Friday, 20 July 2012

Allotment news - more problems

As if the drought wasn't enough, I have now watched most of my lovely brassicas wilt and die due to an infestation of cabbage root fly. I would guess the dry weather has made them a particularly persistent pest this year. Now having read up on the problem, I see a small barrier mat around the stem of each plant is all that is needed to prevent the maggots getting to the roots. So maybe next year I will finally get to eat a cabbage that I have grown myself!

It makes me thankful that we don't depend on the allotment for our food supplies, as would have been the case on Skye many years ago. It was in part due to the failure of potato crops that led to many of the Skye people emigrating to the USA and Australia

At least everything else looks to be doing OK. I am watering most evenings, having to carry water in buckets from the house. The runner beans have recovered from their difficult start, and the biggest of them are beginning to flower. I have dug a few of the first early potatoes, and although they are small (drought again...) at least there will be a crop. They haven't quite got the flavour I was hoping for - maybe try a different variety next year.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Drought on Skye!

Yes, I know... the whole of the UK is suffering the wettest summer since the dinosaurs wandered the planet...

...that'll be the whole of the UK apart from here...!!!

This is what ought to be a peat bog, close to the top of a nearby hill about three weeks ago (but it hasn't rained since)... fact, it hasn't rained on north Skye more than a few spots at a time for about three months. It's yet another of those 'never in living memory' weather conditions. Since we have lived here (just over four years) we've had the coldest winter 'in living memory' and the wettest winter 'in living memory'. Now we are having the longest dry've guessed it... 'in living memory'.

Here's the Hamara River, which flows into Glendale. At least, it usually does. Just now it's only trickling - those exposed rocks would normally be underwater. 

Mostly, we are just making the most of it, and enjoying everyday dry dog-walks and the ability to roam the hills without wet boots. But the lawn is going brown, and I'm struggling to keep up with watering the allotment. I have no outside tap, and my water butt was emptied weeks ago, so I have to carry buckets over from the house every evening. 

So far, our domestic water supply seems to be OK, though the local paper was suggesting that tankers may be needed to support some communities which depend on supplies from burns which have all-but dried up.

Weather these days seems to be all topsy-turvey.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Family visitors to Skye

Today, my sister Sue and her husband John will be heading back south to their home on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon, after a fortnight here on our magical island of Skye. This is their fifth visit since we have lived here, but the first time they have come in the summer. They only booked their visit a few weeks ago, so we were already too busy here at the Barn to accommodate them wish us, so they stayed the first week at our bungalow, Aird View, near Portree, and the second week at Loch View Cottage in Carbost, which is not ours, but is a cottage I manage on behalf of the owner.

Interestingly, Sue stated thoughtfully that she prefers the countryside wearing its golden browns of autumn to the lush green of summer - and also commented, 'Isn't it busy in summer?' Well, I suppose a dozen cars passing by every hour is busy compared with no cars at all the rest of the year!

The weather has been beautiful for the entire period of Sue and John's visit (in great contrast to the weather in most of the rest of the UK...) so we have enjoyed a few outings with them. Here we are in the gardens of Dunvegan Castle...

...and this week, we had an afternoon walk in Glen Brittle Forest, where Cupar had a great time racing about.