Making the Most

The weather has been just fantastic almost all month, bright sunshine and and cold breeze (to keep the midges away) along with just the right amount of rain for the plants. On the distillery side of life it’s been perfect for both our visitors and our barley field, which has been now ploughed, harrowed and planted without the annoying intermittent rainfall that last year washed many of the neat lines away. This year we only have two varieties growing – kanas and iskria, which should hopefully yield us a full crop as we closer to identifying which crop works best.

3rd of July 2018 crop. Notice the bare patches and runoff from where the rainfall had affected it just after planting
Planting & Ploughing 2019. Fingers crossed for this year!

It’s been great weather for our own growing efforts as well, the plants in the polytunnel by the house are especially benefitting from the sunny weather and shelter from the colder inds, everything from onions to last years strawberry plants are coming back in full force!

We also have the main event almost complete- the potato patch! Last year we had about 7 rows, this year by moving them closer together we’re probably going to fit in at least 9, with possibly 10 if I extended the patch slightly. In the workshop, I had found a few old tools, namely the croman, a traditional sort of garden pick, that we thought we’d trial this year. Dad placed a new handle on it, and I had Seanair mark it with the distances he’d do for potatoes.

It’s a decent enough, but the head is very narrow and made it a bit tougher going compared to the one I’ve used in years past. The little markers Seanair made on the handle are very handy though. The rows also have a tendency to skew when you’re digging them by eye, so I went looking for some string to guide the rows out as I dug them. Luckily Seanair had, as always, thought of this and the first string I stumbled across had been already measured out in years past for the exact same purpose! I also got a chance to use Seanair’s racan, another traditional sort of large rake-like tool to clear any sprouting weeds and break up clumps of the soil before digging. It’s something he built years ago and while I’ve never seen one anywhere else (aside from my history books), every older person who sees it remarks how they “haven’t seen on in years” which indicates this is probably a very traditional way of clearing the ground!

All in all, it’s a tiring job but rewarding job when the weather is good and there thankfully isn’t (too) many midges about at the moment.

We’re planting a little bit earlier this year but to be honest last year was probably a bit late, so I’d say we’ve improved our timings slightly. We also managed to plant kale, beetroot and some spring onions in our new allotment patch next to the caravan. I’m hoping the compost I put it will improve the soil heir slightly but it’ll be a good experiment to see how well the plants perform compared to the square at Seanairs. We’re also out on Friday to Portree so no doubt this won’t be the last haul of plants to go in the ground.

Mary has also been hard at work building a frame for her puppet show- it reminds me a lot of her chair that she built for our last exhibition up in Orkney, but now we have the added benefit of the workshop where she can lay out all her materials and have access to our tools. She also looks cool as hell in there, and when the sun set I managed to get some of my new favourites shots.

It’s also the big week for a certain Japanese truck. The Jimny is in for an MOT this Wednesday, which will involve some welding on the sill that I uncovered a few weeks back. Hopefully, it won’t be a massive job, but I had to get her up on one side to clean the worst of the underbody sealant and temporary fibreglassing. If I can get her a year without too much fuss I’ll be very happy indeed. Dad is also away on Tuesday so the van probably won’t get an engine test until he’s back, but I’ve still got plenty I can be working on until he’s back. Wish us luck!

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