Our Very Good Neighbour…

The lobster pots that were residing in the front field have long gone. They have been busy collecting a plentiful supply of lobsters deep beneath the sea all summer long. The ‘lobster pot rent’ for their short stay at Persabus appears to be ongoing though. It is rumoured we missed out on one of the lobsters. Appearing at our front door, when no one was home, the lobster apparently scurried on to the ferryman’s house for his big pot instead. However this week the ‘rent’ has grown into a few large bags of sloe berries from the Happy Farmer’s friend.

It is a good year on the island for fruit and berries. The long warm spell during the summer months seems to have led to a plentiful supply. We even discovered we had a plum tree growing in the garden. Having planted it some years ago, it was long forgotten, until this summer lots of plums magically  appeared on it. Six apples are growing for the first time on the apple tree. It’s a start. The hedgerows have been laden with blackcurrants, redcurrants and brambles.  However, much to the Happy Famer’s disappointment, the 350 Blackthorn bushes he planted some years back are still to yield any produce. There is not a sloe berry in sight. The hedging does however serve its main purpose of providing amazing shelter for the livestock, as well as luxury accommodation for our smaller guests and residents. The Persabus hedges are alive with birds and other wildlife, but the Happy Farmer is waiting patiently for the year they produce a plentiful supply of sloes.

It has been a busy time on the farm. We welcomed a party of sixteen walkers on foot over from Belgium for a few days of exploring and hill walking. Persabus provides the perfect location for groups of hikers. It is within walking distance of the ferry port and close to the Jura ferry, allowing easy access to both islands. The Happy Farmer has been busy cooking the most amazing breakfasts for our party, all served on piping hot plates in the comfort of Persabus Cottage each morning. Lamb sales are coming up on the farm this week and pens need to be erected. Lambs need to be gathered in and sorted out into various lots.

In his spare time the Happy Farmer enjoys making Bramble whisky and sloe gin at this time of year, but was facing a bit of a dilemma with a distinct lack of sloes on the farm. He was much relieved this week then when the ferryman dropped into conversation that he had found some blackthorn bushes that were laden with sloes and had gathered a good few bags. He is hopefully going to share a bag or two of these with his friend. The Happy Farmer had been at the point of working out how he could strategically import sloe berries from North Balllachullish, courtesy of the Happy Potter and his wife, who also seem to have enjoyed bumper crops of sloes this year.

It is lovely to know we have good neighbours and the ferryman will come to the rescue with several bags of the Happy Farmer’s favourite berries. The Happy Farmer will then acquire a good few bottles of gin, and with lots of sugar and a few secret ingredients he will make his delicious flagons and bottles of Persabus sloe gin. It is the time of year when fruit is foraged and then boiled into chutneys or pickled to preserve it long into the winter months. The sloe gin could be seen as the Happy Farmer’s idea of his five a day on which he could get merrily ‘pickled’, but just before I get carried away, rest assured the sloe gin will be, in the Happy Farmer’s words ‘purely for ‘medicinal’ purposes, and the odd ‘sniffter’ will be enjoyed now and again over the winter months with farmers and friends. The flagon and bottles of sloe gin are part of the Persabus traditions and if you happen to be on the Happy Farmer’s Christmas list a bottle may well be coming your way.

Until next time..