Friday, 31 October 2014

Stag Bird Feeders

Well, I succeeded in being able to tick one thing off my list of things to do!

It was a very simple make, all the more simple because everything I could possibly need is somewhere on the farm. The difficulty is in knowing the where, but if you search, within time, you shall always find what you seek (unofficial motto of the farm).
Best find ever...

The rosehip mash was interesting. All animals seem to go mad for it, including cats, and, when I was collecting the rosehips yesterday, even my dog was trying to get into the bag for some. None of these animals are eating them, but the smell seems to do something for them. Hopefully the birds will be as attracted to the mash as everything else seems to be!

The make was simple, I made two, and the second is definitely  more accomplished than the first!

1. Collect materials: empty plant pots, narrow squared wire (this will have a technical term, but I don't know what it is!), single strand wire, wire cutters, and string. Oh, and the bird food, in this case, the rosehip mash.

2. Cut a length of wire and bend it in half. Put it through the bottom of the plant pots and bend away from the pot.

3. Cut a square of the fencing net. Cut out the corners to allow the square to bend better and, threading it over the two sticks of wire, bend it into shape over the open end of the plant pot.

4. Remove the net and stuff the plant pot with your mash. Put the net back on, and bend to secure. Voila, you have a feeder!

5. Tie string round the wire at the top and the attach to your stag's antlers.

6. Wait for the birds to come flocking!

7. Thank your helper :)

Creative Projects - Ongoing

Stags head bird feeder, Christmas stocking wool stash buster, owl nesting box and cape of doom...

Ongoing projects are a delight, huh? Sitting there, staring, making me feel guilty when I don't pick them up. But today I shall. I will at least do the stags head bird feeder, as I have the Rosehip mash sitting ready to be eaten. Yesterday I made Rosehip cordial, which is a wonderful source of Vitamin C, and I am going to use the leftovers for bird food.

The stockings are not even started yet, but Christmas is a long time away yet, yeah? No rush....

The owl box has been a long work in progress, but I think just a few more dedicated afternoons would complete it and have it ready for the pigeons to get comfy in over the winter.

The cape is a work in progress. I will write about it properly in another post, I think, but I have been halted due to having to deviate from the instructions in ways I can't quite work out how to do yet. It definitely requires handsewing, but as I'm going to a friend's tonight for a sewing/knitting evening, it might be an ideal project to take. Especially seeing as I've just noticed an error in Anemone and need to take it back a few rounds... Well, I have a family thing coming up in the middle of November and I want to wear the cape to it, so I like having a deadline to work to, and it shall be done!

Now....I just gotta go and work out how to tie a stags head onto a shed.

Have a great day, you all! I leave you with a lovely autumnal view of the waterfalls at the Falls of Clyde.

Sunday, 26 October 2014


I'm going to be honest in this post, and I'm going to use it as an attempt to change the way I've been feeling recently. Along the way, I'm going to insert photos that to me are pure happiness, an attempt at showing that although, for me, it seems like things are not going great, that I've still had some mega times this year. Some of the best times of my life, I think!
The dreamer, Finca la Paz, January
It's been a hard month, really. I started by carrying out my Level 1 Forest School training, which was a huge financial investment for me, but which did not deliver on what it promised at all. I did attend an absolutely magnificent talk by George Monbiot and Alan Watson Featherstone, and it left me feeling more hopeful than I have for a while. I then travelled north and undertook the moss training for Trees for Life. A wonderful weekend, and I returned feeling buoyed up on all the enthusiasm of the participants. Since then it's been a bit of a shocker.
No idea of the mountain, but hey, it was high and I felt MAGNIFICENT!!, Spain, January
There have been some personal stuff that has really thrown me sideways, and it's still left me reeling. I've been really knocked off course, and have just withdrawn into myself. It's interesting, because I think I put on a show a lot of the time - a show that everything is okay, and often it's not, but people don't really always believe me when I try to talk about it. Maybe it's not just me, but a symptom to society. We're all meant to be strong 100% of the time, and stay strong and support others, but not need support ourselves, or maybe it's just me that has that warped view.
At the top of Sgurr Hain with Bla Bheinn in the background, Skye, August
I've come to realise that I need to change. I need to change how I view myself. I've had a couple of mishaps this year - I have deveoped a fear of being belayed down a wall again, no matter how much I love the climbing. I've struggled with fitness, despite achieving more, in those terms, than I ever have before. And due to having an awful job, I've really questioned my abilities in stuff that I always took for granted. Basically this year has made me question a lot.
Drawing peace, Finca la Paz, May
So this is going to change. I'm going to change. My next challenge is a personal one, but one that I need to chart the progress of to stop it from falling to the wayside. I am building a series of plans that will help to build my confidence in all aspects of my life: in my body, in my mind and in my work.

Early morning at Tufty, Anam Cara, September
First off, fitness. Part of my inability to let myself go at the moment is having lost touch with my physical self. I've become a bit of a stranger to myself recently, I think, and I'm pretty unfit, which I hate. I long to swim, to run, to jump, to climb, to cartwheel, but I'm just not trusting my feet at the moment. I've ordered a pilates DVD and will be using that to try and build up inner muscular strength. When you're running on no funds, it's not simple to just start going to classes and things. But, once my confidence builds further (lots of walking for me too. I'm lucky to have the Pentland Hills on my doorstep, and plenty of options for getting out and about, including cycling - oh the wonderful cycling!) I will start to do the things I long to do. I long for water!
Fairy pools at Torrin, Skye, August
Water baby, indeed.
I need to remember that I have done wonderful things. There have been amazing times. Campfires, and songs, dancing - and not of the drunken club sort (though there has been some of that, but amazing Five Rhythms inspired stuff that left me glowing and content), friendships, teaching, learning. Wonderful stuff.
Nairn beach with my brother and sister, September
Creating. I love to create. This year has really been a year that I've come on in skill and dedication. I'm becoming more patient, which is very interesting, and as such I'm finding that if I want to complete a project I will spend the time getting it right. I don't want to change this. I want to keep making and being pleased with my makes. My sister and I made our bridesmaid dresses for our other sisters' wedding, and it was tricky - jersey bamboo, anyone? - but it was wonderful to wear clothes to the wedding that we had created ourselves. Want a look? Unfortunately I don't have a photo with just me in it, well I do, but it only shows my face and shoulders. That will have to do, I guess.
Me and my bridesmaid dress, Newlands Church, West Linton, September
Creating is also a wonderful thing for giving a person something to feel they have achieved. Fickle Sense's wonderful post on sewing and mental health gives an overview on this.
So, while I don't have a permanent job and am battling to improve myself, it's lovely to have something that has no strings attached, that I can just do, do happily, and that leaves me content. I highly recommend crafting if you're in any kind of mental strife!
Me and otter skull, precious find. Islay, May
I am following a type of outdoor teaching at the moment, called Kamana. It's a free course (that I think is meant to tempt you into spending money to do the whole thing, but take what you can from these things, yeah?!) and it's about increasing your connection to the outdoors. I am pretty highly connected, but I like some of the tools, and I am dedicating myself to undertake the whole course over the next 8 days. Intensive and life-changing. Just how I like learning to be!
With a rescued Guillemot, Loch Duich, March
I've also just joined the British Bryological Society. Now, those of you that know me should know how much I love mosses. Those wonderful, tiny, courageous plants that grow everywhere (except in Spain, oh how I missed them!) and that bring hope to my heart. I love the minature beauty and the way time seems to slow when you're studying them. But, for some reason I have always put off joining the society. This is a step for me that shows how I want to proceed. My dream is to build up my knowledge of plants and mosses to be able to carry out National Vegetation Classification (NVC) surveys. Being a member of the BBS means that my knowledge of these plants will be increased through social events and other. It also comes with the benefit of meeting other interested people. That's never a bad thing, right?
Feeling beyond awesome on top of Sgurr na Chiche, Knoydart, September
Sometimes when we have plans they can go array. My intention here is to have a bookmark that I can refer to, and other people can refer to to ensure that my course stays true. I don't know why I have found this year so tough when I have had so many smiles on my face at so many different times. I can't explain that. However, even putting an answer to some of these things means that I have something to fight for and it's bringing the fight back to me. It's hard to always be strong, but now I think I will start to arm myself with the tools that mean that I will be better armed to keep going.
Crossing Loch Nevis at sunset with hand gathered mussels in hand and walking boots round shoulders. The mussels became an important component in one of my best meals ever, and the memory of crossing that freezing sea loch with the sun going down will be a memory that will stay with me forever. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014


Someone once said to me:

Eagles only lend their spirit for a short time. 
Fly before your time is over. 

But recently I've been finding that hard.

I am starting to take the time now to try and find my wings again, to find what was dragging me down, and to try and rise up again. A job which I like could help: every time I work for Trees for Life I come home again lifted up to the sky. I ran a training course recently on Bryophytes of the Caledonian Forest and I was so uplifted by other people's joy and passion that I was definitely flying then. So that shows me that I need to use things that make me happy to get forward. 

And I will, because I am not ready to give those wings back just yet. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Tumbling Water

Is there any place more peaceful that a mountain burn? One that has trees strewn along its steep banks, where they're free from the attentions of the deer. They're plentiful in Scotland, land of tumbling water, and the water is so joyous, no matter the quantities, it's clean, fast, bright and wonderfully noisy.
Singing as it tumbles it quietens our own souls. It finds us peace through the noise of relentless activity.

I've seen several that I love recently, but the ultimate best one is undoubtedly Allt a' Ghille Chruim in Knoydart. We walked a long way over the few days prior to reach the burn, and it was a sign that we were close to our destination for the next two nights. It was fast flowing, but will be faster now, but the trees surrounding the burn were magnificent. After the lack of trees along the path we were walking, for three tree lovers, we might have been starting to feel the strain. Upon reaching the burn we were transported to heaven. The oaks breaking rocks to hold onto the edge, the holly, the rowan, the diversity and the wonderful life was breathtaking and we took our time to replenish our water and catch our breath.

It was a steep gully, which was why there were trees, and it was rock and water, the eternal relationship that makes up so many of our mountainside burns. We're lucky here, water is plentiful, but that does not mean that we should ever take it for granted or forget its majesty. Finding burns like Allt s' Ghille Chruim ensures that we don't.