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.

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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4 Responses to Falaisg

  1. Fabulous pictures again and the eagle one is terrific. I’m pleased you are both on the mend and your disasters are behind you. It’s good to catch up with your daily doings on Rona.
    How do you pronounce the word falaisg please Bill?

  2. Bill Cowie says:

    Hi There, good to hear from you. Covid certainly leaves you very tired. I think the way Calum was saying it was ‘faalask’ maybe? I’m sure there are Gaelic speakers down your way? There will definitely have been smoke.

  3. Caroline says:

    Congratulations on your certificate XX

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