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Sunday 15 March 2009

The meaning of free range.....

Seaweed flavoured eggs anyone?! The hens have been loving the recent Spring weather and I found them rootling around on the beach one day last week. The weekend weather has returned to grey skies and a breeze, but Friday was glorious reminding me that the sun can warm the land again. Just this last couple of weeks there has been real warmth when the sun has shone. I have even been out without my hat and gloves! Though this is Britain and snow has been known to fall in June so I'm not getting too excited yet.

I thought I'd lost two of my hens (I should have four and as you can see, there are only two in the picture). However on Saturday the other two emerged again. One was making a low "chook-chook" kind of sound which I've heard broody hens make, so I suspect she has got a clutch of eggs somewhere. I had intended following her back to her nest but she outwitted me and snuck off when I wasn't looking. I am trying to search the byres to find her, without success so far. Hens will sit on a nest for days sometimes without coming out for food or water. They will only leave the nest briefly even then and lost a lot of weight during this time. As I don't have a cockeral there is no hope of the poor hen hatching anything so she could sit in vain for some time! The other hen must also have been broody somewhere but she's given up and has joined the other two hens now.

This has been a busy week. Thursday evening we had someone come and give a talk in Graemsay as part of a programme set up by the University of Aberdeen. Neil Curtis gave us a talk on "Northern Connections". Neil is an anthropologist and curator of a museum in Aberdeen and spoke about the connections between the North of Scotland, the Northern isles and also Scandinavia and Russia to the East, and Canada to th West. It was an interesting talk, and was well attended by folk on the island. Neil was staying at Sandside so I did my "B&B hostess" bit, which always amuses my neighbours as they know I am not a morning person. I did manage to cook Neil breakfast and fortunately he was happy to forgo the sparkling conversation ;-)

Friday afternoon I had some friends visit. M&R live over in Orphir - we can send smoke signals to each other across the Sound! It was their first visit to Graemsay and I was delighted that the sun shone. We went for a walk on both the beaches near the house. There is an old pier which separates them and it just fascinates me as on the right of the pier is the "shell" beach with lots of shells and coral mixed in with the sand, while to the left is the sandy beach with NO shells or coral. I *know* it must be to do with tides and currents, but it still feels like there is some sort of traffic control underwater with the marine equivalent of a traffic cop - "Sand to the left please, shells and coral to the right. Move along there please, you're causing a jam...."

So, having had visitors this week I opened up the conservatory and will use that as my sitting room most of the time now. Button really likes the room, underfloor heating to keep her paws forever warm (that stays on till about May), a long expanse of windows to gaze out and plan her strategy for hunting, and a nice sofa to curl up upon. Hmmmm think I might go and join her.....


  1. I do wish we could come visit. We'd even fix our own breakfast, and not require morning conversation.

  2. Everything sounds so lovely. We visited Scotland a couple of years ago for 8 days. We didn't get a chance to visit any of the outer islands, only Skye. Our next time (hopefully a next time) we want to see some of the islands. We always stay at B&B's if we can. We will have to look you up.

  3. Mary Z - If you come to the North of Scotland you must come over to Orkney again and visit Graemsay! But if you come to the UK - you ought to visit Guernsey too - I think you'd really enjoy the Channel Islands. Not so remote but interesting!

    Elizabeth - The B&B comment was a bit of a joke - I don't do it "professionally" (in any sense of the word -LOL!) but you would be welcome to visit if you come this far north!

  4. I am so glad you have turned on the underfloor heating for Button. After all, she doesn't have cosy socks like you.

    I love reading about your island life..

  5. Loved the seaweed egg thought! Loved seeing the hens by the shore and boat.
    I'm sorry the weather went grey for your friends - we've just had the most fabulous w/end weather - lunch-on-bench-falling-asleep-with-book warm!
    Do you find cowry shells up there

  6. Why has the question mark gone onto a line all by itself?

  7. Throughstones - I think Button is devising a cunning plan to enable her to reach the thermostat and turn it up even higher! She just loves stretching out on a warm carpet! glad you enjoy reading about the island. I love hearing about your part of the shore too, and your artistic ventures.

  8. Paula - ok now you have me envious of lovely descriptive warm weekend! Hmm not sure if there are cowrie shells - I'm not well up on shells. I know there are limpet shells in abundance, and "groatie buckies" a local name for a shell. I ought to try and identify some!

    And no I have no idea why the ? was on a different line. I don't always have full control over how my blog page prints either. Sometimes I have to just sneak up on it and hope I can surprise it into doing what I want..... but it works well enough for me most of the time!