Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

And so, the new season begins

April 21, 2018

We got of to a bit of a false start this season because of Easter being so early. Nature was still sleeping. We had B and B guests over the holiday, but then all went quiet. Anyway, things start to pick up again this weekend and not just on the tourism front.

Now we at least have some cheery blooms to welcome our guests…

…as well as a freshly painted home.

Poor Kevin hates heights! We really should get a little man in!


Spring is also making its presence felt in the garden. After expelling the hens from their winter spa, who were none too happy about it as usual, the polytunnel is now shipshape with some early veggies now in place.


Some seedlings however, need the slightly kinder environment of the conservatory to encourage them to make an appearance.


Of course spring is not just about the appearance of all things green. Yesterday, our first chicks of the season arrived. BB, the bantam Silkie, has done us proud by hatching four youngsters. As usual, we exchanged her own eggs for those of our larger, table birds.



Silkies are wonderful mothers and BB has decided to keep her new family indoors for now, which is probably very wise as there’s quite a stiff breeze out there.

In a few days, we’re expecting our second batch of chicks, this time from eggs which we’re incubating ourselves. So, watch this space as they say!











Let the growing season commence!

March 25, 2015

I know that I got all enthusiastic the other day about the (hopefully) imminent arrival of spring. Well, we’re still getting some reasonable weather but quite cold these past couple of days. Gerlinde asked when I start planting our veg; in a nutshell, not yet, outside at least, although there’s a wee bit of planting and germination going on under cover!
In the conservatory where there’s some warmth, our first greenery is making an appearance; salad leaves, herbs, cauliflowers, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers and chillis.


Now that I’ve reclaimed the polytunnel from the hens, things are looking ship-shape, albeit not very interesting! But, the potatoes (which I’d forgotten to order until last week!) are a-chitting, under the damp patches on the left are some early peas and spinach, the seed tray holds broad beans and in the background are some fairly feeble strawberry plants!


In a week or so I shall plant some carrots and parsnips, closely followed by our early potatoes. Kevin rotivated the veg plot a couple of days ago so we’re ready for action. Shame really, it looks SO neat! As I may have told you before, I prefer the animal side of things really but at least this year, what with providing optional dinner for our B and B guests, I have more of an incentive on the herbaceous front as what a treat it will be to provide freshly picked vegetables and salad!

veg plot

With only five more days to go until the expected hatch date of our first quail, everything’s ready for them in the old church. Here is the brooder. We shall just use the one on the right and if more space is required as the birds grow, there’s a partition between both brooders which can be removed, almost doubling the floor space.


As the birds outgrow the brooder, then the floor runs are also ready.

Quail runs

Kevin is now putting his efforts into constructing outdoor quail accommodation for when summer arrives!

Nothing going to plan

April 30, 2014

The View

Our dry, spring weather continues so I thought I’d have a ‘garden day’. We’re off on an adventure on Saturday leaving Garybuie in the capable hands of dad and our ever-helpful neighbours, Mark and Gerlinde. I’m not going to tell you where our adventure is taking us, you’ll just have to wait until we return! Anyway, I needed to get the veggies ship-shape before our departure so I weeded the polytunnel and planted our main crop potatoes.

potato planting

Needless to say, getting the animals ship-shape is a different kettle of fish! Every year we make plans for our breeding program and seemingly every year those plans are thwarted. Apparently, this year is no different although to be fair, there is potentially beneficial plan-thwarting this year! Puff and Biggles are both definitely broody although at least one of the three musco-teers continues to lay in Puff’s box. The poor duck will be atop a pyramid of eggs soon! Broody Brenda hasn’t gone with our usual box-within-a-box ploy in the ‘polytunnel coop’ (probably in an attempt to avoid the Nest Thief) but instead is doing her thing in the over-by coop next to the duck houses.


Today is her first day sitting and Kevin has blocked the pop-hole at half-mast so that there’s no chance of the Nest Thief muscling in! Several of the other hens were using the box-within-a-box as well as one of the musco-teers, whose egg we removed every day. Yesterday, she was exhibiting broody behaviour so I checked the nest and believe me, the Nest Thief is a mere pick-pocket compared to the violent robbery performed by a musco-teer! There had been 6 or 7 hen eggs in there when I last checked but apparently, the broody duck had performed the Highland Fling in the nest resulting in a straw and wood-shaving omelette, garnished with one perfect Muscovy egg! Of course I had to clear the crime scene (whilst being SERIOUSLY heckled by the dastardly duck), including the duck egg which was covered in solidified egg yolk and straw, put new bedding in there and a ceramic egg in the hope of encouraging further laying. But by whom?


Yup, that’s a Muscovy’s rear you can see there and she’s sat tight all day – on a ceramic egg! This afternoon however, Kevin succeeded in slipping half a dozen Muscovy eggs under her. She scolded him but didn’t move an inch!

On a less violent theme, first-time mum, BB, is doing just fine with her wee family.


And even more excitement, for me at least! Yesterday, I received the latest ‘Paint’ magazine and found that I’d had my second publication of a painting! This time it was the ‘Keys and Curly Tails’ which I completed earlier this year.

Paint magazine

I think that I’m probably pushing my luck now, but yesterday I submitted the following painting to the magazine. I’ve entitled it ‘Looking for Mischief’ and I think that quite a few of you will know where this wonderful character lives!

Looking for Mischief

Open for business

April 2, 2014


the view

We are now officially open for business and the weather at the moment is certainly very holiday-like! No guests yet though but our first booking is on Saturday. It’s unusual to get people just turning up on the doorstep at this time of year. But we’re ready if anyone does! I can’t wait to serve breakfast in the new conservatory…


I have to confess that I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with the windows! Everything is so shiny and new that I can’t abide a blemish! I’m not a lover of cleaning windows but last week I gave them all a good wash ‘n’ polish and then can you believe it, an over-night shower deposited Saharan sand all over them!!! Winds are coming from the south-east currently, picking up sand on their way. As long as the winds don’t become gale force as I certainly don’t want any accompanying camels! Anyway, they are all shiny once more, so clean rain only please Mother Nature!

Because the weather has been so lovely, we had our first we trip out on the bike this year on Sunday. I’m surprised that there’s actually anything left of the machine after all Kevin’s over-wintering polishing! Anyway, we travelled around the north end of the island, a lovely circular route. Although it was sunny, it was quite hazy. A day for nature’s muted palette. This is Duntulm at the northerly point of Skye…


We didn’t see any visitors but we did encounter an unusual pedestrian!


Other good weather news is that after recovering the polytunnel, I finally got around to getting it ship-shape for spring. No more Chicken-Spa, much to their annoyance!


Spuds are chitting, there are lettuce and brassica seedlings coming on nicely and some garlic on the go.


And yet more spring news: after assistance throughout her ‘confinement’ BB the Silkie is currently hatching her eggs! Hopefully, I shall have some cute pictures for you tomorrow! Also, it’s with a huge sigh of relief to report that Hamie is now much better. She’s not back to her tree-climbing self yet but she’s eating well and breathing easier. Fingers crossed.


Mystery muscovy and a near disaster

August 9, 2013


Puff is a mystery this year. She’s a mixed-up Muscovy. Perhaps a menopausal Muscovy! She’s layed only two eggs this year that we’re aware of; one very small and one normal sized. She showed no interest in Biggles’ ducklings, when usually she duck-naps them, abandoning her own nest. She’s been keeping herself to herself, spending a lot of her time under a bush in the veg plot. This is her fourth season. Maybe she’s reached the end of her reproductive life. Does anyone know if that’s the case? However, things have now changed. Although she has an empty nest, she’s gone broody! Biggles has come back into lay, so Puff has now moved into her box and is sitting tight. I’ve no idea how this is going to work because Biggles is still laying in there so all the eggs are going to be at different stages of development. We’ve decided to leave them to it even if only a couple hatch. At least Puff will be happy.

Someone who is very happy is Brenda. We’re getting lots of sunny spells at the moment and the wee family likes to make the most of them.

brenda's family

Actually, the weather is quite changeable, mainly with great big, fluffy clouds scudding across a blue sky, but also some heavy showers. When setting breakfast tables the other day, I was treated to my favourite kind of sky, complete with rainbow

breakfast rainbow

CauliThis weather pattern of warm sunshine and showers is great growing weather and the veg plot is bursting with goodies. Usually the cauliflowers sneak up on us but this year we’ve been ready and have eaten them at their most solid, perfectly white condition.

The brassicas in general are doing well and the other day, Kevin finally managed to dig up our early (late) potatoes! They’ve been a long time coming this year but are well worth the wait.




Red Cabbage












One of my favourite summer sights is after our neighbouring crofter has cleared the adjoining field for silage, the grass starts to regrow and the cattle move in. They always seem interested in the goings-on over the fence at Garybuie!


This year I may have changed my mind though, after a near disastrous confrontation between cattle and ducks. Every summer, both species, along with the hens,  have been happy to graze alongside each other. On Wednesday evening however, I came into the kitchen to cook dinner and heard shouting out in the field. I assumed it was the crofter herding the beasts for some reason. I quickly realized though that it was Kevin doing the shouting! There he was, skirting (quickly) around a skittish herd of cows, calves of various sizes and the BULL! In his arms was an Aylesbury duck and he was heading towards the garden at a fair old lick, followed by the bovine bullies at an equal lick! He scrambled over the fence into the garden, blood trickling down his legs from scratches obtained from the barbed wire. Apparently MacRae had managed to escape the melee and waddled home as fast as a duck can waddle but Lucky was way up the top of the field, quacking and drawing the attention of the cattle once more. Kevin handed me a traumatized Chance, who upon inspection had part of her inwards protruding from her rear, much like a prolapse. Obviously she’d been trampled and I thought she would be a goner. Meanwhile, back over the fence went Kevin with cattle in tow. Lucky wouldn’t shut her bill so she was increasing the excitement of the cattle. Kevin tried to lead them away and eventually, for some reason, the herd galloped off in the opposite direction – along with the bull. Lucky was unharmed and unbelievably, Chance’s protrusion seemed to be protruding less! We put the girls in their house and they seemed happy to stay put. What caused this unhappy event we’ll never know, as I said, it’s never happened before. I think that probably the cows were just curious about the ducks but as they got close, maybe the ducks got a bit nervous and started flapping or quacking, or both, arousing excitement in the beasts. Kevin said that they were encircling the ducks, a fair amount of fancy footwork involved. Unbelievably, Chance appeared to be fully recovered the day after and here she is, with her pink bangle, behind her best pal, Lucky…


Lucky and Chance

Understandably, all three Aylesburys have stayed within the confines of the garden since! Anyway, after all the excitement and worry, here’s a picture of Patches for no reason other than it’s a calm and peaceful pose!



Is there such a thing as a multi-tasking blog?

June 26, 2013

Multi-purpose perhaps? Multi-‘story’? Either way, I’m catching up on several topics in this blog, so perhaps you’d better make a cup of tea! First of all, we had a happy event at the weekend when six of our Aylesbury ducklings hatched. “Hey girls, someone’s moved into our cage!”

That's our cage!

We’re keeping a close eye on them in the kitchen for a few days, just to check that there are no slow-developing Aylesbury/Muscovy crosses this time. So far they all look great and are very active and inquisitive. They even thought that Kevin’s running shoes were something worth exploring. Brave wee souls!


Now that the incubator is free, we’re about to attempt to hatch some hen’s eggs once more. We don’t have many to spare as we need most of our eggs for guests’ breakfasts of course, but we can spare a dozen and also, during our search for a new cockerel, we’ve managed to come across someone who has Silkie eggs here on Skye! Fingers crossed! Speaking of our new cockerel, Big Fella, he’s recently discovered the front garden and seems to have appointed himself as front-of-house, meeting and greeting guests on occasion and also bidding a fond farewell if he’s available! “Are you sure those bikes are secure?”


Moving from fauna to flora, an increase in temperature accompanied by some very ‘useful’ rain on occasion, the vegetable plot is making up for lost time. Virtually 22 hours of daylight certainly helps and I’ll swear we can almost SEE things growing!

brassicas and beans


Of course all blossom and flowers in general are late this year, but well worth the wait. The rhododendrons are glorious, with quite a few of the illusive bee population visiting…

Busy bee

busy bee 2

After having no blossom at all last year, our Laburnum is positively dripping with flowers. However, there’s a big problem with the tree. Can you see how this bough is interfering with the telephone cable?


And how the tree trunk has split?

split trunk

Unfortunately, three more of the boughs are over-hanging the road and are going to have to come off for safety’s sake. When our family visited back in May, Matt and Kevin managed to insert a sturdy post under the ‘telephone cable’ bough, so hopefully it will prevent the need to take it off. Of course we’ll wait for the long-awaited blossom to fade before taking a saw to the poor thing.

Finally, on the indoor front, some of that useful rain which I mentioned earlier has given me some opportunities to work on my animal portraits. Pusscat was a lovely subject with his beautiful colours and gentle expression…


I drew him with colour pencil on pastel paper.  Secondly, I’ve had my first commission! Lalo is his name, a very wistful-looking border collie – very hairy too! I painted him in pen and ink/watercolour.



Equally exciting – for me at least – is that I’m currently working on my second commission! Two cats this time for lady in Australia who came to stay with us, along with her mum, earlier in the season. The portrait’s a secret yet though until my Australian guest has seen the end result! (If you would like to see other portraits which I’ve done, I’ve just added a wee gallery along with my other pages on the side-bar.)


Growing things

June 22, 2013

Things are running smoothly at the moment; vegetables are finally growing well and so are the ducklings. The Aylesbury threesome are coming up to 8 weeks old and are fully grown. There are two ducks, one drake. We’ve decided to keep the females to increase egg production (and hopefully to keep MacRae fully occupied!) As permanent residents, they will have to have names of course but nothing has come to mind just yet. Any ideas?

needing a name

And what’s this wee pile of ducklings doing all alone?

babysitter needed

Biggles obviously feels that all Garybuie residents don’t pose a threat to her family and she flies off to the river occasionally after telling them to stay put!


Although Puff has shown no interest whatsoever in the ducklings this year, Huff definitely enjoys doing his attentive father bit! It’s weird with Puff. She’s not even laying as far as we can tell. I have no idea how long Muscovies lay for. Does anyone out there know?

Happy family

Still on the subject of ducks, the eggs currently in the incubator are in the process of hatching as I write! They are Aylesburys once again. I wonder if any of them will be Aylesbury/Muscovy crosses this time around. If so, I hope that there will be more than one so that they can develop at their slower pace together.

Finally, moving on to hens, good old Broody Brenda has finally taken up residence in the nest box in the polytunnel coop. She just can’t resist and hopefully, Big Fella is in full working order and we’ll finally get some chicks this season!

Broody Brenda

Another day in paradise

June 9, 2013

Seriously, Garybuie feels like a small slice of paradise; the weather is glorious and there’s an un-hurried quietness about the place.

ducks in the shade

Birdsong is virtually the only sound to break the silence. It’s been so peaceful this weekend that I took a couple of short movies in the garden so that you can share the atmosphere of the place. (It was intended just to be one movie but my camera is fairly new, I’ve not taken a movie with it before and the memory card filled very quickly. I’m obviously doing something wrong but didn’t want to waste time wading through the instruction manual!)

But before all that, finally some good news in the hatching department!

muscovy ducklings

Biggles is mum to these six cuties and strangely, Puff has shown no interest in sharing parental duties this time. We’re not even sure that she’s laying this season. We’ve made a temporary enclosure next to her house so that during the day she can feel secure with her new family, not having to fend off the attentions of that menace MacRae!  Also, the youngsters are safe if she wants to fly down to the river for a quick dip, especially as she has no babysitter this time around! It was nice to be able to show the happy family to our guests from the Netherlands, Jeroen and Kim, before they continued on their journey.

Jerone and Kim

And now for those (very) short walks where you may glimpse an orderly veg plot which I’ve got on top of during the good weather …

Definitely spring – I think!

April 17, 2013


Pusscat may not be too keen on gale force wind and hefty, horizontal downpours, but rain is certainly something which we needed after an unseasonable, extended dry spell. Temperatures are much milder too, so finally some spring-like signs are evident and spring-like tasks in the garden are possible. (and enjoyable!)


At last, seedlings are making their appearance in the polytunnel – peas, lettuce, broad beans, broccoli, red cabbage, kale and cauliflower – and I’ve planted some new ones; brussel sprouts, courgettes and savoy cabbage.









veggie seedlings



Outside, I planted spinach, beetroot and under the tunnel in the background of the next shot are carrots and parsnips.





Of course there’s great activity among the fauna too. The birdsong and to-ing and fro-ing of the wild bird population is always welcome to fill us with enthusiasm for the new season. Someone who’s definitely filled with enthusiasm is the Sparrow Hawk who sees Garybuie as his local fast food outlet – VERY fast!!

sparrow hawk

muscovy eggAs far as our domestic fowl, we now have three Muscovy eggs – I think they were waiting for some warmer weather too! The question is, will Puff and Biggles both rear their own family or will we once more have shared parental duties?

After our recent disaster, when all 20 of our incubated hens’ eggs stopped developing, thankfully, 7 out of 8 incubated Aylesbury duck eggs were fertile at day 7 and after an interim check at day 14, all seven are continuing to develop. The dark area on the right of the egg is the 14-day-old embryo. Sorry, it’s not the best of photos.


And finally, another development, involving inanimate objects this time, is the new des. res. for poultry which is almost finished. We now suddenly have lots of CLEAN wall space, perfect for hanging some pet portraits I think! A dual purpose development in fact, although regular dusting of the frames will probably be necessary!

Des. Res.

A guide to Garybuie

March 26, 2013

Things are hotting up now that spring is here (really?) The polytunnel and veg plots are being prepared, hens and ducks are a-laying and the first visitors of the new season are due to arrive on Thursday – IF they manage to negotiate all the snow drifts which are a problem for most of the U.K. Not Skye though!

Garybuie will be a hive of activity over the next six months or so, all of it crammed into an area of about 1/3 of an acre. Or maybe it’s 1/4. Whatever, it’s small! I know that I’ve taken you on wee tours around the place before now, but at ground level it can be difficult to get a feel for the lay-out of the place. So, I had a minor brain wave to help matters!

Several years ago we had an aerial photograph taken of Garybuie and although it’s changed quite a bit since then, I’ve given it some labels to give you a better  picture of where things are nowadays!

The Lay-out

NOW we’re cooking!!! This was taken at the time when we had pigs. That’s their ‘zone of desolation’ behind the telephone box. Judging by the gate arrangement, Effie and Flora were in their separate quarters either expecting piglets at any day or with  recently arrived offspring. However, we only rented that piece of land so it doesn’t belong to Garybuie’s present day lay-out.

As you can see, we were rather swamped out by trees and now the veggie plot is more open to get as much light as possible…

veg plot

The main duck house was constructed using the timber from the former pig accommodation. The building is divided into two and a and as you can guess, Huff’s House is home to the Muscovies and the other half is for the Aylesburys.

Duck Houses

The red arrow on the main photograph points to a low-roofed shed which we can see outside the kitchen window – one of the favourite perches of the Muscovies…

shed perch

…as is the wee bridge.

Chilly perch

Apart from the remaining Chicken coops and shed, that just leaves the Old Church with its small end, being currently revamped…


…and the larger end which is a VERY useful space. Storage, butchery, ham and sausage production, Chicken and duck plucking, motorbike maintenance………

useful space

So, no excuses for getting lost around the place this summer!

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