Back from Shetland…

Northlink ferry en route to Shetland

We were in Shetland last week and it was wonderful. It was a pure holiday with Mark; in fact the only woolly things I managed to do involved admiring Shetland lambs and recording the odd baa.

Two Shetland lambs cuddled up close to one another on the grass

This trip was all about making the most of the good weather and getting outside and in the sea and – most importantly of all – about spending time with cherished friends.

John Wm and Mark unsuccessfully fishing off the boat

Felix and Caroline grinning with wet hair after the sea and sauna at St. Ninians Beach

We saw seals and otters… (hard to photograph on an iPhone! You’ll have to zoom in on the first photo to spot the seals and take my word for it that the splashes in the second are otters diving under the water)…

Seals on the rocks - very much disguised by the seaweed

The splash of an otter that's just dived in under the water

…I found a red sea urchin on one beach and a grottie-buckie on another…

sea urchin on the beach - red and orange and spiny!

…we explored the spectacular Hams of Muckle Roe and travelled around Foula aboard The Swan

The Hams of Muckle Roe!

The headland of Foula wreathed in mist

…and in the long summer light on our way home, we saw Fair Isle from the ferry.

Fair Isle as seen from the Northlink Ferry

It was one of my favourite holidays ever!

But on our way back, we learned that a fox had broken in to the chicken pen and killed all our hens while we were away. The chicken wire we securely sewed onto the frame with wire had been worried and bitten loose in one corner. Our amazing neighbours tidied up so we didn’t come home to the horrorshow which was really, really kind and for which we are very grateful. But it’s weird waking up to no chicken songs and I really miss them. I keep looking out of the window expecting to see them – and they’re not there.

I’ve gathered feathers up from the cloud that was left on the ground around the pen and will do something lovely with them… and we have plans to fortify the pen and maybe get more chickens in the future. But Lizzo, Missy and Lauryn were big personalities and can never be replaced.

Two chickens in shot - one is a gingery colour with a lovely red comb; in the background there is a black chicken

a speckled black and white hen and a black hen face one another, their bright red combs aligned

A lovely dark hen - Lizzo - peeks through the chickenwire of her enclosure to the lush green grass beyond

So it’s a weird mix round here just now of THE JOY OF THE BEST HOLIDAY EVER IN SHETLAND and THE SADNESS OF LOSING OUR HENS TO THE INTREPID FOX.

I’ve cleaned up my sea urchin and will show you it later this week.
It must be time to get out my knitting – this feels like a mood that only a return to woolly things can help along.
More soon,

YOURS IN SEASHELLS AND FEATHERS,
Felix x

8 thoughts on “Back from Shetland…

  1. I am so sorry for the lose of your very lovely hens. With everything thank you for sharing the lovely photos of your time in Shetland. I do not think I had any idea that otters blended so well with their surroundings.

    1. Thanks Cheryl x yes – we were amazed at how closely the seals and otters match their rocky shoreline habitats!

  2. I am so sorry to hear about your lovely hens, how sad. I’m pleased that you had a lovely holiday with Mark and hope that picking up your knitting will help to soothe your mind. The Lovely Japonica plant down the road is currently in flower!! Every time I walk past it I look at it and think of you x

    1. Ah thanks Bev x I ended up doing loads of sewing last week which was very helpful. How wonderful to hear about the flowering Japonica, and to think of your glorious knitting inspired by it! What a nice association – friendship, knitting, flowers x

    1. Thank you Tracy <3 Shetland is such a wonderful place, I would say going in May/June you get to see more of the incredible islands and flowers and - of course! - the LAMBS! Just in case you get around to planning a trip x

  3. I’m so sorry a fox got your chickens. My daughter lost several of her pet ducks to a fox two summers ago. She bought a shed that is completely enclosed, and has a door lock that requires human hands to unlock. She has to herd the ducks into the shed before sunset, as she has still lost a duck when she forgot to pen them until after sunset. I hope you can find a solution that will let you keep chickens again. They are smart birds and good friends. I know you will miss yours.

    1. Ah thanks for this and I’m so sorry to hear about your daughters’ ducks – yes, I think the problem we have is that we can’t be here 100% of the time to shut the hens in at night and let them out each morning. We were doing this over the winter, but in the longer days they would stay up for hours and we had gotten a bit lax about shutting them in. It also felt like a big ask of the neighbours to get then to shut them in each night and then let them out each morning while we were away. I think that if we get a future flock, perhaps after we have heavily fortified the enclosure, we will look at using hen hotels if we are going away for longer periods of time. I definitely do miss our hens, they were such characters and I feel bad about going away, and also conflicted about keeping animals that need such vigilant protection.

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