Woke up this morning to a winter wonderland outside, the snow was fairly thick and went right down to the waterside which is unusual here.
So although we managed to get the new lean-to finished the other day we now have the issue of the heavy snow covering the roof and stretching the plastic so the morning starts with clearing this. I am a little short to use my hands, like James does, to hit the plastic from the inside and so I covered a broom with some carpet underlay and pushed that up against the roof. Proper workout! I was exhausted after that.
I was desperate to get out and take some photos of the village covered in snow so I headed off to get my camera and start shooting while the sun was still hidden behind the mountains. It was magical, the peaceful little village of Plockton on a quiet Sunday morning.
Back at Rudha Mor I brought in some wood then headed off around the path to check all was ok and to take some more photos. There were already several different prints on the path in the snow but I didn’t pass a soul as I walked around.
Back in the house and time to start a bit of decorating to get us all in the Christmas spirit!
Having finished the outer structure of the lean-to I began to build the shelf inside where we will start growing a variety of plants to be planted out along the walk and in the house garden. The initial plan was the there would only be plants on the shelf as the base of the structure would be covered in wood but I found several old glass windows which I fitted so that we can have some larger plants on the floor where they can still get light. I have also repaired the lock on the door that will be used to access the lean-to and used the leftover carpet underlay stapled to wood the lower section as insulation, soon I will able to start growing next seasons plants.
The winds started picking up yesterday and as it was getting dark I came back to the barn to lock up and found that the roof of our new lean-to was already loose and flapping in the wind. Unfortunately there was not much I could do but hope that overnight the damage wouldn’t be too bad. When I came in to the house I checked the anemometer and the winds were already reaching the mid 40’s. It was not an easy night of sleep as the weather howled outside. When I woke I checked the wind speed and it had reached 54mph and since things didn’t seem to be calming I reset it and between 6-9am it hit 64mph!!
As I was watching the morning news and weather they said that the wind direction was changing and so I went outside to see the damage. Amazingly it was not that bad, the plastic was loose but still attached at the back edge and not ripped. All the windows were intact and the garage was not in shelter as the wind blew from the NW. I ran in to wake Cat and I think she thought it was really bad the way I rolled in but I was just excited that it wasn’t that bad!
With Cat up, her belly full of banana blueberry muffins and coffee, we headed out to get started or repairs. We thought we only had about an hour before the winds would come back around to be hitting us hard so we thought we would just cover it with a tarp but that wasn’t really working and the weather seemed to be easing a little so we decided we needed to do a full repair. It didn’t take too long and we had the roof on and started to finish it of so that the whole structure would be sealed and fair much better.
The storm is not over. By 3:30 we had secured everything by the barn and garage so we headed out on the path to check and see if there were any major trees down or anything along the walk that could be a hazard. All was well and since we had our saws with us we did a little rhododendron removal.
Saw that some of the gorse was in flower which was a nice burst of yellow in the wintery landscape. Snow is expected tonight and over the next few days so we have got plenty of wood in to keep us cosy!
This week mum and I went out to do a little maintenance on the path edges by the arboretum viewpoint and decided to cut some red dogwood and honeysuckle for making wreaths.
Mum used to make wreaths all the time and I had never made one so was very excited to give it a go. The honeysuckle which is growing like mad all over the place was easy to harvest and work with. I started working with it and made a good strong ring then added a few strips of the red dogwood for a little colour.
I then added few pieces of dried Eryngium which has a lovely blueish purple colour to it which looks great against the browns and red of the wreath. I also found some dried lavender and quail feathers from a recent bird that we ate.A wee bit of ribbon and two of my cinnamon ornaments and my wreath was complete!
The other decorations we have been making are cinnamon ornaments. It was a Martha Stewart project from a few years ago that I really enjoyed so we decided to give it a go again. It is pretty simple, you mix cinnamon, craft glue and applesauce to make dough then roll it out and cut shapes using cookie cutters or templates made from card. We made a variety of shapes from the more obvious christmas themed things like trees, stars, wreaths, ornaments, gingerbread men and snowmen to robins and highland cows. The best bit is decorating them with glitter, you can make them as detailed as you like or just add a little sparkle but I tend to go for lots of detail cause it is sooooo much fun!
As you may have noticed in our last post our whiteboard had a pretty big list of stuff to do so we are getting stuck in and trying to complete all the jobs before the weather turns.
Sadly we decided that the raised salad bed at the back of the house just was’t working. Although the back area does get a good bit of sun in the summer the bed didn’t get enough because it had to be close to the house so that it wasn’t in our way. It meant that most of the plant went to seed very quickly, a good experiment and the wood won’t go to waste but we need to take the remaining good plants out of the bed before we break it down.
The weeds had got pretty wild under the raised bed and all the pots that had gathered in the back so it was a fun job clearing it all out!
Meanwhile James discovered a blockage in the guttering!
We now have 3 strimmers which is brilliant cause it means that me, mum and James can all tackle the work at the same time and get it done! After the meadows are cut they are pretty rough around the edges so James and I headed out early one morning at went around the opposite edges of the lower meadow at the same time and had it done in a little over an hour. Then mum came out and did the edge of the first large meadow while I worked on the wedding meadow (ever since we had our wedding there it has gone by that name) James hit the little area right above the entrance of the drive which has become quite wild. Last year we planted out a huge amount of poppy and wild flower seed along the wall edge but nothing came up so after James strimmed this area he laid a strip of mypex and in the spring we will plant it out.
We had a recently had a visitor who came to Rudha Mor and gave us some general advise and tips for the maintenance and development of the walk. As we were walking around she spotted a tree in the arboretum which looked a little unhealthy and she suggested that we cut it down. So this week James decided to take it down. It is always sad to see a tree go but of course it is for the health of the other trees and some of the trees in the arboretum are a little close so this may make room for moving a tree or two.
With James’ newfound love of Dahlias this time of year means digging up the dahlia tubers and storing them for the winter. We get large boxes and line them with newspaper and lay the tubers in them making sure they all have a little space. In the spring when they start sprouting you can then split them. At the beginning of the year we counted over 100 tubers so by next year we will have well over 200!! Slightly overwhelming but they do make great cut flowers for arrangements. We did decide to leave one small bed of tubers in the ground to see how they do, however the deer came along and ate off all the tops so hopefully the mice won’t also get at the tuber!
The repair to the main path between the garage and the barn is still happening as there was tremendous damage and with all the rain that we have had work is slow going but during the process a lot has been learned about the drainage system and how it has been changed.
After creating our fancy onion bed we decided that we would try it again on one of the first beds we made using old railway sleepers. I started by weeding it as it hasn’t had much attention since we pulled all the veg at the end of the year and I then filled it with some extra soil to bring the level right up to the top edge of the bed. I covered it in mypex and stapled it down but we will hold of putting any holes in it till we are ready to plant it out. The plan is to put purple sprouting broccoli but plans do change!
We started the week by finishing weeding the big bed at entrance to walk. Last year we dug up this whole bed and layered it like lasagna with cardboard, seaweed and compost. It was moderately successful but there were some spots where things didn’t grow so well which we think was because of drainage, on ongoing issue in many areas. We have now added another 800+ bulbs including alum, tulip and wild garlic which we are hoping will deter the deer from eating our plants. James scattered the seed of a small yellow poppy that grows outside granny’s bedroom window in the bed and it has really taken off. We salvaged all the poppies while we were weeding and replanting and have brought them to the front of the bed. On the other side of the path we planted in one row of daffodils that had been removed from the bed across from the house. This was a really big job and it took us a day and a half to finish it off but it should look really good this spring.
Another big project got underway this week with the new lean-to design coming together. This will be another area for growing plants.
Mum and I trimmed back the heather and other brush along the path edge leading to the arboretum viewpoint and gave the bench area a little tidy too. We then started collecting red dogwood and honeysuckle for making wreaths.
We spent the weekend away doing our first aid training with the coastguard and next month will be a bit more hands-on as we get in the sea for some mock rescue missions!
Just outside the kitchen window are two bird feeders and every morning granny sits to watch the birds feeding and squabbling. We decided that this would be a great place for a new flower bed where granny could get a great look at it every morning. Having recently disassembled the waist high lettuce trough that was at the back of the house we thought this wood would be perfect for the job. It didn’t take too long and we had the frame built and filled with some excellent home made compost. We then planted it with an enormous amount of tulip bulbs in a variety of colour and we mixed in a few other bulbs including wild garlic which we are hoping will deter the deer.
Sometimes you just have to pinch yourself living up here, not only is it amazingly beautiful in every direction but just building something from only ideas and possibilities is so freeing. Then you have to do the day jobs that seem to get more and more extravagant and each job often creates another one, yes it is the endless project!
Before heading to Rudha Mor this morning we took a brisk walk along the side of a loch as the world was waking up enjoying the turning of the autumn leaves. I arrived at Rudha Mor looking with only strimming in mind but then I ran out of the strip cable so had to take a quick visit to the nearby hardware shop. I bumped into and man who said he had something for me so I followed him to the pier. Odd you may say but this kinda of thing happens here. Down we went to the pier and low and behold there was a small rowing boat, free to a good home. I looked and laughed for a bit, got in it and said maybe. He looking at me puzzled but I know there is always a price. It looked like it had seen better days and I wonder what I could do with it. He kept talking and I just laughed.
I headed back to Rudha Mor. Shortly after getting back the alarm for low tide rang so I got on the quad and drove from the mainland to an island to pick up some old tin to recycle into something, something I hadn’t yet decided on. Once on the island it didn’t to take long to fill the trailer and start heading back with one foot holding the tin onto the trailer while trying not to brake it… Boom! Suddenly I was suck in the middle, tide on it’s way in! With a super strong moment I soon lift the rocks blocking the wheels and make back to the mainland just in time.
Finally back to strimming and Jane comes down to help and we’re clearing it in super speed. As I’m strimming I can’t stop thinking about this little boat sitting at the pier with a quick dash down to the boat house and some pain balling out the red boat, I grab the oars and head off to the pier with the rain lashing down on me I’m soaking wet! Wow the view from down here is even more amazing on the water. I soon get to the wee boat and tie it on to mine and paddle off, I did call to tell the owner what was happening. Now he is laughing!! Oh the days at Rudha Mor.
With window of good weather presenting itself we decided that this is the week to get the polytunnel moved. We have already been planning this so we started by pulling back the material we had covering the spot where we want to move the tunnel to.
We then had to disassemble the polytunnel and chip away the concrete from the metal sections that held it into the ground. Once this was done we could dig the new holes which were carefully measured out. We used postcrete and a leveller to make sure we had everything just right as this part of the job will determine how sound the structure is. After the base poles were set we could fit the 3 arches and the beam that joined them all. The days are getting shorter and as we were losing light we decided that we should stop for the day.
Day two involved laying mypex around the base of the polytunnel, adding a base frame which will hold down the plastic, building the frames to hold the doors and adding 3 beams at the top which we will use to hold up the strawberry gutters (watch this space) and they will also make it easier for us to create supports for vine plants. Amazingly we thought all of this would only take the morning but yet again the sun was setting so we packed up for the night.
Day three and we were ready to skin the polytunnel. Thankfully we had some help since Hannah and Gavin were up and Jane came out to give us a hand too. Once we had most of the plastic in place Hannah and I ran off to make kimchi using a huge cabbage from the bed that used to be in the polytunnel while the other guys finished tightening the plastic.
Day four and James and I built the doors, stretched them with plastic and got them hung. With the tunnel tight and doors closed we put the min max thermometer in and went off to work on getting the main path back in good shape in preparation for the party coming up.