondly it provides loads of valuable manure for this year's crop of veggies!
Ally has been working hard during the dark chilly days on two very important projects. The cabin we live in is small (but perfectly formed) and in order to give us (& 3 cats plus giant dawg, to say nothing of our many visitors) more space he has designed and built a new room on the side which serves as overflow larder, boot room, drying room for wet weather gear and bedroom for the cats. As well as expanding our living accommodation he has been working on building a second shepherds hut. Similar to the first one which proved to be very popular with holidaying visitors last season, it is however a little bigger which we hope will offer a more living space for our guests this coming season.
Work on beautifying An Croit, which is the holiday business, is moving a pace. As well as Ally building the 2nd shepherds hut I have planted 400 daffodil bulbs which will look lovely in the spring. The wild flower meadow which was so glorious and alive with insects and a myriad variety of wild flowers last spring and summer will hopefully repeat this year. In March we take delivery of 750 saplings to plant with the 500 we planted 3 years ago. It is our intention to 'forest and hedge' as much land as we are able to spare. It's a pretty tough task planting saplings in what is fairly rocky, steep and difficult land but the original 500 have almost all survived and we now have some young trees reaching almost 15 feet! And the hedgerows are needing their first cutting to encourage them to bush out. All the planting has to be protected from both wandering livestock (sheep and cows are everywhere) and deer incursion. Also we have decided to offer our hot tub for evening experience sessions to our holidaying guests. Private bookable sessions with canapes and a bottle of bubbles, perfect way to finish off a long day's sightseeing or hill walking.