Friday, January 27, 2012

Sheep away and a bit of shearing

Concordia Bay came today and took away our first load of sheep of the season.  Today we sent away 539  yearlings and 56 new season lamb.  The stock looks in good condition and we are hopeful for some good results from them.  It is a treat to have Shaun working for us as I didn't have to help mouth the yearling lambs for teeth.  I have never come across a sheep that will willingly open its mouth to have its teeth looked at yet.  I have went into the shed in previous years knowing that there are 900 odd yearlings in there and that everyone has to have it's teeth looked at and in the process of catching it, trying to hold it still and open its mouth  it is going to grind its hoof into my feet. 
So life on Speedwell is still pretty busy.  In the last couple of days Twin Ponds has been gathered and drafted and the majority of  lambs taken off.  They are now weaned and in their own camp.  The Sand Grass has also been gathered, drafted and the lambs weaned.  The Top of Twin Ponds has also been gathered.  The majority of the shearling ewes were in there and they are now in the paddocks ready for shearing.  Shaun and I did a couple of hours this afternoon.  Christopher was away fixing a fence so he only shore for the last half hour.  Hopefully we will finish the shearlings on Sunday.
Yesterday Bremen visited Barren Island again.  It was a lovely day. We were not down at George so we didn't get to met them but the expedition leaders were all there on her first visit in December so we were happy enough with them going ashore by themselves. 
The plan is to leave here on the 30th to go down to George because the Hanseatic is visiting Barren on the 31st.  She has not been to us for several years so Christopher wants to re-new contact with them again.  While we are down there we will finish the shearing on George and also shear the Barren ewes.
We asked FIGAS if they had a plane in the area could they fly over George and look at the fire.  This they did for us.  The pilot said there was very little smoke apart from a patch in the middle that was still burning.  We were aware this piece was still burning but we are pretty confident that it can not get out through the fringe.  Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Buying oil shares and selling wool

Well I am in Stanley for a couple of days.  I have an appointment with the visiting orthopedic specialist to discuss my reoccurring sciatica.  At the moment it is absolutely fine and you would never know that I have a problem.  I can probably guess the outcome, lose weight and take plenty of exercise.
In the last couple of days we have forward sold our 2011/2012 wool clip.  It has been difficult to decide whether to sell or hold on.  Wool is apparently now more expensive then cotton and there are differing views on whether wool will continue to boom or bust.  In the end we felt we had received good offers well above last year and we should sell.  On the new wool market report today some microns had dropped by 20p a kilo so at the moment we feel we have done the right thing.  Our motto is not to grieve if it does continue to rise and be happy with the decision we made.
With confirmed offers on our entire wool clip I gave into Christopher and let him buy  £1,000.00 worth of Borders and Southern oil shares.  He has been wanting to buy more shares for ages but I am pretty cautious with our money and wanted to make sure that financially we were in an okay position before putting more money into a risky business.
On Speedwell Christopher and Shaun  gathered in our old season lamb.  We have 530 ready to go to the abattoir on the 26th/27th.  Unfortunately we had just over 100 that have teeth in wear and can no longer go as old season.  These 100 will now be sold as mutton later in the season, this is a shame because they will bring in a lot less money.   The old season are in very good condition and very well grown. We have also picked out the biggest and best 350 old season ewes as replacement for the ewe flocks.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Heath Robinson turnout

Tractor with new and improved radiator.
I'm not sure why its called a Heath Robinson but that is what we call a botch up job.  Christopher and Shaun have been out firefighting before breakfast every day.  They have been using the Mitsubishi to tow a sleigh with a water container on it but it is too heavy for the vehicle and is going to knacker it completely.  Hence the need for another solution.  The tractor has had a knackered radiator for a long time but was okay for short periods of time but wasn't up to the job of towing the sleigh for any length of time.  Yesterday they decided they would fit a household radiator to it.  Its not ideal and will not work properly like the tractor one but they are hopeful it will do a full days fire fighting today.   Christopher had never looked on line for spares for the tractor because it is so old and obsolete he expected the spares to be horrendously expensive.  Surprise, surprise they are cheap.  New radiator and arms on order tomorrow.

Update on how the Heath Robinson job performed later.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tanya wants fish and Bex

It's very rare but Christopher and Shaun have had the weekend off to get over their weeks fire fighting.  Christopher has something wrong with his shoulder.  It appears to be dis-locating when he lifts his arm but popping back into place by itself.  He woke me up at least 5 times last night moaning in pain.  The last 2 times the moaning  would be followed with a loud crack.  Once it cracked it would be okay until it happened again. We think it is something to do with dragging the hose pipes along with them over his shoulder.

We have been down to check on the fire both days and they have dug out a couple of banks that are smouldering. They intend to spend a couple of hours on it tomorrow tending to a couple of areas that are still hot.  90% of it is now out.

Yesterday we all went out to the new tussac plantation to see how it is looking.  There is an amazing amount of new bogs that have started from seed.  Tussac is supposed to be quite hard to grow from seed but I guess conditions over the last couple of years have been just right.  We also went to look at the Yorkshire fog that was put in last year.  The results of this were variable but it was a trial to see which areas  the Yorkshire fog would grow in.  We will use the information from the trial and put a lot more in this autumn but in a more structured programme.

Today Christopher and I went to look at the Sea Lion pups up at Deception Island.  After dinner we all decided to go fishing as Tanya wanted some fish to eat.  We went down to one of the creeks which up until today did not have a name.  Today we decided to call it Mullet Creek because it always has Mullet in it.  Christopher and Shaun took a net out and in 3 trawls caught 31 kilos of mullet and a few smelt.  The deeper out in the creek they went the bigger the mullet that they caught.
Bex back to full fitness

Today's catch of mullet

The mullet from the third trawl

Shaun getting a piggy back across the creek as he forgot his waders.

Pulling in the net.

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Bex came home with all the dogs on Friday.  She is fully recovered and careering around the green at 90 miles an hour, you would never know that she has had a broken pelvis.

Friday, January 6, 2012


The day before yesterday I decided I should try and change the title of my blog Island Farming in the Falkland Islands.  When I chose the title I didn't realise it was too long and would be automatically shortened.  That wouldn't be so bad but the shortened title is minginthefalklandislands which is easily read as minging, a rather unflattering title which also gives no idea of what the blog is about.  Anyway I did change it and then got Tanya to look for it on her i-pad.  Changing it didn't work, when she found the blog it said it had been removed.  It took me at least half an hour to find the place where I had changed the title and change it back.  I guess I will have to stay as minginthefalklands.
Too hot for comfort

Re-housing of mother/father and 2 chicks.  Its not pretty but they bite hard.
Tanya and I are home alone on the island today.  Christopher and Shaun left at 7am to take the Jeff and Gene over to Flores Harbour.  They then hitched a lift into Stanley with them.  They are now on their way back and we expect them home at about 9:30pm.  It has been a lazy, lazy day.  We have caught up on a bit of washing but other then that we have done nothing.
I have put on the last couple of pictures of the fire for the time being.  These photos were taken by Gene.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fire fighting and wool results

Another day fire fighting for the boys.  A productive day which resulted in the entire fire area now having a fringe that has been extinguished.  There are still hot spots on the edges which will have to be attended to and extinguished and I think Christopher and Shaun will be fire fighting on a small scale for several weeks.  There are now large areas in the centre that are now totally out.  Tomorrow Christopher and Shaun will take Jeff and Gene (not Jed as I have been calling him) and the majority of the equipment back to the mainland.  Christopher and Shaun are going to go into Stanley with them to pick up their vehicles, the dogs and everything else that we had collected up to come out.  They will have to be back tomorrow night because Concordia Bay arrives the next day to take our hog wool away.  We have also had to get another drum of petrol out to run the pump just in case we should need to use it again.  Over the last week we have had 2 pumps in use with 800 metres of hose.  It is thanks to the hard work of everyone that has been involved that the fire is now under control. 
Our plans for the first part of January have now went completely out the window.  The plan for the first two weeks was to finish the crab processing room. Obviously we would be stupid to leave here while there are still hot spots in the fire.  The new plan is to now stay and shear the 300 ewes on Barren and start the ewes on here.  It is a bit early to start here as the ewes still only have 11 months wool on them but that's the way the cookie crumbles.
Gene in the background, Jeff in the foreground.

Rescued but with severely burnt feet.

A rescued baby covered in dust. Now re-housed in a new burrow.
We also got our results for our hog wool on Speedwell back.  Despite my very negative feelings about the weight and the quality of the wool.  It has come back with the cleanest yield ever of 64.7% and 22 micron which is half a micron finer then last year.  It also had a very respectable VM of 0.2   What to do, what to do?  Now to offer it to the buyers and see what they come up with.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Still fire fighting, a lesson on water saving and a visit from Clyde

Another day over and for the men a real hard days fire fighting.  Today was windy with dust so thick that conditions were nearly beyond working in.  Because the conditions were so harsh  they knocked off at 7pm.  The section of the  fire they are now fighting to contain is in very deep peat and home to a fair amount of Jackass.  Although progress is still being made it is very slow.
Having extra people on the island who need baths every night is also putting a strain on our fresh water supply.  Regular readers will know that our fresh water supply is rain water collected of the house and shearing shed roofs.  This is ample when there is just the 2 of us or even four for short periods of time but having 6 in the house is obviously using substantially more water.  Today Tanya decided that she should instruct Jed on toilet flushing.  The toilet is a little temperamental, it has a plunger that you pull up to flush and sometimes it does not fall right down to the base again.  This means that the toilet will keep letting water run into the bowl.  Overnight the supply tank for the toilet had again emptied meaning the water had been running through.  Tanya instructed on the art of using the welding rod which fits conveniently into a hole in the top of the cistern to push the plunger in and stop water being wasted.  A bit embarrassing really but Tanya didn't mind.  I think she would sooner give an embarrassing toilet demo then give up her baths because of a water shortage.
Yesterday when Christopher, Shaun and Tanya went up to Speedwell to get petrol Tanya found a Xmas box and a letter from HMS Clyde.  The letter said that they had been ashore on Speedwell. They had left a gift box with playing cards, fridge magnets and bits and pieces.  The letter had an e-mail address asking that we contact them when we were back home as they would like to do a visit when we were on the island.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January 2rd and 3rd still Fire Fighting

Yesterday was a successful day fire fighting.  The men got a good sized fringe out right the way up the side of the fire nearest to the house.  Although the fire is unable to reach the house I can walk out to the nearest point of it in 10 minutes.  Yesterday I walked up and down the area that is extinguished looking for hot spots and digging them out.  I guess I dug out about 20 small areas that would have broke out again.
Bungy, Christopher & Shaun

Christopher and Shaun
Today our volunteer fire fighters had to go back to Stanley to their jobs.  Jock and Bungy left on FIGAS, they have been fantastic, working from 6:30am to 8:00pm each day. They have been replaced with 2 full time fire fighters, Jed and Jeffrey, they arrived on the plane that Bungy and Jock flew out on.  This afternoon Christopher, Shaun and Tanya are away in Theo to get more petrol for the pumps from Speedwell.  Christopher wanted to get up at stupid o'clock to go and get it but Shaun thought he was too tired and decided they should both go then one could take the boat up and the other bring it back.  They could then both grab an extra hour and a half sleep.  They left at 4:30pm and hope to be back by 8:00pm.  Jed and Jeffrey have continued fire fighting by themselves.  I haven't been out today.  I was so tired I couldn't stir myself to walk out.  The area they are working in now is very deep and rather then just a fringe the whole area needs to be put out otherwise it will just reignite as it burrows in through the peat.  It is a great shame because there is no doubt that most of the areas that have been burnt out will now blow away.  In some areas it was only approx. 6 inches down to the rock and it has burnt right down to it. In the autumn we will try rolling and re-seeding the area but we are not hopeful that we will get any vegetation back.  Some of the fringe has been put out with salt water so that will not help the cause.  It is a case of sacrifice some to save the rest.
Christopher rescued another three penguins today, two on them had singed feathers but they seemed okay.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Fire Fighting

Spent all New Years Day fire fighting.  We were lucky last night and had quite a heavy rain.  It didnt appear to make a lot of difference to the fire but the areas we had put out yesterday were still out.  We didnt get as much done as we had hoped  because one of the pumps kept breaking down but it was still quite a successful day.  A lot of time was spent on the bottom edge of the fire, this area is very close to the tussac plantation and the peat is over three feet deep in areas and the fire was starting to burn down deep into it.   Tomorrow should see some serious progress machinery permitting.
Shaun and Christopher rescused a baby Jackass.  The mother had left the hole but the baby was still in it.  They took him out washed out the hole put the fire out all around it and popped him back in.  He turned out to be a friendly little chap and came back out and stood next to Christophers leg.  I have seen 3 dead Jackass so far.
It has been quite a struggle and we would never have managed without Jock and Bungalow our volunteer firemen.  At least we are not struggling with something the size of Torris Del Paine Natanional Park in Chile. It has six fires in it covering an area of 42 square miles.