Lismore

 

Yesterday we took ourselves over to a small island off the west coast of Scotland called Lismore which sits between Oban and Mull. Our destination for the day was a small farm called Sailean on the south-west side of the island. At under 80acres, it’s not a big farming unit but the work that they are doing there is starting to get more and more recognition as they are running the farm as a profitable business with no reliance on subsidies.

Gilly, Roger, Fieke and Dan are demonstrating that genuinely managing for the environment first does actually pay off. They use a model called Holistic Management, which put simply is a way of running a business based on environmental, social and economic outcomes. By using what they have around them, they have created a farm rich in biodiversity with happy animals and a place that more and more people want to visit. For us it was great to see the ideas that we have planned in action and working.

It was all so beautiful it’s a story best told in pictures.

Resized P1010742

After a morning inside and a scrummy lunch, we had a look at the veg patch. An impressive display of just how much food you can grow. And everything in here is organic, with no digging and under a blanket of seaweed.

 

Resized P1010744

Resized P1010747

We had a wander round the fields to get an idea of what they looked like. Flower rich, herb rich, grass rich wonderfulness. This has undergone a period of restoration grazing to get it back to this with no reseeding, fertilisers, herbicides, insecticides, nothing!

Resized P1010749

In fact it was so wonderful we decided to test it. Shoes off, socks off and off we went. It was the softest, spongiest grassland we’d ever walked on

 

Resized P1010752

We then, literally, had a good root around. Beneath the grass was a thick matt of roots before the soil. It is so important in good grassland management to avoid any patches of bare earth.

 

Resized P1010754

Just to prove how beautiful it is….

 

Resized P1010762

And here are the cows. A bunch of very chilled Highlanders (with a wee Aberdeen Angus cross) happily munching away. They graze their animals in small paddocks which they divide up using electric fencing. Each day the cows go to a new paddock so that they get fresh grass and don’t take too much or too little from the areas they are in. Takes about 45minutes to move them daily – job done.

 

Resized P1010765

This is a chicken tractor! The chickens are also moved around, grazing on paddocks where the cows have already been. They help to break up the cow pats and fertilise the ground with their own poos.

 

Resized P1010785

No strimmers round here. The team make a point of taking out a scythe with them. That way they can quickly cut back rushes, thistles etc to prevent them from spreading. They also use the scythe to cut the grass under the electric fencing – just a 5 minute job.

 

Resized P1010789

And this is an incredibly impressive piece of kit. A simple ram pump in a stream fed by a small pond a few meters higher. This can pump water to nearly all parts of the farm, with the exception of the much higher hill ground. Roger built this himself at impressively low cost.

 

The link below takes you to their website. Definitely worth a look for more information and a good idea of how a Lynbreck version might look in years to come. Exciting times for us

https://www.lismoregrassfedbeefandlamb.co.uk/

Oh, and we can vouch that the beef is deeeeelicious!

Advertisements

Busy Bees

Yesterday we had a day away to attend a course on Beekeeping run by Highland Bee Supplies. We’ve been planning to get some bees from the outset so it was good to finally spend some time learning more about what we are letting ourselves in for.

IMG_3758

It’s important to look the part

After a morning in the classroom learning about all things bee related, we were kitted up and had a short session learning about the bits and bobs we would need for our bees.

 

IMG_3768

So many different hives to choose from! We’re definitely going for some of the pretty wooden ones

 

Then we took a dander down to the hives. Despite being rudely disturbed to be poked and prodded by eager students, the bees were remarkably calm and very nice to us.

IMG_3769

Bees beware….

 

IMG_3771

This is the moment when you know the bees are about to come out and you’re thinking ‘Stay calm, Stay calm’ Gulp…

 

IMG_3775

And here they are. A very civilized group

 

IMG_3776

There’s probably a few thousand bees on that frame

 

We learnt lots yesterday but one of the things that stuck the most is how important beekeeping is. With a loss of habitat, spread of disease and impact of insecticide spraying, feral honey bee populations can’t survive so it’s up to beekeepers to keep things going.

After the day we were totally buzzing (bad bee joke…) and went away with our sparkly new bee suits. We’ll have 2 nuclei of bees coming next Spring to get us started and that can’t bee (……) soon enough as we have lots of work we need them to do. Our bees will play a key role in helping us to restore our grasslands and woodlands. By spreading pollen they will help plants to reproduce and therefore spread in abundance. Oh and of course, all being well, they’ll be making us some honey which we’ll extract, bottle and sell from the croft. Yummy! Beerilliant…..