A Gathering of the Clans

We had a gathering of the ‘clans’ on the farm last week. The sheep, young and old were rounded up in the old sheep fank and placed into lots for our annual livestock sale. The Happy Farmer needed to check the sheep were ‘correct’ above and below before separating them. Cheeky, crabbit and obstinate were placed in one pen. This became the ‘for sale’ section. Frisky, young, skippy and positively ‘blooming’ passed the test and made their way into the ‘not for sale’ section. Calves were also gathered in and sorted out into various pens for selling.

It was an early start on Friday. A large selection of various sized wellington boots lay abandoned at the farmhouse door. Breakfasts were served all round. Firstly to our guests and our hardy camper, and then bacon rolls flowed from the Aga for the assembled gathering in the farmhouse kitchen which included the singing shepherd, who bought along his very able sheepdog, the Happy Chappies from down the road and Hughie taxi. In true island style Hughie left a few hours later with not just a taxi, but four calves at foot and also managed to sell a tractor into the bargain.

On sale day, a huge livestock float arrives. Suddenly farm vehicles of all shapes and sizes, zoom into the yard, and out jump a motely crew of farmers of all shapes and sizes too. All clad in varying shades of green, along with the auctioneers in their pristine white coats. A crowd gathers around the pens and the bidding begins. The sing song chant of the auctioneers fills the air as farmers wink, nod and blink away until the hammer is struck and the pen declared ‘sold’. These days the ear tags of the sheep and calves have to be scanned. It was a bit of a battle. One of the old stone pens has become  overgrown with Fuschia. The bushes have formed a thick low canopy over the pen. The young man with the scanning stick had to crawl into the dark depths as those intelligent sheep took cover. The scanning stick resembles one of those lightsaber toys straight out of Star Wars. It certainly looked like a lot of fun. Sheep’s ear tags, versus man, of course the sheep did allow him to scan their tags in the end, but not before they had given him a bit of a run around.

 As quickly as the sale begins, it is over, and everyone races back to their cars and off they travel onto the neighbouring farm for the next part of the sale.

The pottery has had a busy couple of weeks. It is the October holidays and with much cooler weather we welcomed lots of visitors calling by to enjoy the warmth of our wood burning stove whilst sipping on cafetières of freshly ground coffee and oven baked scones. Young and old have been creating beautiful pieces at our workshop table. Early Christmas shoppers have been dropping by to place orders and browse the ceramics on sale on the shelves.

Eldest was home from the city for a weekend of long walks and partying. ‘Tidelines’ were playing in the village hall, so it was ceilidh time on the island.

The pottery had its own ‘ceilidh’ when we welcomed ten youngsters for a pottery painting and story party to celebrate a third birthday. Tea and cakes were laid out for mums, dads, grans and aunties whilst the youngsters all gathered round the workshop table and got carried away with their imaginations painting crocodiles, ducks, princesses and unicorns. A birthday tea of party food was followed by a ‘Bear Hunt’.  We ‘swishy swashyed’ through long grass, and eventually into the cave where we met the ‘bear’ before retracing our steps all the way home at some speed. Candles were lit on the beautiful birthday cake, party bags were handed out and in no time at all the children were leaving tired but happy.

Sunday was a lazy one for me then. An afternoon of magazines in front of a roaring log fire. Eldest took the dogs for a long walk out along the coastline at Bunnahabhain.

We waved goodbye to our hardy camper who had travelled all the way from Singapore for his first visit to Islay and indeed Scotland. We were very impressed that he had chosen to camp outside for a whole week  in October, when the weather can be ever so slightly on the chilly side, but then with a flask of coffee, a few drams at the distilleries and gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, our camper is already looking forward to his next trip to stay with us at Persabus.

Until next time…

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