Jonathan: Inspiration so often comes unannounced, from where it’s least expected! Comparisons are most helpful when most parameters are in common, just a few contrast. Like many islanders, we’re fascinated by life on other islands: how lives that are similarly constrained may yet be so different. The greater the similarities, the more unexpected – the more challenging – the differences. The more informative – the more inspiring! Compare: Eilean Siar v Faeroes ; Scarp v Sark ; Lewis & Harris, Scotland v Chiloe, Chile. Continue reading →
Jonathan: Quarterly meter reading for solar PV due. Fully expecting the figures to objectify the awfulness of the weather over the past three months, and specifically the prevalent blanket cloud and fog that has deprived us – and in particular the land (and thus our crops and livestock) – of sunshine. A few minutes of looking up online previous meter readings and tapping buttons on the calculator and then there we have it. Eh? Surely that can’t be right! More clicking and tapping and tutting and … same answer. Try again, different calculation method … Same result. Really? Surely not? This year (3 months to end June): 14.9 kWh per day, average. Last year? 14.6kWh per day. How can that be? Well, even dense cloud doesn’t entirely block solar radiation, it’s a question of degree. Even so, it’s difficult to believe. This time last year the grass was growing like Topsy, this year we’re still having to supplement the grass with bought-in feed, and here in the Big Garden the vegetables are scarcely developing at all (carrots are almost invisible seedlings – we should already be pulling thinnings! – and a visitor mistook our onions for spring onions!) and it’s really beginning to look like we’ll face significant hardship until next summer. As to the solar PV, I don’t trust the numbers: perhaps that earthing fault we found last year was more significant than we’d thought.
Jonathan: Today, in the midst of shearing, all the ewes and lambs in the pen suddenly started baaing and bleating, turning – en masse – to address their attention to … two of the the wedders from the other field, standing on the road. It was as if the girls – all a bit stroppy from being couped up in the small pen for a few hours, were cheering on the boys for their bold and defiant escape from Field 1 (between the new road and the shore). Cheer they might, but all I could manage was a groan of despair! I’ve been struggling with these escaping wedders since I put all seven of them, plus the stock ram, into Field 1 (between the road and the shore) about a month ago. At first it was one wedder escaping, but very quickly it became three and then all of them. Every day I’d lead them back into the field, but the next morning they’d be waiting for me by the road. One day I spotted them making their escape: they’d waited for low tide and then picked their way over the rocks to circumvent the boundary fence with Croft 10. I can only marvel that, since last autumn, when I first put sheep in Field 1, no other sheep had found that escape route. Nothing for it but to wait for a low spring tide and extend the fencing down through the inter-tidal zone: now they can only get round the fence by swimming (which I’m certain they won’t want to do). Escape thwarted? Well, yes, but only for a few days! For the past week or more, two of the wedders – always the same pair – have been waiting for me, each morning, by the croft store at the road, waiting for me to lead them back Field 1 with a bucket of sheep nuts. The same again the next morning. There’s nothing obviously wrong with the fence, so it’s a case of trial and error, trying to guess how they might be escaping and making small but perhaps crucial refinements to prevent them doing so: and then finding them appear at the road, yet again, the next morning. I spent most of today at the croft, and in that time I returned the pair to the field three times. One thing I’m certain they haven’t escaped: the notice of others! Not that there’s been any direct criticism, and I’m doing all that is reasonable under the circumstances, but it’s embarassing, especially as I’m the Grazings Clerk and thus sometimes having to respond to complaints of wayward sheep! So, this evening I felt I had no choice but to try something more drastic. I’ve had a suspicion that the terrible twosome had found they could take a run at a sloping strut or stay – at a so-called turning fence post – and thus leap over the fence, so yesterday I arranged a ‘bird’s nest’ of additional wires above the fence: but clearly that didn’t deter them, so either they were jumping even the additional wires, or were escaping some other way. However the strut/stay was loose, and the post seemed rock solid even without the strut, so this evening I’ve cut away it away. If, tomorrow morning, the terrible twosome are waiting for me by the croft store again, then I really don’t know what I’m going to try next. Sheep really are a lot of work!