Falaisg

The Gaelic word ‘falaisg’ pertains to muirburn/burning of heather which is perhaps most commonly used but there are several derivatives such as ‘falaisgeach’, ‘falasgair’, ‘falaisgear’ and ‘falaisgeadh’.

Calum was here this week and he kept mentioning ‘ The falaisg’, for sure all week it has been around us, an evocative smell of Spring around the corner. Muir burn to allow new growth from the meagre soil we have in this area.

Tonight (Sunday 27th March) no exception, the sky is full of the smoke and smell, it has been the most ideal conditions for a long time for ‘falaisg’. To-day has probably been the best day this week with no clouds and a cool (smoky) breeze. Looking back it has been a full couple of months since we advertised for new folk, it has been very interersting speaking to prospective residents by phone or Zoom, the next stage is just around the corner.

The work goes on on the ground, the boat came out of the water after the New Year, the weather predictably was poor, throwing up all sorts of rubbish on the shores, more on that later and of course more on Covid too, it certainly has not gone away.

At last in February we got a break, although it was mostly to go to a meeting in Stirling coupled with a visit to Kings Park Hospital there to get a Solar Keratosis burnt off, a success, thankfully. Nice to get away and charge the batteries all the same, talking about batteries, we had a visit to Claude the Lister man in Dunkeld and that was a very interesting stop. But living out of a suitcase gets a bit boring after a while. No chance of swim (my new hobby) it was freezing all down the East Coast.

Soon it was time to head back and after a mega shop we were in the Pier Hotel before heading out to Rona, post Storm Arwen. Possibly one of the most lively journeys for a long time, the sea was pretty high.

Back to work and the wildlife had found a way into the sheep feed. This wee mouse got a stay of exucution however. As for the Dolphin we had two wash up dead in the space of a month. Both in good condition and both landed in exactly the same place, no marks, no obvious clue as to why. Again more rubbish washed up on the shore, I think it is one of the worst winters especially for fish farm pipes. As for storm damage, just a missing chimney cowl. A lucky winter.

The weather continued to play with us, one day very wet, three days wind, then calm, blue skies. Overall a pretty poor winter. But we like the clear days, very much when they come.

It was getting near the end of the Hind Stalking season and there was a push to get our cull numbers, it is a tough time for the wildlife and this poor Heron was in trouble for a week or so before he lost it. The flock of Chaffinches gets bigger and bigger since we started feeding them and the Golden Eagles still maintain their area despite the Sea Eagles.

Stocking up on the venison for the coming season, we had a go at making more Venison Sausages, a wee tweak to the burger mix and with the help of one of our potential workers, Andrea we had 7 kg of sausages. With Claude supplying the new parts for the Lister overhaul we got the old engine refurbished and now it awaits trasfer to Dry Harbour where it will replace the one over there which is due a major overhaul. Having done 20,000 + hours. The winter swimming challenge came to an end in February and it helps to have your own harbour. Making it easier to get access to water whatever the weather. I cannot do the crawl efficiently so make do with breast stroke, hence the long swimming time. I think it is the first time I was first at anything!!!!

The weather was kind this month and it allowed us to get away to the Scottish Gamekeepers association AGM. Lots of discussion and a worthwhile jaunt.

The weather this month has been very good, no lambs this year and that is weird but I am not missing the early starts and death!!! We continued to interview and our guest Matt helped with the first deer count on Rona since 2019 (proper). With building the house and catching up, plus poor weather it has been difficult to achieve. However the days we had were very nice and easy for counting deer. After 20 years of deer on Rona we have a healthy population. Some would say too many. I totally disagree. We have 46 Stags (males) 91 Hinds and 38 Calves. The stags come and go from Raasay but that was the count on the week of the 12th March.

Spring work went on in between visitors, a spring had popped up on this piece of road, it was slowly sinking and turning to mud. The Fish Farm pipes do come in handy after all, three of them together and some Waven coil later we had a solution. More visitors arrived and the boat painting gets finished. Spring is on its way.

Then we had the start of the disasters week, first of all the jeep decided to pack in. My worst nightmare for vehicles, the breakdown is obviously electronic and we have no way of repairing the fault. We tried everything but to no avail. Hours later on the internet we have a wee glimmer of hope but we need to buy a ECU reader or something like that. Then the biggest disaster, we got Covid!!!! We did not know it and I thought it was just a winter heavy cold. In the meantime we were to lift the boat into the water and at that precise moment a hydraulic pipe on the JCB burst, the back actor/crane fell and landed on top of one of the engines. Much to Zoe and Rich’s amazement. Thankfully they were nowhere near it. What looked like a complete disaster turned out to be major damage but sortable. With the help of ‘Cam Marine, James from Portree we were up and running by the end of the week. Our visitors made a sterling job of repairing the cover. In the middle of it all a week ago to-day I thought I should test to see if this ‘heavy’ cold was maybe something else. And so it was. We both tested positive.

Our guests went away and they still test negative which is good, Calum arrived and we set about the Spring work, phase 2. I had tripped in the house just at the start of the Covid infection and landed heavily against the corner of the kitchen unit. I suspected I had a broken rib which hurt when I coughed (A lot). But the work goes on. Masked up and avoiding close contact with Calum was a bit of a mission but he still tests negative. We had good weather so the RIB (Not the broken one) was put in the water. A fault that had developed last year was solved. It helps if the supplier sends the correct replacement propellor!!!

Finally after a busy week and the cold getting better we allowed a socially distanced drink. This morning was the first day since a week ago Thursday when I first started sniffling thast I have tested negative, Lorraine has a bit to go, but we are happy that that episode is behind us.

Finally with the Covid behind us we hope, Spring now fully underwasy we look forward to having more trips like the one to the Jurassic Shore on Skye on Friday last.

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Job Update

Here we are 2 months on, time flies when you are busy, the blog to follow is an update of the last two months. Been a pretty full two months culminating in Covid!!! More of that later. Suffice to say it is the weather to have Covid, looking good tonight out from the Island:

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The Job

Well Lorraine put a post on Facebook on the new position on Rona for a couple and we were picked up by the Daily Mirror yesterday as a News Filler then it was on the TV briefly where it ceertainly created a bit of interest. So much so that we have had quite a few enquiries and it will take time to go through them all and get back to folks.

But in the meantime I also see that there has been quite a bit of interest in my blog. I hope those now looking at it will enjoy the pictures and stories. It is a wondeful place to stay, very challenging at times and now with me becoming a pensioner with reduced energy levels and a huge workload we are indeed looking for a couple to help us.

There is a full gale outside and I guess one of the strongest this year, the internet is off but we have back up phones. The trip next week may or may not be on, the weather controls everything. It has been a very wet winter and more grey than sun but when it is sunny it is beautiful. It is a great place to live.

I will give an overview of ‘The Job’ soon, but like my blog posting these last few years, that one could take time to get round to.

In the meantime I will finish the latest ongoing post and I am sure there is much on the blog to keep any visitor busy.

Busy Days Ahead

I was going to start this blog bemoaning the last Lister Generator we bought. A twin cylinder TR2, which was what you would call a Monday morning or Friday afternoon build. But, given the interest in our vacancy we have just advertised, it looks like a busy time ahead . Job Opportunity

Monda Morning or Friday Afternoon?

So here we are doing a typical Winter job during a very typical January. The weather has been as usual difficult, it has been pretty much wet and windy since October with odd stunning days and occasionally cold. But it is what it is so we just get on with it. At this time we catch up on house/machinery maintenance hoping to get some good weather for the stalking. Now that the New Year ceklebrations are past it is time for preparing for the coming season and possibly a wee break away.

Last week Calum came over and we took the week to rebuild the top end of the last new Lister generator we bought amongst other maintenance jobs. This one had barely run for 2000 hours when it started leaking oil from the top end. It turned out that the parts used to build these otherwise reliuable gennies were not the quality that Lister usually sourced and they were what they call a bad batch.

Strip Down

After a bit of a battle we got Lister to replace ‘some’ parts (as it was just out of warranty) but it was up to us to sort their problem, we are less than impressed. I installed the spare generator (a TS2) three days before our annual holiday last year, when the oil leak became critical but it was only a temporary measure. It was not performing as it should and it was up in the garage awaiting its 20,000 hour re-build.

Rebuilt, Tsted and ready to go.

With only one Lister engineer now working full time in Scotland it is difficult to tie him down to come over but he was very helpful over the phone and as we have to do here we just got on with the job.

Inside, ready to Connect and Now Running.

We have done this quite a few times so on a good day we will exchange generators, but it is time consuming. Fingers crossed our repair is good for a few years now.

Windmill Service

We had a full card of engineering to carry ouit but the generator took longer than expected (the exhaust started to fall apart requiring some ingenuity).

Ready To Raise

Not much to report on our two windmills, yawl bearings were a wee bit worn so we replaced them, some nuts and bolts. Then extra springs at Dry Harbour. But overall the Proven Wind Turbines have been good, with low maintenance.

Fladda Visit

Our friends at Fladda (Summer Residents) are away just now so we thought after the gales that we should go down and check the properties. All was well, with some nice hinds feeding on their lawn. No Eagles about, hopefully the Avian Flu has not killed any more than the one on Skye.

Full Service

Although we missed out on central heating anmd electrical work, we did get the outboards looked at. it is the first winter the boat has been left in the water and as I write it is getting a hard time on the mooring in 60 mph winds.

Swimming Challenge

The swimming continues, it is cold but fun. Not so much fun for this Dolphin that was washed up on the shore.

Female Common Dolphin
A Bit Smelly

It was well out of the water and would have been pretty rotten in no time so a plan was hatched to put it somewhere less intrusive.

On Tow

We decided to put it out to the Island in the harbour well above the High Water mark where the birds can deal with it, waste not want not!!

Fuel Delivery

Callum’s week went quick and our next visitor was Steve up from the South for a weeks stalking, on this ferry we had a delivery of deisel. We usually get it from Mallaig by landing craft but at this time of year it is handy to get it on our Ferry Seaflower.

Thursdays Second Delivery

The following week another 1000litres which is always helpful. But it all takes time, putting the pipes out, pumping the fuel, delivering it to its various destinations then tidy up, most of a day.

Deer Bresakin

We were sighting in Steve’s rifle when a hind appeared in this very small block. I was astonished to see it in there and NO we did not shoot it. It looked like it had tried to jump over the fence and had landed on it. The fence was well down but no trees were damaged, I think it had happened that night, if not shortly before we got there with the rifle. Even in a half acre block it is important to keep the fencing tight otherwise the deer will find the weakness. Forest Land Scotland take note!!!!!

Seaflower

After a trying week of weather when we only managed 4 hinds Steve left for home. Of course it was the best day of the week, calm with a bit of sun, but it quickly deteriorated yesterday and to-day Storm Malik.

Every Cloud

But every cloud has a silver lining they say, a calm swim of at last 480 yards, as I swam out to the Island to change the card in the trail camera, nothing but Black Back gulls coming to dine on it . The Sea Eagles must have plenty food.

To-day it is Saturday, no days off here. (my choice) I’m in the larder all day finishing off the hinds. Tomorrow we will make burgers then prepare for Calum and Irene to relieve us whilst we head off for a few days.

That is the way of Rona, it is definitely not a nine to 5 job, it is typical of Estate work that there is always something to do should you choose, things turn up all the time. Of course there is down time, for me it is swimming just now that I am enjoying (but not in this storm), reading and trying to sort out the millions of photos, mostly of Rona on my laptops.

The variety is immense, from stalking to engineering, boat work, guests, butchery, the list is endless. It is not ‘A Job’ it is a life.

Now where was I? It is light enough now so I’ll do the rounds and see what has been destroyed last night by the storm (no sleep last night BTW with the noise)

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Eagle Cam

It is the time of year for catching up on the deer control. We have quite a few hinds to cull and butcher for the customers in the coming year. A busy time. Once the carcasse is dealt with there is not much left of it but what there is we put out onto the hill ‘hopefully’ for the Eagles. We have a visiting pair who have been about for years. They nest on Raasay and have stood up to the Sea Eagles so far. We hope they continue to do so even although we have read and heard of Golden Eagles coming to grief at the ‘talons’ of the Sea Eagle.

From the Cam

We see pictures of whole Red Deer carcasses being left out for photography. For sure there are occassions when hinds are shot and once gralloched are found to be unfit for the larder. On these occasions the best option is to leave them where they fell. At least the Eagles and other carrion eaters will benefit BUT we definitely do not condone shooting perfectly healthy deer and leaving them for a photo opportunity.

These photos were taken where I left out the bones and bits of the last hind butchered.

The dates on the pictures are 2017 but this is because the cameras set up screen has never worked so I cannot set up the proper date, very confusing but it is what it is!

So here we have a selection of the many photos of the Rona (or Raasay) Golden Eagle.

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Regenerating Rona – RSFS Magazine Article.

This Autumn we had a visit from our friend Victor Clements, Forester. He was interested in the forest management of Rona where we have been naturally allowing the regeneration of the forests. His interest was the impact on the forest by the deer herd and the deer herds management.

Below if you click on the link you will find the article in Pdf form, we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Front Cover Winter 21
August Hind and Calf.

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Festive Time

We look forward very much to this time. Once we get to 24th December we just want to chill out. It is time to rest, plan for nothing much but the turkey, relax and then near the end of the celebrations start to make a plan.But Rona being Rona it seldom allows that. This year no different. Big generator issues and the pressure was on to get everything sorted in the genny shed before Christmas day. The last thing I need is the genny to pack in on the very day. But thankfully it did not this year, so far so good.

BUT, the mice did eat through the hot water supply to the Mission House cottage, on the Saturday before the Wednesday ferry with guests coming.

Mice Damage

No problem just another issue to deal with, I was lucky there were isolation valves for these pipes, no draining just shut off and replace (plusa bit of decorating).

Also a major decision was made in October, after feeding sheep for 7 months last year there was no point in trying to keep going with them. So they had to go. Yes, I guess they could survive no problem on our heather but competing with 150 deer on Rona and costing so much on feed, No, time to go. But getting a weather window at this time to get them away was proving a problem. However on the Friday before Christmas week, the wind disappeared.

The plan was made, the sheep were offered around and Luckily for us we had a local sale.

Better Behaved Passengers

We had to sort the sheep, separate and get the older Ewes ready for off.

Our Cattle Float

It was quite a sad day the day we sorted the older Ewes out ready for off. Many had been with us too long and were at the end of their breeding life but the economics were such.

MV Stardust Duly Arrived

Dan, Stardust Boat Trips had moved sheep before so we got together with our boat and between us we transported the 20 ewes to Portree.

Sheep Loaded on Two Boats
And We Are Off

With the help of our very good supporter over the years, Callie Maclean, we moved the sheep quickly to their new home. It is good when everything falls into place.

Then without taking a breath it was back to the lead up to Christmas.

Calm Days

The weather was good so jobs got done but with so much to do, it is tough knowing where to start. A hind was hanging in the larder and needed butchering. So fitting all the jobs in was the priority.

Calm Looking to The Torridon Range

So sad to be in the larder all day on a day like this, but needs must. We need to achieve our cull and the economics of selling one or two carcasses to the Game Dealer from here do not make sense. Butchering and selling local is best.

Swimming, NOT Wild Swimming!!!

In amongst all of that I have a new hobby, swimming. Not the best time of year to start but with encouragement from Immerse Hebridies Challenge FB page I have taken up swimming, always late afternoon and I really like it. Yes it is cool to say the least but the cold water helps the cramps I get in my legs after stalking the hills here for many years. It has made a huge difference to that.

Garmin Connect

Everyone wonders why you would go swimming in the winter, I cannot explain but it is a bit like a drug when you start, you cannot do without the chill, many do it and I would never have thought I would join them, but enough about swimming.

The weather was kind for our festive visitors, the ferry got over, the guests are in and on Christmas Eve we ventured over to Dry Harbour to have a bonfire, food and some libations. Our cottage guests have been regular visitors (Covid allowing lately) over the years and were keen to be here at Christmas/New Year time again.

Cold But Happy People

We had a good evening despite our clothes stinking of woodsmoke!! Such is the breeze around here but we must do it again.


All went well and Christmas day was a very fine clear calm cool day.

Christmas Day, a blue skye clear cool day, one of the best.

The New Hoose Looking Good.

Christmas Tree in our New House ‘Tigh na Creag’

Here we are now at the 28th December, still swimming but another clear, cool day on Rona. So sorry it is not going to last.

My son, his wife and my four grandchildren arrived on Thursday, been flat out ever since so it has taken a wee while to get this post up. The last one I did was so behind the news that I binned it. But I’m keen to get this one up.

So a Happy New year and best wishes to all the folk that follow my blog, hopefully this year we can keep it more up to date.

All the Best, Bill.

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Holiday Prep…….

This post was written 17/11/21 since then we have been on holiday and back, then a week stalking hinds, time flies!!!

Getting ready for going off on holiday the week of the 15th was a busy time. Everything we use has to be checked, fuel in cars, firewood at the cottages, central heating oil and generator oil levels. Boat out of the water, Clean the Lodge, food for the cat, venison orders to put together. It all mounts up. Hectic to say the least.

So a calm measured week is what we need and a calm weather forecast. There were some nice sunrises last week, Wednesday as per the previous post was a busy day and looking forward to the next three days before departure it all looked pretty straightforward with Sunday’s departure weather looking ok!!

Sunrise From The New House.

Then on Thursday morning the generator failed to start. So I took off early down to the shed(6.30am) not quite dressed for the job, still in the jimjams and in a panic. The power was just about to fail so I was very disappointed to see that the alarm that had stopped the genny was showing low oil pressure. I hesitantly started it and it ran, not seized, it sounded and felt ok BUT……..

The generator at Big Harbour was bought about three years ago, A Lister TS2. We have two older models and this one was a replacement when an alternator went on the Big Harbour one. We could not source an alternator so we just had to buy a new genny. We eventually managed to find a suitable alternator so the older one was repaired and had sat in the garage as a spare ever since.

All good getting a new genny except it was a badly made unit, made with cheap parts sourced I think it was from China or India, in fact it was a disaster leaking oil continually. It was part of a bad batch it turned out, Lister should never have sold them. It had only done about 2500 hours so should have been under some sort of warranty but that was over three years. I had hoped it would survive until January but no….. but of course it had to pack up when we were going away in three days.

We did get replacement parts from Lister reluctantly and not all we needed, lack of a suitable time meant we had not got round to fitting them, I guess we pushed our luck.

So, nothing for it but to haul out the spare in the garage, stick it on the tractor, head down to the genny shed and install it.

Tools Ready.

Quite a daunting prospect and who knew if it would work. I had ordered a stand by genny from MacGregors Portree and that was due to arrive by chance on Sunday, so there was back up coming.

Quick Lift

No time to mess about, the JCB is a very handy jack!!

Resourceful Sourcing of Parts!

Everything went well with Mike’s help. We had it installed and running by late afternoon. Despite a leaking diesel pipe and a search for an exhaust. We took the broken Lister to the shed, to be stripped over the winter and repaired for a spare.

Putting The Broken Lister to Bed.

We monitored it over the next couple of days and it seemed to be speaking to the inverter, starting and running ok, so fingers crossed for the fortnights holiday.

Lovely Morning.

Another problem that had arisen was the water supply but on checking on the Friday (a week later) the level was up and the pressure was good, another tick in the box.

Swimming Going Well.

Despite all the hassle I still managed my swims but they were getting later and later.

Looking Good for Sunday

Good weather on Saturday with a lovely sunset promised a good sailing on Sunday. But in true Rona style the weather had changed again and Sunday morning turned breezy with lots of Skye Misty rain for the rest of the day and that was the pattern for the next fortnight on Rona. We would be away so nothing missed.

Leaving Rona

We had Doctors appointments on Monday so we stayed the night in Portree a very misty scene was what we had. Very atmospheric, finally relaxing with a beer in the Tongadale

Dour Wet Portree.

It could have been a better pre-holiday week but with so many plates spinning it is not an unusual situation. But it does get tiring sometimes. Now to relax and enjoy our holiday in North Yorkshire, vis Edinburgh.

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A Day in The Life Of………..

With a view to giving the potential new recruits an idea of what we do here I thought that if I recorded a typical day on Rona it would show how varied our work is.

We will be advertising in the New Year for a couple to come and help us on Rona. More details later but in the meantime here is a short November day.

The weather this morning (10th November when I started this post)was calm for a change or at least calmer. It has been blowy and wet for weeks. At this time after a long season it is sometimes difficult to get motivated but motivated you must be to live here. There is so much to do and keep a handle on that there is not much time to dwell on your situation, but there are moments such as when I had three Eagles fly off from above Dry Harbour in front of me when going to pick up a load of cut lengths of birch.

Then The Weather

Mike and Lorraine were over helping and we had a week in front of us of catching up prior to going away for a break.

Cutting Last Years Pile

The firewood at the cottages was dwindling so top of the list was just that, not wanting it to get too low we try to top it up rather than run out. We encourage our guests to use the fires as much as possible as the hassle of getting kerosene over for the heating is trying to say the least.

Another Load Home

Although we had cut quite a few loads of fresh birch we had forgotten piling up loads from the previous winter, so it was good to find some seasoned birch by the Escape house buried in the bracken.

Oh Oh!

Then the week started to go downhill, despite the fine days there was not much time to enjoy them as I spotted the water supply alarm flashing up at the Dry Harbour settlement. Unfortunately this is becoming too regular and the pipes need to be checked to stop the airlock that happens about every 6 months.

Tank With a View

In the summer with lots of demand I can understand but in the winter with pretty sporadic occupancy it is a puzzle how it is running down so quick. The tank was nearly empty and with only 5 days tro go to fill it up and test it the pressure (excuse the pun) was on.

Filling Nicely

At day three of filling it was nearly at the top, the lines were checked and the pressure was back. One job ticked off.

Storm Door Fitted

Back to the daily list and the winter storm door was due to go back on. This outer door gives the lock, seals and porch on Rona Lodge a chance. Years ago we discovered that the computer was getting verdigris on the motherboard with the salty air coming through the gaps in the continuous winter gales, not good.

Carting The Stone In

Keeping an eye out all the time you notice things that need replaced, the wee bridge over to the picnic area was rotten, someone had gone through the planks!!! But obviously had not done themselves any damage thankfully, so a more permanent solution was needed.

New Bridge

We had a stockpile of stone and a spare pipe so it was a more permanent solution I came up with.

Then The Trailer Broke

It was back to carting logs, the trailer felt a bit weird so we turned it over and found the draw bar had snapped. Another extra chore to add to the weeks woes. A quick weld and off we went again. With the very rough terrian this sadly is another regular occurance.

Then The Mudgaurd Broke

Fixed the trailer, then I heard the mudgaurd rubbing, the bolt had vibrated out so in amongst all the mud I managed to get a bolt in but found the threads tripped so a nut had to be slid in and fitted, tricky enough but another tick done.

Last Load of The Day

The Voe boat was out of the water for the next two weeks with us going away I did not want it bobbing about on the mooring. I was pleased to see the repair we did to the hull had stood up and we may get another year out of our trusty old boat.

Pump Up The RIB

To make room for it I had to move the RIB up to the house, we pumped up the sponsons and covered it up, work pending.

A Day in The Life of……….Tracked.

My new Garmin watch is proving useful with its tracking app. Here is the day above on the screen, the many trips back and fore to Dry Harbour. The days time and distance done. It was a busy day for the ATV but not unusual, still a surprise to have done 24+ Kilometers.

Daily Dook

Finally at the end of the day my daily swim. I went into the water in September because my leg muscles every September/October are very stiff, crampy and sore. I found that the cold sea water helped so I tried swimming and have to say I am enjoying it.

Swim Track

Here we are, last thing in the day my swim track too, the Garmin works but only if you put it in the swim float, GPS does not work well under water!!

All the above was on this day, Wednesday the 10th of November.

That night the Lister Generator at Big Harbour blew up and then the fun started.

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Octobers Away

Looking back on October it started well after a poor September but after this sunrise it went downhill weatherwise.

Sunrise over Torridon

Same morning same time but a different picture looking South West and so it was for the rest of the month. There was sun but nothing like the summer past, just windy and wet, yet again.

Looking Back On The ‘Torridon Sunrise’ Morning

But October for us is an exciting month regardless of the weather, it is the time of the Red Deer Rut.

Roaring

This fellow was early at it holding hinds up above the South path for quite a few days until he moved on. We had full cottages first week with visitors then 4 Danish stalkers the second week. Third week more Danish visitors but not hunting then a sigh of relief as the end of October came all too quickly.

Apart from the stalking and visitors life goes on. The applnet mast and box of tricks played up with one of the Switches packing in, a new one arrived. Of course it was blowing and raining when I went up to replace the part but it is ok now. We rely on it too much. The moorings needed dropping and winter buoys fitted so that they do not wear with the constant sea motion on them (plus growth). I can report that they were showing no signs of wear at all.

Swimming!!! Some call it Wild Swimming but for me it is just swimming, of course it helps to have my own private swimming pool. It is cold for sure but you soon get used to it as I was told by everyone who does it. But it is more for my old bones after days tramping the hills looking for suitable stags. I can report the cold water does indeed work.

It was not all grey doom and gloom there were odd days and hours of sunshine.

Our Danish stalking guests come every two years and love the visit to Rona. They always have a good week with much walking, talking, drinking and eating. They have been coming for several years now and enjoy the Island life for one week. We have to cull a set number of deer each year which we decide on in the spring after our deer count. Although most of our deer go towards the venison that we sell we do have to cull the remainder in October. It provides an income and we can deal with the numbers in one week. The carcasses go off to the Game Dealer (I cannot handle 7 at once).

At the end of each stalking day apart from the last one (too much whisky) I managed a swim, regardless of the weather.

The month was almost over with one week left, no guests, everyone had left and for the first time for a long time it was quiet. no Yachts, no one in the Lodge. But the work does not go quiet, time to catch up on the backlog. The TV has been losing channels all summer, with various tv receivers packing in. I think it is the dish so I fitted a new dish but since that day it has not stopped raining. So it is still waiting for a signal.

We bought a new bike and thankfully did not need it during the stalking week, it was good to have it in the garage and it will be pressed into service soon when the old one comes in for major works. In the meantime I upholstered the cut seat from the old bike, no more wet bums!!

The birds had been going mad with the berries, I even saw a hind having a mouthful. As for the wiring, with the weather continuing to be poor old jobs popped up and after three years in the new house (and an ethernet TV connection required) I decided to find out why the internet sockets were not working. It fairly taxed me but with the help of my pal Ian Bolas (over the phone) who installed the spaghetti in the first place we managed to resolve the issue, needless to say I think it was my fault.

Unusual Visitor

Finally for October in this last week we have had a new visitor linger about on Rona. This woodpigeon arrived and has decided the food supply is to its liking. The chaffinches are not happy and hang about protesting when he hoovers up their breakfast. Amazing how the woodpigeon found the bird table so quickly.

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September Came and Went

September was a very quick month. Looking back on the pictures during this short month I see the Eagles were knocking about as the young ones started to find their on way about. The Sea Eagle pair of chicks from Eilean Tighe were regular visitors but I did see them back roosting not far from the nest just a couple of weeks ago.

The Rona Red Deer were about the house a lot, I guess if you live in a remote location you are going to get nature treating you with familiarity and so it is. One of my favourite pictures were of a family we have with two calves that are often outside the window feeding away.

Red Deer hind Attending to its Calf
In The Rowan Trees

Other excitement this month was the arrival of yet another Quad bike. With the annual stalking guests coming we were keen to have some back up after our old (second) quad fell to pieces. So a new one was sourced from MacGregors Industrial Supplies and duly delivered (to Portree). Then the fun starts getting it here.

There were many trips to Portree during this busy month, with one eye on keeping the fuel levels up with Winter fast approaching and an unusually high demand for venison. We were there twice a week there almost but it was fine in glorious weather to cross the Sound of Raasay with drums of fuel and all the other stores and supplies.

It was a surprise to see the liner off of Portree on the trip above, the first of the year I think. Surprisingly there was not the usual chaos down on the pier that day despite a steady stream of buses coming and going.

Another day another trip, this time with the lambs to Callie for the Portree sale. They did well as they all did on the day, just a pity now after all these years that we have decided to stop running the sheep. Hopefully this month we will get our Ewes off but we will keep the Gimmers just in case the new folk coming to help us permanently will be interested in sheep. A quick visit onto Fladda on the way back to see John and Erlet up for the summer as usual, 50+ years on Fladda this year. On removing some old paperwork they found that the wall had been pasted with old parcel wrapping and the stamp came away with the paper. The stamp is of Carrickfergus Castle the issue was from 1955, amazing what turns up.

A few photos to finish in September. The deer were treating the new house as their new home too, the cuisine as ever continues with fresh langoustine featuring large this month, the catch was very good this year. Dan continued to come up every night on his Whale Trail Tour. It proved popular with the stop over on Rona the highlight. In late September I finally took the plunge and started swimming again. Mainly for my leg muscles which are very sore after a days stalking. I found that cold water swimming is the best thing for them. So one full wet suit later I went in. Great fun but now very cold. However as I was told, you get used to it and so it is.

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