Posted by Mark on Friday, 19 June 2015
Well it looks as summer might finally have arrived, just as well as there is only a couple of days to go until the mid-summer solstice! According to everyone who expresses an opinion on the subject, this is one of the worst starts to summer that they can remember on Orkney. So bad in fact that until recently the grass in the fields was so poor that the farmers could not let their cows out from their winter quarters and the stocks of silage which they fed these cattle on were getting so low that for the first time an early auction sale was arranged for the farmers here to sell the cattle and sheep that thy didn’t think they would have enough food for to farmers further south. Even some of the newly born lambs were having trouble with the unexpected wet and cold weather this year.
Things were looking very grim but finally we are starting to see things improve and to see the cattle being released into the fields. It really is quite a treat seeing these big beasts literally kick their heals up in the air as they are let out into the fields after what must to them, seem a very long winter. A very good Facebook page to follow on the day to day life of an Orkney farm is Orkney lambing, although they have got some stick for saying exactly how farming is, no fluffy wuffy lambs here or considering the animals as pets, they are treated with kindness and care but the final outcome of a farm animal is not hidden. This caring attitude and a real desire to make sure the animals have as good a life as possible.
As you drive around the island the fields that are full of cows with their calves and the odd bull as well. Most of the cattle are ‘serviced’ in the traditional way rather than artificially as is the practice further south. Every evening from the kitchen window we watch the calves chase each other across the field opposite, it is surprising how nibble they can be for such a large animal.
The other Saturday we received two invitations to a meal in the evening which was nice. We could of course only go to one of them, but hopefully the second invite still stands for some time in the future. We had a lovely evening and ending chatting well past midnight. I was the designated driver so when it was time to head home we set out across the island from Evie, it was so light and the road a minor one that at one point for an experiment I drove without my lights on at 1 am in the morning! Obviously this I did only for a short whilst just in case we met someone coming the other way, but it was barely any darker than the official west country term of ‘dimpsey’.
On Wednesday evening we went to a book signing and a free talk at the Kirkwall theatre by the director of the Ness of Brodgar dig, Nick Card. The large theatre was almost full and the talk was very interesting on the various ages of the Ness and its Neolithic buildings. I had already volunteered to help out a couple of half days at the Ness of Brodgar shop run by the Orkney Archaeology Group, so if you would like a knitted hat with ‘NOB’ written across the forehead, please place your orders now!
There is going to be a ‘gathering’ at the Ring of Brodgar on Sunday at about 3am for the Mid Summer Sunrise which if the weather is good we will try and get along to, the last one of these I went to it clouded over so much we all went home early.