Home Farm Coral Reef
For as long as we have been running Home Farm Bed and Breakfast our guest lounge has housed a living reef aquarium, giving our guests the opportunity to glimpse a view of life on a tropical coral reef.
Almost without exception the coral reef becomes a major topic of discussion with our guests and a magnet for smart phone videos and cameras. Such has been the level of interest in the aquarium over the years we thought it might be interesting to share a little knowledge of its workings and occupants for those interested in such things.
The aquarium itself measures 6’ x 30” x 24” and contains approximately 1,000 litres of saltwater, yes we know this is mixing old money with new but this is how we think of its size. Its weight? Quite a lot. People frequently ask the same questions. It must take ages to maintain? Where do you get the seawater? And is everything in it alive? Guests frequently envisage numerous trips to the coast, returning with endless buckets of salt-water, but the truth is artificial sea salt is readily available which can be easily mixed with purified tap water to the correct salinity.
Heating and lighting are controlled by thermostatically controlled heaters and the lighting units are designed to mimic the tropical sun and day length. Yes, all the corals, anemones and clams are alive and need a constant flow of water over their surface. Numerous pumps bring them fresh nutrients and take away waste materials.
The water chemistry and nutrient/waste balance in the tank are managed by what is termed “living rock”. The rockwork in the aquarium is highly porous and this provides a home for the countless millions of bacteria that breakdown the organic waste in much the same way as a sewage plant (minus the smell). The object of all of the above is to maintain an environment that would be found in a large coral reef in the open ocean.
The aquarium is host to just over a dozen species of fish from the many tropical Pacific, with a couple from the tropical Atlantic Caribbean region. Two clownfish, which everyone invariably call ‘nemos’ have set up home in the large sea anemone, which has pride of place in the centre of the tank. Three species of angel fish from regions as wide apart as Hawaii and the Red Sea, graze peacefully on the algae covering the rocks. A large surgeon fish can also be seen, so called because its tail houses two retractable needles that can be used should a fight ensue. Two of the most commented on ‘invertebrates; on display are our clams which contrary to popular opinion will not eat either you or the fish.
The fish prove an endless source of entertainment for all our visitors and hopefully will provide them with memories and inspiration to try their hand at a fascinating hobby.
2016 sees the launch of the North Coast 500 route around the north west coast of Scotland. With more than 500 miles of beautiful Scottish scenery this route is becoming the must do route of the year.The route runs in a circular fashiion from and to Inverness the Highlands capital, making its way up the west coast and back via the rugged north coast (or visa versa)
The North Coast 500 is a haven of adventure, there is so much to see and do, check out the Bottlenosed dolphins at Chanonry Point, climb a mountain (or two), taste the local produce, relax on a beach, there is something for everyone to do.
Home Farm is at the begining and the end of the route, with lots to do in our area alone, Loch Ness, Glen Affric, Glen Strathfarrar, Strath Conon, Castles galore, and don't forget to take a tour and a dram at Glen Ord our local distillery. With so much to see and do 1 night will not be enough. So come visit us for a few days, stay awhile let us look after you point you in the right direction and help you have a peaceful, relaxing holiday.
International travelers and locals alike have welcomed the news that British Airways are to re-introduce flights from London Heathrow to Inverness, starting May 2016. The Highland capital has long been a a key destination for overseas visitors and this new route will make rreaching popular areas such as Loch Ness and the Cairngorms that much easier. Flights are dus to start 3rd May and will run all year round.
Written by Stewart Rae
Eyes to the Skies is the name of our Red Kite viewing centre, situated at Tollie Farm approximately ten minutes drive from Home Farm. The centre is a joint venture between Brahan Estate and the RSPB and was first established in 2009. Red Kites were re-introduced to the Black Isle in 1989 with the first birds breeding in 1992. The population grew sreadily for the first seven years until 1999 and although there is enough food and habitat available to the birds, insufficient numbers are surviving to breeding age. The centre aims to increase awareness of the birds to both visitors and locals.
Red Kites are one of our most beautiful birds of prey, with a wingspan of almost six feet. Their plumage is a striking contrast of white, black, red and chestnut. It is of course their distinctively forked chestnut/red tail that gives the birds their name. The centre is an excellent place to observe these birds feeding and flying at close range. Visitors can watch their acrobatic flight routines as they swoop and glide over the feeding station. Take your camera and binoculars to make the most of your visit.
The visitor centre is open seven days a week, with the birds being fed at 2.30pm during the summer months. A visit is highly recommended.
Written by Dave Garrett
Four of us set out on one of our usual early starts, around 11.30, which taking into account the previous nights late BBQ, was indeed an early start. This time we were bound for the West coast and sunny Isle of Gruinard (a.k.a. Anthrax island) Sunny? - at least according to Stew's ledgendary weather forecasting skills. He also predicted a travel time of 1 hour 15 mins and when pressed he informed us the sun would arrive at 13.30. Exactly one hour and fifteen minutes later we were looking across the water to Gruinard and, a short while later, 13.30 to be precise, the sun came out, is there no end to this man's talents. We pulled up in a lay-by opposite the island in the hope of spotting a white tailed sea eagle. During the next half hour we had seen not one but a pair of sea eagles plus a chick. We also saw one of the adults attempting to snatch a gull from the sea but a small army of gulls, aided by a heron, drove the eagle back to the island, a meal opportunity gone. For good measure we also saw a large number of black throated divers plus Gannets diving at full speed into the sea, with considerably more sucess than the eagle. Sue showed her skills on the trip with photos as diverse as a Highland cow and a shrew - but I am not sure she knew which was which. We carried onto the beach at Mellon Udrigle with the sole intent of causing serious damage to the picnic the girls had produced, not quite Egon Ronay, but not bad for experienced amateurs. The beach has beautiful white sands and an ever changing collection of rock art built from the flat stones that abound, crocodiles and dinosaurs were the order of the day, along with numerous precariously balanced rock piles - great fun for very elderly kids! We finished our wildlife adventure with some good views of seals quite close to the beach. Finally it was back to Home Farm for evening refreshments. The road home gave us a further and somewhat surreal view of the stunning landscape - the An Teallach ridge floating in the mist.
Must go now as the amateur picnic supremos have just read this blog.
Written by Susan Rae 20th February 2013
Tuesday 19th February dawns a wonderful spring day in the Highlands, cold but very sunny. Birds are singing their hearts out, who could ask for more.
Decided to play truant and take a trip to Dunrobin Castle to see the snowdrops, we had a lovely time, hardly anyone else in the Castle grounds. Managed to take some photos, hope you like them. festival runs every year at this time, there is no charge to enter the gardens. The castle is closed but this just ensures that you spend lots of time looking at the snowdrops, so if you get the chance, go take a look.
Written by Stewart Rae 6th July 2011
Sunday 3rd July As the sun was shinning this morning and all our guests were staying over for at least another night, we decided to treat ourselves to some gentle (or not so gentle) hill-walking. For those of you not in the know a 'corbett' is a mountain over 2,500ft with a drop of 500ft all round. Nearby Strathconon has several, but we decided to tackle just one, namely "Meallan nan Uan" (Gaelic for little round hills of the lambs). Well it was a sweaty pull up the steep heathery slopes and a little boggy in places, but at last we were rewarded by some wonderful views from the east and west. Strathconon itself looked languid in the warm afternoon sunshine and we watched a group of young stags take shelter under a clump of alders. Near the summit we were treated to a good sighting of a Golden Eagle that took flight as we clambered up the ridge. Several hours later we arrived back at Home Farm rather tired(!!) but well satisfied.
Home Farm is the ideal base for a few days quiet exploration. There are lots of places to visit and things to do, all within easy travelling distance of our front door.
Home Farm Bed and Breakfast
Muir of Ord
+44 1463 871779
+44 7710 112485