Been a while, since we had a ‘Rona Post’. Having started to write this several times, the sun at last has come out and it is difficult to sit in ‘doing the computer’, but this morning Tuesday 15th it is a good morning but most things are up to date.
I returned to Rona a week ago now on Tuesday afternoon, late. The weather was shocking (on Rona) all the time I was away apart from a few three hour spells of calm (according to telephone reports). When I arrived in Portree on Tuesday last there was one of these calm periods forecast, It was looking like storms until Friday if I did not get over then , but a glimmer of hope was given. It came as forecast but to add to my stress MV Aspire was unavailable. Dan stepped in and as the light was fading we headed out of Portree in an ever increasingly calm sea. Amazing as it had been blowing big winds all morning and pouring rain.
Lorraine was home alone for 8 days and was battered most of the time I was away by Southerly Gales, tough girl. L had intended to get off on Monday to meet me in Inverness but the weather had other ideas, despite organising relief cover the storms were unrelenting so it was a no-go, but trips away at this time are a bit of a lottery. So our relief did not relieve and we did not get our major Christmas shopping in Inverness. All was not lost, I managed a bit of a ‘ blokey’ Christmas shop in a short time in Inverness, L stayed at home and on Tuesday late afternoon I got back to Rona.
L’s biggest disaster was the Sky/Freeview dishes were both blown off their signal. Wednesday morning priority was re-connecting the TV. No Strictly!!
The wind had again cranked up on Wednesday, I only read 35 knots of wind at the back door, L had recorded 50mph from the same spot the previous week. Well it is the winter, nothing new.
On the morning before I left for Germany with an easy morning ahead we were disappointed to see one of the Valtos Ewes looking poorly. It looked like either the tup had been giving her a hard time or she had been lying on her back in a ditch, who knows. She had to be caught and sorted then one of the lambs decided to get into the bucket and wear it for a while. So for a moment in the morning, on the day I was leaving it was looking decidedly busy.
I did get away though, but had a long drive down to Glasgow via Connel delivering venison packs on route. The week in Germany was as usual hugely interesting, more below. But back to Rona! On my return, next day mega rain wind and gales. Mid day it was a bit subdued so I went for a recce, to see what level of damage nature had thrown at us this time. Surprise, surprise, nothing too serious, a bit of flooding.
The usual damage and things moved around but I did spot something unusual on the power tool shelf, A bit of damp was getting in, of course all around the small electric tools. That will not do the insides a lot of good.
The gangway tries its best to destroy itself. One day we will get it right. The pontoon had been pushed so far back that the shoes it sits on were trapped on the grid off the plate. Just waiting to damage it more.
Back to the TV, a wee bit of adjustment on the top dish but a complete replacement of the Sky one was necessary. All working now, better than it ever was. The small dish was very rusty so no surprise there but it could have picked a better time to break, thank goodness for iPlayer!!
He ho, at last on Friday, sunshine. But not a minute to waste, must get the seaweed up to the polytunnel pile. We are planning two tunnels next year but no rush on that yet, plenty time in the spring when it hopefully dries out a bit more.
And a dramatic light fading Friday night, even in the dark days there is much beauty in the nature of Rona.
That night Kenny from Shieldaig called to say he was coming over with Linda on Saturday to collect venison for Xmas, we were delighted to have visitors and enjoyed a good day with our Shieldaig pals having a dinner and catching up, good to see them. A new TV arrived with them and more polystyrene boxes for venison.
Back to to-day, (That was Monday this week) another sheep was limping. So although we had planned a calm day, paperwork, Christmas cards, possibly internet shopping for Christmas presents. No! The sheep had other ideas, but once we got them it the limping sheep turned out to be a bit of heather irritating her shoulder. Removed, a wee spray and she was fine, but a lesson never the less to keep a close eye on them, her skin was pretty red where the heather was caught in her wool.
A fortnight ago to-day it was as ever very interesting to sit in an airport and watch the world go by, for me it is quite an adventure but for most around me it looked like they were going on a bus, perfectly normal. Once up in the air it was the best hour just enjoying the blue sky, we could do with more in this part of the world.
I was staying first with some old friends from my pre-Rona days. Of course there is always sausage, they do make the best!!
One thing I always find interesting in Germany is the way they organise their hunting, the way that the hunter has to interact with the forester and the farmer plus the connection they make between the management, the deer control and the nature (Naturschutz).
In this area the forester and farmer have ‘dumped’ hundreds of tonnes of sand to create hillocks to turn the field into a wilder environment for the forest animals. It does not look much at the moment but there are signs of rapid growth. The earth around this area is traditionally poor and therefore returns are not so good. Giving it back to nature makes economic sense I guess as long as you get a subsidy!!
I always wondered how they protected the trees and here was a new fenced planting. Rather than fence off hundreds if not thousands of acres they fence acre or hectare sites for 7 years for the trees to get up then they remove the temporary fence allowing the deer and pigs back in. It works very well but of course the forest in Germany and economics of it are quite different to Scotland. But we do something like that on Rona so that the forest/trees are not under too much pressure from our deer, where we would like trees to get away.
The area I visit is very close to Frankfurt airport and there are planes from 5am until 10pm in the sky, one every 20 seconds they say. It is for ever noisy and does have the air of kerosene. Not too healthy I would think. These Airbus A380 defy the law of nature, they seem so slow and ponderous and to think of the hundreds of people aboard, a nightmare I could not even contemplate!!!!!
Again further round the corner here I found a new development, the farmer man was growing asparagus, the white one. I have never had it but they do say it is the best.
The system for roe deer management is completely different, they feed them (and the wild boar). This must sound strange as in this country we read even in the ‘conservation’ papers that deer here are considered no more than a pest, which is very sad for an animal which is an integral part of the British forest. These feeding stations are well attended and I guess it is not unlike the farmer managing his stock, the hunter/forester is doing the same with minimum human contact. I was told that during the very dry summer many hunters were taking water to the forest for the wild animals to stop them crossing the many roads around and risking accidents. Keeping them alive I guess.
Bruno my host is retired but spends most of the time in the forest, he had arranged with Rudi his 91 year old helper to take down one of the high seats that they use, it was no longer safe.
It took a day to put up, days to make but was scrap in 10 minutes. Rudi was as fit as any 60 year old visitor!!
Stories about Rudi’s war days were very interesting, his time on the Russian front especially. My holidays in Germany are not normal for sure.
Having never visited in December before I was keen to visit the Christmas market in Frankfurt. It was fascinating as was Frankfurt. But for me too many people.
We visited a few sites, I had heard about the padlocks on the European bridges but could not believe how many there were on this old bridge. No wonder they worry about additional stress on the bridge.
I was being a proper tourist but was glad to get out of it once we had eaten and bought some souvenirs.
The second part of the week I was staying with Sophia and Peter, their new Baufritz house is fascinating as it is the only wooden house on site, the sites are small so needs must. But beautifully finished inside and very eco friendly. I was particularly keen to see it all and the plans so that I could steal a few ideas for our house. The outside cladding was spruce, which would be I think unheard of in this country.
A walk on Sunday morning brought home just how many people live here in this area and Germany as a whole and how they maximise the building areas. Fascinating stuff, not the beer halls of Munich for me, a housing Estate!!!!!
All too soon it was back to the norm and I had to stop a week ago to-day as the rain was so heavy coming over the Moll into Sconser. What a contrast to the weather in Germany but I know where I would rather be,