The Glengorm Goodlife

Back to the new normal!

We have now been back to business for a while, and the lockdown period has been relegated to the dim and distant past. Life has been hectic and I haven’t found the time recently to post anything!

Our self catering re opened on the 3rd July. This date came pretty quickly, as the hospitality industry was set to open on the 18th July, but they brought forward the date of the self catering. We rallied to the challenge and wanted to get our business back up and running as soon as we could.

It was nice to have a soft opening, and as our self catering wasn’t fully booked from the 3rd, we enjoyed letting guests back into Glengorm gently.

Dunara cottage

During the whole of the lockdown period, I was not keen to clean the main part of the castle. I kept it tidy but did not relish the prospect of dusting and hoovering until we were opening. Through lockdown, we managed to catch up with our redecorating work and some repairs, in the main bed and breakfast rooms and the Tower room apartment. It was not going to be a quick task getting the house reopened but with the help of Asha and Jodie we would get there.

We finally managed the get the majority of the Tower rooms wallpapered , and the results have been greatly admired.

The bed and breakfast opened on the 18th July. We had lost the majority of our bookings, but it didn’t take us long to fill back up again. Our cleaning regime has changed, disinfecting is the new way forward. Whilst we have tried to maintain the experience guests have here, it is all accompanied but some disinfectant wipes or hand sanitiser!

All of guests have been great. They have been very happy to comply with our requests and we have kept them all informed about what we are up to. We are fortunate that the Castle is large as social distancing is easier and it never feels too busy. The only main difference in staying here is at breakfast time, we have to stagger bookings and our buffet selection is sightly different.

For a while we have been trying to improve our signage to Glengorm. We have upgraded to purple, and we are all delighted with this new look.

Glengorm has remained busy all year, there has always been something going on. The farm quietens down a bit at the end of lambing, calving and clipping. Animals have been moved about just now and we have a selection of cows and calves grazing the roadside on the way up to the Castle. its a great opportunity for guests to get up close and personnel to the animals, but sometimes they get in the way!

The Coffee shop opened on the 6th July for outside seating and inside from the 15th July. Gail has been having a busy time since and is open day,y between 10 am and 5 pm.

The Gardens are also open and are operating an honesty box for purchases, and like ourselves, Sarah can be found at the producers markets in Tobermory on Mondays.

Its great to be open again. Being able to offer people a holiday has been great as we have such a higher proportion of domestic tourists this year. We have been having a good share of tourists from the continent, but this may change with lockdown restrictions changing frequently.

It would be lovely to be able to get to the end of the season without another lockdown, but whatever life chucks at us these days we have to just accept and get on with it. We are enjoying being busy and hope this will continue.

Hogs, tups and bullocks

Rhoda in action with a Tup

This week at Glengorm saw our hogs and tups getting sheared. They get clipped at this time of year, as their wool is ready for it. They are in better condition than the ewes that have had lambs, and they have an earlier rise in their wool which makes clipping easy. The rise in wool is when it thins out and can pull away from the body of the animal easier to get the clippers in.

Rhoda Munro comes and does ours, and Brough John along this time too. She comes armed with her clipping trailer which makes the job easier. The sheep are fed though the race and line up waiting to get taken out by the shearer and then let loose. The wool then gets passed on to the roller to rob the fleece and pack away in the big wool bags.

Alex rolling and packing

Shearers are paid per sheep they shear, so this process tends to be quite fast. The wool is taken and sold to the wool board and is usually turned into wool products. However this year, there is a 7.3 million tonne surplus of wool so the market has disappeared and unfortunately the wool may end up being burnt this year as it will cost island farms to take it to the mainland to give it away.

About 250 sheep got sheared, mainly blackies, and 14 tups. Of the hogs that got sheared, 10 were kept back for meat, 15 of the best were kept as our elite and will be brought on for showing. All of the others will go over to Mingary to graze until they are ready to go to the tup in November. The rest of our sheep will be sheared in late June, early July. This is called the Milk clip ,as it is all of the ewes which have had lambs. The wool on them is ready to clip later on in the year as they are not in as good a condition and they haven’t had a rise in wool.

Mingary is a 200 acre piece of land that we rent to graze cattle and sheep on. It is just next round the coast from Glengorm but is not that easy for us to get animals to as Mingary estuary and burn get in the way.

Last month, we took our bullocks round there already to graze. It really is quite beautiful . This year, we loaded them up in the pick up and trailer and drove them through the forest tracks. In the past Alex has walked them there, but as the bridge in the forestry land has moved it is now a 5 mile detour, and animals don’t like going over bridges!! They would normally walk through the river, but as the forest has been felled and there is lots of wood, we felt they might be confused.

Using this extra space for grazing allows us to manage our field rotation better and helps us reduce our animal food costs. Highland cattle and blackface sheep are suited well to being outdoors and having wild grazing.

Windows are finished!

last window!

Last night, my six week long project of repainting the windows at Glengorm, came to an end, speedily assisted by the midges.

Tom and I have had another project on the go at the same time and I am now looking forward to have some rest and relaxation for a while.

It has been a pretty epic undertaking, but I am happy to be reminded of my efforts every time I go out of the house.

A grand total of 96 windows have been shown love. 13 were new windows which only requires some mastic and mastic painting. The other 83 needed scraped, sanded, puttied, mastic’d, undercoated, glossed, and finally cleaned. The windows came in all sizes, from one pane to 12 panes and stretched up to 5 floors.

In this period, I have got through, 10 sheets of sandpaper, 4 old bath sheets, 2 tubs mastic, 3 tubs putty, 2 tubes silicone, 4 bottles of Mr Muscle window cleaner, 10 litres undercoat, 12 litres gloss, 4 litres white spirit and a good dollop of elbow grease. I have had the same 3 trusty brushes which I have nursed and chopped and changed, as the oil based paint does not like the cold.

My skill set has improved massively, and I have enjoyed this process. I find painting very therapeutic and I haver a bit of a m methodical approach, having the same routine for each one.

I have been wearing old painting clothes for pretty much all this time and have had paint stuck to my body somewhere all the time. My hands had been battered by the elements and all the various window treatments and my phone no longer recognises my thumbprint.

My fear of heights has subsided ever so slightly but I still feel a wee bit sick in the up and down!

Our very nice neighbour loaned us a cherry picker to get started. It was a bit of a beast and took a bit of time to get used to. It weighed 6.5 tonnes and was too heavy to take round to the sea side of the Castle. Mull hire came to the rescue with their cherry picker, much smaller, weighing in at 1.5 tonnes and is on tracks so we managed to drive it round. As a larger lady, this machine didn’t feel as sturdy and had to be manoeuvred carefully to avoid jerky movements. As the weather got colder, I found myself stuck a few times, the choke is on the main part of the machine and can’t be operated from the basket. I have to thanks Tom, Asha and Jodie for being on standby and coming to my rescue on the cold days. Although Tom didn’t actually help me with the windows, he was sterling in collecting and moving cherry pickers, refuelling, collecting paint and keeping me going. A few windows couldn’t be reached by the picker, and the old ladders had to come out.

I am aware that I am a pretty determined person, but my determination was severely tested as I reached the end of the project. There have been 3 windows that I could not physically get to, was I disappointed that the cherry picker didn’t go that high? No I don’t think I was . There are 3 windows in our flat that I have not done, 1 is falling apart and the other 2 are precariously above a glass roof but we will make a plan…

For now, we get to enjoy the sight of these windows all to ourselves. I do hope we will get open again soon for others to enjoy x

Lockdown Updates

Asha with her pet lamb Iona and her son Brian!

Its been all go here at Glengorm.

We have now reached the end of lambing, and we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the last 2 calves.

Lambing has been quick this year. It started early, the end of March and it was pretty much finished after the first turn, 3 weeks later. We refer to it as a turn as when we want the sheep to get pregnant, we put the tup out in the fields with them. He stays out for 3 weeks and then we send out a chaser who will hopefully finish the job and ensure all are pregnant. The success of the first tup out will dictate how quick lambing will be.

During lambing, we lost our share of lambs. We lost a lot with dead ewes which is pretty unusual. Two years ago, we had about 20 pet lambs, this year we didn’t have any. One of the reasons for this is that we are able to twin orphan lambs on to new mothers ,when the mother herself has lost her lamb. The lamb may be born dead, or die young and if this happens we keep the ewe in a pen with her dead lamb. When an orphan lamb comes in to the shed, the dead lamb is skinned and the skin put on the orphan lamb for 24 hours and the mother will happily take on the orphan lamb. Its always better to twin a lamb on than have a pet as pets don’t fare as well in the long run.

Lamb with second skin on
Happily accepted by ts new mum.

As a result of two years ago, we have a few sheep who are very friendly. One is Iona at the top who is half Zwartble and is black, but she has a lovely white lamb. She is very friendly and will eat from your hand. Peaches, another pet lamb, and half Zwartble, had two lambs, one white and black. She is a pet lamb but not as friendly as Iona. Toms favourite is a sheep he calls Pet, she will follow him around the field.

Calving has a much higher success rates, we have not had many casualties. Although calving is not quite over, the bull has gone out to the heifers. Heifers are 3 years old when they go to the bull, and they have a bit longer as they are new to the experience.

Meanwhile, back at the castle, window painting goes on. I am now on window no. 54, and I have 30 plus still to go. I have 2 that I am not going to manage to get to, which niggles me. I was however delighted to wake up to mist and rain this morning so I could have the day off….

I am now on the sea side of the Castle painting. This is different as it does not get the sun until late afternoon and painting in the shade can be pretty cool. We look forward to having guests back to enjoy the very smart looking Castle, but in the meantime we will enjoy the sunsets all to ourselves.