Sunny May, Early Midgies.

Two blogs in one day!!!!

On our annual antler collection we were on top of the Island Garbh Eilean and disturbed a hind and young stag (her son obviously). They were not too jumpy but eventually they took off and then we saw them swimming over to Rona despite the tide being low and the ford showing. Always good to see.

Finally got MV Rona antifouled. Made no difference I have to say as it was pretty clean anyway. Back to Rona after a Portree Dash with rubbish and venison (more burgers), then back to a lovely evening despite being grey.

Our first ‘Summer’ guests arrived on Saturday a fortnight ago. Friday night we were showing our visitors around and spotted the ‘Bell Tower’ was even more unstable than usual, in fact it was downright dangerous. So we got up early Saturday morning before the guests arriverd and pulled the worst of it down. We are sorry to have to do this but needs must. Our intention is to turn it into a communal courtyard, fire pit, barbecue, seating. Hopefully this comiong winter and not on my own.

More Portree trips delivering yet more Rona Venison. We have posted our venison all over the UK this last 7 months, this trip to Portree was for two boxes one to the middle of London the other to St Albans, both were delivered one slightly later than the other. Next day 24 hour guaranteed delivery. Contact us on the Venison FB page . The larder is now double its original size and the chill actually works better, a win win.

Could not get into the Pier at Portree, Mhairi Bhan was drying out, been there done that.

Although we have had stunning weather there has been rain and oh how it poured on this last Saturday, torrential for a couple of hours, the roads suffered.

Back to the internet, the signal was very poor but I grabbed an hour or so and connected this dish, halleluja. Big numbers now.

The maintenance continues and here we have the rubber boots of the ATV repair, now that was possibly the dirtiest job this year.

Finally last Saturday, ‘After the Rain’ the grey view was just as stunning as the sunny ones.

Jim will be happy now!!!!!

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Now Jim……….

Thank you Jim in Ireland for reminding me that my last blog post was in the middle of April. My only excuse is that as ever we are busy. The weather has been overall great. Sitting doing computer work is never my favourite so it is easier to go out to work than sit in the house when the sun is out there.

A few pictures from the last few weeks in April:

From the Internet Mast

As usual trips to Portree were pretty regular. The weather as you can see, flat calm and sun. Work goes on and of course a wee drop of Gin helps, nice to see the green coming after 7 months opf grey (well not quite total grey). It has ion fact bneen a very good year so far.

Early visitors in this set, nice to see catamaran Orca back, early this year. The deer count continued with a late few days on the hills looking for numbers. Plenty hinds but stags were keeping a low profile. Our cottage guests are full of suggestions and a strange envelope arrived, I could not remember ordering these clips and rings? In the bottom of the box the explanation, Nicola had sent rings for the dogs when they come off the boat. All suggestions and recommendations are considered, anything to help, no problem!!!!

Now here is a thing. No one about apart from a trailer getting moved, no people walking in the road no Chaos!!! You will not see this shot of the Pier much more this season, I must have been early before Portree got going.

The catch up continues, last year a hydraulic hose burst on the JCB as we tried to lift/drag the boat into the sea, the bucket landed on one engine, fortunately it did not do too much damage and we were not held up (very lucky). The hull is not in good shape but we repaired it a few years ago and it is standing up very well. So much so the new boat is parked. Our trial visitors are now coming to an end, we have Work Aways for a short while then a new start for a new couple. Decision time looms. Our many visitors have pointed out quite a few repair and maintenanmce issues so the aftermath is I get to do them. The lodge shower was a difficult one until I remembered an old shower unit in the shed, problem solved as I took the parts from it. Pity about the hole in the wall. Now a hatch.

We were lucky to have some whole haunches (quite a lot in fact) stored ion the freezers and when the order came in for burgers we had the venison to make them. 750 to date!!! From the 15th March. Plus the trimmings for Venison Dog Food, top quality at £4 per kilo, very heathy for dogs, as recommended by our Vet Rhona Campbell. Portree of course bones too.

Finally for April (Jim). The internet!!!!!

I am learning very fast from my back up team, Calum, Ian and Marc how to deal with SSID/DHCP/ISP/IP internet Acronyms (they sound like STDs to me!!!!).

But for sure everything runs on the internet nowadays. It is a great help for looking up electrical problems as well as mechanical although you cannot beat talking to folk who have experience. So it is all thanks to them that we are nearly there with the portal for visitors coming to Rona.

More Later, May just coming

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Springtime Coming on Rona

Another year well underway another Spring. Here we are as usual trying to catch up on the Rona Blog. As usual it is not as regular as I would like, so much being left behind.

Our third yacht of the year rocked up last weekend, the weather has been pretty good apart from the most torrential rain last Thursday. So no surprise when a yacht did appear BUT it is still cold enough that it would not be comfortable on a boat without a heater.

Here we have the rest of the month so far. Off to Portree on a venison run, the £3000 of stock is fast disappearing but we will have some in July and thereafter. In the meantime we have lots of roasts if anyone is interested.

4 weeks before the season and multiple disasters. First of all the generator (Stamford) alternator burnt out. It had to be dismantled and packaged, sent to Fraser and MacDonald’s in Glasgow. A very old firm by the look of them. But fast in their turn around (with help from Skye Express) and to-day the whole thing is back together and starting automatically, charging the pretty low batteries. The long awaited replacement glass was bought for the cottages but once we took out the panes we were left with one complete side, the other breaking. So waste not want not I put the old single’ pane back in. We had a gas leak and it was pretty hard to find, the washer in the cap on the opposite side of the intake had leaked, do not know how but it was puffing out propane gas. New gas alarms have been bought and installed.

Finally the Larder renovation is nearly there (well halfway there) and we are on the home straight. Not before time as we need to be processing venison soon. Water filters, stocking up the cottages and very deep cleans meant busy days.

Following on from the Generator repair, it was not all plain sailing. The generator would not work which meant a few more worrying days trying to find out why, but problem solving is our game here and with the help of CS Generators we got it back up and running. The term is ‘Exciting the Alternator’. Claudio Schiavetta the proprietor is a Lister man and even this foxed him for a while but between us we got there. I rigged up a switch to put power in to the alternator from an outside source then to ‘excite’ the windings and with the switch the alternator began to charge, game over!!!! The quick transition did the trick.

We have had several couples up to view the ‘job’ all going well but we want to be sure we have the ideal couple to help us and we must say our visitors so far have all been very good and that leaves us with a dilema. However we have a few to go and this all takes time so we think we will have to get some temporary help as it will be a while before we can make a decision. In the meantime we will keep the head down for the forseeable. We took a visiting couple down to Fladda to check out the cottages before the owners and their family came up for Easter. The deer seen on route and the family around our house are pretty hungry just now.

In this gallery above we had a visitor a couple of weeks back, Rona McSeveny. She had chartered MV Seaflower such was her wish to get to Rona (her Island). Rona’s connection, she was named after the SS Rona on which her Great Great Grandfather served on, it is the one registered in Leith 1884. It is intereresting to see three Rona boats there. I wonder how they got that name and the connection. In my time here I have seen and read about many boats with the name Rona.

An interesting register and to quote: ” it was torpedoed on 18th June 1916 off the coast of Sardinia by the U-35 u-boat, commanded by this guy”.

All good Rona connection history.

Friday last after a very busy week I had a meeting in the Skye Candle Companies restaurant/rooms with a consultant to the Scottish Government on Scottish Venison. It was the perfect day and I had time to mess about in Portree for a change. The weather was perfect and calm. I had time to load the boat and do some shopping.

Skye Candles have made a good job in the Aros Centre but the loud music was hard to get out of the conversation and needless to say there was no venison on the menu. In fact no local produce which was quite ironic that what we were there to talk about was the supply, marketing, price, availability and a host of other connected issues.

With the amount of venison shot on Skye, the restaurants/food outlets at every level should have it on the menu, not even worrying about seasonality as they all have freezers. Also langoustines, crab, lobster, Skye lamb and beef. Where is it?? More later hopefully on the back of this meeting.

Back to Rona later than ever, a full day in Portree, very unusual. But good to catch up. I put my order in for four fish suppers and they were ready at 5pm, I did not pick them up from Dan’s Fish and Chip shop until 5.40pm, by that time they had been in the bag (individually wrapped) for over half an hour, a quick pint in the Pier Hotel and back to Rona for 7pm, the suppers were not hot by this time by any means but 10 minutes in the oven and they came out delicious,. who does not like re-heats?

The deer were there when I got home. Eyeing up my fish supper I beleive.

Finally a changeover on Saturday our first this season and with help from John and Stacia, up to try out Rona for a week. All went well, flat calm and ably skippered home by Willie Beedie standing in for MV Seaflower’s crew.

Interesting souvenier that our guests picked up!!!!! Our new guests (returnees) with just a few bits and pieces of baggage.

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Snowy Days


Back to winter, a winter wonderland instead of rain, makes a change and nice to have it. We think it is at least ten years since we had such snow. It lasted almost a week and after two or three days of very cold days and rain again, we have this morning (Tuesday) snow, again but not a lot.

The Job report is that we have pulled the advert but a steady trickle of emails and calls are still coming through. I guess the articles are still doing the rounds. We have had a few couples visit and I am sure they have enjoyed their trip to Rona, a few more potential workers are coming and it is good for them to experience the Island, see the accomodation and get frightened to death at the workload. LoL.

Anyway it is what it is and we hope we can encourage a couple to join us on this wonderful Island.

The Lodge, The Accomodation.

The Lodge is a 1900’s built shooting Lodge, the owner’s of Raasay at that time used to come up very occasionally to shoot various animals. I guess that is what they did back in the day. It was renovated in 1993/4 and has had ‘robust’ use since. It will need a makeover for sure but is perfectly habitable just now. I guess a wee renovation would be part of the future plans. We look forward to it.

Back to the past couple of weeks.

Been a good spell but cold and wet either side of it. It was good to get sun after the snow fell and it enabled me to get going with outside work. So nice to have snow on the road and instead of having a very rough track we had a very smooth track. But sadly it did not last long.

I had been away a couple of times and with no one to cover us Lorraine had to man the fort, there was a very sad funeral I had to attend which meant a long trip to Aberdeenshire and back. Later that week it was the SGA (Scottish Gamekeepers Association) meeting at the Caledonian Stadium in Inverness.

Early Start

On the first trip I got to Portree only to find that my car had packed in, rather fortunately in the courtyard of Macrae’s Garage. A quick call to Dan Corrigal, Skye Boat Trips and he very kindly let me have his pick up. As Macraes was very busy that week the rapair was not possible, I had to borrow it again on Friday for the meeting. Many thanks to Dan for that.


It was interesting to see the muirburn (the falaisg) going on on Raasay on my way to the SGA meeting as muirburn was on the meeting agenda. The RSPB and othert so called conservationists want to stop it, but what they choose to ignore is without controlled burning the fire risk would be huge, also it is a proven fact that those Moors with a muirburn programme have much more diverse birdlife on it rather than the choked ex grouse moors that have been bought up by these conservation charities. The facts are there.

Mostly Oldies!!

Sadly not many young gamekeepers at the meeting, where are they? Their work is under threat like never before. Hopefully there will be a shift towards more younger members coming through. The work of a Gamekeeper is often portrayed as the work of a wildlife killer when in fact to-day’s young gamekeeper is much more than a vermin controller. Working in nature everyday and in land management is a much more broader discipline compared to the gamekeeper of old. More on that later. Suffice to say it was one of the best AGMs I’ve been to, with good presentations on a variety of subjects.

Back to Rona after a long day a week last Friday, thanks to Hamish and Graham at Rembrandt Portree for running down the plasterboard order to the pier and Dan/Cwaba for a lift on. The tide was not right so I took the chance and left it on the boat that night.

Lying in bed at 4am I was wakened with heavy rain (not forecast) beating on the roof, Oh Oh!! By 11 am the rain had passed, the plasterboard was covered but it was damp, it does not take long. So it was a bit of a job screwing it to the ceiling of the larder later in the week, very flexible let us say. But great to have a hand from Colin who was here with his wife looking at the job and what it entailed.

Dry Hasrbour Looking to Trotternish

The burning continued and there was a fair fire going on near the forestry between Storr and Valtos but the rain came and before long it was out. Not long now till the burning season is over.

We cannot burn on Rona much as I would love to as on my own it would be difficult to control. Maybe one day.

That is the story this month, much discussion about CVs and much work on breakdowns. Life goes on.

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The Rugged Job

The Scotsman described the job as ‘Rugged’ for sure that is what it will be, rugged at times. However this wee blog post is not about the job description it is more about how we are dealing with the hundreds of applicants.

Ever since HiJobs asked if they could promote our unusual position and it has hit the papers/radio, we have been inundated.

For sure it is the dream of thousands to live the life on a remote outpost and after 21 years of living here I can highly recommend it. However you have to be resourceful, very hard working, put up with pretty changeable weather and have an ability to turn your hand to anything as well as enjoy the peace as much as the busy months.

So if you are applying for a job in such a location the first thing you do is outline exactly what you would bring to the Island. What skills you can do that would help and give an outline by letter/email with a CV.

Well at least that is the way I would do it.

So after over 500 contacts made we are struggling to answer them all, as we have done up till now..

We have had texts, messagers on Fb, calls, one line emails and I await a courier pigeon!! Lorraine has answered as best she can given the limited information on these contacts.

Please if you apply now (there is plenty information here and online about Rona), target your job application to the job requirements.

One last thing, our Venison production has generated a lot of comment on ceretain FB pages.

Our Red Deer are a big part of this Island, we manage them professionally, we process them, we have a fantastic regeneration scheme with trees galore (where they will grow).

I cannot for the life of me get my head round some of the comments about Scotland’s Deer in general. Our iconic animal which in the end gives us a fantastic food source and income. Gives our visitors much pleasure in obserrving them close to their accomodation. It saddens me to read these comments and to think that people really believe the narrative being promoted by the anti deer conservation brigade.

The story of Scotland and Rona’s deer is not as simple as branding them a pest.

I will post more on this blog in the future about trees and deer. I hope that some of the anti deer commentastors take time to read the literature I would like to post.

In the meantime you may have guessed I am passionate about our deer and venison.

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Spring Days

Odd days this week have given us a hint that Spring is on its way. The weather has been off and on but usually grim. Yesterday 18th February was a cracker. But here is the weeks events (or at least some of them).

Storm Otto left us with a we bit of upheaval but nothing of note.

The dinghy was tied down thankfully but it had flipped over, the hen house roof was ripped off, but thankfully no hens in it. Chimney pots seem to be getting a bit of a trial just now. Second one this week.

Lorraine’;s favourite tree got bent more than it was and I see it has splintered at the stump, so I guess it will come down very soon, a shame as we liked the shape of it, I’m sure it must have had honeysuckle (which we have a lot of here) round it as it was growing.

The full out of date milk bottle washed up, 5th Februarey but of course I had to try it, as it was not opened and can report you could have drunk it perfectly fresh (but I didn’t). Amazing, how does it last so long nowadays.

Storm Otto passed, blue skies and calm after it passed. That evening I had a look at the chimney pot, scary on a damp roof. Unfortunately I do not have a spare cover, ones on order though.

What else has been happening? A long overdue Irish drain was put in, at the back of our house. It is to deflect the torrent that comes from the hill behind us in the ever increasing heavy rain, I can report it works well. The 6 tonnes of 20mm sand and gravel mix delivered by the landing craft last month turned out to be 20mm gravel when I went to move it. I did not check it on arrival but what could I do if I did. Not good, I definitely ordered concrete mix but Travis in Fortwilliam got their lines crossed and this is what they sent, one thing I don’t need is stone out here. Very disappointing because what can you do when the landing craft is long gone? You cannot return it and now we are short of mix until the next landing craft

An un-named storm previous to Otto re-aligned both our TV dishes (again).That meant a day of putting them back and connecting our new internet cable awaiting another better day to get the new router installed. Been waiting months for it, roll on a good day. Mind you the view isn’t half bad up there.

Maintenance takes all forms and the horses legacy needs to be dealt with, I rolled out a bale of hay left, thinking the deer might have a go at it but no, they don’t go near it. It was deemed rotten but once the top layer was taken of the hay was perfect, a bit of a waste though. However it enabled me to get up to the barn with the ATV otherwise I’d be in a foot of mud. So again we await the drier days to roll it a bit more and hopefully return it to some semblance of what it was. Horses are not really a good idea here!!!!!! But we all make mistakes.

The metal thingy is the brake caliper off the Club Car, it never worked so I got down to it and it turned out it was quite straightforward. BUT it turns out you need to replace the whole unit at a cost of £107 plus of course Vat. You cannot just fit brake pads. But the most annoying thing with a part like this is that their distribution depot just dreams up a price and they want £35 to ‘post’ it. Robbery.

Back to yesterday it was a good day for a sail so I checked my traps at the Lighthouse and then took a wee tour up the coast looking and counting deer, we had seen some in the morning and the total for the day was 35 plus the ten that are now feeding in the park at the house every night, since the horses left. We will continue to count them then in late March we will spend two consecutive days just doing that. Looking forward to getting the count to plan out our Deer Management Plan.

An added bonus was the sight of 7 cock? Great Northern Divers from the shore. Then only one Female from the boat, correct me if I’m wrong. But nice to see and they were very vocal which is lovely and haunting to hear.

Plenty stags at the South end, but I did see the one antlered stag who seems to disappear every October up at the Lighthouse.

Finally. I think that this picture was from last Sunday when we went to An Tempuil to set up the trail cam. The sea here is often this colour, looked good for a swim. Maybe one day.

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Stormy Day

Golden Eagle

It is a horrible day on Rona after a lovely breezy, sunny day yesterday, Tuesday 7th February.

I went to Portree for the first time since the 18th December. The car started and the Filling station got a fright as I filled 14 x 20 litre tanks with petrol. The main reason for the Portree visit and worrying that we were close to running out AND our reliance on petrol. What do we do in the future to achieve Net Zero. Not a lot we can do I guess, we are petrol dependant for much of what we do. But that is for another time (Soon).

Back to the start of the month, busy as usual. I finished the butchering and gave the ‘bits’ to the birds. I do not believe in shooting deer or any animal for a photo opportunity, that is sacriledge. For sure if deer or other carcass are found dead then yes, but it is shocking that some think it is acceptable to do that. So here we have the result.

In the second image here, this is the ear of a deer’s head leaving the spot, I have seen the Eagle do this and I think it is because he is constantly being mobbed by crows and seagulls?

Burger Making

As we reclaimed the Lodge and the new larder prep’ area is not finished yet, burger making is back in its squeaky clean kitchen. 300 burgers later, that is us finished venison production for the season. The freezers are full and we can send a box should anyone be interested anywhere in the UK next day on chosen mid week days (and to suit Royal Mail Strikes). Perhaps consider a sample box for £50 of 0ne of each cut we produce. Postage is £15.00.

Have a look at the Rona FB page .

For the start of the month we were treated to gales and hail. The usual stuff blown about and mink trapping continues. I’m well over double figures trapped this winter with some movement in the colder weather. The mink are lovely looking animals, their fur always sleek but they are very destructive so I’m afraid we have to trap them otherwise the nesting birds we have would suffer serious predation.

I renewed my correspondence with Robin Noble. Having read his books and enjoyed them I struck up a correrspondence and enjoy his comments on the North West of Scotland. He lived in Assynt for some time and knows the area well. In light of the Employee (s) from the John Muir Trust’s activities lately in Assynt, like me he is very disappointed in them. JMT’s Assynt Activities .

We were talking of the trees in Assynt and comparisons to the Rona forest, so I sent him some pictures. Here we have coppicing of Hazel, we are looking forward to seeing how that goes, especially with a family of Red Deer living close to this area. He was amazed to see these very old Birch trees and suspects they might be hundreds of years old. Our Scots Pine planting is doing well, planted in the right place why wouldn’t they.

Here is a wee paper by Robin Noble, Worth a read: Misunderstood Landscapes .

Whilst taking some photos in the forest I came across this Wallow . Now to some so called conservationists they would see this and say, look here, too many deer, look at the damage they are doing. Well in my world this is the Red Deer doing what they naturally do, having a bath. It gets rid of the many beasties that live on them. Such as ticks and Keds. It cools them and it makes the stags black in the rut, supposedly impressing the females. You see the hinds and even the calves when getting a little older doing the same. Great to see, messy. Just leave the deer alone!!!!

The antlers are ones from the summer, not fully coloured, the chosen one not long out of the velvet that grows with them. The peat in the wallow helps towards colouring them too, as does the bark from Willow and Alder (how do they know?). In this case I need to stain the chosen set as I had a wee order for Antlers for a certain Bar near Stirling.

Bit of a wildlife ranger Tuesday morning. At first light I was down at the pier and pleased to see two Oyster catchers shivering on a rock, noisy as usual just arrived, I wonder where from.

Approaching The Base/Lighthouse

The Base up North used to spend lots of money trapping the mink once a year or so. Now that it is quiet up there it is an ideal chance to set some traps. Yesterday early I took off up there as the weather at last smiled on us. It was calmish, a nice run up, the sea still had a jabble but nothing to worry me. After a fashion I got the traps (and wheelbarrow) up on to the pier, took them up as far as the buildings setting them as I went. I had a good look around nothing doing so I came away.

On the way back to Big Harbour I had an idea that I might just go to Portree.

So it was, the weather was stunning, a really good start to this years Portree trips. I got a few stores, saw the usual suspects got my chips and headed back. Dolphins accompanying me all the way. The journey back was a bit more lively but I got back in good time before the wind really picked up.


To-day, not a great day for anything outside, the chimney hat here went past the window a few hours ago, something rattled under the house too. The wind has changed direction, the TV is off and the internet is slow, not good. Let us hope we do not have too many of these days left this winter.

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Another Year Ahead in Paradise

A beautiful day

It started so well, the weather for a while was kind but that did not last.

Snowy Man

With snow all around and a dusting on Rona it was a picture but the rain returned, the climate cetainly is wetter than when I first arrived with every year getting progressively wetter for longer, but that is just the way that the climate changes I guess, periods of wet, periods of dry, periods of cold, what next?

The Sea Eagle is always hanging about, in fact several Sea Eagles have been very visible this winter, I guess they are getting a good supply of food, the sea is very giving. This SE was above my head when I was putting the ‘bits’ from the deer we butchered at the end of the year out, it is good that the birds get a picking, not sure about the crows but the Eagles and Sea Eagles are in the minority so a wee help is not a bad thing. A good end to what is left of the deer carcass.

The week after New Year our guests are leaving, their ‘Trophies’ bought from the shop, certainly not shot by them. Every bit of the deer finds a use here and a set of antlers for a lot of people is a reminder on the wall of their time in Rona or in Scotland. The guests come and ask about the deer and I am happy to tell them the fantastic story of the Red Deer of Rona (and Scotland), the deer are very important to us despite some treating themn as vermin. Above the house we have the internet masts, work in progress and this time the mice ate through the cable, hungry mice. The water leaked from the cable right into the switch inside the loft, disaster, no internet again for a while.

The Horses

Our new recruits, Zoe and Richard threw in the towel before Christmas, Rona was not for them. The weather has been poor and Zoe’s horses were doing a good job of ploughing around the barn. As I sit here to-day it looks no different a month on. It will take a while to recover but it will and it will be interesting to see how it is after this episode and the Spring growth starts.

The weather continued to be fair for a while and it allowed us to get the drain behind the Lodge cleaned and sort of repaired. We struggled for fixings (and time). But it is much better than before. Trying to get through the long list before the landing craft came for the folk it was good to get the fallen Pine from the forest home, cracking trees but not easy to get. This boat load of pine smells lovely and puts out a fair heat in our wood burning stove (it was 150 years old).

It is all about the weather here and folk that would like to come to the Island to help us, possibly taking over when we retire should really think about that aspect of life on a remote Island . Whether it is no ferry for a few weeks, raining for days (or weeks), high winds and of course glorious sunny days when we go like hell trying to get all the jobs up to date. In the case above the satelitte dish got ripped off the mountings, that is a new one for me. The path to the South was disappearing below our feet, so an Irish drain was required and the mink traps needed to be checked. The first two jobs had to wait for a good day, the traps it makes no odds. But the score is that we are into double figures with the mink cull this year which should help the wee birds nests in season. By the mink trap I found this porpoises Fin!! Only two metres away, I think something had lifted it and it fell there, well out of the sea.

More storm damage but this time this hazel tree had had its day, a pity because a bit of coppicing would have saved it for a lot longer. But the hazel here has not been coppiced anywhere on Rona (unless for walking sticks) for many years. But a few weeks ago we coppiced behind the cottages, it will be interesting to see how it gets on. I’ll be looking for new growth soon despite the weather, Spring will come soon. The drain was installed but I see this week that the sand bed has washed away, so I’ll get up there, on a good day, with some cement/sand mix and try to fill in around it to stop it eroding out. The cottages are due some TLC and first up were the doors where the marine charts Lorraine papered on were getting tired. Moving onto the plywood will be more permanent.

Back to Snow

The snow came back it got cold again and then the big day, the folks were leaving, a long day and more so for the Landing Craft (Milligans Transport) were coming. They came, they went and 18 hours later they were finished, well done Ben.

A long day indeed and yes a Yacht came in during it all. The yacht was from Eigg I believe doing a winter sail, they were on anchor for three days, weather was iffy but they came in a Northerly and left three days later in a Northerly on a lovely day, heading South I think.

Finished at last

We got finished here on Rona after the landing craft left around 7 pm. Then we were up in the morning for a full day shifting stuff. We had a hand from Mike and Lorraine who had come on the Landing craft which was brilliant, two good supporters of Rona happy to step up and help us. Myself and Mike sorting out homes for fuel, building material and disposing of old hay. The two Lorraine’s got the marigolds on and got stuck into cleaning the Lodge.

We had a few days before the next arrivals who were a Dutch party coming stalking. The weather was really good for the rest of the week but as it happened the following weeks stalking was dry until the last day, so not a problem.

Our Dutch Guests, Dave and Mark.

There seems to be a lot of drinking going on, sign of a good stalk.

Last week was full on, we have a cull figure to reach to keep the balance of deer/trees correct. Of course other factors can tip the balance but if we agree on a figure that needs to be culled then the following year we can adjust it. Some do not agree with ‘Sporting Stalking’ but it is a welcome boost to our economy in the winter to have guests willing to come to stalk and I guess help us. Yes we are there to give them a good week but we find the Europeans keen to get involved and ‘muck in’. I had the able help of Dave and Mark so the picture below was the day I dropped them off the boat at the South end where they saw many stags whom I guess are making their way back to Raasay, but out of season, some will stay, some fine stags were spotted.

Me, I sat up here on the rocks waiting half way down the Island for them to call me on the VHF.

It was the best day of the weekl but the wind dropped. I did not expect them to be sucessful but they were and I got a call to come down just as I was leaving my viewing place. It got cold and unbelievably the ticks were crawling over me (Winter?).

Rona Light Sandwich Break.

Earlier in the day we had been up North, the guys walked up but were on that occasion unsuccessful, I had the easy day piloting the boat to collect them, choppy it was, but getting calmer.

The End of The Day

At the end of the daty it is always the best dram and beer after a successful day on the hill. It is not all about killing. It is about being out in fresh air, pitting our wits against the deer, picking the correct cull animal, doing it cleanly and seeing the wildlife all around. Contrary to what I hear that Scotland is a desolate place losing its biodivertsity, this week we had plenty of it. The highlight was not the shooting, it was seeing the Snow Buntings for me and of course cracking company.

These beautiful wee birds come down I guess from Torridon when there is a heavy fall of snow, fluttering about on the path with no fear of us. I look forward to seeing them every year.

Then They Were Off.

The week passed quickly, by the look of them they had a good week, we hope to see them again./

To-day it is the perfect day for catching up on the blog, absolutely blowing a verey wet gale. I did make a resolution to do shorter blogs more often but it is not to be with us now loooking for new folk to help us.

That is now the challenge.

Posted in The Views and of course the weather | 2 Comments

Year End on The Rock

Here we are in the first week of 2023 and another year is taking off. The news is that we are yet again looking for a couple to join us on Rona to help with the running of the Island. More of that later after a resume of what was happening in November/December.

It was holiday time but before we were able to get off there were a few jobs to get off the list.

Here we have the new processing room beside the existing larder, previously a storage shed. We made it bigger and hopefully by next season (July ’23) we will be in there with plenty room and storage to keep processing our quality Rona Venison .

Dan (Stardust Boat Trips) was on the phone, he needed our mixer for his latest project. So a trip to Portree was on the cards, it was heavy though and took a wee bit more time, to get to Portree, hopefully we will get it back on this Spring’s Landing Craft.

Slow Boat To Portree
Quick Lift Off Portree Harbour

Looking forward to getting our mixer back, there is work to do.

Applenet Woes

The biggest issue these past few weeks has been the Internet, It simply has gone AWOL. I’m not much of an internet engineer but fortunately we have help. But this one beat me because the issue was on Rona. Not a breakdown elsewhere.

Good Connection

I was able to sort out all the ‘stuff’ at our end apart from the main connection and on hindsight I should have gone there, to the start of the problem.

The Office View

So I took a toodle up to the mast on my return from holiday, the weather was fine (another reason for not going up there before then) and in seconds I had found the issue.


A bit of a wiring nightmare and I see the problem, water in the cable, lots of it being forced into the switch which was now knackered. So back to Applenet and a new one arrived, all well now and my excuse for not doing the blog last month.

Yet another big order for Rona Venison

Before we went away we had yet anothyer bombshell, our helpers that came to Rona last year in June handed in their notice, so here we go again. Nothing to do about that before Christmas but we are now recruiting (New Job on Rona).

The other bombshell was the letter from Environmental Health telling us that our Licence to Sell Game(Venison) had expired. Now for the last decade (and longer) we have had a licence. Our EH officer Stephen Cox was on the ball and we were always informed before the renewal date, but it seems not this time. He had left. I was less than impressed by their reply suffice to say we were stuffed. Before Christmas we could not sell our product. We probably lost £1500/2000 of sales and after I raised the issue I did get the verbal go ahead from EH but to date no licence renewal has arrived, So, we are not prepared to sell any venison until we do.

The boxes above were sold/ordered before we got our letter so we felt able to sell these, thankfully it made some space in our freezers (also, especially after giving away as much this festive season).

A bit of a downer as we went on holiday but we quickly forgot about it and had a real good time. Until we caught the Mother of all colds. But here is a gallery of our travels and doings. I’m not going to bore you but we went to Torrisdon/Shieldaig first. Then further afield.

We thought it was stuffed.

We saw this stag heading up to Shieldaig, it did not move even after we reversed and pulled up near it, sadly it has got used to Tourists feeding it all sorts, it is an old boy for sure and I wonded how long it will survive.

Here’s the rest of the hols’, Inverness to Shieldaig back to Inverness, my Grand Daughter at the panto. Peter Pan, she is on the stage, we loved that. Onto Edinburgh the Botanic Gardens were pretty special. Therafter to Stobo where we did not get the benefit of our lovely stay as we were full of the flu (plague)by this time. We did not test positive but it had all the signs of Covid. It was the pits, so much so we came home a day earlier than planned but Stobo, we will be back. The highlight, bumping into one of our cottage guests at lunch on the second day, so nice to see Fiona Watson.

The pictures above are a bit mixed but you will get the drift. The picture above taken at 9pm at night with the iphone, it was so bright with the full moon. Torridon in all its glory.

Lifting the Fish Farm Barge

As we passed the fish farm outside Portree on our way off we saw the barge that had been brought in lifting the sunken barge. What cost and what effect on the environment??

At Last, The First Valet in 7 Years

It was great to have some time on our hands, so much so we actually got the car cleaned, costly but really fine to drive in a clean car. Love it. Looks like new.

Managing to Miss Christmas

So here we are after Christmas looking to the New Year, some of the Turkeys did not make it but these are for breeding I hear (not ours) but the one we had was tasty.

Happy new Year and all the best for 2023.

Posted in The Views and of course the weather | 1 Comment

October Has Been and Gone

I’m on holiday this week (Nov 11th) in Ballater a fine destination. More on that next post. So I’m taking advantage of a quiet spell before a swim in the pool here.

I’ll post a gallery of the months photos and see how that goes. But here is the story.

It is all about the deer in this month. Our count in March showed us 180 deer, with Victor Clements help we have put together the Deer Management Plan and expect to cull 40 + animals. So far we have culled 15 stags and butchered them all on the Island.

Quality Carcass

To increase the revenue to the Island we usually have stalking guests and this year we had only one full week and one cottage guest stalking in September. I will post the remaining photos in a gallery but will be posting the Season report on the Rona Red Deer page. So a fuller write up on what went on will be there soon.

In the meantime it was a busy month with lots of venison orders and full up with guests in the cottages. We also had lots of projects on and to cap it all I had a dirty cold for three weeks, not good timing.

It was a pretty wet month continuing but the sun did come out in the third week, at last. The final batch of sheep went off to Charlie from Harbro and we were sad to see them go for sure.

I do not normally post pictures of dead deer on the main page but it is what we do and we hope we do it properly. Our guests are keen hunters and outdoors men, but have jobs far away from my field. That is why they come, in this case from Germany to enjoy a week helping us with the cull.

The deformed head you will see in the gallery was caused by the damage to the hoof/fetlock area. The poor stag must have been in some discomfort and it is unusual for us on Rona to find such an animal but find them we do.

Otherwise October passed in a blur and we now look forward to culling and butchering our venison for the Christmas market. We can send a 5 kg box of venison frozen overnight to anywhere in the UK. We have trialed it for a few weeks and even with strikes we have found no problem. Call 07831293962 or click onto the Rona Venison FB page for details.

We also do a line in frozen Mince for Pets, we have a good customer base for our trimmings which we mince up for pet food, it is very popular, not to mention the bones. But we always have spare.

So once this holiday is over it will be back to the hill. Can’t wait!!!

Posted in The Views and of course the weather | 3 Comments