Denise: Noticed a notice about a course on Eriskay knitting. The island had its own tradition of family patterns, and there’s very few who know how to knit them, especially the most authentic patterns. Norma Neil from Askernish is going to present the course, with the support of a native of Eriskay. I’ve signed up for it, and got the information on what yarns and needles I’ll need.
Time to cull some geese for the freezer. I need to cut numbers from 24 down to about 9 – 3 ganders each with two females. First priority for culling were the couple of noisy chinese geese and the youngster they’d raised this year (not actually there’s – I put a fertile egg under the goose!). Also an infertile older grey-back goos, and a young chinese gander raised in an incubator and on the grass at home. I managed all of these except the chinese goose: generally I walked them until the one I wanted was isolated from the others and then walked them up to and along a sheep-netting fence where they are much easier to catch without resorting to chasing and all the stress that results in. However I never got the chinese goose: by the time I got to her she and all the others were wise to my game, and they were keeping well clear of me!
As it happens, I only just had time to process the four I’d could get hold of. Lacking any plucking aids, I stuck to simply extracting the best meat – breast and thighs. And very good too! For the first time I saved curled feather and down for making pillows: though we’ll need to collect up a lot more before we’ve enough to make something worthwhile!
I really do not like killing the geese: they are gentle intelligent (if a bit silly) creatures, with personalities. They are also difficult to kill cleanly. However they do make good sense on my croft, as they are grazing animals which I can manage on my own without dogs or expensive equipment or for that matter endless paperwork and regulations. In fact geese are very easy to keep and scarcely cost a thing.
A huge crop of black-currants this year, so no difficulty justifying making lots into wine! That was some weeks ago, and in the last couple of days I’d noticed the fermentation had ground to a virtual halt and the demijohn was clearing. Time to rack off. 2 full size and 1 half-size, and as Jonathan at home, it goes all the more smoothly with two pairs of hands – and two glasses. We used the half-size demijohn to top up the big ones, and of course what was left just wasn’t worth keeping.
The black-currants make up for no blackberries (the king of home-made wines) this year. Turned to mush by a wet late summer and autumn, and with Jonathan away from home neither the time nor the desire to go off on my own for hours amongst the brambles. But next year … !