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On the Croft - July 2021


Whilst the rest of the U.K. has been trying to keep cool amid heatwaves this last month, Shetland (and specifically Fair Isle) clearly didn't get the memo as it's been fog, fog and more fog here, with an average temperature of about 12 degrees C - very un-summer-like weather even for somewhere that rarely gets above 17 degrees C at its hottest.




Oh wait......I forgot......we also got torrential rain too!






Waiting to collect a neighbour from the airstrip - unsurprisingly, the plane was turned around and had to go back to Tingwall as it wasn't safe to land here!




The weather definitely had an impact on my knitting for this month and saw me spending time sitting by my fire, knitting this lovely spencer pattern (essentially thermal underwear!) from the 2016 Shetland Wool Week annual.



I can't complain too much about the weather, however, as it has been great for the vegetable patch - my tatties, spinach and chard have really shot up and I've started getting the first peas on my pea plants; I'm so looking forward to trying them!



All that aside, we did get a few days of 'proper' summer weather so I was able to carry on clipping the sheep - it always amazes me how sun-bleached some of their fleeces get, as you can see here on Amelia's fleece. I think my Shetland rams were glad of their haircuts (with Ruffalo, one of the cats, enjoying the sun too!) and just look at the crimp on Bumble's fleece 😍



Here's proof that I did wear a t-shirt on at least one day in 2021! Although there was plenty of sea fog around, making the isle look very mysterious, this was a really warm day and Nieve and I made the most of it and went for a walk up Ward Hill, the highest point on Fair Isle at approximately 217m/712'. (I shan't share the photo I took of my face when I got halfway down the hill and realised I'd left Nieve's dog lead at the top!)


I've been keeping up my weekly beach cleans and recently found these two treasures in amongst the bruck (rubbish) - part of a ceramic telegraph pole insulator and a roll of birch bark. These wooden scrolls get carried across the seas on the tides and can come from as far afield as Canada! They have several names in Shetland, two being 'Loki's Candles' and 'Wille Gunn's Candles'!


July is also when we do our first hill caa of the year - when we gather the free-roaming hill sheep and bring them down to the crü (enclosure) where we clip them (shear their fleeces), give them a general health-check and dose the lambs to protect them from nasty infestations such as worms and fluke.


In other news the caddy lambs have taken up rock climbing, the days are slowly but surely getting shorter and sunsets are actually visible again, and the damp weather has been encouraging the wild flowers to grow - this is a patch of Sheeps-Bit Scabious (or, as it's known here, Lucky Minnie's Buttons).


I hope July has been a good month for you.


Keep Safe,

Rachel xx


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