Thursday 5 January 2012

W. Highland winter weather

I don't often feel sorry for sheep but they have looked so bedraggled, dejected and downright sad for the last few weeks of high wind and rain. Their fleeces are soaked, there's no grass and no where dry to lie. I made 12 big bales of haylage thinking that they could be eked out over the next three months until there was some grass at lambing. They have eaten three bales in three weeks; its "comfort food" for sheep,  it can't go on. Today we moved them to the hill park behind the house. Here they have  natural shelter in the hollows and behind rocks, grass and heather to eat and a dry bed. Lack of fencing along the southern boundary meant I couldn't use this bit of hill; but today we strung out 200m of electric fencing and the ewes have their heads down eating, they didn't seem to notice that the sun was out.
At least the poultry have houses to shelter in, until the houses blow away. One lunchtime about three weeks ago when the hurricane was blowing a hooley I noticed a hen house was missing. It had been picked up by the wind and dropped on the drystone wall boundary abot 50m away. The hens were at the gate demanding to be re-housed.

Humans haven't fared much better. We've had power cuts with electricity on and off for what seems like an eternity. Candles and oil lamps soon lose their romantic appeal when you can't get online, read a book or use power tools. As a result of the "European Water Quality Directive" our water is pumped from a treatment plant where it is infused with Domestos to keep us safe and healthy. I have drunk water from hill burns all my life and never had an upset. When the power goes off the water goes off.  About twelve hours later someone usually brings an emergency generator for the pumps. Like the sheep we haven't seen the sun for ages. The next power cut will be different  there is now a shiny 4kw Honda generator in the workshop and of course water in the burn and The Guardian always gets through by teatime. You never thought of it as an evening paper did you.

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