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Friday, 7 October 2011

Shipping of livestock

I didn't need to go to the pier today at cargo boat time, but the activity of tractors and trailers up and down the road in front of my house was enough to tell me that one of the farmers was shipping sheep. Our boat is a lift-on-lift-off type, so anything that can't be done by hand is hauled on and off by the crane on the boat. And yes this includes sheep and cattle. Depending on the tide the sheep can be run down a wooden run onto the deck of the boat, otherwise several are put into the cattle box and winched on an off and then are released into pens on the boat. Cattle are always loaded into the metal box individually, usually. The photo above was taken a couple of years ago before our ferry was lengthened but the principle is the same.

We can also get groceries and other supplies sent over from shops on the Orkney mainland. These are on the top deck of the pier ready to be handed across to those of us waiting to collect them. I find this a great way to get most of my shopping in the winter. I generally get a weekly supply of milk, general groceries, sometimes bread (though I make more of my own in winter) and of course cat food!

Our ferry still has "technical problems" and is waiting for one engine to be replaced, so it's running a little slower than usual. But apart from the late afternoon and Friday "late boat" (9.30pm) service being cancelled, the timetable is as usual. Although all services are probably a little more weather dependent than normal.

But let's not forget how things used to be done in the past! Below is a photo taken in the 1950s of the Graemsay Coo (cow) boat!  The cattle would be loaded onto this low boat on Graemsay,  and then towed behind another boat with an engine and taken over to Stromness, where the animals would be sold at the town's livestock market!  I love the women in their headscarves - they are Florence Wilson of Quoys, Violet Mowat of Ramray and the man at the end is George Ritch of Windywalls (all crofters from the island).  It's one of my favourites!


  1. Hi, Sian. I loved learning that there is a place called Windywalls.

  2. Hi Walt!!!! Hehehehe - yes Windywalls is a fairly common name in Orkney. You've visited here - you'll know why ;-) Actually Windywalls on Graemsay has been here for at least a couple of hundred years, but it's only in the last 50 or so years that the technology has measured the wind on Graemsay and guess what - Windywalls is the windiest place on the island!!