Islay - Blog


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Islay - Blog

  • Landscape of Change

    Silage time has come again at Gruinart - we cut late every year, after the 1st August, to allow for the late breeding corncrakes to make full use of the crop as cover for young chicks as well as a safe area to feed.

    This photo from early Monday morning shows the flats of Loch Gruinart before the cutting started later that evening.

    This was taken from Louise's tractor-spotting hide later on Tuesday. The grass is first mown, then picked up with special machinery that fills up trailers, which are driven alongside.

    This was taken yesterday evening, once the harvest had largely finished.  It looks quite yellow at first, but soon returns back to itself.  Soon we will turn the livestock out to graze the flats; this helps the grass to grow back so that in mid-October conditions are perfect for the arrival of 30,000 hungry geese!

  • The Show

    Yesterday was the highlight of the Islay social calendar, the Islay, Jura and Colonsay Agricultural Association's 168th Annual Show, a kind of unofficial public holiday here on the island and traditionally the end of the summer.

    The show is a coming together of farmers, crofters, local businesses, artists, vegetable growers and erm, trapeze artists in a celebration of island culture that mainly manifests itself through the medium of watching cows walk around in a circle. For those that aren't fussed about that, there are dogs and ponies that walk and sometimes run around in a circle too, so something for everyone.

    Anyway, the weather was good to us again this year, and everyone had a smile on their face. Plenty of folks came to see us in our tent, and make badges and masks and feed the owl and fly the hen harrier whilst all the while the boys from the farm teams at Loch Gruinart and The Oa were doing us proud in the show ring. I lost count of how many trophies went our way, but we'll put the details up next week.

    Here's some pictures from the day.

    Mary, Emily, Roisin and Remi hard at work getting the tent set up before the masses arrive. Elton appears to be hard at work getting something else up, but that may be a trick of the camera.

    One of our sturdy beasts from Gruinart farm takes a calf for a walk.

    Team Oa got held up and had to come straight from the laboratory.

  • Hen Harrier Day

    A ringtail hen harrier hunts over one of our bird crop fields at the Oa this week, photographed by Dave. Islay has more than 30 pairs of hen harriers, which puts the current situation in England well into context.