Visitors that Bite

The visitors to the farm this week came in their droves. At a time when we are all meant to be following social distance rules. A time when your own personal space is something to be closely guarded and valued.

Our visitors this week took a shining to our very own Happy Farmer, they followed him around, crowding him, and then their fangs came out…

May is a month of bluebells carpeting the woodland, hedgehogs, otters, and deer are out to play interspersed with the echoes of the cuckoo. This May we have enjoyed woodpeckers arriving, the exited chatter and buzz as the birds’ nest, sunny skies, and the promise of summer to come.

As we transition into the month of June, the bluebells fade. The swans can be seen gliding across the loch with their newly hatched young family, and fledgling birds make their first clumsy steps into the world of flying. The very watchful eyes of those farm cats, following their every move, as they skulk about in the long grass. Hunting away quietly. Pouncing on their prey made up of butterflies, lizards, mice, and those baby birds.

On my morning runs our nesting pairs of swallows’ swoop and glide across my path, as the dogs bound through our very own wildflower wilderness. We have counted at least six swallows nests this year in the byre next to the pottery workshop.

Heading into June and the days seem endless, with the sun still casting its shadows across the farm long after we climb into bed. Hours of endless daylight, with spectacular pink skies late into the evenings.

The Happy Farmer continues to enjoy his new role. He seems to be getting quite adept at videoing and recording his way through life on the farm. The videos of last week proved a huge success as we celebrated lockdown birthdays. Afternoon tea of profiteroles, macaroons, salad and sandwiches, all served up on Persabus Pottery, with glasses of fizz in the hot sunshine, and for a moment we can close our eyes to the horrors of the world and escape into the bubble of island life.

So, our visitors to the farm were most unwelcome. Those visitors burst the Happy Farmer’s ‘bubble’. There he was, working diligently on one of his amazing video podcasts. Take ‘52’ I think, as this video was needed by eldest and was to involve farm animals, a quad bike, complete with singer and guitar, all to be filmed out in the open.

Take 1 and the wind played havoc with the hair. Those long blonde tresses, flying up like octopus tendrils, flying high above the head, before curling and spiralling, gathering in a huge blanket across the face, muffling the fine tunes.

Take 2 and the assembled animals, gathered with a bit of coaxing from a bucket of feed, and no amorous bull today, but Hansel horse took a liking to the guitar. With his favourite lady in tune, he could not resist vying for a place in the video. Getting ever so close, he began muzzling the guitar. The instrument seemed to be getting a bit too much attention from his favourite lady, muzzling and then threatening to bite the guitar, and the game was a bogey. Another location minus the animals led to a few more takes.

These takes were interrupted with the additional hum of a grass strimmer, being carried in the wind from the local village, and the odd lorry, passing along the road to the distilleries.

Finally, out on the hill, and the song commenced. The video began. One minute everything was going smoothly, the next our visitors arrived, quite unannounced and the Happy Farmer ‘spat his dummy out of the pram’ as the cloud descended. The almighty Scottish Midges. Fangs poised, they showed no mercy, as they tickled and bit at the Farmer’s flesh as he turned on his heels and fled for cover, a gabble of unrepeatable expletives, flowing forth and all captured perfectly on video. It has led to much guffawing, and brightened up the days no end, as it has been mercilessly played, forwarded, replayed and played again.

I am often questioned by our guests about midges. They tend not to reside at Persabus, just swooping in for the occasional ‘invasion’ when the wind drops, and the weather is damp and sultry. The farm’s  location, uphill from Port Askaig, and out in the open, away from woods, usually there is a gentle breeze which thankfully keeps those midges at bay.

During the island’s whisky festival, these midges make the most of their opportunity and have a plentiful selection of ‘prey’ to get their ‘fangs’ into with so many visitors dotting around the island. This May, those midges must have missed having their bellies filled with whisky. A few bites at the festival and they positively roll off, intoxicated by the alcohol.

Those midges must have been hunting for days until there he was, a prime target, the Happy Farmer, face, arms, and legs all fresh for the picking. Apart from the ankles of course well protected and hidden from view under those notorious socks as he works on his ‘farmer’s tan. A tan which is coming along well, whiter than snow white ankles and feet, a good, clear, ‘tan ring’ marking the sock spot. Not the tastiest target for the midges, but nonetheless, the promise of a good feed and they were on him, tickling and biting away as he fled for the shelter of the farmhouse.

You may be missing our island shores. The beautiful sandy beaches. The woodland filled with wildlife and flowers. The heather clad hills. The roaming deer, otters, and eagles. Rest assured then, our very own wee midges, with just the odd local to feast on, are certainly missing you right now.

Stay safe and we look forward to offering you a warm welcome, minus the midges, when it is safe to travel once more.

Until next time…