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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Storm Ophelia


I'm pleased to say she passed us by.  Not even an Orkney gale.  It's a bit breezy out but nothing out of the ordinary for October.  So all is well and Button and I did not have a disturbed night!  Button even went out hunting.....

We were lucky, in many other parts of the UK and Ireland there has been loss of life and a lot of damage.  The power of nature is awesome and, in this day and age when we sometimes thing we can control everything, is shocking. My heart goes out to those affected.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Approaching storm?



The news and weather forecasts are full of the impending arrival of Hurricane Ophelia. So far, despite pictures (like the one below sent by a friend from the USA where they are well used to hurricane preparations!) which show us in the "cone" we in Orkney are not even forecast to get a regular "Orkney Gale".  Let's hope they are right!  At the moment we have cloudy skies and it is getting very dark and gloomy at 16.30, at least a couple of hours ahead of the use time for gathering gloom.



At the top of this post is the view over the Hoy hills just now. It's an eerie light.  Further down the UK the light is almost sepia - the result of sand from the Sahara and smoke from dreadful fires in Spain and Portugal being sucked up into the air by the circling storm.

This morning all was very calm, and though grey with drizzly showers was pleasantly warm and no wind.



Button was out hunting in the calm.... bit tough on the ears in a gale... can't hear the rustling and squeaks from wee mice!


Not sure how she managed to sit at this angle!



Here is a short video taken this morning, with Madam Button out on her morning hunt, and the hens having breakfast.  As you can hear, lots of birds sounds, which signifies, NO WIND! Ha! Usually my films have the sound of a howling gale on them even when it is relatively calm.


I'll let you know how we get on.  But don't panic if you don't hear from me as we may get a power cut.  The house has stood since 1860 so I anticipate it lasting a few more storms yet....

Incidentally, it is the 30th anniversary of The Great Storm which wrecked havoc in the South of England and several lives were lost.  The house I lived in then lost some slates off the roof, and we lost and old damson tree at the bottom of the garden.  But were unscathed apart from that.




Sunday, 15 October 2017

Shipping the wool.....



Last Monday was a lovely day, warm for the time of year, no wind or rain.  And it was the day the farmers shipped all the sheep wool.  Each farm shears their sheep and bags up the fleeces, these then get shipped onto our ferry to the Orkney Mainland and then with wool from other farms in Orkney is then shipped south.  Farmers don't get much money per fleece, mostly it covers the cost of transport and shearing.  But it is supposed to be healthier for the sheep to be shorn in the summer.

Above the MV Graemsay coming into the pier....

The wool bags waiting for collection along with some farm machinery....


The wool is bound into the sacks!


Being winched aboard....









As I said it was a bonny day.....


So I headed home to plant some Spring bulbs - dwarf Narcissus, tulips and alliums.  As usual I had supervisors....



And the birds had been having a feast on the rose hips!


It was one of those lovely Autumn days when I just loved being outside!

Monday, 9 October 2017

After a blustery week....



Last weekend we had several days of high winds.  Nothing out of the ordinary for the time of year but the first windy days of Autumn tend to wreck the garden and blow debris around.  No damage to the house or livestock, but the poor garden took a battering.  Still some flowers bravely - er - flowering.  But there have been some moody skies too with dark clouds and misty rain.  As most followers of my blog know I am a Spring/Summer person, so I do not relish Autumn.  However I'm getting there.  Here are some photos from the weekend when the weather was mild with NO wind and little rain....  Above Sandside and Hoy High light, and it's raining over Orphir on the Orkney Mainland. Photo taken from the "main road" on Graemsay.  Below, bit of a closer view.  Tide was just coming in... I think....


Button and I took a walk down to the coral beach....... we disturbed a grey seal that has been having a rest on a rock...


And there were more moody skies....


Hoy was getting a bit of "weather" in this one...


Button likes to walk on the wild side.....



And she likes to scare me......



We then took a turn round the garden to see what had survived the winds.... The geraniums are hardy brave souls.....



Hypericum (St John's Wort) produces lots of berries for the birds, and still has some flower producing nectar for the bees.


This new bed took a battering. Hopefully everything will come again next year....


The rowan tree had all it's leaves blackened and no berries on it now.... The lovage also broke in half, though I had cut some of it back in preparation for the gales.


But other things survived because they were sheltered by the stone dyke, like this borage. The bees love it, and the flowers are great in gin... apparently.



The hebe did OK too.  Again the insects love this.


This is a lovely scabious. It's supposed to be on a tall stem but was hiding nearer the ground. Sensible flower!


And the sea holly gave up trying to remain vertical and draped itself delicately over the hypericum!



Before the high winds you couldn't see this bird feeder for leaves.... not so now!


So as you see we don't really get "Autumn" like in the highlands of Scotland where the trees turn beautiful shades of orange, red and brown.  Our trees go from green to black in a day....sigh.

The hens meanwhile fared well.  Their hen house is reasonably sheltered and they can make a run for the shrubbery - though sometimes it's not in a straight line!

Here they are rootling about the garden.  Some are still in moult - poor black Pecky Hen is having a terrible moult this year.  She looks really motheaten!  She's fine - just looks awful!  When they are at the worst of their moult they have the sense to remain in the hen house when it's wet etc....




I give them a supplement in their food and water when it is the moulting season, hopefully it helps them!


The insects struggle in the high winds and rains as you would expect.  They were fairly making up for lost time at the weekend when the weather was calmer.  But I  came across this Bumble Bee struggling on a flower.  It had no energy to fly or do anything and I don't think there was much for it in the flower.  So I rushed indoors for some sugary syrup to feed it.  I then spent a delightful few minutes watching it drink.  I had to stand guard to keep a curious cat and eagle eyed hens away from it till it recovered enough to buzz off a few minutes later!

This was it at the beginning....


Then it REALLY went for it, extending his/her tongue!


And here is a short video of it drinking. You can see the syrup being sucked up! The noise in the background is one of the hens....


After all that excitement Button returned home for a snooze..... This is where she rides out most storms!


Sunday, 1 October 2017

Sunday interlude.....


Rainy windy day today so catching up on "domestics".   In the meantime you might enjoy Mark & Deb's blog of their trip round the Western Isles of Scotland....

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Down by the shore...


Above are two grey seals down at the shore.  They were completely unconcerned that I was nearby today.  Though I was using a zoom lens to take their pictures. One is shedding is a pup shedding its fluffy coat. It looks as though it has just unzipped its cardigan!  Or maybe he is a real selkie.

They were both just at the end of the old stone pier at Sandide.



Here you can see fluffy flippers!


There was a young cormorant on the shore too... or was it a shag? I get the two mixed up!



Looking across to Stromness....


I love these grass seed heads...


More shags/cormorants among the gulls....


A workboat heading into Stromness.  Wind turbines in the background - these are at the local water treatment works outside Stromness.


A flock of lapwings flew over....


And the remains of this old boat is being reclaimed by nature, softening the harshness of the burnt hull.


Hope you enjoyed the short walk today.  Button? Ah she was snoozling at home. Though she had been out for a short perambulation when the sun shone earlier in the day....

Friday, 29 September 2017

August skies over Graemsay


Above just around sunset.....  Below - the panorama distorts the landscape but I love it anyway!


Sinking into the ocean just behind the henny house and off the tip of Graemsay....


There she goes for another day...


The Hamnavoe ferry sailing into Stromness for the night.



Cloudy skies above Hoy High lighthouse.



A car in the sky?!  An island car being winched off the ferry onto the pier.  We don't have a ro-ro service on Graemsay so everything is winched on and off the ferry or carried by hand. Someone's shopping near the pier steps there!


Glowering clouds bringing rain....


Rain and sun.....


Another atmospheric panorama!


Cloud over Stromness