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Monday, 6 July 2015

Chooks...and Charlie Boy




Well Tallulah hatched a chick last week!  Clever girl.  Tallulah is a black Shetland hen that I got last year.  So this is her very first chick and she is VERY proud.  Though I do get a bit alarmed when she rushes into the henny house for breakfast leaving the chick rather vulnerable to predation from the crows.  I have to stand guard till she reappears.  Sigh.....   She also chose to take her chick BACK to the henny house only hours after it hatched.  Not usually what hens do, they prefer to keep them apart from the flock, who can turn on chicks, or trample them.  Anyway the chick seems to be surviving despite her rather novel parenting methods!

























It's a bit chaotic at breakfast time so the photos are the best I can do when lots of hens are milling about!

Here is Tallulah taking her chick to somewhere more sheltered among the pile of stones here.  She has a small "cave" she and the wee chick can nestle into.




This was a few days earlier when the chick was REALLY fluffy!




Meanwhile the Broon (brown) hen has been looking after her chick well and it (no idea whether it's a he or she!) now has quite a few feathers.  Um...looks a bit moth eaten at the moment but I'm sure it will look fine when older!




















And yes each hen has just one chick.  It's my "one child" policy. Ha!  Population control to stop getting over- run with chooks.  I take all the eggs away but leave one, which I mark with crosses.  If a hen chooses to brood that one, it can.  All the rest are put to much better use!  Hee hee.

Charlie is always ready to greet me at breakfast time too.  He stays well away from nasty pecky clucky hens!  So far (fingers crossed) neither he nor Button have got one of the chicks.  The hens are VERY protective of their chicks and aggressive to both cats.


He's happier a safe distance from pecky beaks!


He enjoys a roll in the sunshine too!


Charlie is the dominant cat as far as Button is concerned.  He tends to chase her, and I think he is possibly responsible for one or two injuries she's received.  Usually she keeps her distance if she see Charlie around.  Or tries to hide or runs away!

Meanwhile the girls are sunbathing!


Oh and Miss Button is snoozing on the windowsill in the sun till everything calms down again.


And the young heifers in the field also enjoy the sun on their backs!


Sunday, 5 July 2015

Misty days...



Quite often in an Orkney summer after a sunny period we get the haar, the sea mist coming in.  Here are a few photos taken on Friday when it was mostly a lovely sunny day, with the mist drifting in and out, before finally settling "in".  Saturday was wet and breezy, but today has been glorious again, though the sea mist is rolling in again now as I type.


Above, the mist hiding the Hoy hills and rolling across the fields below Windbreck on Graemsay. The sleeping dragon of Hoy is hidden behind the mist across Sandside Bay. The Manse is getting lost in the mist too, but the Community Hall (green and white building) is still in the sunshine.


And across the bay to Garson and the farm of Fillets, the sun is still shining too.



And Sandside is still in the sunshine....


But Hoy High lighthouse is disappearing!


As is Stromness



And now it's drifting across the bay....


But still Sandside is in the sun!


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Buttercups and sunshine....



It's July and summer is here!  Well, it was this morning!  There are rain showers this evening, but fortunately I had my camera with me when I was out and about so here are some pictures of Graemsay in the sun!  The buttercups are looking beautiful at the moment. Probably as a result of a very wet Spring and so-far-Summer! Click on the picture above to make it bigger (and the others).  You can see Sandside and behind it the Hamnavoe ferry setting off for Scrabster, and on the right, the Graemsay ferry heading into Stromness.  And - um - this is the "main road" on Graemsay that we are on. Single track with no passing places!

And here is a field of buttercups, looking across to Sandside bay


And the coos and calves in this field are enjoying the sunshine on their backs and finally being able to eat grass again. Many of the cattle have had to be kept in as the ground was too wet to put them out. It's been pretty desperate with some farmers running low on feed for their stock in the byres.  But most are now able to put animals back onto the land.


And this looks over to the old croft house of Moan, and in the haze is Orphir on the other side of water.


Meanwhile many of the plants in my walled garden are enjoying the warmer days too. I mostly plant perennials in the garden as shrubs just don't seem happy weathering the winter storms.  And who can blame them!  Here are a couple of photos of the borders.  Still taking time for the colour to appear on some of the plants.




In the corner here is a table with containers full of seeds, including carrots!  I'm testing the theory that carrot fly can't fly this high...though they may be jet propelled with the wind!


So first we have the columbines (aquilegia). I love these in all their many varieties..... These remind me of Victorian ladies in their bonnets...


This lady is wearing a VERY posh bonnet!  Er....some wee flies seem to approve too!


Perhaps Madam would prefer it in blue and white? It seems to attract fewer flies?!


And these pom pom ones are rather jolly (Columbines again)





And speaking of pom poms  -scabious!  Just starting to come out... I have several...


I'd like to say today ended with a beautiful sunset, but it won't (sunset not for another hour-ish yet) as there is grey cloud.  However, here is one I took earlier (ahem), yesterday I think....




So I hope you enjoyed your wander in the sunshine, and the flowers in my garden.  Hopefully there will be MORE over the summer!



Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Travelling home....



At the beginning of June I went South for a few days and returned on the ferry from Scrabster to Stromess.  This sails past the island of Hoy on the *other side* to the bit of the island I usually see. The sun shone on the sandstone cliffs and they positively glowed.  My photos don't do justice to the view but I thought I'd share some of them with you anyway! (I was feeling a bit sea sick as I'm not good on boats, so the photos are a bit random!).

Hoy means "High Island" and it's aptly named as it is the highest of the Orkney islands. From Caithness (the county that the Scrabster ferry terminal is in) to Hoy is about 10-12 miles. So from the terminal I could look across to "home".


The sandstone cliffs are quite magnificent, and as the rock is quite "soft" there are arches and crevasses being formed all the time.







And there is the famous sea stack of The Old Man of Hoy (from a certain angle you can see a face).  Even today this can be a challenging climb, and every year climbers travel across to Hoy to get to the top.  I think there's a lot of climbing "junk" attacked to the rock face from all the attempts.



Although the "Old Man" is just "around the corner" from Graemsay, the only time I see it is from the ferry. Although years ago I did walk across the hills to see it from land too.


The stack is just under 450 feet high.




In the same area are St John's Head, which is the highest vertical sea cliffs in Britain at 1,154 feet.


There are some fascinating facts about both the "Old Man" and St John's Head here

It was a beautiful evening and I had the back deck more or less to myself....


As we came round the corner towards Stromness the cliffs merged into green slopes with a few houses dotted along the top. Now that IS remote!


The light was fading fast but you can just make them out...


The cliffs getting lower and lower, and everything turns from the russet colour of sandstone to green as it leads down to the sea.


And then Graemsay comes into sight with both lighthouses visible.  Hoy High in the distance, and Hoy Low nearer.  Actually both are called "Hoy Sound" (high and low light) because they are in the mouth of Hoy Sound.



Hoy Low, with the WWII gun emplacement and control tower on the shore.


And no, the lighthouse is not listing, it's the boat!  It has to make a tight turn to get into Stromness harbour!


And there waiting to take me home was the Chieftain, the wee replacement ferry we had for a few weeks.  It was fun being away, but I do love coming home again!