Crunchy Frosty Highlands

This weekend (I apologise to Centinel for not posting yesterday) has been a glorious clear December one, with snow on the higher mountains, frost on the ground and bright sunshine for the chooks to enjoy. To start with the chooks …

Hard frosts have meant that the ground is not giving up much in the way of small beasties for the chooks, so they and the geese have been more dependent than usual on the grain I provide for them. Stocks were getting low on Friday, so I planned to go into the local grain merchant on Saturday morning to get more and get stocked up for the period when I’m away. Bad news therefore to discover the grain merchant did not open on Saturday mornings. However, enough wheat remains to put both the chooks and the geese on low rations today and tomorrow morning. It is important that I get my head together enough tomorrow to ensure that I DO get to the grain merchant for new supplies.

The chooks have really enjoyed the sunshine, which is the first we’ve had for a couple of weeks. They spent several hours under the hedge on the northern boundary of the garden just soaking up the rays. It is very pleasant to see the chooks so content; there’s nothing quite so amusing as seeing a chook lying down zonked out in the warm sun.

The nights have been very hard and frosty and, no doubt, a harbinger of things to come as winter officially comes in with midnight tonight. This has not been enough to put off the more stubborn tree-roosting chooks, and last night there were three chooks fifteen feet up in the air. The worst culprit is the large yellow hen, whom we shall name Sara for reasons which are too random to elucidate in this post (maybe I shall explain the name, if only a good analyst can explain the association, in the future), although there are usually two of the small black chooks accompanying her. The wife is determined to clip their wings when she gets a chance, which I admit is a sensible plan; it isn’t really done to have the chooks taking liberties with the boundaries of their own volition – quite beyond the pale.

Today dawned bright and clear again, with not a cloud in the sky. I set off early in the morning, well, nine-ish, and went off down the coast to walk in the forests looking out over the islands. The light was superb, modelling the shape of the land in great clarity. The views across to the islands were fabulous, and the higher mountains were cloaked in snow above about 1000 feet. There were a number of discrete ranges visible, up to about 45 miles away. The walk was crisp and warm in the sun, but very chilly in the shadow of the hills.

This afternoon I went for a drive to explore the lochs and mountains in the area and took many photographs of Ben Cruachan and the surrounding mountains. As I drove home, I could see a small sombrero of cloud form about its brow, which quickly became denser and darker. The forecast is for a warm front to come in from the north-west tomorrow, so we may soon be back to the usual dreich of cloud, mist and rain which seems to characterise the Highlands in winter.

For those who read these posts for news of egg production, I can inform my readers that two eggs were the dividend today.

Listening to Radio Four’s Food Programme today, which came from the Highlands, I heard the old Highland saying that a hen “always dies in debt”, well so they may if you derive no value from their company and sheer character. Certainly the eggs will never make me rich, but the gold of their yolks is a wealth not vulnerable to the eccentricities of the money markets.

P.S. Funny how the prophets of the free market (America) start to squeal about them when the greenback comes under pressure … Oops, politics in a blog about chooks – whatever next!

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