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A pound of flesh

My parents are going to Oban for the day. Judging from the frenzied activity going on outside my office one might think they were going for a month.  In fact they are going to Oban for an hour.  The summer ferry service which allows day trippers to spend an afternoon on Colonsay doesn’t work quite so well in reverse.

My Dad has ascended and descended the stairs at least six times.  With each ascension the severity and decibel level of his expletives has grown louder and louder.  My mother and I remain silent.  We have extensive experience in dealing with his grumps and much like Helen’s tantrums they are best ignored.

I am cocooned in the spare room (my office).  I have taken to this room as our own house is simply too small for me to get any work done in.  Helen and Sally have no respect whatsoever for the rules of gainful employment and my need to earn an honest living.  On the odd occasion I have tried to work at the kitchen table Helen climbs onto my knee and tries to press the buttons on the laptop whilst Sally stands under the table repeatedly bumping her head, pulling at my trousers leg and irritating Helen.

I am now in the last week of working my notice for the NHS.  Our original plan had been that I would return to Edinburgh and hospital medicine for five weeks.  Allan and the girls would come with me and enjoy a few weeks of mainland fun whilst I fulfilled my obligations.  Instead my boss came up with a project I could do online.  At first I felt very grateful to him for coming up with a rescue package that would prevent the upheaval of my family.  Of course I was bowled over with gratitude, stressed how hard I would work and enthusiastically agreed to an ambitious project.

He’s a smart man my boss.  Had I returned to the mainland I would have been physically present at work between the hours of 9 and 5 each day.  As I am giving up my medical career I would not have felt under any particular obligation to work hard. Now I don’t’ want you to think that I am some sort of evil, work avoiding, embezzler of tax payer’s money.  I would have carried out my allocated tasks well and with good grace and enthusiasm.  However, I am capable of a lot more than this.  Pre-child (and before I decided that I really did not want to spend the rest of my life looking down a microscope at bits of flesh I had hacked to pieces the day before) I was hardcore.  My boss knew this.  How? Because on more than one occasion he had come into the office at 10pm on a Sunday evening to find me hard at work over my microscope – Rock and roll.  We’ve also had the occasional e-mail conversation at 2am (no no no we’re not talking 50 shades of Grey here).  He knows that if I feel obliged to do something then I will forsake all others and get on with it.  He offered me what seemed like a lifeline and has instead extracted a far greater amount of work from me than I would ever have imagined.  No wonder he’s emperor of pathology or whatever his actual title is – he knows how to extract his pound of flesh.

Meanwhile life on the rock still goes on.  We’ve acquired a duck and 8 ducklings.  We haven’t named them yet though as they are still gender unspecified – I fear at least a few of them will be named Christmas Dinner.  We have also acquired two more hens – Kathleen and Karine in honour of the great musicians.  Allan is engaged in a battle royale with whoever it is who does or doesn’t issue building warrants and we hope to have permission to build our house very soon.  Great all we need now is the money!  Sadly that is all spent.  Allan has been led astray by my father and is now the co-owner of an ancient tractor which my Dad is picking up in Oban today.

Helen is pretty much potty trained now although this doesn’t affect me much as I rarely see my children……apart from Sally who I see several times a night, each night…………she too knows how to extract her pound of flesh.

Oh well, my Dad has found his man-bag and he and my mother have roared round to the pier in their dysfunctional car which sorely needs servicing.  It’s being left in Oban to be mended.  I offered to pick my parents up from the pier this evening but they declined – they will drive back round in the tractor.  It’s only three miles I’m sure they will be home by midnight.  Now the house is quiet I’d better get back to work.

p.s. I’m now on the third of the 50 shades trilogy.  I still don’t want to criticise these books as I’m giving up valuable sleeping time to read them but I must say I do understand now why the average Mills and Boon stops after 180 pages.

Laters…………..

Lambs are like buses

Of necessity this post must be short.  This will be tricky as I am, by nature, verbose and I have imbibed two glasses of cava which will only make me more so…..

Our lambing started two days ago.  When I say that I mean that Monday was the first day that our sheep could have given birth.  Allan, bless his little cotton socks, has been trudging round the croft four times a day since then looking longingly at his sheep and dreaming of lambs.  My father prefers to take a more relaxed attitude to his lambing – his sheep have beenImage lambing for over a month and are showing no signs of stopping.  This morning Allan arrived in for breakfast and announced with joy that our first lamb had been born.  Much rejoicing ensued (well I rejoiced with as much joy as I could considering I had only had 3.5 hours sleep).  Just before lunch he headed off to check the sheep again and to mark the lamb (and possibly do something to its testicles that should not be mentioned on a mainstream blog).  I was in the midst of defrosting some rather questionable soup when he arrived home and announced that the lamb was now one of triplets!  For those of you who are not crofting experts this is not cool.  A single lamb is good, twins is better but triplets are too much for a sheep and are an abomination which should not be allowed.  Allan did the only thing possible and telephoned my dad.

My Dad arrived home from a hard morniings LDO’ing and admitted that in his 30 odd years of farming/crofting he had never actually had triplets.  After much deliberation and hopeful examining of our own and my dads sheep for a possible foster mother it was decided that we would have to take one of the lambs ourselves.  So there you have it.  Our first sheep has lambed and already we have a pet – pretty much the worst possibly outcome.

Sally lamb (named by Helen, she doesn’t know any other baby names) is now residing in Allan’s vegetable garden.  Hopefully she will not do the plants any damage.  The hens have already eaten all of the leaves off of his plum trees. I fear for her.  Allan and I both spent a large amount of time trying to feed her before we realised that you have to cut the end off of the teat to actually make a hole for the milk to flow out of.  I suppose in our favour is the fact that we have managed to keep Helen and Sally alive – they seem a bit more resiliant though.

Today was my first day in the shop.  It was rather overshadowed by events on the croft. I felt extremley guilty on leaving.  Both girls were sitting in their high chairs, covered in food.  I had just realised that Helen’s nappy was leaking.  Sally hadn’t been fed for several hours and Allan was holding a newborn lamb in his arms. Also I had been forced to admit that the soup was in fact beyond question and indeed inedible. When I phoned later to announce that the boat would not be bringing his mother to help Allan uttered these words “I’m going to have to go and put the lamb outside.  It’s keeping Helen awake.” He has a lot to learn as a father.

I would love to continue this and regale you with tales of the shop and further examples of our general unsuitability for the crofting lifestyle but time is wearing on and it’s nearly time to give Sally lamb a bottle.

Above is Sally lamb – less than an hour old.  Allan was holding her for my Dad to spray her cord with iodine.  Sadly my camera can no longer focus properly.  I put it into the pocket of Allan’s jacket and it came into contact with a very questionable substance.  Hopefully I will have more cute photos tomorrow.

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