Person on beach

Enjoying Islay Time

There is something just mesmerizing

when after a long, hot trek across a wild and rugged landscape, suddenly the vista unfolds.

The steep climb, trudging through the heather and bog myrtle, a herd of deer spying on your every move.

The heat of the day and as you climb over the hill

and the view unfolds. First, it’s just a teasing glimpse of the sea in the distance. Then as you gradually descend, the fresh, crisp, sea air hits you, and way down below you can see the whitest of sands being bathed by turquoise waters. The fresh white froth of the waves uncurling as they gently lap to shore.

This is Bàgh An Dà Dhoruis beach

translated from the Gaelic to the ‘Bay of two Doors’. Jagged rock formations rise from the huge white expanse of sand. Huge cliffs with deep inviting caves carved into the rock. The sound of the sea, as a few sanderlings skip along the shoreline.

A deserted bay. A tricky climb down, as bracken, rocks and uneven terrain make the journey slow, when really you just want to hurl yourself onto that beach, race down the hill like a child.

Boots abandoned

thick socks peeled from your feet, and then the bliss as the soft sand gently massages the soles, the clammy heat disappearing, as underfoot the surface hardens as you step towards the waters’ edge. The soothing, refreshing, cooling of those feet, rewarded at last for their huge hike, as the icy sea envelopes them. The sun glistening down and dancing across the waves. The solitude, the quiet, peaceful tranquillity with blueness stretching ahead as far as the eye can see, as huge blue skies melt into the blue seas below.

The inspiration is endless

The many beautiful patterns and colours of the sand, the rocks, the waves, as the skies meet the sea, and the sea meets the land, and the story unfurls back in the pottery studio. A moment in time, captured through gentle brush strokes, the mixing of colours, dabbing the brushes from paint to ceramics. Lost in this beautiful island. Enjoying its calm serenity.

Step back and enjoy a little Islay time

At Persabus Pottery art is translated onto ceramics, with each piece carefully painted by hand, each range with its own story to share. In the workshop, the painted ceramics are hand glazed, then left to dry, before being sponged ready to be lifted gently into the kiln. The layers and shelves of the kiln are carefully built around each piece with every firing. It is here the magic happens, when the kiln is finally cool enough to open once more. Pieces are gently unloaded then taken across to the studio and photographed for our online shop, ready for you to enjoy.

Pieces of art, inspired by island life

capturing those colours, patterns, and memories onto ceramics for you to take home and enjoy…bringing a little piece of the Hebrides into your home.

Until next time…

Islay Beach
Islay Beach
Islay Beach
Artist painting
Person on beach
sand patterns
Green glazed ceramics
beach range

Ground Control to the Happy Farmer

Excuse me if those mighty wheels of the Persabus blog appeared to grind to a halt again

With days flying past at a rate of knots, it has been quite a journey this past month.

In the pottery

those fabulous commissions, and orders have been rolling in. There’s been magazine interviews and photos shoots. It’s been an exciting time in the little studio as the art journey continues to evolve in happy ways.

This month I’m very excited to share all about the studio space at Persabus in an interview with the lovely Kate MacDonald of ‘The Needlesmith Magazine’.

Then there was the lovely visit from the passing Japanese photographer.

I am sure she just called in to browse the pottery ranges, but in no time at all her camera was out and she was clicking away. With the ease of a professional, lenses were hoicked on and off, as camera settings were carefully adjusted, to suit varying angles and heights. I did start to feel incredibly self-conscious, but equally so happy that she really liked my pieces, wanting to spend time capturing an ‘artist’ at work. Recording the different patterns and designs through the varying lights. Gathering photos ready to be pored over and edited before they head off to the lifestyle magazines of Japan, taking a tiny piece of the Hebrides to shores far away.

The Islay weather has been a very mixed bag recently

but with sun shining brightly yesterday,

The annual white washing project recommenced.

Thankfully, things have progressed big style at Persabus. The times when those painting heights were reached by the ‘old-fashioned Hebridean style’ of tying two old ladders together, are a very long and distant memory. Those were the days, when some poor soul would be left balancing on the bottom rung to keep the ladder in place, whilst dodging any AWOL splodges of paint.  One Farmer would be seen trundling his way up into the clouds above, pot of paint and brushes to hand, as if he were on some Beanstalk climbing expedition. (Please don’t try this at home, definitely not a good idea at all).

These days those old heavy paint brushes have been exchanged for a fancy motorised spraying machine, and then there’s the positively ‘space age’ piece of kit, that very happily ‘landed’ in the garden at Persabus. As Dolly arrived with the Handsome Farmer’s tele-handler. A colossal and mighty piece of machinery. With Dolly steering the ‘space machine’ from ‘ground control’, the Happy Farmer could be seen being beamed up to new heights in his life. Well as high as the chimney pots of Persabus anyway, allowing him to indulge in a spot of white washing, all from the safety of a hydraulic platform.

Freshening up the walls on the farm is like maintaining the Forth Road Bridge. Getting them all gleaming and white, before the wild winter storms batter them once more.

Yesterday then, it wasn’t just the walls that were left gleaming.

With a tad of a breeze, and the fancy new spraying machine to hand, even the Happy Farmer looked positively freshened up at the end of the day. It certainly puts a whole new perspective on ‘spray tans’, this farmer’s ‘tan’ was looking positively whiter than white!

Until next time….

Flowers growing
Pottery jug and bowl
Farmer walking
Tele Handler
Two men in the garden
Pottery Bowl
Pottery pieces
Machir Bay

An Islay Summer

We have been swept up on the crest of a wave as July living carried us into the hurly burly dance of an island summertime and then led us on into August.

Just as you thought that the mighty Persabus blog was slipping away off the face of my trusty laptop know that the words have been whirring round in my head but have had to travel with me into the fast lane of island living. The days blurred in that beautiful shimmering sunshine.

Immersed in the holiday season the island is bubbling with happy relaxed people enjoying some ‘Islay time’.

Morning runs through the fields have been filled with the heady scent of wildflowers lighting up the path. The salty sea air clinging in the skies as the heatwave has given way to a fresh breeze and the hedges and trees enjoyed a much needed, although short lived, misty spray of drizzle and mizzle.

Everything is bursting with life.

Smiley, happy people can be seen walking, running, exploring, splashing in those waves. Blobbing, and bobbing in that glorious sunshine.

Paddle boards hover over the still waters of Lochindaal, almighty squawks and huge smiles as they topple, a necessary part of the adventure and fun.

Cyclists wobble along the roads, heavy panniers clinging from the back of their saddles, as others zoom past with the freedom and style of Olympic champions.

Smoke signals rise from the barbeques at Saligo, beckoning us to laze for just a little longer, enjoying the warm golden sands, as juicy steaks and succulent chicken never tasted so good. Beach life grows the appetite, and the calming waters, glistening in the heat, make for the perfect spot for a bite of supper.

Those mackerel are positively jumping from sea to boat, and the lochs are filled with trout.

A time for adventuring, and the Happy Farmer seeks them out. Happening upon a weekend of wild camping expeditions, and we were soon supping on fresh cockles steamed on an open fire enjoying the sunny shores of Killinallan with friends.

Then that refreshing ‘buzz’ of immersing the body into those cool salty waters, before walking across miles of white sandy beaches with the gentle waves washing across the shore. Inquisitive seals, out to play, as they follow our journey.

It has been a magical time of welcoming family, friends, guests and more to the farm at Persabus.

Tonsils have been tickled regularly, ‘sticks’ hoicked, poked and prodded up those nostrils, as regular lateral flow testing has become a part of the normal routine. All doing our bit to keep everyone as safe as possible, allowing at last just a little bit more of a social norm, as the clans have gathered once more.

In the pottery the kilns have been firing on all cylinders, with pottery boxes coming and going, with a steady stream of lovely customers.

It has been a time of madness, with ‘Instagram takeovers’, magazine interviews, and impromptu photo shoots. The juggling of orders, those special commissions, keeping that stock flowing, whilst allowing for creative play. A time of welcoming so many lovely people back again, and all before the magic of that ‘beach time’ glow, a glow that takes us late into those long summer nights.

Everything ups a gear at this magical time of year.

Just as the flies and bees are buzzing, the hedges are bursting with blooms, and the birdsong and chatter couldn’t get any louder. The days stretch on forever and still don’t seem long enough to make the most of this truly amazing season.

Have you booked your Islay time yet?

A warm welcome awaits, as always, from the whole gang at Persabus.

Until next time….

Islay Beach
Bathing in the sea
Boy on tractor
Machir Bay
Sunsetting over the pottery building

Islay’s Garden

It is a cat’s life on the farm at Persabus

Our tigers roam the fields at this time of year. Enjoying a spot of hunting with all the fresh pickings that arrive as the grass begins to lengthen. The fields are a sea of yellow just now, with the brightness of the buttercups gleaming skywards to capture those gorgeous sun’s rays.

On evening walks, two googly eyes appear

spying from the depths of the undergrowth. Carefully studying our every move, before pouncing. Hamishina, our little tiger, catching at our feet, running between our legs, teasing, purring and then insisting on rolling over in our path. Getting under our feet, so she can enjoy those much-loved belly rubs. She would happily skip at our sides and accompany us on the whole journey. So, at this point, she is usually scooped up, returned to the farmhouse, to allow the walk to continue in earnest, without fear of losing one cat along the way, as we venture off the farm, through the woods, and down to the shore.

The colours of the season unfold across the landscape. The delicate flowers, the pops of pink, purple, cream and white set against the grassy vivid greens and yellows. The sun’s rays casting golden lights and deep shadows.

Down at the shoreline, the seals bob in the water

The swans majestic and protective of their young family, as new life emerges all around. The deep blues of the Sound of Islay, the pale bronze and golds of Jura rising in the background.

Craggy rock formations hang with moss and ferns. The lichen spread over thousands of years across their surfaces. The patterns, texture and colours, delicate, wispy flecks, pops of mustard, pale greens, and greys. The atmosphere of those aged rocks against the stillness, with just the sounds of nature as a heron swoops past.

Back in the pottery

and in between all the lovely visitors, and goodness it has been a busy month, and those fabulous orders, I am taking a little time to enjoy the energy and creativity that flows from those evening adventures walking from the farmhouse to the shore. Playing with the patterns and colours, capturing nature’s inspiration as new ranges emerge…’Islay’s Garden’…and suddenly the possibilities seem endless.

With all the wonderful inspiration around why not enjoy exploring your own creative flow?

Head off to the shores of a loch, or a grassy meadow, with a Persabus ‘takeaway pottery’ kit and enjoy an afternoon capturing the vivid colours of nature’s designs onto your own piece of pottery in a beautiful setting, before heading back for glazing and firing. We will guide you through the process and send you on your way with a beautiful selection of colours, full instructions and all materials.

Happy days. I look forward to seeing you soon.

Until next time…

cat rolling in grass
River flowing
Sound of Islay
Persabus Pottery Studio
Lichen patterned milk bottle vase
Pottery bowl
Flowers at Persabus
Dog and pottery

That Gaping Hole

It has been a difficult few days…

I know she was an old girl. I know she was ready to go…but ouch, that huge gaping hole…

Like an old pair of shoes

she fitted so comfortably into our lives. Had skilfully trained us all up to meet her every need. Always a huge smile on those chops as she came bouncing out of her kennel each morning, tripping you up in her haste to roll over onto her back for a belly rub. Always begging at your heels for whatever tasty snacks were on the go. Always fussing. Always in the way and always just the way we all loved her.

She arrived on the farm, a little tornado full of mischief

A surprise for the children, my parents kindly collected her from her Ayrshire family and delivered this squirming, wriggling bundle of fluff into our lives. Her introduction to life at Persabus began with her sizing up and taking on the  Happy Farmer. Wielding one of his seemingly huge boots, nearly as big as her stocky little puppy self, she hauled it, dragged it, fought with it with all her little might until she had it sat in the middle of the sitting room rug. She then proceeded to sink her sharp little needle-like teeth into the soft leather. One eye cocked on the Happy Farmer looking for a response as she soothed her ‘puppy gums’, little tail wagging ten to the dozen. She had those puppy teeth ready to clench into anything that dared to take her on.

It really did not take her more than a few seconds to endear herself to the whole clan, except the Happy Farmer, who could see all of the wonderful trouble that lay on the path ahead. Not a fan of dogs as pets, Ruby knew it would not be long before she had him chasing after her every demand too.

Part of the Persabus welcoming committee

Ruby would always take it upon herself to sneak round to meet new guests on the farm. She would belly wriggle across the yard before flipping herself over onto her back, at their feet, a huge grin across her face, as she demanded belly rubs. She could suss out the dog-loving guests, and happily turned a deaf ear whenever the opportunity of such a meeting arose, making sure she never missed out on that infamous ‘Ruby welcome’.

On hot summer days she would sneak across to the pottery for a nosey, happily adopting a family, she would sprawl out her long body in the sunshine beside her new friends at the picnic benches, enjoying all the treats of the day, as they would feed her cakes and crusts. Oblivious to her presence as I served more teas, I would venture over to say hello to the pooch on the lawn, and realise it was my own Ruby, who should have been tucked up in the garden at the back of the farmhouse.

She quickly became my little shadow

everywhere I turned Ruby would be following. Lazing out beside me as I weeded flowerbeds, smiling as she sniffed at pottery pieces on photoshoots, running at my heels through the grass, up the hills and down to the shore.

The farm was her home. A place where she enjoyed absolute freedom, during lockdown, with all of the family home. She couldn’t have enjoyed more love, more snuggles, so many walks every day, and of course lots of her favourite belly rubs.

She had perfected the

‘I don’t want to go in my kennel just now’ routine

down to a tee. She would fix her eyes on mine, stand perfectly still, and give me that ‘Ruby look’. If that did not work and the word ‘kennel’ was repeated, she would look again, before slowly dropping her head, then those shoulders, and then ambling one paw in front of the other, she would take two small steps, before stopping again, to repeat the process.

How could I resist?

Ruby always got her own way. She refused point blank to stay in the farmhouse at night though unless she was ill, on those occasions she would lie on her seat, staying firmly put.  You always knew when she was starting to recover as she would once again jump up to go out at night. Even wakening the Happy Farmer in the middle of the night, demanding to be let back out to her own bed. Latterly we had to lock her out of her kennel knowing we would struggle to convince her to come out again.

I have tried to remember the downsides, to see if that would ease the painful gaping hole. The times Ruby arrived back from her run, caked literally in thick wet manure, a huge smile on her face. She loved a good scent around her. Countless times I would tussle with her, struggling to hose her down as she looked on sorrowfully, soap suds everywhere, one very bedraggled looking hound.

The times she would take off after a rabbit and just ignore my shouts.

Those muddy paws. Her smelly wet coat.

It’s been a difficult few days. I know she was an old girl. I know it was time for her to go, but it never makes it any easier.

Lying in the sunshine, enjoying those lovely belly rubs, under the washing line, she peacefully slipped away….

‘Miss Ruby Rose Berry Bramble Rhubarb Rhupinder Maisie Tilly Lilly Coll Snuts Jetta Dusty Posy Cocoa Cola Irn Bru Shadow Molly Fletcher’, yes there were a few issues on which name to choose at the time, and the kids could simply not agree, so to keep everyone happy we kept them all in and she ended up with a very posh, long list of beautiful names… but was definitely a ‘Ruby’ on most days.

I miss my old ‘rug’ dreadfully, losing one of the clan is just the pits…so, give your furry friends an extra wee snuggle today.

Thankfully, Bramble dog is not feeling our pain.

Instead, she has happily stepped into her new role as top dog, snoring away contentedly in her chair, waiting patiently to go for her run….

Until next time…

Puppy chewing a boot
Puppy Sleeping
Smiling dog
Black dog
Dog on beach
Dog walk on beach

The Happy Cow Dance

Our native Highland ladies, those lovely cows, are settling well into their new home at Persabus. One has the most beautifully inquisitive and gorgeous calf. A bundle of fun, at times he can be seen jumping and skipping off through the fields at a rate of knots, his mother charging after him, bellowing loudly, in her efforts to keep him in tow. Other times he can be seen peeping curiously out from her side as he nuzzles in ever so closely to the warm layers of her soft, furry coat. A fiercely protective mother, it is a pleasure to witness nature’s bond, as she keeps a watchful eye on his every move.

The two Highland ‘ladies’ are becoming quite accustomed to the Happy Farmer’s daily feeding rounds. They listen for the familiar sound of the quad bike making its way across the farm. On its arrival into their quarters, they can be seen practically pushing and nudging the Happy Farmer in a bid to get to the cattle cake as it is delivered from the back of the quad. One Highlander is becoming rather partial to a ‘wee back rub’ from the Happy Farmer as he gently calms and quietens them. Easing them into the fold and their new life at Persabus. The other one is still cautious and can be seen doing her little highland jig around him, not yet happy at him going near her back. The Happy Farmer grabbing onto those horns as she ‘dances’ steering them safely away from him, as he gently calms her.

When eldest accompanied him on the feeding rounds at the weekend those ladies were immediately ‘on guard’, spotting a strange face, their two heads were ‘bolt up’ like a couple of stags, ready to make for a quick getaway if necessary. Of course, the delivery of their favourite cake helped calm them, that, and a few Gaelic phrases from the farmer. The Persabus herds all have the ‘Gaelic’. The Happy Farmer keeps us well versed in the ‘appropriate lingo’ , encouraging us to speak to them whenever we are passing, allowing them to get to recognise us and making sure they are never ‘startled’.

Each morning as he feeds the rest of his herd, a larger group of ‘ladies’ who can be seen waiting patiently, gathered across from the old stone walls of the sheep fank, Hansel and Muffin, the horses can be heard galloping over the hill. Those horses know when it’s feeding time. Waiting impatiently for their turn they always try and stretch those long necks across the fence in an attempt to ‘steal’ the cows’  morning feed of cake.

Back in the fields and the lambs are grouping together enjoying racing up and down the fields. We have a particularly cheeky set of Hebridean twins who simply refuse to stay in the field with their mother. Ever curious and enjoying the tasty pickings of the roadside verge and hedging they can be found making their way down the single-track road heading for the ‘speedy highway’ of the main road. Our patient neighbours, delivery guys and Distillery workers have spent the last few days, following them back carefully guiding them home up the single-track road. Those twins know exactly where they are going and skip gleefully back into the field, full of mischief and adventure, only to find another escape route later in the day. For anyone who regularly reads the blog you will remember well the tales of ‘Houdini’ the disappearing tup…his offspring are following in his hoof prints…

Until next time…

Highland cow and calf
Persabus cow and calf
Ginger Highland Cow
Highland cow
Lambs on the road
Lambs on the road
Sunset across Caol ila

Horse Play at Persabus

We had been enjoying a tease of beautiful spring weather

on the island with gorgeous blue skies and sunshine and then suddenly May was rudely interrupted with a ferociously stormy, wild day of dramatic gales and sleety rain with golf ball size hailstones thrown in for good measure. Even the Paps of Jura were left covered with a dusting of snow.

Late in the day when eldest went to check on poor Hansel horse he was looking more than a bit miserable.

He galloped to her and followed her into the stable

but was just not himself, nuzzling into her. The sudden, sharp plunge in temperature had really affected him.

More hay and a bucket of horse feed were delivered by a concerned Happy Farmer and the vet was called. A gate was tied across the stable door to keep Hansel in the warmth whilst they tended to him, with

Muffin the pony on the other side trying his best to get in.

The two horses are incredibly competitive when it comes to fuss and attention and on this occasion, Muffin was feeling positively excluded.

Typically, though when the Happy Farmer did open the gate to allow Muffin in, to keep his chum company,

Muffin feigned immediate disinterest

and proceeded to trot off, muzzle in the air, playing ‘hard to get’. Muffin was more than a little put out at being initially ‘barred’ from the stable and was enjoying having a ‘horsey huff’.

A little more horse feed did the trick though. Soon he was literally eating out of the Happy Farmer’s hands once again, before being gently guided into the stable. Hansel was busy getting his head and legs rubbed down with towels to dry him off and keep him as warm as possible whilst everyone waited for the vet.

Muffin, ever the cheeky pony, spent the wait nipping at Hansel,

trying to buoy his old pal along, looking for a reaction. When the vet arrived, as she was stooped down over Hansel, checking his temperature,

Muffin spied his chance.

Full of mischief, and not content with just nipping Hansel, he opened those jaws wide and was just preparing to take a cheeky wee nip at the vet, when luckily the Happy Farmer, knowing only too well what a cheeky nature Muffin has, sprang to the rescue. His quick intervention saved the day, and happily the good vet-horse relations at Persabus were upheld, with the vet thankfully oblivious to the whole commotion going on in the background.

A couple of vaccinations and stabled for the night and Hansel was back on form in the morning. By the next day eldest knew he really was better when as Muffin went to give him a cheeky nip, Hansel opened his jaws and placed his teeth gently over Muffin’s muzzle with a friendly ‘back off’ warning.

A special thanks must go to our amazing local vet who came quickly, out of hours, in the evening, and was just so caring, thorough and professional, working her magic ensuring Hansel made a strong and happy recovery. Muffin of course remains in the naughty books.

Until next time….

Sunset across Caol ila
Whin Bushes in May
Jess and Hansel horse
Muffin the Pony
Riding on Hansel
Horse at Persabus
Hansel horse smiling
Ceramics at Persabus

Spring in the Pottery

At Persabus we are ‘Good To Go’

Our cottages and farmhouse accommodation suite are sparkling and ready to welcome all our lovely guests back to stay with us on the farm once again.

The sun is shining. The skies and seas are the brightest of blues. The fields are bursting with life, as lambs and calves can be seen skipping and playing.

The swallows and the cuckoo have returned over the past few days

and nests are being constructed in the old walls and hedgerows. There is a lively buzz and chatter filling the air. It is one of my favourite seasons, but I then do tend to say that at the turn of every season. I just cannot help but fall more in love with every season of every year on this beautiful island. Spring and suddenly the air is filled with the promise of a beautiful summer to come.

It was very exciting when a couple of months back, sat working away in the pottery studio, a magazine got in touch with me wanting to ask a few questions for an article they were writing. An article on some of

Islay’s Crafty people

Time for a little happy dance for me then, especially when the initial question was based around one of my favourite things to talk and write about.

The question centred around how Islay inspires my work. For all of you who are familiar with my art designs you will know that it was the island itself that has led me on this amazing creative adventure that is Persabus Pottery today.

My pottery workshop and studio are just across the single-track road from our farmhouse

A beautiful old stone building, nestled beside the Happy Farmer’s big agricultural shed, which now also houses the fabulous Charlotte Hannett jewellery studio and workshop. Do check out her amazing and beautiful designs.

The shed is also home to the pottery’s kilns and is where the magical glazing and firing happens.

The question from the magazine really got me thinking. Appreciating once again the beautiful myriad of colours of this magical island that have led me on the most amazing journey.

Capturing the spirit of island living

Those dramatic skies and moody seascapes, bringing so many colourful shades. The blues, purples, turquoises, and greens. Oranges, browns, pinks, and greys.

Translating those colours, the skies, the landscape, and the seas in all their colours and forms, onto ceramics.

Each piece has its own story to tell

its own special magic, with memories carefully being woven into the artistic designs. Stories of friendships and celebrations, the people, the very community, and centre of island life, captured onto ceramics.

Stories of days spent exploring the craggy hills, a young family in tow, as we went on so many wonderful ‘Bear Hunts’. Through those peaty bogs, and tussocky grasses, tiny feet in tiny wellies, trudging through rough, boggy ground. It wasn’t the first time a welly got sucked into the deep mud and a tiny white socked foot emerged and just carried on walking, sinking into the bogs. Those beautiful weather-beaten rocks providing the perfect backdrop for happy and imaginative play.

There are the beautiful island’s shores, those magnificent coastlines, and seas, leading to tales of the sandy wilderness of beachy days. Wild swims in the refreshing turquoise waters. Floating in the cooling seas with the gentle lapping waves carrying you ever so gently back to the shore.

Then the ferocious storms of winter that transform the island into a wild and beautiful force of nature. The patterns, moodiness, and emotions of the fiercest of days captured through brushing and stippling, as sponges, and brushes add colour and detail to the pieces.

The glazing and firing processes that seal these island visions and memories onto pottery, as the magic unfolds in the kiln, capturing the essence of island life for my lovely customers to use and enjoy. Customers who have kept me going through these incredibly strange times, supporting, and encouraging me.

Taking a breath of the Hebrides into the home.

I am looking forward to welcoming you back…

We have a lovely selection of bisque so why not pop along and collect your own Persabus Pottery Takeaway kit and have some creative fun? We will glaze and fire the finished pieces for you, sealing those lovely memories onto ceramics.

In the meantime you can find read a taster of the article in the Scotland Magazine here

Or why not call in and collect one of our Persabus Pottery Takeaway kits for a bit of creative fun

Until next time…

Views across to Jura
Persabus Pottery Studio
Feeding the Sheep at Persabus
Pottery Mugs
Heart Dish
Saligo range of pottery at Persabus
Flock of Hebridean Sheep

Those Tartan Sheep

Behind the scenes it has been a crazy couple of weeks of online training

Zoom meetings and a pile of admin as we get everything ready, making sure we are ‘hot to trot’. Preparing for the time when we can safely begin to welcome you all back to stay with us on the farm at Persabus.

Courses have centred around website SEO, social media, brand development, the list goes on. Who knew there would be so many strands, so many exciting avenues, to venture down in the virtual world?

It has led to some incredibly funny moments in the pottery

Exploring video ‘production’, in between flicking away with paint brushes. Finding my mobile phone’s ‘hyperlapse’ and ‘super slow motion’ modes. I did manage to make several mini captures of myself drinking tea and smiling away. Completely oblivious to the fact that I was being filmed. That the camera had indeed, been turned ‘off’ for those moments I was intending to video. The arty, painting ones, where I was hoping to share a bit of my ‘production process’ in the pottery with you all. Only to find later, when I pressed ‘replay’ that instead I had captured all those moments of ‘no production’ and missed out the highly entertaining ones.

In between all of this, lambs and calves have begun to pop out everywhere. The fields at Persabus are filled with new life and those ‘oh so protective’ mothers. It is always an incredibly special time, watching the amazing wonders of nature on the farm.

The Persabus dogs are having to settle for a much-reduced exercise regime just now

Daily runs have turned into lambing rounds for me, minus Ruby dog and Bramble, whose heads appeared to be revolving in a 360% circle when they spied lambs being born close by. This was followed by their noses being firmly planted in the deep grass sniffing out the variety of aromas lingering from the lambing process.

At Persabus we go for outdoor lambing

Our native Hebridean sheep are incredibly hardy. They rarely need a helping hand and are particularly good mothers. Taking themselves off to a quiet, sheltered spot, they give birth naturally. The lambs are tiny, and the mothers are fiercely protective of their young.

The other sheep, our blackface ewes, tend to lamb well on their own, but the Happy Farmer still must keep a very close eye out, as the odd one may need a helping hand. Once in trouble if help does not come quickly a ‘stuck’ lamb can be born dead, and if there is a twin coming behind it, both will not survive. The ewe is also vulnerable to attacks from ravens and hooded crows, who will peck the eyes out of the sheep and lamb. This was a real problem in days gone by, when we had a much larger flock and used to do all the lambing out on the hills. These days, with all the lambing happening in the fields close to the farmhouse, and a much smaller flock, we do not have the same issues. The Happy Farmer can whip round the fields more often, and seems to disappear very regularly, especially if the ‘gin gate’ at the Magic Sheep Lady’s home is open. Her and her husband always offer lots of support during lambing times and beyond, and there is always a hearty welcome as you head over that hill.

Typically, just as spring arrives, and lambing begins, the northerly winds whip up, and we are treated to snow and hailstorms, in between the fleeting blue skies and sunshine. It is a time of four seasons in a day. It is important then, that there is plenty of shelter for the lambs and ewes. If a sheep is in trouble the challenge is to ‘catch’ her quickly, as invariably she will race off, mid-lambing. When the Persabus clan were young, the Happy Farmer would sometimes happen upon one of his young crew, wrestling on top of a heavily pregnant sheep, trying to hold her down whilst waiting for the quad bike to arrive on its lambing rounds. The kids grew up with lambing. It was one of their favourite times. They would be up at first light, woolly jumpers and waterproofs, pulled over PJs, as they accompanied the Happy Farmer through the fields before nursery and school. Their eyes were much sharper at spying any sheep needing help.

We are looking forward to sharing the growing clan at Persabus with you

Thankfully, this year, we have no pet lambs so far, which is a good thing as it means there are no orphaned lambs yet. No lambs rejected by their mother. Over the years our visitors to the farm and pottery have always been a huge help when it comes to bottle feeding any hungry pet lambs. The orphaned lambs love the care and attention of our younger guests. Being so little the lambs need round the clock attention. They are fed special powdered ‘ewe’s’ milk which the Happy Farmer gets from the local vet. The powder is then mixed with warm water before being placed in a sterilised bottle with a special teat on top.

You know spring has arrived when the lambing rounds begin and the days when you get to enjoy a seat on the bench at the front of the farmhouse.

Soaking up the views in the sunshine

On Saturday, as we drank our hot coffee on such a day, we could hear bellowing and roaring coming from across the fields. When the Happy Farmer raced over on his quad bike, one of our new Highland ladies had given birth to the fluffiest little bull calf. Cow and calf were doing well. The mother giving her new-born a good lick all over and gently coaxing him onto his four ever so wobbly legs.

If you do happen to meet the Happy Farmer between his lambing duties

as he stops for a friendly chat from the seat of his quad bike,

Please remember to listen to his stories with a ‘pinch of salt’

He is sure to recount the tales of the difficult births of his Highland cows and then of his colourful lambing experiences. Please be reassured, contrary to what he may have told you, with that twinkle in his eyes, Highland calves are indeed born without their horns. They grow much later. As for the lambs, know they are never born with a ‘tartan’ coat, well not at Persabus anyway.

Happy Lambing.

Until next time…

Wildflower pottery
Ceramics at Persabus
Flock of Hebridean Sheep
Highland cow and bull calf
Sheep and lambs
Sheep and lamb
The Happy Farmer on his lambing rounds at Persabus, Islay

The Happy Farmer’s Commute

The sun has been rising earlier in the mornings

and spring is well and truly here, as those beautiful yellow daffodils are out in bloom lining the single-track road to Persabus.

It is an exciting time on the farm with the birth of new calves

and the fields filled with heavily pregnant sheep. The Happy Farmer is hoping those ladies keep their legs firmly crossed for a few more weeks as the temperature has taken another dip, and we are getting all four seasons in a day. Heavy hailstorms give way to bright sunshine and then, even the Paps of Jura were covered in a peppering of snow this morning.

The Happy Farmer was away on business last week

Of course, such business trips and commutes to work come with a whole different set of values and meanings when your home is in the Hebrides. This trip involved a bit of an ‘island-hopping adventure’ seeing the Happy Farmer returning later in the day with a huge grin on that happy face and the promise of two Highland girls to follow.

The commute involved a fifteen-minute ferry journey

across the rolling blue seas of the Sound of Islay onboard the sturdy ‘Eilean Dhiura’. With the hearty craic of the ferry crew to keep him entertained on the short crossing, not to mention their fabulous Tunnock’s teacakes, which the Happy Farmer was soon munching his way through, and, before he knew it, the ropes were being tied at Feolin and it was time to disembark.

A landrover, and one Happy Jura man at the ready, and the Happy Farmer was soon trundling along a peat clad gravel road, down a very steep incline, across a rickety bridge, which brought him to the foot of the Paps of Jura. His colleagues in attendance at the meeting happened to be a large group of hairy Highland girls who were more than a little delighted to see one Happy Farmer and one Happy Jura man arriving with a large bag of cake especially for them. Having walked round the assembled group, studying those girls from head to toe with a careful eye, the Happy Farmer selected his favourite two, who would be following him back to Persabus in a few days.

Those two lovely Highland ladies have yet to be named but are settling in well. Markus the bull is their best friend as they all gather around the silage feeding ring. Happily, they are in calf already, and with Markus being a White Bred Bull, ‘friends’ is all he will hopefully ever get to be. The Happy Farmer will be mating these girls with a pure Highland bull later in the year. He opted to buy black highland cows as they are the original native breed of the Hebrides. The ginger highland cows evolved at a later stage when breeding programmes were introduced to make for a slightly larger highland cow which would provide more meat.

Each morning then the Happy Farmer pops by to check on the girls

along with a shake of their favourite bag of cake. Please note this is not the traditional sponge kind of a cake, so if you do happen to be along visiting our lovely Highland girls, know they will not thank you for a Mary Berry ‘classic’. At the farmhouse on the other hand, sponge cake is always very welcome indeed, especially if the Happy Farmer just happens to be on his coffee or tea break. The cake for these cows is a compound of barley, minerals, treacle and so on. Through feeding them the Happy Farmer can get to know them and is already aware that one of these ladies appears to have a very ‘mischievous twinkle’ in her eyes. He is already having to be on his guard around her, as on seeing him arrive, she duly skips and dances the highland fling around him. She is a character, and a half, I think the Happy Farmer has met his match. It is going to be fun watching this character settle into her new home on the farm.

Hopefully soon we will be able to offer you all a warm welcome back to Persabus where you can meet our new ladies in person.

Until next time…

Spring has arrived
Highland cows, Persabus Farm, Islay
New calf at Persabus