To-day, Wednesday (Yesterday now) it is the calm before the storm, for sure. After a pretty noisy night with rain waking us up at 4 in the morning it was a surprise to see the sun when the light came in, it is day two of the hind stalking, quite a bit to do but as usual the hinds are elusive.
Since Clive and Ali left last Thursday it has been pretty mixed weather, strong winds, nothing too severe. We put the sheep into the field with Mr Tup , but with no cover from the wind that was forecast on Friday so we let them out. The 6 Valtos ewes decided to stay though.
Saturday dawned, quite a good day. Not the wind that was forecast, just the odd shower, by 5 o’clock it was quite a pleasant night. Nothing else for it but to have an outside fire and a wee weekend drink, we enjoyed a couple of glasses of red then a movie. Walking home later it was clear skies and very mild.
Sunday, it was a different story, a typical November Sunday, nothing for it but a day inside, fire on and catching up.
With so many lists of things to do the day got lost in piles of paperwork, emails and calls. Monday was a better day again. One day good one day bad. With the wind pushing the seaweed in I headed down to the shore to get some for the new polytunnel that we are planning in the Spring. But when I got there I just managed two trailer loads. Two days before I thought I would need the JCB and tractor to pick up the loads of seaweed on the shore there was so much, but unfortunately the tide had lifted it. However I see there is more there to-day (Wednesday). Probably more coming.
We had a pile of earth up by the poly tunnel and added the seaweed to it, the salt will soon wash out and we will add to it over the winter. We hope to get a new plastic cover for the old one and a complete new tunnel in the spring, we missed the veg’ last year for sure.
Yesterday (Tuesday) was day one of the hind cull to keep the balance and the health of the herd at an optimum level we have a cull figure we would like to achieve.
Although a grey morning it was pleasant almost warm. I had left the harbour just as swans, fresh from the North, took off and headed further South. There has been quite a few flocks of birds and Geese passing this last while. They know the weather better than all the computers, I guess they were on their annual flight to the South before this storm arrives. The Island is busy with stop over birds just now, I think Redwings were about but I cannot be sure. Lots of LBJ’s too. When I got to Dry Harbour with the rifle on my back I had a moment when I started thinking about past conversations about killing deer. Some of our visitors did not like that and that got me thinking about what I was doing to-day and how on Rona when I have people asking about this aspect of Island life, how, sometimes you don’t engage with the debate, other times you try. But often my answer does not seem to convince.
It was when I saw the ‘thrashed’ tree that I thought. Here is an example. A willow, a poor tree, many people would just walk past it but to me it showed that the stag was here, he was colouring his antlers. For me it is amazing to think how does the stag know that the Willow gives him the most colour, the Pines give him colour and resin, the birch, I don’t know. Perhaps he gets some, dare I say ‘Asprin’ from it. Yes the deer have a go at trees, browse them and can, in Commercial forests do a lot of damage but the Red Deer are a forest animal, there in nature doing there part in the eco system. Our part is being the wolf!! I think that for stalking/deer management/ the walk in the forest is not just about killing. It is about learning and every walk teaches me something new. We have a duty to the deer herd to manage them to our highest standards, this is our job and hopefully as long as I am here I can do that
The deer were ahead of me in the forest when I carried on, I saw the first rump of a hind disappearing off to my right through this windblow. Often I am asked, “why have you got deer when they damage the trees”. It is a bit of a daft question, but it seems the way of the world when our iconic ‘Scottish Red Deer’ are treated as though they are vermin (according to the popular press). Here in front of me was an area of winblow, much more damage than any deer could cause, the ground is saturated, the root system is weak, the wind blows it over. So yes, the deer do eat young trees, browse older ones and thrash some. But nature, windblow, windburn and fire, to name a few can cause far more damage in a short time than any herd of deer.
The rest of the day and the next I spent ‘on the hill’. So good to be out in the wild alone doing what I like best. The challenge to find the ‘right’ deer and taking in the landscape. It was a good two days, sometimes I regret not being able to share it, other times it is good to selfishly have it to yourself.
Anyway, I’m off on one so I must get on and have a look around before all these storms arrive proper (or the internet goes off). More later.
For More on the ‘Rona Red Deer’ .