Sunday, January 31, 2016

January highlights (and lowlights!)

After a whole year of not posting anything, I'm going to endeavour to do at least one post a month in 2016!

Rachel and Ben managed to get back home for 3 weeks at Christmas, and returned to Falmouth in early January - both journeys across the Sound had to be finely timed to catch tiny windows in the relentlessly stormy conditions.

                               This was taken on a very wet christmas day!

This seems to be the theme of the month (and the winter) - mild, wet and very windy!  Consequently there have been some lovely moody landscapes, as well as a lot of mud and soggy ground (not so lovely!)

We are delighted to have Sian and Mark as new neighbours.  They have both been extremely busy tackling a variety of jobs in order to prepare the Trust houses for a new, painting, scrubbing tanks, gardening.  We wish Sian all the best in her role as Trust warden, and Mark too, as he continues his job as assistant warden for the bird obs.

The winter storms have deposited all sorts of debris around the coast; beach-combing always brings some interesting finds:

                                 This is a wooden ornamental duck covered in goose barnacles!

                                              Plenty of lovely bits of driftwood
                      Tia enjoying chewing a washed up teddy bear - a bit more exciting than the usual tennis balls!

Sadly the amount of plastic washed up is worse than ever; hopefully an island rubbish pick up before the visitor season starts will make the beaches a bit more pleasant, and remove hazards to wildlife.

We have both kept busy with various jobs...

Once again, Steve has harvested some of the kelp deposited on Solfach, and placed it in piles at the back of the beach where it can rot down in order to be used as fertiliser on the arable fields.

Steve finished the annual quota of fence renewal in December, and has been fitting some new gates this month:

This has to be the least favourite job of the year - crutching the ewes.  This basically involves being bent double (for 300 sheep) and shearing the wool off their bums.  This painful procedure (for Steve, not for the sheep) really does help during lambing and also minimises blowfly strike in the spring.

The sheep scanner managed to be brought over mid month, so that the breeding flock could be assessed for whether they are carrying twins or single lambs.  Knowing this really helps us give the correct pre-lambing feeding regime, and helps us know what to expect when it comes to lambing time. The scanning result was 153%, so we anticipate about 450 lambs this year.

Eira the goat is missing her companion, Morwenna, who has been on the mainland since november (visiting a billy at Richlin goat farm in Pen y Bont).  As a result Eira has been seeking more company and joining in with activities like rounding up the sheep, and going for walks!

We have made a new veg plot, next to the polytunnel which has been well fertilised with seaweed.  Sadly most of our winter supply of veg has drowned in the extremely wet ground.  This new plot is hopefully in a drier location!

I have been busy making more baskets, rugs and other bits and pieces, so the craft room is pretty full!

After 4 months on Enlli, Steve managed to get a much needed break for a few days during a brief respite in the stormy weather.  Here he is heading off early one morning to the mainland...

He enjoyed a night hike along Crib Goch in the snow, followed by an ascent of Tryfan the following day!

The view from the top of Snowdon in moonlight

There have been very few clear nights, but Steve has made the most of whenever the clouds have parted.  Here are a few images 

And finally, Spring is on the way!  Our spirits have been lifted during the last week with some signs that spring is just around the corner - the occasional wren and dunnock singing, a bit of warmth in the sun, green shoots bursting from pussy willows, and the first daffodil flowering in the garden: