Saturday, May 3, 2014

Face book page - George Barren & Speedwell Island

Just to let anyone know that might be interested.  As you may have noticed I havent blogged for a good while but I do now have a facebook page which is pretty much the same.  I just find it easier to do as I am on facebook every day the link is as follows if you are interested.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Oops you should have looked up!!!

Very good days crabbing for Christopher and Ali.  I was hoping for 500 crab and they came back with 1,060.  They left the house at 6am and were back in the house at 1pm, not a bad days work.
Ali run into the hook on the crane and came back looking like a mummy.  He went to grab a rope and didn't look up and the hook was swinging slightly and grazed up over his forehead.  Made him see stars for a moment and took a bit of skin off  but nothing serious. Christopher bandaged it anyway as it was bleeding a bit.  Thankfully he is absolutely fine, the bandage makes it look more dramatic then it actually was and he was able to take it off as soon as he got home.
So that was their days work as they had already worked 7 hours.  In the afternoon they went for a run over to the tussac island in the harbour to have a look at how the tussac was coping with the sheep and check the condition of the animals.  Then Ali went away goose egging for a while as it was still a beautiful day.


Yesterday was a sad kind of a day

Well as usual everything is change and some things change quicker then expected or planned. 

Shaun, Tanya and Hollie left yesterday to start their new life/adventure on their own farm, Albermarle on west Falkland Islands.  This wasn't the plan originally but Shaun was offered work road building and the road that is being built is for the military at Mount Alice.  This is no more then 20 minutes away from their farm house and is actually on their land.  The pay is better then he gets working for us apart from when he was working on the jetty.  So although not really wanting to lose them this early it seemed the right thing to encourage them to move early.  They had to put 10% of the cost of the farm down themselves and all credit to Shaun at the age of 23 he had saved that through shearing and stevedoring and still had a little bit over but things are a bit tight now.  They are very fortunate to have been given a years moratorium on their loan but there is still out lays.  Tanya has been doing a little hair dressing over the last couple of months to help pay the bills but it is not ideal because it means they end up being split up with Tan and Hollie in town and Shaun out here on the islands.  They will manage to get through now though with Shaun bringing in extra money and he has the advantage of going home to his farm every night and I think he gets Sunday off so he will be able to start preparing for shearing.  He will just take the time of from his new job to do his farm work when he needs it. The only big expenses he has now and before his wool money starts coming in is shearing costs and freight costs to get his wool to Stanley.  If need be we will pay these initially and he will pay them back when their wool money comes in or he can come back and work for a while and pay them off in kind.  So that is that.
The jetty is all but finished down on George and we were all up at 6am yesterday getting ready to come up to Speedwell so that they could collect the stuff that they need for the time being.  We left at 8am from George and got here at 9:30am they then had 4 hours to get everything together that they thought they would need and I think they were away from here by 2pm.  They will have to come back as they still have a lot of stuff here  but it probably wont be before the beginning of December.
So I am going to miss them lots, especially the little Hollie.  In the last 2 days she has started walking everywhere.  She is a bundle of fun who loves playing peek a boo, loves music and sways along to it.  She laughs and giggles lots and gives you cuddles (at her convenience).  It's not like I am not going to see them ever but it will be more difficult to meet up because we will all be busy at the same time.  Saying that we are going over to help Shaun gather for shearing in 2 weeks time and then they are going to fly over and help us with lamb marking at the beginning of December, then we will all be in town for Christmas, then in January we will go over and help Shaun gather for his shearing again and they are going to come over in February and help us shear Barren so when you put it all together at the moment it looks like we will still see them every 6 to 8 weeks at least.
To cheer myself up after they left I did a little bit of Xmas retail therapy on line.
My first picnic on Speedwell Island.  We were out Goose egging.

Just being me and pulling a face.

You want a photo nanny.  Taken on George Island

And so life goes on.  Christopher and Ali are away crabbing.  I need them to come back with 500 crab today to fulfill my orders but that is a bit of a tall order so will have to see what they arrive home with.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Diving Buddy

                                           Christopher using his seabreathe equipment.

Lots of kelp around the jetty at the moment.

Ali, Shaun and Christopher using the tremme pipe to feed the cement into the shuttering.

Christopher repositioning the tremme pipe.

Ali and Shaun.

Christopher diving buddy.

Diving buddy a female Sealion.

Self portrait of Christopher taken underwater.

Third day of jetty repairs finished.  Everything is going well and they have now repaired 12 piles and have 4 more left.
The sealion that you see in the pictures is one that he thinks has been here since we bought the islands in 2001.  She is very cheeky and if it is the same one he used to play with it dangling a piece of string of the jetty when he first came here.  She likes to stand on her head and blow bubbles in the sand and come up really close to him.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

It's a dangerous place to put your hand!!!!

Yesterday was spent mainly getting ready for working on the jetty today.  Christopher changed a seal in the cement mixer and Shaun and Ali moved the bags of shingle, sand and cement closer to the jetty.
I spent the day looking after Hollie and putting away all the stuff that we had brought down from Speedwell.
Tanya came back today.  Her back is not completely better but it is much improved.
Christopher has spent nearly the entire day diving.  The seabreathe unit that he bought for the job has been really good.  It means he doesnt have to carry air bottles and more importantly for us he doesnt need to refill air bottles which is good because we don't have a compressor to do them.
Before breakfast today Christopher put 4 lots of shuttering in place on the jetty.  He is working in about 6 foot of water at the moment.  His diving skills leave a lot to be desired so it is pretty tiring for him. After breakfast  him and Shaun went and met the plane to collect Tanya while Ali carried on getting bits and pieces ready.  The rest of the day was spent mixing and pouring cement.  The guys are all really tired tonight.  They poured 4 piles but it is hard work shoveling the sand, shingle and cement into the mixer and then jiggling the treme pipe up and down to get the cement out of the pipe. They have worked from 6:30 this morning until 8:00 this evening.
Christopher had a visitor just as he was finishing diving today.  He had a female sealion come up and put its face in his visor.  He said she was really cheeky.  He swung his arm out to do something and didnt see her and his hand went right in her mouth.  I think she will be back again tomorrow because she was still playing around in the water after he had got out.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

It's big, it's grey and it's heading our way!!!

Very busy day today.  Shaun brought Hollie down at 9 am and then him, Christopher and Ali went off to take all the stuff that we needed for repairing the jetty on George down the jetty at Speedwell ready to go on the boat.
Christopher said we would leave at 4 to 4:30 after Hollie had had her afternoon nap but at lunch time he arrived home and said that they were going to be ready to leave at 2 and we should leave then and Hollie could have her nap on the boat instead.  So it all became a bit of a rush to get tidied up and ready to leave.  Fortunately I didn't really have much to take and Shaun had sorted all Hollies stuff out so we did actually manage to get away at about 2:30.
It was a lovely afternoon to come down on the boat and Hollie had her drink of milk and went straight to sleep so that all worked out well.
 We had a big load on today. 1, 4 wheeler, 1, 2 wheeler, enough shuttering to make 16 piles (the shuttering is all cut and numbered ready to be assembled tomorrow) and  2 large keep pots because the guys are going to go and do a crab haul on the next fine day.  We currently have an order for 50 kilos of crab meat so we will be heading straight back up to Speedwell to fulfill the order as soon as the jetty repairs are finished.
That was our day really.  The guys unloaded the boat when we got to George and by then it was knock of time.
We also had a request today for a Brazilian television crew to come to the islands to do a day in the life of a family living on a remote island.  We haven't decided whether we will do it yet but will talk about it over the weekend and make a decision.
We weren't the only ones sailing in Eagle Passage yesterday.  It's always nice to have a bit of company.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Day with Hollie

Today I have been mostly looking after Hollie.  She is a gorgeous little girl and so good.  She is taking more and more steps by herself.  She loves it when grandad spoils her and lets her tap and bang on his computer.  He has already broke the screen so she can't do much more damage.
It wasn't a planned day with nanny but mummy Tanya has a really bad back to the point of not being able to pick Hollie up so she is away into Stanley via FIGAS to have it checked out and hopefully get some good strong painkillers.  Hollie arrived at 8:30 this morning and stayed until 5:00 this afternoon when daddy Shaun knocked off.  I am very much looking forward to having her again for the day tomorrow.
Hollie and grandad
At the moment we have Ali out with us.  We will employing him pretty much full time for the foreseeable future.
Today's work for the men has mainly involved them getting ready to go down to George Island in the next day or 2 to finish the repairs to the George Island jetty.  Shaun and Ali have been building shuttering for the piles.  They also moved all the drums of  fuel of the jetty.  Christopher has been collecting up stuff for George Island, he also helped Shaun do the plane and sorted out seed potatoes to take down to George.  It has been a foul day with lots of rain.
Just to bring you all up to date on a bit more of our news.  We are building a new house on Speedwell Island next year.  We decided we needed to build another house as the crabbing has been very successful and we have found we don't have enough employees to do all the work needed.  Originally we started the crabbing to make another wage because our daughter wanted to come home and work.  This is still the case but of course Shaun and Tanya are now leaving which has changed things a bit but never the less we still need another house as we still need another employee.  At the moment it looks like we will move into the new house, Tiphanie and her boyfriend Claudio will move into Shaun and Tanya's house and we will use this small house for a casual employee because at the moment whenever we employee Ali or any casual workers which is quite frequently they have to stay with us.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I'm Back and it's all change

Well it's been a long time and a lot has happened and I'm not really sure where to start.  I have thought of blogging over the last 4 months but so much that has been happening has been intermingled with something that I wanted to keep private that I have found it easier just not to blog but I can share it all with you now.
Shaun and Tanya have purchased their own farm.  It is called Albermarle and it is on the West Falkland Islands. It is a massive farm and him, Tanya and the adorable Hollie will be moving very shortly.  It has been well known in the islands that Shaun and Tanya were in negotiations to buy Albermarle but I havent blogged about it because farms are very hard to come by in the Falklands and I didnt want to write anything that might lead to someone else trying to outbid him and purchase the property.  They are now the proud owners of 16,225 hectares which includes at least 2 mountains, and is the most hilly country I have ever seen. 
Before the purchase was completed Shaun was given permission to go over and put the rams out as the farm had been out on lease and the lease had expired so there was no one running the farm for a short period of time.  We went across with them to help Shaun put the rams out and do an animal stock take.  We took the ferry across from east to west Falklands. We were not far along the road towards Albermarle when we started seeing steep little valleys from the road.  Shaun said to Tanya I hope we haven't got any of them, by the time we arrived at Albermarle he had come to the conclusion that they were the equivalent of ditches and yes he had some of them and they were much bigger and steeper.  Quite an eye opener when you have been living on flat islands.  We spent 9 days there and Christopher and Shaun gathered sheep every day.  Christopher had the sorest **** ever.  The farm is currently running in the region of 6,000 sheep.  It has a herd of reindeer and a manned military radar site on top of Mount Alice.
Will try and blog a bit more regular now and up date you all on whats happening here on the islands.  I have quite a hoard of news.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Winter work

Out on the islands we have started on our winter work programme.  I am delighted that at long last the roof on our house has been re-newed.  The old roof was in an appalling state and it was not uncommon to hear drip, drip, drip on the kitchen ceiling.  The tin was purchased cut to the required length so it has not been a big job.  It took 2 days to take off and replace the entire roof.  This would have been even quicker but for one  morning of too much wind to work with the tin.  The only work left to do is the end barge boards and put up new guttering.   I'm sure anywhere else this house would probably have been condemned.  Slowly  we are getting it up to standard.  It has now been completely re-wired, re-plumbed, had a new bathroom fitted complete with double glazing and insulation and now a new roof. On the way we have 2 very large double glazed windows for the living area and a new fitted kitchen.  The new windows will be fitted this winter but the kitchen will not be fitted until next winter.  There is so much to do and I look forward to the day when I get up in the morning at this time of year and my bedroom doesn't smell damp.  It's a few years away yet I think.  This house had been vacant for many, many years as there was only one family living on the islands previous to us.  The poor wool prices throughout the 90's resulted in very little maintenance being carried out on the majority of farms because the money was just not available to do
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any more then the bare necessities.  The fact that the house was not in use would have made it a low priority.  Fortunately the house that Shaun and Tanya live in, which was the family home of the previous owners was well maintained.
Shaun is now working on contract putting up fencing.  He is erecting a 2 kilometre fence to split the Sand Grass camp.  This is a massive camp but the ewes all feed at one end on the greens and in one large green valley leaving a huge amount of land under utilized.
Tanya and I have been busy crab processing.  In the last week and a bit we have processed approx. 1000 crab.
At last I have finished my accounts for 2012 and they are now ready to go to the accountants.
Shaun removing the old tin
Surprisingly despite the leaks the paper and the rough boarding underneath were in good condition.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Christopher and Ali went out in Theo to haul the crab pots today.  It was a lovely day and they came back with a haul of 666.  We also have about 300 in the keep pots so I now have enough to do about 5 lots of processing.  I general process 200 at a time.  I need to do at least one lot of processing a week just to provide the minimum amount for our standing order.  Christopher gets up at 5am to put the boiler on and then either him and Ali or him and Shaun kill and cook the crab once the boiler comes to the boil.  I then go down at 7-7:30 as the first lot have been cooked and cooled enough ready to start breaking the crab down for processing.  I then have either Ali or Tanya to help me process the crab right down ready to go in the chiller.  We usually finish processing at about 3pm and then spend an hour doing the clean down.
Sorted crab on the deck

Shaun and Dave (taken several years ago).  Crab in the sort tray.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Clueing up the season and mail from Spain

A beautiful day, sun and 18 degrees.  So here I am again.  I have decided to try and update my blog regularly again because I have had quite a few people contact me.
The season is all but over here.  Today Christopher and Ali (Ali is our hired hand and is here for about a month while Shaun is in Stanley stevedoring). took 108 ewes and 75 lambs down to Barren Island on Theo.  They left here (Speedwell) with the first load at 6am and were back at 10am.  They then had an early lunch and set out with the second load. Here they are able to run the sheep down the jetty and down a ramp onto Theo but at Barren they have to unload them onto the dinghy and take them ashore.  The dinghy holds about 15 at a time and Theo can carry 100 fully grown sheep comfortably so today she was quite lightly loaded because of the mixed load.  They got back from the second trip at 4pm.  It was the perfect day for moving sheep with only a light breeze.  This pretty much concludes the season for us.  All our camps have been gathered, the sheep have been counted and the stock is now set for the winter.  This year we have decided to put 100  lambs that were too small for the abattoir on Barren Island.  We normally run just 300 ewes on Barren because it has extensive erosion on it but the ewes are getting obese and then we have problems with them dieing from exhaustion every time we have to bring them in for lamb marking or shearing.  The decision was taken this year to increase the stock because the ewes despite having a near 100% lambing were still obese when they arrived at the abattoir.  This meant that we didn't achieve optimum price for them as the price goes down again once they pass fat class 3.  We have had as many as 350 ewes on the island before so it should have no problem coping with the extra lambs.
Theo with sheep on board late last year.
Last week I received a letter from Spain.  It started of by saying how this person (Jose) had started reading my blog and had seen how excited I was when I got my first follower.  Jose thought that if I found that exciting then how exciting would it be to get a letter.  He was right. We were all in Stanley, me, Christopher, Shaun and Tanya.  I came in from shopping and Shaun said to Christopher have you gave mum her letter.  Christopher said no he hadn't but that I had a letter from Spain. So it was all very exciting as everyone waited for me to open my letter and then read it out loud.  Thank you Jose it was nice to get your letter in the post.  I am not a letter writer, I find it hard enough to keep up my blog but it was very interesting to read about our similarities.  Gull egg omelette's were not that unheard of in the Falklands in the past either.  I am not sure if you are still allowed to collect gull eggs here or not.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Making History

My Daughter Tiphanie

Well I am sure that you all know that history was made in the Falklands on the 10th & 11th of March when Falkland Islanders voted in a referendum to show the world that we are British and want to remain British.  In the picture is my daughter Tiphanie who was fortunate enough to be working at the right place at the right time to help with the organising of the referendum.  In the picture she is showing the assembled counters, press and interested on lookers that she has emptied the box of votes and that it is indeed empty.  There was never any doubt in my mind what the outcome would be. Our community came out in force to cast their vote.  With a staggering 94% turnout which turned into a 99.8% yes vote.  The message was clear.  Of course we are democratic and 3 individuals chose to say no.  They may have been confused, it could have been an error but then again it might not have been.  All I can say is if there are 3 individuals who do not wish to remain British and keep our ties with Great Britain then they must feel well and truly out of place living here. It must feel much like trying to fit a square post into a round hole.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Birthday and other things

The 23rd was my birthday.  I spent it on George Island. Just Christopher and I.  I had a lovely day. Christopher cooked me my favourite lunch.    He  also made and iced a birthday cake for me.  I also got some lovely birthday presents. In case you are interested in the presents that someone who lives on an island receives I will tell you a few of them.  From Christopher I got a beautiful set of western gear for my miniature ponies.  The ponies will be tamed properly in the next year or two.  Obviously we will not be able to ride them but we now have little Hollie who in the not to distant future will be able to.  As Christopher said when I opened it "I probably chose it with Hollie a little bit in mind".  I think when you look at the photo that you will probably agree.  I also got the complete collection of Catherine Cookson DVDs.  We are not big DVD watchers but because we still have no tele on George it is either watch them or nothing.  I also got a lovely funky colourful photo frame from Christopher with grandma and me wrote on it.  From gorgeous little Hollie I got my first ever nanny mug and a box of chocolates.  From Shaun and Tanya I received a lovely silver photo frame with a picture of Christopher, Hollie and I and a carved wooden box.  The box was a special request.   I wanted something proper to keep all the treasure that I have collected from the wreck of the Isobella in.  Tiphanie was in Punta Arenas, Chile at the time of my birthday and as yet I haven't received a gift from her but I will because she never forgets. I also got  presents from my mum and my mother and father in law.
On the islands or the Falklands in general it is goose egging time.  The geese are laying and we have been out several times collecting them.  We will collect eggs for eating now and extra ones to put in pickle.  We are also asked to collect them for several people in town. Geese will keep laying if you keep robbing them and there are that many of them that they are a pest. They eat grass like it is going out of fashion and we could do with a lot less of them.  Christopher's mum and dad have been out with us for a long weekend collecting eggs to.
It is also the start of lambing and we saw our first lamb 2 days ago.  The official lambing date for here is the 4th but we are now seeing a few early borns, often these are twins.  Unfortunately we have had heavy rain today so that is not a good start.
Today we had a helicopter day visit.  These are folks that come out from the military base at MPA.  Generally they are families or military that are wanting to see the seals and penguins.  Today we had 2 families.  They are delivered by helicopter which leaves them on the islands for several hours and then comes back later in the day to pick them up.  Christopher always does guided tours of the wildlife to keep the disturbance to a minimum.  The visitors pay £10.00 per adult and £5.00 per child.
Well that's enough for today.  Next time I will update on the work that was carried out over the winter on the islands.

Monday, September 3, 2012


It's not often we have visitors but when we do they seem to arrive altogether.  On the 31st we had a small contingent of 2 para visit Barren Island and George Island.  We have come to the conclusion that we are not very observant.  The helicopter dropped them off on Barren in the morning and picked them up at 3 in the afternoon to bring them over onto George Island.  We did not hear the helicopter until it was coming in to land here.  It is difficult to imagine how we did not hear it as Barren is only a stones throw away. They were a really nice bunch.  These days you hardly get any infantry that were born before the Falklands conflict.  This group was no different with the oldest of the patrol being only 2 years old during the conflict.  2 para stayed with us for the night and used the shearing shed for shelter, cooking and sleeping.
On the 1st we had a visit from a shore party from HMS Clyde.  We were hoping she would come in close but she stayed a long way off shore and continued to steam up and down while the shore party were here.  The party consisted of 4 individuals, 3 men and 1 women.  The 2 para patrol consisted of 9 men.
On the farm we started to gather the ewes in to crutch them ready for lambing.  It has been a good season with regards to keeping the rams in and we had no escapees on either here or Speedwell so we are confident about when the first lambs are due.  Our first lambs on George are due on the 1st October with the last being due 6 weeks later.  As usual nothing ever goes to plan.  This year the ewes are in excellent condition, over weight and very heavy in lamb.  Despite going out and allowing them to start coming home at their own pace we had 4 die in quick succession.  The first one we opened up to find she was carrying twins.  The decision was made to abandon the gather.  It's great that the ewes are in such good condition coming out of the winter.  There are several reasons for this.  The first being an extremely mild winter with very few frosts the second being the poor lambing last year due to the bad weather we had during the lambing period last season.  With so many ewes losing their lambs last season they ran dry throughout the summer allowing them to bump up their fat reserves.
Those of you who read my blog regularly will recall that I went to Stanley to work for the FIC, West Store for 3 months.  Over the 3 months I ended up learning 3 new jobs.  The first was a nice little job it involved ordering up replenishment stock and basically goods receiving it into the West Store when it arrived.  There were a few parts of the job that I wasn't shown as I was only doing it for 6 weeks.  I would class it as equivalent to a school leavers job.  It was a busy little job but easy to learn and get to grips with.  After 6 weeks I moved out off that job to work as stock controller to cover for the original stock controller who was going on holiday.  We only had a 3 day handover but it is one of those jobs that you cant really teach somebody anyway.  The stock takes were scheduled pretty much for 1 every day.  I started off with a couple that went extremely well and felt quite confident but it wasn't always like that.  Some of the stock takes were difficult.  I had difficulties finding some of the products if they were stored in the stockrooms which are old and rambling.  If I was lucky the girls that helped me with the counts would know where to find everything but sometimes even they didn't know where to find what I was looking for and sometimes of course items were just plain missing.  In these cases I had to trawl back through all the data on the computer trying to find out what had happened to it.  All in all it was a challenging job which I was still learning right up until I finished.  It's a job where you have to learn to think outside the box and I was still very much learning to doing that.
The third job I took on was offered to me as an extra.  It was considerably better paid and the very basic description was it's just putting a few invoices on for the fishing agency.  It was a much, much bigger job then that and I ended up some days working a 12 hour day.  I would start my stock control job at 6:45am and work until 3:30 then drive down to the FIC bottom office and work until 6 or 7pm.  My initial reaction to the job was I can do that I already use Sage accounts.  I knew it would be different because I use a small business package and they use a big business package.  The biggest problem with the job was there was no handover at all, the previous person had already left.  The invoicing was way behind and it was not just a simple case of drawing up an invoice. The invoices had to be grouped together for the different ships from the fishing fleet that operate in the Falklands fishing zones.  It was a nightmare.  In fact after the first evening of trying to sort out invoices I went home and thought I'm never going to sleep again.  I'm not that easily daunted but I just thought I don't need this.  I just felt there was already that much work already there that was already way behind that I couldn't see myself getting my head above water.  I am a pretty decisive person so I went in the next evening and said the jobs not for me.  That should have been that but I then had a call asking if the work was brought up to date and if the invoices were presented sorted and in the ships folder ready for invoicing would I have another go.  Always a sucker for a bit off extra money against my better judgement I said yes.  That was fine, the invoicing was brought up to date by someone else who had also been doing it on a part time basis and the work started arriving in folders ready for invoicing.  Simple you would think. No, not really.  Some services provided to the fishing fleet had commission to be added some didn't.  There was no one their that actually knew.  Don't get me wrong there were people there that tried to help me and could help me with some aspects of the job but no-one that had actually done the job in it's entirety.  The work would arrive in fits and starts.  I went from one day feeling pretty smug because I felt I had caught everything up and was even finding time to get down to the more minor things like filing and then coming in the next evening to find 56 different ships files on the desk. These files can have anything from 1 invoice that needs entering up to probably in the region of 20. Even this would have been okay but in the first instance each ships invoices has to be entered onto a control sheet on excel, from the control sheet they would then go onto the sage system.  After the invoice was drawn up the suppliers that needed paying would then have to be entered onto the purchase ledger.  It was a big job.  Six weeks was no were long enough to learn it and because there was no one to teach it it was a bit of a suck it and see.  When I finished at the end of July I was just starting to get stuff back that was incorrect.  It was bound to happen but it makes you feel incompetent through no real fault of your own. I know that I was not the only one that it had happened to as I had spent the first  hour of my first evening doing credit notes to correct errors from the previous occupant of what was a very hot seat.  All in all I think it is a job that would be quite enjoyable if you had the time to learn it properly although I think it would always be quite challenging.  I went through days of quite enjoying it to ones where I was thoroughly pissed off.  The one thing I got out of that job and the stock controller job was that I would like to do a course to learn to use excel properly.  So that was my 3 months winter work in Stanley.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Message in a bottle

After 12 years of looking I have finally found a message in a bottle.  This afternoon we were out in the vehicle on George Island looking at the tussac that has been planted this winter and the Yorkshire fog that was planted last spring when we noticed two plastic bottles tied together.  Despite suffering from sore knees at the moment I was first out of the vehicle as I could see there was a message inside.  It was a bit dissappointing to find that the bottle only contained a name Boris Alejandro Valencia .B., Chilote a hotmail address and the words Carrero G/P II.  It would have been nice if it had had an actual message.  Never mind I have sent off to the hotmail address and we are now waiting to see if we get a reply.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Meet Hollie Louise May

Meet my lovely granddaughter Hollie Louise May.  Born 4:26am 17th August 2012 weighing 7lb 10oz's.  Mum and baby are both very well.  This is not the best photo of me as I had a little bit of help when I was born and it has made my head a little longer then it should be but I am still beautiful.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Well its been a while since I blogged but I have got news to share.  If you have been reading my blog for a while then you will remember me saying that Phil Vickery was coming to the Falklands.  Well he is here and I have just been talking to Carol Phillips at Hope Cottage and Phil Vickery is going there for lunch tomorrow.  Carol has been asked to cook a stew.  Now stew may seem quite a plain meal to some but when it is made with lamb and fresh veg straight from the garden it is very very tasty.  I think Carols daughter in law Shula is also helping with the meal.  Carol is more then a little nervous, wouldn't we all be. 
While I am on here I may as well up date you on what I have been up to.  I have been working in Stanley for just over a week now.  It is a nice little job.  Nice and easy and doesn't require as much brain strain to learn as the one I did last year.  I am covering for maternity leave and I started work a week ago Monday and finish at the end of July.  This year my job is to type up the orders to replenish the stock in the west store.  I print out the order sheets then the girls and boys on the shop floor fill them in. I then process the order and send it through to the warehouse.  Once the stock arrives at the shop I then goods receive the items.  Like I say it is a nice easy job.  I will do this job for about 6 weeks then the stock controller goes on holiday and I will move into that job.  I have helped with stock control when I worked in the warehouse last year and it is quite a taxing job and will probably cause a bit of brain strain.  I think it will be quite difficult for the first week or two as we do not have a hand over period.  Thankfully there will be someone else in the office who can do the job so I will have help at hand for when I need it, which will be quite a lot to start with I think.
Out on the island Christopher has at last got back to working on the crab factory.  Its a shame we didn't know Phil Vickery was here because Christopher has just done a crab haul and he has a fair amount in a holding pot.  The crab we have in the Falklands is lovely and sweet and I'm sure he would have enjoyed cooking with it.
Christopher and Shaun have also been busy on all three islands putting the rams out to the ewes ready for this years lamb drop.  They have also started lining up the first of the fences that are going up this winter.  Once the fence is lined up and the materials are all out at the fence line Shaun will go onto contract rates to put it up.
Well got to go.  Work tomorrow. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

George Island

We came down to George late Tuesday.  There is a lot of wind about at the moment and we have to be constantly checking the windplot grib files when we want to move to find a suitable weather window.  All the wool is now away from Speedwell and we are now down on George to get the Barren wool away and the remainder of the George bales away.  We are also sending our last 280 lambs and mutton to the abattoir.
Yesterday Christopher gathered all the sheep in on the island and we drafted off the sheep for the abattoir.  The weather is really starting to break now and we found ourselves sheltering against the water tanks to keep out of the hail.  The animals drafted really well which helped on such a crappy day.  We cant complain  we have had a fantastic summer.  After the animals go on the boat tomorrow we will only have approx. 100 ewes to take across to Barren to make the flock back up on there.  We brought 2 pens full of ewes down on the boat with us that are destined for the abattoir to save the Concordia Bay having to work both islands.  Mainly because Shaun is still not back at Speedwell and we had no one to work the boat up there.  Christopher also went across and collect the 8 bales of wool from Barren to make it a bit quicker when Concordia Bay arrives.  The Concordia Bay normally only does livestock movement or cargo but because we do not have too many sheep to go they have agreed to do both.  This is not possible if we are sending 600 plus because the animals are protected by animal welfare and are not allowed to exceed a certain number of hours in transit.  The transit time starts from the time the first animal is loaded until the time the last one is unloaded at the abattoir.  If we were to send cargo and a large number of animals together there would be a chance they would exceed their time limit although this would be unlikely.
Taken from on top of the wheelhouse.  It was higher then it looked and I couldn't bring myself to stand up when I got up there.

Navigation lights in the dusk

Theo at the end of George jetty.

Ewes going up the gangway onto the jetty.

Pen full of ewes.

Honestly it wasn't me digging holes in the yard.

Would I lie?
As soon as the boat leaves tomorrow we will be leaving also to go to Stanley.  In Stanley we will core test the wool so that we can get the micron and yield results back as soon as possible.  The wool samples will be sent to New Zealand for testing.  I have lotted the wool into 5 different lots for coring. They are A,B,C,A/B Sandy and C Sandy.  All our oddments, bellies, stain, necks and pieces have been sold in their greasy state and these will not be tested.  We have already booked a container to send the wool away in and we hope to have it away from the Falklands by the end of April.  We can send 26 ton of wool away in one container but to do this we will have to have some of our wool double dumped.  I think this will still leave us with about 6 bales of wool that we will not be able to get away this season.  To be cost effective you need to fill the 40 ft container to capacity.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Time to spill the beans.

With the last of the wool off to Stanley and the last of the animals off to the abattoir next week this season is as good as over.  Daylight isn't coming in until 7am and although we are still having mild weather it is getting colder.  Its time to reflect on the season which Christopher and I both agree is probably the hardest season in 20 odd years that we have both done.  It should have been the easiest one ever as we had an employee for the first time ever.  Plans were made before the season started.  Shaun wanted himself and Christopher to shear all the sheep instead of getting contractors in.  Mainly because this allowed him to boost his own wage by coming off wage and going onto contractors rates.  This still saved us money as obviously Christopher was to shear for the love of it and we would not have to pay overheads to Shaun.  It all looked good.  Tanya was to be the rousie and I would roll, class and store the wool.  What could go wrong.  Well Shaun and Tanya also had another plan that we didn't know about.  They had decided to start a family.  November saw us shearing the hogs on George Island which are the only sheep we shear before Christmas.  Christmas eve we were told the very exciting news that we were going to be grandparents.  That's were the rest of the plan went completely out the window.  Over the Christmas break we had the fire on George that took several weeks to get under control and which saw Christopher and Shaun absolutely worn out from firefighting.  With Tanya only been 9 weeks pregnant at that time this prevented her from wool carrying as both Tanya and Shaun were desperate that she should get to the relatively safe 12 weeks when the chances of a miscarriage become less likely.  So that is how we ended up with me being rousie, rolling the wool, classing the wool and stowing it.  Over the weeks one of the most popular songs on the radio seemed to be "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger".  There were points when I thought it would kill me but we made it.  Luckily for the last shearing we were able to get in a shearer and a rousie so that made life easier.  Today Tanya is 5 months pregnant and we are very excited to be expecting our first grandchild on about the 18th August and it is going to be a little girl.  Tanya is keeping well the house in Stanley is starting to fill up with baby things and they are both very excited as are we.
The George Island fire taken out of the window of the Islander aircraft on New Years Eve.

The father to be shearing one of our largest rams on Barren Island (January 2013)

The mum to be practising with Connor Joe her cousins baby.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Who broke the fence?

This week has seen us still at Speedwell.  Christopher started the week with the straggle gather of Twin Ponds.  Must have been a good gather the first time as there were only 4 sheep in there.  He then gathered Top Twin Ponds and brought all the sheep into the settlement.  This camp has had the Twin Ponds ewes in to give their own camp Twin Ponds a months rest.  These sheep were brought into the settlement.
Tuesday Christopher left at 9:30 am to gather the South End.  I left at 10:30 in the rover with the dogs.  The South End now has this years lamb drop in it and the shearling ewes.  They will now all over winter in this camp.  We had to bring them in again as we still have a small amount of lambs to go to the abattoir.  The lambs were contrary and although they didn't really cause any problems you had to be on their case.  They were not keen to march and stopped at every opportunity. They pretended that they had never seen a gate and stood in the gateway rather then going through it.  We eventually arrived back at the settlement at 2pm.  A slow gather and drive.  I was really pleased when they headed straight into the pen.  The front end then did a quick swirl and before we knew it they were all heading back out the gate.  Not really a problem just annoying.  Christopher was getting pretty pissed with them.  This is were sometimes you should practise what you preach.  Christopher does not complain about Shaun very much at all but all season he has growled at Shaun and to me about Shaun forcing the sheep at the gates.  More then once I have heard "he pushes them to hard at the gate, he's going to have the fence down" and the trouble is he's never seen what happens when you force them at the gate".  Well Shaun still hasn't seen what happens when you force them at the gate but we now have three broken posts were Christopher forced 1,400 sheep into the pens.   At the end of the day its frustrating for everyone because you then have to make temporary repairs before you can start drafting.  Oh well we shouldn't hear too much about forcing sheep for a while.
Wednesday saw us drafting all day.  Christopher also went out and did a straggle gather of the South End.  He assured me it had been a good gather, not as good as he thought as he arrived back at the settlement with another 80.  Oops.  So that should be the last of the gathering and drafting for this season.  The flocks are sorted the fences are repaired so everything should stay where it is put.
The last of the sheep to go to the abattoir are now in at the settlement and we are going to take them down to George on our own boat to go on the Concordia Bay from there.  This week was only the second time that the pens have been really wet and I have needed boots.  Well we all know what happened to my lovely Fat Boy Bombers.  What was I drafting in, a pair of size 8 rigger boots, not so comfy when you only take a four.
In the house I have been painting the back porch. The ceiling and walls have both had two coats of paint each and tomorrow I will get the first coat on the skirting.  So that's our week. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A look at the last few days.

22nd March and we are still in Stanley.  I have been working on the farm accounts and this afternoon we went and bought our groceries for Speedwell.  I am unorganised as usual with a partial shopping list for Speedwell but no list for George at all.  It no longer bothers me if I run out of anything unless it is salt which I just can't live without.
Also got offered a job today.  I had decided that I was not going to come to Stanley and work for the winter this year but I do like the kerching of pennies going into my  bank account.  The job is only for 3 months from the beginning of May until the end of July.  This is very tempting because we will have finished all the sheep work on the islands but it would still give me time to do some decorating in the George and Speedwell houses before I came in.  I would also have August/September  to work on the houses before the sheep work starts in earnest next season.  Tempted, very tempted.  The job this year would be with FIC the same company that I have worked for in the winter for the last 4 years or so.  My job this winter would include putting newly received stock onto the computer, opening new stock, some stock taking and I guess general office duties.  At the moment I am waiting to hear back about the wage and I will then make a decision on whether to take the job or not.
23rd March and still in Stanley.  Still not doing anything in particular.  Christopher has been a bit busier.  A brake pipe went on my Mitsubishi so he changed that this morning so that I could take my mother out this afternoon.  He also changed the headlights on the Strada.  The reflectors  were all rusty and they were just not putting enough light out.  The Strada is not really used in Stanley but with the days now getting shorter we are either leaving Stanley in the dark or arriving in Stanley in the dark so something had to be done about them.  All the groceries are now packed up and the rucksacks are ready so we will be out of here early tomorrow.
Left Stanley at 7am and arrived on Speedwell at midday.  A crappy sort of day no wind but horribly drizzly and damp.  We both took the rest of the day off.
Gentoo Penguins with chicks and King Cormorants with chicks

The sea crate.

Christopher demonstrating the swinging fence in the sea crate.
Today Christopher has spent the day pressing.  All the fleece wool is about finished but there are still bellies, neck, stain and pieces to be pressed up.  We are running into a bit of a problem at the moment as the Concordia Bay is due up here to clear all the wool from Speedwell, George and Barren on the 3rd April.  This is proving a bit of a headache because the squid season has been exceptional and Shaun has now been stevedoring for over three weeks and there is no sign of him coming back out yet.  We can work George and Barren on the same day but we cannot beat the Concordia Bay up here to work here as well.  I can't stay here and roll the bales out as they are all 200 kilos plus. There is just far too many for me to roll from the bale shed and down onto the jetty.  Not only do we have to sort this problem out but Concordia Bay then comes back on the 7th to clear all the rest of the animals for this season to the abattoir from both Speedwell and George Island.  What a headache.  We are loath to ask Shaun to come out because he makes very good money when he is stevedoring.  This afternoon we went down to the sea crate between the Sand Grass and Twin Ponds to check if the fancy new swinging fence was still standing.  It must be about a month since we put it in and we have had some really rough weather.  It is still there and looking good at the moment.
Finally for today.  Prince William  has been and gone.  It was great having the prince in the Falklands.  Although he didn't do any official appearances a lot of people did get to meet him. He visited the shops and even had an evening out in the pubs in Stanley. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Stuck in Stanley

Well we have now been in Stanley for 8 days.  We came across to go to the ram sale at Saladero.  Having made the decision to change our flock back to Polwarth because we can't get the genetics we need to continue with the Samm and Dohne we went to the sale with the intention of purchasing 10 shearling rams.  Christopher had trawled through the catalogue of 90 plus potential animals and selected his top 10 specimens.  The animals were selected on what we consider to be the most desirable traits that we wish to see in our animals.  The Samms that we have been using have done a fantastic job of putting body size across our animals on Speedwell but have disappointed us by decreasing in wool weight significantly.  We were expecting a drop but it has been bigger then expected.   They also have a fairly low fat cover and we were unable to source any genetics with more then 3mm of fat.  It appears that this is not enough for our climate.  Anyway getting back to the desirable traits.  The top 10 were selected first for body weight. 50 kilos plus as a 2 year old.  This was closely followed by clean wool weight.  All the top 10 clipped 3 kilos plus of clean wool. The final significant selection criteria was micron. The range for micron was between 18.0 and 22.0.  Finally on the sale day all the animals were assessed visually.  My job at the sale was to bid for these animals.  The bidding system is a helmsmen system.  For those who do not know this system I will explain it.  All 90 plus animals are put up on a board simultaneously.  All the shearling rams had a reserve price of £65.00.  The first half hour  is  a very intense period as every one bids on all the animals on the board at the same time.  Each bidder has a number and you write down your bid which is then passed to the board.  Your bid is then wrote on the board with your bidder number so that everyone can see.  I found it really difficult keeping a track on our top 10 as I had to keep trawling through the board to see if I had been outbid. Over the first half hour the board changed constantly on all 10 animals.  Up until the last 5 minutes of the sale I managed to keep hold of all 10 animals.  Then  the manager of Goose Green farm said that I had all his top four animals and that he was going to keep bidding until he got one.  The one he had decided that he was going to keep bidding on until he got it was our number 10.  I decided to let him have it.  The sale concludes when no more bids are put on any of the animals for 2 minutes.  All in all a pleasing result which saw us leaving the sale with 9 out of the 10 chosen rams and £1,100  poorer.
The last week has seen day after day of wind.  This has not been the only reason for us being stuck in Stanley.  Christopher hurt his back the day we came over.  Christopher and bad backs is nothing unusual but this was unusual because he was in extreme pain.  I predicted this episode when I saw him lift the dinghy trailer up to hook it onto the Strada.  The Strada was slightly too far back and instead of getting me to get in the vehicle and move it forward slightly he was not only holding up the boat trailer which is no flimsy lightweight job but also pushing the Strada forward with the rest of his body to get the eye of the trailer onto the hook of the Strada. Stupid!!!!  This has meant that he has just not been fit enough to take us home.  The biggest obstacle being that Theo has heavy duty moorings at both George Is. and Speedwell Is. as they have to hold her in the foulest of weather.  The riding chain is so heavy that I am unable to pull it up.  Christopher was sure he would be able to pull them up but I was certain that it would just aggravate his back even further.  So here we are still in Stanley. Christopher's back is 90% better but there does not look like there is going to be a weather window to get back onto Speedwell until Saturday.  Today we were supposed to be getting the last of our animals for this season of both Speedwell and George on to  Concordia  Bay for the abattoir but this has had to be cancelled.  These animals cannot be moved now until the 7th April which is a bit of a pain but just couldn't be avoided.
Finally for today.  I came across a new blog written by a lady currently living in the Falklands.  An interesting blog well worth a read.  It is interesting to see how we are perceived.  Also interesting to see how we are all clumped together as being adverse to contractors.  I for one realise that there are positions where we need to have contractors. I can't see that ever changing.  We are never going to produce enough doctors, teachers etc.  In time I hope to see my daughter filling a position in her field which is currently predominantly staffed with contract officers.  Not because she is a Falkland Islander and has priority over jobs (or because I don't like contractors) but because she is qualified to do the job.  Tiphanie left the islands at 16 to spend 2 years at college, followed by 3 years at university.  She then returned home for a year to gain experience working in her field as a marine biologist. On completion of  her year she returned to university to complete a  master degree.  Tiphanie has not had to be encouraged to come home.  She made her career decision at the age of 16 in a field where she knew there was a lack of locally qualified individuals.  It is not true to say just because you are a Falkland Islander you get first dibs at all the jobs.  You have to have the qualifications required to fulfill the criteria of the job and if we have individuals with the qualifications and experience required for a specific job then yes I think we should be employing them.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Eliza Providence Durie

Was Eliza Providence Durie who was born on Speedwell Island after being ship wrecked on the island from the ship the Isabella in February 1812 the first baby to be born in the Falklands?

Friday, March 9, 2012

A super fast turn around

Back on Speedwell.  Started drafting on George Island at 7:30 am and had the job done and dusted by 2 pm.  The sheep were rather manic.  The first draft was a 3 way draft. Wether lambs, cast and odds to the left.  Flock ewes under the age of 7 straight ahead and ewe lambs to the right.   At the end of the first draft we counted the ewe lambs and turned them out.  For the second draft we brought the ewes under the age of 7 back around and did a two way draft taking shearling ewes of to the right, these are the replacement ewes going into the breeding flock to replace this years cast, the 7 year olds.  This was to get a count of the remaining flock ewes and to also get a count of the shearling ewes to make sure we have enough ewes under the age of 7 to make up the breeding flock of  1,150.  Very pleased that we do have enough so we will not have to run any aged ewes on George Island.  The flock ewes and the shearlings were then turned back out to their camp.  The third draft was a three way draft.  Wether lambs for the abattoir to the right, cast ewes for the abattoir straight ahead and cast ewes to make up the Barren flock and odds to the left. Then the wether lambs were counted out.  The fourth draft was a two way draft to take of the cast for the Barren flock which just left us with cast ewes too poor for the abattoir, about 12, wether lambs not fat enough for the abattoir, about 8.  If there were any amount of wether lambs not fit for the abattoir we would normally take them up to Speedwell to over winter but such a small amount will be left on George.  The 12 cast ewes not fit for the abattoir will be used up over the winter as dogs meat.  Now we have done the stock take we can book the wether lambs and cast ewes into the abattoir to go as soon as possible.
It was a good days drafting the sheep rattled through the pens.  One was so enthusiastic it came thundering up the race,took a giant leap to clear the drafting gates rather then go through them and heads collided as it caught Christopher just above his eye and knocked him clean off the gates.


I have just noticed when I glanced at my profile that it says I live in the Falkland Islands then in brackets (Island Malvinas).  I would never, ever put that.  How has it got there!!!!! It will be changed.

George Island

Christopher and I came down to George Island yesterday morning.  For the first time this season I put my padded trousers on the boat in anticipation of being cold but for so late in the summer it was a lovely day and even out on the sea it was pleasantly warm.  I spent the majority of the trip sitting outside on one of the large buoys which wedges nicely between the wheelhouse and the bulwarks making a nice comfy slightly bouncy seat.  I was hoping I might see the Sei whales as I had seen them coming down through Eagle passage when I looked out the window at Speedwell a couple of days ago but they were no where to be seen.  The lack of whales from made up for by large numbers of cormorants, albatross and giant petrels.
We are running on a bit of a tight schedule at the moment and have came down to George to do our annual animal stock take and sort the number of animals available to go to the abattoir.  We need to draft all the sheep on the island to take of  the cast ewes, these are all the ewes that have now reached 7 years old.  We also need to go through all the lambs, we will keep 300 of the very best ewe lambs as replacement for the flock.  All the remaining lambs will go to the abattoir before the end of the month, condition permitting as will the 7 year old ewes again condition permitting.  We arrived here just after 2pm had a quick snack and Christopher went straight out on his bike to do the first gather.  These sheep are already home and in the pens and he is away on his second.  I have been unable to go because the Mitsubishi has a puncture.  The schedule is a bit tight because we have the rest of this seasons animals going from Speedwell on Tuesday so we have to get back there in time to gather two camps in and brand and de-tag those animals.  Even after Tuesday the schedule still stays tight as we are going to the ram sale at Saladero on Friday. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's been a year!!!!

Its just over a year since I started my blog.  I'm not sure why I actually started it, I think I was bored and looking for something to do.  Why a blog, I'm not sure, I can't even keep a diary.  Several times over the year I have thought of giving it up.  Then someone would leave a comment or I would be in Stanley and I would meet someone who would say its time you updated your blog.  So here I am a year later  with 25 followers, yes 25, and 81 followers through Twitter.  In a way it has become a useful tool for me and I guess in some respects it has become the diary that in 24 years I never managed to keep.  Can I keep it going another year we will see.
Its also a year since we employed Shaun.  Looking back I don't think we ever made a conscious decision to employ Shaun.  It was more the other way around, Shaun decided that he was coming home to work.  I was unsure if we could truly afford to employ him.  A year later the results are out and yes we can afford to employ him.  It has been a great decision, he is hard working, conscientious and reliable.  With the outbreak of the fire again on George Island he has found himself in the position of having to gather and bring sheep in from the large camps on Speedwell by himself .  Him and Bex with the aid of Christopher's most experienced dog Elle have risen to the challenge.  Sometimes it has taken two attempts to complete the challenge but he always gets there in the end.  Him and Tanya are now in Stanley for a couple of weeks because it is squidding season.  It was agreed when we employed him that he would still be able to go squidding.  This takes him away for about a month in March and then about a month in August.  The March one is a bit of a pain as we are still busy but it is good money and allows him to boost his income considerably.
Last but not least Tiphanie is back in Stanley.  She went out observing on a vessel in the fishing fleet  for what she thought was a two week stint and eventually got back into Stanley seven weeks later.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Treasure + gardens

Yesterday Christopher and I went for a spin down to New Town Providence looking for treasure of the Isabella.  Her cargo included wine, seal skins and mother of pearl.  We had never looked for the mother of pearl before but Shaun and Tanya had been down to the site the week before and found some which prompted us to go and look.  It was a sunny  day and within minutes of stepping onto the stony beach I saw something glistening in the sun.  My first piece of mother of pearl.  Within half and hour we had probably found about 20 pieces between us.  Not bad since the ship was wrecked 200 years ago this year.  I also found another two pieces of blue patterned pottery.

Mother of Pearl
More of the blue patterned pottery
In the garden the potatoes are starting to die off ready for digging.  It has been very frustrating with the Robins digging down and taking so many of the potatoes that some roots are literally empty when you dig them up.  Christopher came to the decision that although they had not died off it would be better to dig them early then keep on losing them to the birds.  It appears that although this has stopped the Robins having them the skins are still too delicate and in places where it has rubbed off the potatoes are going soft.  It seems to be a non win situation.  On a more positive side the potatoes that are still in the garden are a good size and are yielding fairly well.  Any suggestions on deterring the Robins would be greatly appreciated.  The situation would not be so bad if they only ate the ones that are showing on the surface but they are literally digging right down to the roots.

One of the potato plots
White turnips, carrots, parsnip, swede, beetroot, onions and  lettuce.
The remains of a Robins feast.