Listening to: I Don't Want You Now (KT Tunstall)
Weather: Quiet, overcast.
Westray is: a hive of silage-cutting activity
Businessman of the year: orders for four pigs taken already
We have more new arrivals on the croft. Three little black chicks have popped out of their eggs and are cheeping about the hen house.
It came as a bit of a surprise. The hen went broody a few weeks ago and at one stage was sitting on nine eggs. Knowing next to nothing about poultry upkeep we asked around and the general concensus was that six was a good number. So Sal marked half-a-dozen and ditched the rest.
I was sceptical about the whole thing, firmly of the belief that she (the hen, not Sal) should pull herself together and get on with the important business of clucking and pecking around the farm.
Anyway, to cut to the chase, there was a cheeping sound the other day and, sure enough, a totally adorable little ball of black fluff (not yellow - I was surprised too) appeared from under the hen. Two more have arrived since and seem to be doing well, despite the haphazard way we are caring for them. Pic will follow as soon as I can find the lead that connects the phone and computer.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that Sally's Welsh Cob mare Xena has leukaemia and there seems to be little that can be done about it.
Xena was due to come to Orkney this summer. She has been with Sally's daughter Amy - eventing manager at a big yard on the Suffolk-Essex border - for the last year. the plan was she would go to the stallion and come to us in August. That's not going to happen now.
Xena had swelling around her face and failed to respond to treatments for allergies and so on. The vets were mystified until blood tests revealed the worst.
Sal is being incredibly brave, but we're both pretty upset. My relationship with the equine Joan Collins was a little fiery. She always looked at me with the air of vague disappointment Mrs Chamberlain must have had when her only present from Nev's business trip to Munich was a piece of paper.
"But Darling, it promises peace in our time."
"That's no good to me, where are the lederhosen and strudel you promised? Mrs Hitler never has to put up with this."
She (Xena) was particularly keen on biting my backside when I was picking out her hooves - a great laugh, I'm sure you'll agree. I'd respond with a slap on the rump, followed by a quick leap over the stable door to avoid retribution.
After a rocky spell, we eventually got on in a tricky kind of a way and I was actually looking forward to having her here. I like animals to have a character and Xena had that in the bucketful. I'll miss her.