Waking up to a crisp clear morning in Glasgow then hopping on the plane for the short cruise through the skies back to Islay and we are met with snow-capped mountains as the winter wonderland unfolds below us, golden landscapes and turquoise seas and then the bird’s eye views of Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin Distilleries, nestled into the rugged coastline of Islay’s shores. Handy locations for bygone days when the puffer boats would steam in to transport barrels full of whisky across to the mainland.
A smooth landing, the friendly and welcoming familiar faces of the Loganair staff meeting us off the plane and then the ‘chat’ and smiles once inside the hub as the warmth of the Islay community encompasses you once again.
The animals have missed us. Ruby and Brambles’ happy barks and yowls echo around the yard as they hear the car approaching. A few minutes later and we are met with wagging tails and bouncy happy dogs, reaching up for cuddles. As the farmhouse door opens the cats scurry in past. They have all been well looked after though, with my parents on hand and visits from the Happy chappies down the road.
Hamish the tup however is in the Happy Farmer’s naughty books again. When the Happy Farmer’s away, the animals get to play, and Hamish has been caught ‘playing’.
In the weeks leading up to the Persabus tupping season these ‘boys’ get extra special treatment on the farm. Pampered, with hooves being clipped well in advance, they have a whole field to themselves, full of rich pickings, so they can munch away to their hearts’ content. The Happy Farmer calls by with extra rations each morning, feeding them a trough full of tasty treats, which they seem to really enjoy, given the sprint they break into, as they greet the Happy Farmer at the gate. The grunting and snuffling that goes on, as they tuck into this hearty breakfast.
Hamish however was not content with this luxury lifestyle. He was eager to get to the ladies in the neighbouring fields, to get the ‘job’ done. He proceeded to spend his days finding ways to escape from the ‘boys’ and make an early entry into the sheep field. On several occasions he managed, and several times he was led grudgingly back to his field, by the Happy Farmer. In the end the Happy Farmer had no option but to place Hamish in barracks, in the confines of the sheep pens at the Persabus Fank. The barracks do come with their own little luxuries though. Hamish got a complete accommodation upgrade to an ‘executive suite’ as the Happy Farmer wanted to make sure when the storms came Hamish would have adequate shelter. A warm base, the suite boasts insulated flooring with a sustainable natural carpet of hay. The steel walls of the ‘up turned trailer of the Happy Farmer’s quad bike’ are draught free. It is minimalist in style and with a wide doorway Hamish is offered panoramic views out across the sheep fields and beyond. You have to love the practicality of an ever-inventive Happy Farmer. In the wet days leading up to the tupping season Hamish could be seen happily chewing the cud enjoying the vantage point of his lodgings, with just a nose popping out to enjoy the vista.
Last week then Hamish had a skip in his step as the Happy Farmer led him from his suite and out to the fields to at last meet up with the ladies, he had been watching eagerly from his pen.
Hamish is a fine Hebridean tup. When the Happy Farmer went away for a few days he left Hamish happily working away in the field with eldest’s flock of Hebridean sheep. A phone call from the Happy chappies and it appears in the Happy Farmer’s absence, Hamish was not content with just the field of Hebridean sheep. It would appear Hamish has lost none of his Bear Grylls style adventure skills, a few fences, a hop, skip and another jump and Hamish was quickly spotted in the neighbouring field getting acquainted with the ladies of the cross bred varieties. A bit of quad bike action, a few belly flop misses, some swerves and revs of the engine, some words not repeatable on a blog post, and soon Hamish was captured and sent back to barracks, awaiting the Happy Farmer’s return.
Tomorrow’s plans then will involve a Happy Farmer ‘happily’ rounding up and relocating a whole field of Hebridean ladies, chasing them along to pastures new before re-introducing Hamish to his own flock, away from the temptations and eager glances of his ‘new girlfriends’ on the farm.
Have you booked your Persabus break yet?
Until next time….