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Shearing 

My God,  I can’t express how much I hate shearing!
I managed to catch 3 in my pen but thankfully 2 of them were the worst 2 to shear. The brown North Ronaldsays are a nightmare! The fleece just felts on the skin and there’s no lift at all, no matter how long you wait! 

The brown sheep are probably the oldest of the 5,500 year old breed. It does its job and keeps the elements off the sheep’s skin but damn it’s hard going to get it off!

Can we not genetically modify sheep so they’re born with a zip on their fleece? We, or even they could take their fleece off like a jacket! That’s forward thinking!
I’ve got 4 ewes left to shear but 3 of them are grey (easy) and 1 ewe has already shed half her fleece. Why couldn’t the rest of my girls do that?? 😠
I’m not sharing a pic because those brown sheep… Nothing I’m proud of but I think I did better than last year!
I also managed to tag 4 of my youngans but there’s still not much there to castrate on my boys so they get a reprieve for a while yet!

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​Exciting news!

Anyone who has ever wanted to live on a small island now has the chance to move to the unique and magical island of North Ronaldsay.

This 2 bedroom croft is a beautiful place with fantastic views and a huge conservatory to make the most of them. It comes along with a stone built barn and a huge agricultural barn.

Ever thought of trying your hand at being a farmer? There is land available with the house that could be negotiated for.
All this for £85,000! 
We desperately need new families to move to the island, preferably a young family with kids to keep the island going into the future but right now, we are struggling.

With an ageing population, the island is struggling to keep itself afloat, so to speak. The island is falling into disrepair with more and more people less able to maintain what needs to be maintained.

But who knows, this croft could be the start of a change in the island’s fortune.

I look forward to meeting whoever should buy Breckan.
http://www.lowsorkney.co.uk/p/24208#details

Spring is here!

These last couple of weeks have, without a doubt been 2 of the busiest weeks of my life! So many different jobs done that I can’t even describe what a typical day looks like because there is no typical day. The life of an islander is wide
a varied and you have no idea what you could be doing at any given moment.

This last fortnight has consisted mostly of animal work for me, from punding; the traditional rounding up of the sheep on the shore, this year in addition to holding a couple of punds last week, we made the most of the pre-lambing punds
this week. The islanders, as well as several friends and family from mainland and further south came to the island to round up the sheep. In an amazing feat, we actually got every sheep in each section of the shore into the punds, there are usually a few (sometimes
more than a few) that outsmart us humans and evade the punds completely. I can only hope they co-operate as much when it comes time to shear them!

We took this opportunity to ‘Spring clean’ the shore, since there are so few fit an able farmers on the island the size of the flock and workload is starting to take its toll. The pregnant ewes were brought inland as usual and are all now
happily grazing away at the lush grass, but the wethers (castrated males) were sorted and the fattest were shipped off to market. A horrible but sadly necessary evil but with the nature of the North Ronaldsay sheep, these wethers have lived several years of
relative freedom before meeting their end.

In addition to sheep work, I’ve been doing my usual, helping to feed cattle – cutting open the black plastic wrap of the bales then unwrapping the netting surrounding the silage. I’ve lost count how many bales I must have opened this last
fortnight but if I said 30, I’d probably be close.

Then there’s been a bit of turbine work, only a little of that though, little bit of electrical work getting the heat pump at the lighthouse up and running.

And most recently, I’ve been taking people on tours up the lighthouse, around the wool mill, through the cottages etc. The café is open for business, feel free to pop in for some fantastic brownies and ice-cream, have a browse through the
shop for souvenirs, or check out the lighthouse exhibition. Tours of the lighthouse are run anytime; there’ll be people at the café to arrange a tour for you.

 

http://www.northronaldsay.co.uk/

Busy week as Spring arrives!

This has been a hell of a busy week, from collecting the bins on Wednesday  (having a go behind the wheel of the digger), to punding on Thursday and getting ready for the boat on Friday!

There was a lot of cargo leaving the island on Friday, thank God for the boat, we would never be able to do or share anywhere near as much as we can!

The fog has started early this year – the last 2 days we’ve been completely fogged in apart from the tiniest window to get 1 plane in yesterday and one the day before. We must be into Spring/Summer – the lambs will be arriving soon, the weather is slowly getting warmer, hence the fog! 

For the good of all

I had a really great time in town today. Another really positive meeting hosted by Volunteer Action Orkney, it was great to meet new people from the other islands and catching up with some familiar faces.
Today’s meeting was the final stage of VAO’s Your Island Your Choice Participatory Budget where 9 islands were represented at the meeting and 2 others submitted postal votes for the event.

Congratulations to The Blide Trust and Eday Development Trust for winning the £6,000 in the inter-island fund.
I really like Eday’s idea of providing smart TV’s and webcams to promote inter-island connectivity and communications. I’m a huge supporter of the island’s coming together and supporting each other, after all we’re all in the same boat, suffering similar problems but all unique in our own way.
The Blide Trusts bid to improve and support the mental wellness on the islands through gardening and Tai Chi etc is certainly an interesting proposal and I look forward to seeing how that works out.

I really liked the idea of Papay Development Trust hiring the Golden Marianna to sail between Papay and Westray, giving them an extra 12 ferries between the two islands. Sadly there wasn’t enough money in the budget to fund this project.
I really hope they can find the funds to set this up, I think it would really improve prospects for the people of Papay.

I can’t thank VAO enough for their contribution and support over the past few months, bringing all 13 island communities together to decide what their respective island needed and giving us the money we need to improve our islands the way we see fit.
To say that this pilot project has been a roaring success would be an understatement! I certainly hope we can move forward together and keep the momentum going, hopefully even with a bigger pot of money.
In the mean time, North Ronaldsay will shop around to set up our very first gym/healthy living centre. I guess there’ll be no excuses for anyone on the island being unfit! That’s one way to keep warm during the winter months! 

Dark Sky Status

It looks like North Ronaldsay’s application for Dark Sky Status is coming along well, it would be a great thing for the island. Too many places around the country are surrounded with the wrong type of lighting, projecting light up into the sky, making it nearly impossible to see the wonders of the universe around us and what’s worse is most children these days will grow up thinking this is normal.
North Ronaldsay is different, it is one of the few places left in the UK that has virtually no light pollution and you can see the stars, the Milky Way and the Merry Dancers in all their glory with little effort.

Dark Sky Status for the island will preserve the lack of light pollution here, possibly even making North Ron a hub for astronomical observation.
We need all the help we can get to preserve the unique situation this island already has. If you have an interest in astronomy, or if you want to help support the island, please write a letter – it doesn’t have to be long, just a few sentences showing your support for North Ron getting Dark sky Status and post your letters to: 
Jim Paterson – Dark Sky Lighting consultant

Rosemount House,

We’ll Road,

Moffat

DG10 9BT

Winters chill

It seems it’s time for the island to shrug off winter’s chill and get back to work. It’s been a mild winter, certainly compared to last year but the first signs of spring are coming back to the island.The first snowdrops and daffodils are poking their heads above the soil. The ewe’s on the shore are coming along in their pregnancy, they’ll be brought inland in the next few weeks ready to welcome some tiny lambs, and I do mean tiny!
I suspect it’ll be a busier summer than last year for me, if the last 2 weeks are any indication it will definitely be busy and full of even more new experiences! I’m up for the challenge though and look forward to seeing my sheep again (they really are bonny), 2017’s Sheep Festival, long nights and warmer weather, finishing up my university work for the year, seeing the island busy again.
What are your hopes for this summer?