It started so well, the weather for a while was kind but that did not last.
With snow all around and a dusting on Rona it was a picture but the rain returned, the climate cetainly is wetter than when I first arrived with every year getting progressively wetter for longer, but that is just the way that the climate changes I guess, periods of wet, periods of dry, periods of cold, what next?
The Sea Eagle is always hanging about, in fact several Sea Eagles have been very visible this winter, I guess they are getting a good supply of food, the sea is very giving. This SE was above my head when I was putting the ‘bits’ from the deer we butchered at the end of the year out, it is good that the birds get a picking, not sure about the crows but the Eagles and Sea Eagles are in the minority so a wee help is not a bad thing. A good end to what is left of the deer carcass.
The week after New Year our guests are leaving, their ‘Trophies’ bought from the shop, certainly not shot by them. Every bit of the deer finds a use here and a set of antlers for a lot of people is a reminder on the wall of their time in Rona or in Scotland. The guests come and ask about the deer and I am happy to tell them the fantastic story of the Red Deer of Rona (and Scotland), the deer are very important to us despite some treating themn as vermin. Above the house we have the internet masts, work in progress and this time the mice ate through the cable, hungry mice. The water leaked from the cable right into the switch inside the loft, disaster, no internet again for a while.
Our new recruits, Zoe and Richard threw in the towel before Christmas, Rona was not for them. The weather has been poor and Zoe’s horses were doing a good job of ploughing around the barn. As I sit here to-day it looks no different a month on. It will take a while to recover but it will and it will be interesting to see how it is after this episode and the Spring growth starts.
The weather continued to be fair for a while and it allowed us to get the drain behind the Lodge cleaned and sort of repaired. We struggled for fixings (and time). But it is much better than before. Trying to get through the long list before the landing craft came for the folk it was good to get the fallen Pine from the forest home, cracking trees but not easy to get. This boat load of pine smells lovely and puts out a fair heat in our wood burning stove (it was 150 years old).
It is all about the weather here and folk that would like to come to the Island to help us, possibly taking over when we retire should really think about that aspect of life on a remote Island . Whether it is no ferry for a few weeks, raining for days (or weeks), high winds and of course glorious sunny days when we go like hell trying to get all the jobs up to date. In the case above the satelitte dish got ripped off the mountings, that is a new one for me. The path to the South was disappearing below our feet, so an Irish drain was required and the mink traps needed to be checked. The first two jobs had to wait for a good day, the traps it makes no odds. But the score is that we are into double figures with the mink cull this year which should help the wee birds nests in season. By the mink trap I found this porpoises Fin!! Only two metres away, I think something had lifted it and it fell there, well out of the sea.
More storm damage but this time this hazel tree had had its day, a pity because a bit of coppicing would have saved it for a lot longer. But the hazel here has not been coppiced anywhere on Rona (unless for walking sticks) for many years. But a few weeks ago we coppiced behind the cottages, it will be interesting to see how it gets on. I’ll be looking for new growth soon despite the weather, Spring will come soon. The drain was installed but I see this week that the sand bed has washed away, so I’ll get up there, on a good day, with some cement/sand mix and try to fill in around it to stop it eroding out. The cottages are due some TLC and first up were the doors where the marine charts Lorraine papered on were getting tired. Moving onto the plywood will be more permanent.
The snow came back it got cold again and then the big day, the folks were leaving, a long day and more so for the Landing Craft (Milligans Transport) were coming. They came, they went and 18 hours later they were finished, well done Ben.
A long day indeed and yes a Yacht came in during it all. The yacht was from Eigg I believe doing a winter sail, they were on anchor for three days, weather was iffy but they came in a Northerly and left three days later in a Northerly on a lovely day, heading South I think.
We got finished here on Rona after the landing craft left around 7 pm. Then we were up in the morning for a full day shifting stuff. We had a hand from Mike and Lorraine who had come on the Landing craft which was brilliant, two good supporters of Rona happy to step up and help us. Myself and Mike sorting out homes for fuel, building material and disposing of old hay. The two Lorraine’s got the marigolds on and got stuck into cleaning the Lodge.
We had a few days before the next arrivals who were a Dutch party coming stalking. The weather was really good for the rest of the week but as it happened the following weeks stalking was dry until the last day, so not a problem.
There seems to be a lot of drinking going on, sign of a good stalk.
Last week was full on, we have a cull figure to reach to keep the balance of deer/trees correct. Of course other factors can tip the balance but if we agree on a figure that needs to be culled then the following year we can adjust it. Some do not agree with ‘Sporting Stalking’ but it is a welcome boost to our economy in the winter to have guests willing to come to stalk and I guess help us. Yes we are there to give them a good week but we find the Europeans keen to get involved and ‘muck in’. I had the able help of Dave and Mark so the picture below was the day I dropped them off the boat at the South end where they saw many stags whom I guess are making their way back to Raasay, but out of season, some will stay, some fine stags were spotted.
Me, I sat up here on the rocks waiting half way down the Island for them to call me on the VHF.
It was the best day of the weekl but the wind dropped. I did not expect them to be sucessful but they were and I got a call to come down just as I was leaving my viewing place. It got cold and unbelievably the ticks were crawling over me (Winter?).
Earlier in the day we had been up North, the guys walked up but were on that occasion unsuccessful, I had the easy day piloting the boat to collect them, choppy it was, but getting calmer.
At the end of the daty it is always the best dram and beer after a successful day on the hill. It is not all about killing. It is about being out in fresh air, pitting our wits against the deer, picking the correct cull animal, doing it cleanly and seeing the wildlife all around. Contrary to what I hear that Scotland is a desolate place losing its biodivertsity, this week we had plenty of it. The highlight was not the shooting, it was seeing the Snow Buntings for me and of course cracking company.
These beautiful wee birds come down I guess from Torridon when there is a heavy fall of snow, fluttering about on the path with no fear of us. I look forward to seeing them every year.
The week passed quickly, by the look of them they had a good week, we hope to see them again./
To-day it is the perfect day for catching up on the blog, absolutely blowing a verey wet gale. I did make a resolution to do shorter blogs more often but it is not to be with us now loooking for new folk to help us.
That is now the challenge.
More frequent blogs would be really nice, but at the end of the day I’m more than happy for any blog at all – I so enjoy reading them.
Another good blog, thank you for taking the time to keep us up to date on your work and life.