Jonathan & Denise >
After nearly ten years of indecision procrastination – and empty pockets, we’re at last approaching the time for action!
In early 2008, shortly after we acquired our Eriskay croft, we set to work tackling the extensive dereliction of the croft – ruined buildings, choked ditches, decayed fences, infestations of invasive weeds, and rubbish everywhere – both above ground and buried – the detritus of decades of neglect. All our efforts at that time were concentrated on Field 1 / Home Park – between Carrick and the sea.
We cleared broken and fallen fences and erected new. We planted trees and shrubs for shelter and fuel. We established soft fruit bushes and built wind protection enclosures for them (now mistakenly identified on Ordnance Survey maps as Sheepfolds!). We made good the ruins of an old byre and adapted it to create the big Henhouse. The old store, also, was adapted for use as a henhouse (more recently it’s been used as a field shelter for sheep). Chickens, ducks and geese were introduced. (We found ducks unsuited to the conditions, but the chickens and geese have thrived and are now cornerstones of our crofting business).
At the same time as all that, we were building Carrick – which proved far more expensive than we’d planned, nearly ruining us. There was no money left (and in the midst of the 2008 worldwide crash, no chance of a loan) to complete work on Home Park. The work left to do was beyond our own capabilities – it could only be carried out by groundworks contractors : and yet we just couldn’t see how the expenditure would bring sufficient return – or any at all. Quite simply, there was no money and higher priorities.
Though our finances eventually, gradually, improved … money was always short, other priorities always higher. So, for almost a decade, every day – every time we’ve passed through the field gate, we’ve felt a pang of reproach, the sting of shame at our failure to make progress – and at the thought that others might see this is our idea of a job well done.
Well, those days are over!
In recent months J has been drawing up plans and specifications, and then getting contractors to price them. The prices are back and, as they’re broadly in line with expectations, we’ve decided we’re ready to move ahead. All we need now are official consents, and then we can give the successful contractor the thumbs up. Oh, but that’ll be a good day!
It’ll be a few months yet before work will start on the ground, not least because the contractor’s currently busy with other work – as you’d expect with anyone worth their salt. In the meantime, we can start preparing for the next phase : designing the building we’re planning for the valley – for which we’re constructing the base slab in advance. It’ll be for the sheep in winter stormy weather, and for lambing (and all the straw, hay and feed they’ll require); and also to provide our guests staying at Carrick or Eight Askernish (and why not others!) opportunities to get hands-on with shearing, lambing – or just handling of sheep.
So, this is going to deliver much more than just a tidied-up field!