Sunday 28th October. The Rut and the Rout.

Suddenly the island is dominated by the stags. Their roars seem to emanate from every ridge, headland and valley. During the night they pick-up pace, and the sound of antlers crashing together is almost as common as their vocal threats, declarations and protests.

Stag above Mermaids Bay
Red Deer Stag on Gometra above ‘Mermaid’s’ Bay.

I was awake off-and-on during Friday night, as I managed to tune-out of the general furor, only to be woken again by the odd loud crash and bellow. Whoever the perpetrators were, they seem to have settled their score, because last night there was compete silence. Just now, at 5.15am, one lone stag has started to assert himself with a few intermittent roars, but so far as I can hear nobody’s reciprocating.

We had a very brief flurry of snow yesterday, between spells of glorious sunshine, but places further south apparently had proper snow showers. Katy insisted, against my equal insistence that we’d had our first snow this year, that it was “only sleet”. Youngsters – so pragmatic; so pedantic!

After having collected my firewood during the week (old fence posts left to rot in tangles of wire, which I painstakingly cut away to wrench each post, individually, free) all in the pouring rain, I was able yesterday to saw it up in the sunshine and get it dry. Whilst it dries I had a frenzied few hours of opening the house up to air it, shaking out rugs and blankets, washing and drying small bits and pieces, and airing sleeping bags from the bedroom cupboard that have started to mould.

The full-power indicator light on the battery started to flicker from red to green, so I plugged my devices in one-after-another to get them charged.

Whilst the drying and charging was going on I headed to the cold, dank and shaded rear of the cottage, where a lean-to chicken shed had been until we took it down last month (then reconstructed some of it when we realised that it was Ship-Ahoy’s main home). There are holes in the wall where the wooden beams had rested and rotted, which coincide with damp patches in the kitchen. The damp was brought in by the beams, so now they’ve been removed the wall has had a chance to breathe. In the absence of cement I set-to bunging the holes with polystyrene (a temporary measure) which, I hope, with at least keep the weather out and more warmth in. The heavy cast-iron guttering above where the shed stood is now on the ground, and looks as though it’s been there for years, but it’s going to take a bit of strength to get it back up and keep it there, so that’s a job that needs a proper plan (not to mention some cast iron brackets to replace the ones that have rotted away).

Ship Ahoy
Ship Ahoy still growing his tail feathers

Added to these opportunistic delights, brought on by the good weather, I have Katy at home with me, it being the weekend. She was also motivated to clean and sweep, in large part because she wanted to rehearse her dances on the concrete kitchen floor. After that she gave her ballet shoes a soapy sponge-down. No amount of sweeping will see-away the particles of dust and soot that gather in the surfaces. Nevertheless, it looked pretty good to my eyes by the time we sat down in the evening.And Ship-Ahoy, though in a ragged constitution (between-season feathering), had done well out of Katy, who’d taken breaks from the chores to sit on the step and feed him oats.

We went to bed happy, knowing that (with the switch to GMT) we’d get an extra hour, whenever we chose to claim it, before leaving for school again on Sunday.


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