Jonathan: I lay low against the grassy bank, the wind roaring and tearing at the rock and heather above me, a barrage of hail beating into the back of my hood, the clouds above purple with rage. But I’d come into the hills well prepared, with layers of warm clothing, good oilskins, a spade – and I was comfortable enough. My thoughts were elsewhere – transported many miles away to Hesgeir island, which lies in the middle of The Minch. For despite the dark and murk of the day, there on the horizon, the lighthouse of Hesgeir was illuminated by a shaft of light, tightly focussed as if from some heavenly lighthouse. High above, a tiny fragment of pale blue, ringed with salmon pink: but the clouds closed ranks, and as the darkness swallowed up Hesgeir again, my mind reverted to the here and now. Ah yes, the spade. Yesterday I’d had a call from Murdo in Eriskay: sorry to be giving you bad news again, but did you know ….? No I didn’t, but I’ll deal with it as soon as the weather allows. And believe it or not this morning was indeed a big improvement in the weather. So there I was this morning trekking up into the hills to bury one of our Hebridean sheep – one of the 16 wedders we bought back in Autumn. I found it up on the rocky shoulder of a ridge that falls slowly to the south east, to the shores of Loch Cracabhaig – and extremely exposed to the prevailing winds from the Atlantic. Ordinarily I would have said it had died within the past week, but it could have been longer since: even the crows, eagles and buzzards who had already got to work on the corpse would have found the dining environment less than salubrious, and may have left it to come back to another time. I dropped down to the gully below and probed the soft ground with my spade. Yes, deep enough – but with the dense moss it was like a sponge. (Ever tried digging into a sponge – the type you wash the car with – with a spade? No? But go on, imagine!) I dug with the peaty bog-water slopping around my wellingtons, and though deeper would certainly be better, that was as deep as I could dig. It’s not good to handle a sheep by its horns, at least whilst it’s still alive, but under the circumstances the horns came in mighty handy. I found some heavy stones to weigh down the body, and then made good the ground. Inevitably a mossy mound remained. I recalled the cowboy and indian films that were on TV so much when I was a boy. In the aftermath of the Apache ambush, the wounded cowboy – arm in a make-shift sling, sets up a crude wooden cross at the end of the mound of earth where he buried his fatally-injured friend (scalped?); he puts his rifle back in the saddle holster, hat back on his head, foot in the stirrup – and rides away into the sunset. I leant my spade back over my shoulder, put my foot onto the ledge that took me back up onto the ridge, and set off into the … well, back home, anway. Alas it’s the second sheep we’ve lost this winter (the first was in the severe storm on the 9th), and it’s hardly to be wondered at, with the truly appalling weather. Let’s hope there’s no more lost! The next break in the weather, I shall have to get up into the hills and find the others, and take a bag of feed with me.