Wednesday saw me having a meeting-tastic day with the design team for the Rum Bunkhouse visiting between boats for the first time since they were the successful tender-er for the contract. As director for Rum Enterprise I went along to be part of the on-island meet and greet panel. It was great to meet with such enthusiastic people, really excited about coming to work here on the island and help us take things forward. I've been to a few meetings like that of late - really credible people visiting Rum who are only to happy to give their advice, support and assist us in making the next wave of great things happen. It is really heart warming to know that we are a bigger community than just the 40 odd people who live here all the time...
After that was a Community Trust Directors meeting, which we had sitting out in the sunshine. Professional and conventional it was not. Productive and meaningful it managed to be just the same.
Thursday was Sheerwater boat trip day and our first dolphin experience of the year. Dolphins have a special significance for our family as for several years it was Star's biggest ambition to see them. We planned several holidays on the basis that they were in places we might see dolphins and spent money on boat trips and dolphin spotting quests to no avail. We did finally see them when we came to the east coast of Scotland and it was a magical and memorable experience. We've since returned to that spot (Chanonry Point) twice more and it will forever be a special place for us but nothing ever quite compares to seeing dolphins with Rum - our island - in the background. This weeks sighting was a pod of 10, all sizes, which played around the boat for ages, bow riding and displaying. I think I will never tire of the wonder that is connecting with these awesome creatures as we get a peek into their environment.
In the afternoon the kids went down to the village to meet up with C, a fellow islander who is up for holding a weekly art club with them. They had a great time and have plans to make a film complete with props and scenery over the coming weeks. Ady and I put up the completed honesty cupboards at the top and bottom gates. They look amazing, I am really pleased with them. And we've already taken money from egg sales at both gates.
I've filled nine of the ten raised beds we built so far. I've sheet mulched them with cardboard and then filled them with the rich pig-processes soil and bedding and have put tatties in two of them which should give us a great green manure and a crop. I have some marrow seeds germinating in the polytunnel ready to do the same job in a couple more of the beds and maybe some other crops that will do well in that soil to finish off conditioning the ground. One more to fill and all of my tasks for this week will be ticked off.
Today I finally achieved one of my long term aims to create a herb spiral. Herb spirals are fairly standard installations these days but have their origins very firmly rooted in the permaculture movement. They idea is a circle with a raised wall within in the shape of a spiral (clockwise in our northern hemisphere) made of rocks or any other preferably scavanged or recycled / reused building material. A sheet mulch goes down first and the wall is built up with soil to create a 3d structure of raised bed for growing herbs. The idea is that within a fairly small area (mine is about 5 foot across) you create lots of growing space with many microclimates. You have north facing shaded, moist ground, south facing well drained sunny space and everything inbetween catering for the diverse needs of various herbs. The plan is you have the spiral close to your back door so you can nip out for a handful of fresh herbs to add to cooking as you go.
Four bags of compost later mine is looking good and I'm planning to finish it by planting up the various herbs I have ready tomorrow, I have bought in some small pots of herbs which don't grow well from seed, taken cuttings of some more, grown some myself from seed in the polytunnel and have plans to forage a few more from Rum's wild larder this week.
We had distractions today in the shape of various visitors - the Ranger came to call and spent an hour or so with the kids sketching landscapes, then he returned to join us for dinner later. The Friends of Kinloch Castle came up with a bottle of fizz to officially open the community polytunnel and admire all our new livestock which was very lovely. Vikki stayed for a cup of tea and a chat afterwards too, I do love a sociable Sunday :)
Finally we got the compost loo up and running at last. After much logistical planning to get it here at all we discovered it would not actually fit in the static and debated various outside structure options before deciding that the horse box was the best plan. So now it is installed in the horse box, fully set up and in use. This will make a huge difference to us and actually means we can have people to camp on the croft without needing to tell them we have no facilities because now we do!
Hurrah for sunshine, friends, getting things done, new livestock and herb spirals!