One of the jobs in the countdown to lambing is shearing the back ends of the ewes, known as 'crutching' or 'dagging'. This keeps them clean and also helps control blowfly strike later on in the spring. We're half way through - 200 to go!
In the queue........
Steve has also had a pre-spring shave - although not with the sheep shears (and the other end)!
Three years ago I made my first basket out of willow and hedgerow cuttings...since then I haven't stopped! It's a craft I really enjoy and I have been busy weaving during the winter months, experimenting with new shapes and designs:
Baskets were used by our ancestors from the cradle to the grave. Findings of woven twigs pre-date any fragments of woven cloth and even certain forms of pottery. Before the potter's wheel was invented, basketwork was used as a mould for clay objects. The convenience of the throw-away cardboard box and the ubiquitous plastic carrier bag have made people dispense with their old shopping basket, although with the present focus on recycling, the basket is coming back into fashion. "Prayer baskets" were made in early Christian communities such as on Iona - maybe here on Enlli too. They believed it important to discover a rhythm of prayer as they worked, so baskets were woven simply out of reeds as the monastics framed their prayers, the simple manual task assisting to bring focus to the praying heart. The withy beds here on Ynys Enlli were planted in order to supply willow for making lobster pots. This was replaced by cane, which is slightly easier to use, and then by today's netting and metal frame lobster pots. The withies are now managed as habitat for wildlife and areas of mature or overgrown willow are coppiced on a rotational basis in order to encourage fresh growth. This is ideal for basket making and winter is the time to harvest it , as the rods are more pliable and less likely to snap when the "sap is down". I now tend to use a mix of island willow and imported willow from the mainland (Conwy, Llyn and Somerset!)
Baskets have been used for every conceivable purpose; as containers for gathering and storing, for carrying and hauling, for living and sitting on, for travelling in and with, and for holding food - and even water. Basketwork has produced fencing and fish traps, huts and hats, chariots, chairs and clothing, cradles and coffins. They're are increasingly being used in our household, in various shapes and forms!
Daisy (asleep in Celyn's basket!)
Celyn posing infront of our log basket
The basic procedure of making a round basket:
Beginning with a woven base
Inserting the side stakes to create a 'spider'
Weaving the sides
The finished basket.
These will soon stock the craft shop......but orders are welcomed too!
We are a family from Conwy, North Wales and have been living and working on Ynys Enlli since October 2007.
We look after the island farm which consists of 310 Welsh mountain sheep, 20-30 Welsh Black cattle and various poultry, as well as managing the land. Jo also works for the RSPB monitoring aspects of the island's ecology, mainly the vegetation.
Rachel and Ben have been home-schooled during their time on Enlli. Rachel is now in her second year of a Degree in Drawing at Falmouth university, while Ben has started a Degree in Conservation Ecology with Exeter uni, also based in Falmouth.
Ynys Enlli is a very special place and we feel privileged to be involved in the stewardship of such a beautiful island, as well as to be part of the ongoing prayer and worship that has been characteristic of Enlli for centuries.
Rachel (and Squill), Jo (and Celyn), Steve and Ben (and Tia)