Wednesday 30 November 2016

Mary Jane's dual purpose poultry and roadkill

From time to time old photos turn up unexpectedly.The one on the top left (with the ducks) was sent to me recently by Bill Woods Ballard. Bill and his family have been coming to Kilchoan for their annual holidays for many years and Bill thinks this was taken by his sister in 1995.

In twenty years not much has changed. There are some changes, MJ put on a new roof then I replaced the door and glazed the window.

I tried ducks for a few years, they are phenomenal egg layers. But there's a downside. Large amounts of grass go in one end and even larger amounts green muck come out the other end.  They had to go.

Hens aren't so bad, they ingest less grass and water but still leave hazards for pedestrians, they also go into their house at dusk without prompting. At mid summer, when we have eighteen hours daylight the ducks have to be driven indoors.

Both lots of poultry have another vital function.... traffic calming. No one wants to run over them and they rather like the middle of the road. this has had the tacit approval of the local constabulary.

I've only lost one in a road traffic accident. It was standing by the roadside as Trevor came down the hill with his wide wheelbase boat trailer. It didn't realise it was wide axle..... splat... two dimensional roadkill.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

The United Banana Kingdom - Another rant

Ben Tahlaid from the kitchen window at 4.00 pm yesterday

At ten minutes to seven this morning, dozy and still half asleep I switched the radio on to hear that Nigel Farage would be our next ambassador in Washington. The thing is ..... I wasn't surprised or even angry, I just accepted it as the latest episode in the drama of transition from United Kingdom to.... United Banana Kingdom.  Once I was fully awake of course I realised that the BBC were just reporting the latest inappropriate utterance from President elect Trump

OK... this blog is supposed to be about crofting, sustainability, environment and life in  a remote W. Highland village but every so often I can't resist a rant and in post Europe, post truth, post any understanding of economics UK there is plenty to rant about.

Breathing clean air but expelling a lot of methane
You might think that there's nothing to bother about up here beside the sea, beneath the mountains, breathing clean air that has travelled 6,000 km across the Atlantic. But here in Scotland we  are being dragged out of Europe against our will and I am angry about it. Not just because it's economic self- harm on a massive scale but because I like being European.

I like being European because I like the other Europeans, the Dutch, French and German visitors who come here each summer. Scotland has had long and close relationship with Europe, until 1906, if you were born in Scotland you could apply for French citizenship and get it automatically.

Sixty two percent of us voted to stay in the EU and we don't want to be part of a closed, narrow minded, impoverished group of islands in the N,Atlantic.

I expect Nigel Farage to be elevated to the House of Lords in the New Year honours list but I don't expect the Foreign Secretary to be sacked for gross incompetence.

Tuesday 1 November 2016

"Up goes a guinea, bang goes a penny, down comes half a crown"

Tame pheasant on the doorstep soon to be "sportingly" shot
It's  1st of November, I'm in Northumberland and it's the first day of the pheasant shooting season. Soon tens of thousands of tame pheasants, will be used as living, moving targets for shotguns. The people doing the shooting must enjoy it because  it a very expensive pastime.

The economics of pheasant shooting were nicely summed up 100 years ago as above," up goes a guinea, bang goes a penny and down comes half a crown." The ratio is about the same but the actual costs must be ten times higher.

The costs are probably higher for grouse shooting; so in order to make it a bit cheaper for the bankers, oligarchs and wealthy land owners  we, the taxpayers,  do help out by giving them generous subsidies via the EU Common Agricultural Policy. They keep a few sheep on the grouse moors so qualify for this dole, it's socialism for the rich.

The sheep are needed to soak up the parasitic ticks that would otherwise kill lots of the grouse. So we  are in effect directly subsidising the grouse shooting. Just thought you might like to know this!