The Long Horizon

At this time of year we have what we call The Long Horizon. We call it that not because of Iain R Thomson’s book but when describing this affliction , it was the title that sprung to mind. From around the end of March onwards we keep catching ourselves taking a glimpse out of the window and that is because after the long winter layoff, the visitors start to appear. So, we are continually looking out towards Portree for a sails or motor boat visitors, it will pass but only after the yachts/kayaks become common place, round about July.

Our Dutch Friends

So it was no surprise that we have now had 4 yachts in. This one “Albatross”, anchored round the corner of the harbour it had come down from Stornoway where it had spent the winter,  Jan and his wife had flown in picked up the boat and were heading South, possibly Ireland for summer cruising. The weather is not so good at this time for sailing in fact to-day it is bitterly cold and would not be pleasant sitting out in a boat in the brisk wind. But when the sun comes out and hangs about it can be very pleasant as long as you have a good heater!!!

Checking the Creels

In fact we have had good days and bad days over the last few weeks, I got out with some creels and had a few welcome crab, I was sorry to see this sheep floating by, I guess it was the one I saw stuck on the cliffs at Eilean Tighe. I see the Sea Eagles are more or less permanently there either on the North cliffs or on the very top of the hill. I’m sure they are partial to the odd lamb or carcasse, maybe they pushed it off the cliffs I have seen them at that?

Sorry Sight

I dropped the creels at Dhu Chamas which is reasonably well sheltered for picking up later and I’ll get them out elsewhere in a few weeks time.

Watching the Gap

The Range Boat was out at the West side of the gap spending the day hanging around the mouth of the harbour, must have been a Sub’ out in the Inner Sound, I see that was way back on the 10th of April, I can’t believe how the time has flown this month.

Yet another Mink

But life goes on, a Mink had been spotted at Dry Harbour so the traps were set and he duly got caught, one less to worry about and maybe the ground nesting birds will have a few extra young this year. I’m sure during nesting time the mink have a field day with the Seagulls, Oystercatchers and Sandpipers nests as usual so one less is always a bonus.

Surprised to See You

Although we have this affliction inadvertently looking out the window or out to sea at this time, It was a real surprise to see MV Brigadoon pull up at the pontoon. It was forecast gale 8 and certainly had blown up pretty wet and windy.

A Driech Experience

A short while after the boat arrived four souls headed up past the house for a walk (I guess).

Bumpy Return Trip

Later on I headed down the pier to see what would take them out on such a poor day and the charterer of the boat told me that they had booked the boat to come to Rona “to tick off the Island” and this was the day. Pity they did not leave it until the next day which was calm and broken cloud/blue sky. It poured all day but I think it was calmer on the way back, quite what they got out of their trip I don’t know? Wet perhaps!!

Beating up The Poorly Hen

The lambs are coming on but sadly the grass is not. The field is like a billiard table and a shout in the morning brings a very hungry flock running. The lambs are pretty entertaining though. These three were beating up one of the hens we got from Paul at Arinish. Funny how the lambs (and other hens) know that this hen is or should I say was in a bad way. It had sour crop amongst other things and was very poorly, old age? She had spent a pretty miserable week or so until I had to deal with her yesterday.

A week ago on a particularly cold wet day I went out and found her lying seemingly dead at the back door, I gave her a shake but no life, I then threw her into the back of the jeep for later disposal and that was that. However on going out to feed the sheep the following morning here she was very much alive and looking like she had recovered, very much in the Easter tradition!!! But alas it was not to be, but I’ve ordered fresh hens from Donald, we’ll see them soon.

Early Warning System

Been messing with the water supply trying to work out a simple early warning system for when the water filters clog or the pipe gets air in it. After having major problems last year and a house build, plus summer guests on the horizon we know we needed to get something sorted. Float switches, alerts by text or internet and all sorts were considered but Dave who was over from Ireland shooting hinds in November had the solution. Shift the outlet up high so that if it does start to run out at least it will still have 2/3 still in the tank, sorted!! That will give us time to find the problem.

The Last Lamb

Apart from house build planning, water woes and the odd visitor we had the last lamb about a week ago, this ewe had had a run in with a dog a few years ago and she disappears when she is due to lamb, she hides the lamb for a few days then turns up the proud mother. This time she was bawling up above the house site for a day so I went up to see what the problem was and here was a very healthy lamb a couple of days old. The blackies have lambed well this year, no problems at all, no death and good healthy lambs. Unfortunately only three ewe lambs, three times as many tup lambs, they’ll be heading for the sale in the back end.

The Solar Array

The big job just now is pre-house build power. We have the solar panels lying in the shed and new batteries ready to be installed. The panels need a frame and we priced steel but at over £2000 for a frame and then the hassle of getting it level on site, the easier solution was to make one ourselves. The first thing was to try and roughly square it, not the easiest site I have to say.

Working Fine

Rain stopped play so I went up to check the water tank, it was filling nicely but had a wee leak, nothing much to worry about and now working fine.

More Drainage

Now that the gales are less likely it was time to put the hen shed and run on the move. With the help of the JCB and bike I put the hens out into the field and it will make for an easier cleaning regime plus it will keep them away from the house a bit. The drainage in that area continues.

No Rona Rescue This Time

A week ago yesterday we had another family going off after their week in the family house, we had told them about Michelle’s incident and lifeboat trip the previous week but they had had a trouble free week. That was until John put his had into the recycling box on the pontoon where a broken bottle happened to be in the perfect place, slicing his hand open and first stop off the boat was Portree hospital. 6 stitches later they were heading South, none the worse. MV aspire was the lifeboat this time!!


Yacht number 5 on the mooring but it was Calum over for some electrical work and servicing the boilers. The weather and tide was not so good for the pontoon so he gave the recently renovated mooring a try, seems to be ok!

Tags n Drugs

Sunday, our day off and all the lambs were in the park. I thought if I get them all into the small pens I’ll dose them. Sure enough they all went in and another Sunday off was lost. But without a dog it was too good a chance to miss. All were tagged and jagged, re-numbered then let go. Hopefully next weekend we will get them in for phase two tails and……….

The Chancers

Feeding the sheep it is no surprise every year to see the lambs becoming opportunists, especially the twin lambs. When the ewe is feeding from the trough the lambs will run in and have a free feed off any obliging mother, some mothers are too busy feeding to be aware it is not her lamb. In the photo three lambs are having a go at the one sheep, good luck with that.

Taking Shape

The weather early last week picked up and I got some more of the solar array frame made but it was/is trying me getting it level. Fingers crossed it works out.

Nearly There

We look forward to getting it connected but especially getting our new batteries connected too. The ones we got three years ago do not seem to be performing and the sooner we get this array up and working the better, the genny is fairly using the diesel just now.

Early Morning Departure

Talking about the Long Horizon, this was yacht number 5 this year, it came in on a very windy day, anchored off the pontoon but not in my opinion a good place. But right in front of the Lodge. The crew came up to the house and announced they were on Rona under duress, their steering had been playing up and could they buy a pint of milk!!!!

When I got up in the morning and it looked like they had moved onto the mooring. I was just going out to feed the sheep , with the camera as always and was just in time to see the yacht leaving the mooring. On checking the post box for the mooring fee I was disappointed to see no fee there, it is only £10 to tie up to the Rona mooring, we have only one. We do not make much money out of it and I only recently bought £500 of chain for the mooring and the pontoon. Plus the fact that the insurance is more than the income, it is not a good earner for Rona. So, a loss of £10 is more irritating than anything else.

But I always have to wonder why some (and I stress a few) choose to pick up moorings, risk their prized possession on it in often poor weather, then do not bother to pay or find out the owner of it?

Anyway the long and the short of it was that I headed off to Portree that morning and found said yacht on the pontoon but no crew. A quick word with Ronnie the harbourmaster who was more than happy to collect £10 from  the offender, he himself has many stories to tell about this subject.

The crews excuse for non payment: “I was going to email”, and to quote Ronnie, that old chestnut.

So there is my first rant of the year and as it says on our clearly labelled mooring buoy:”There are no free lunches here”!!!!

About Bill Cowie

I've been living on the island since April 2002, alone for the first 5 years, my partner L joined me in 2007. We manage the Island for a Danish family who bought the Island in the early 90's. Their hopes for the Island are to make it self sufficient supporting its inhabitants and that is where we come in. We look after the stock, 3 holiday cottages, machinery, boat and of course the visitors. It is pretty challenging but it is a beautiful place to live and work, we love it and strangely enough we love it even more in the depths of winter when all is quiet apart from the gales and rain. We do a bit of fishing, stock work, stalking deer and loads of other stuff. We have good support from lots of people whom we have met over the years and have become involved in the Island. Too many to mention here but keep an eye on the blog, they'll be there for sure in the future.
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