As bright yellow daffodils of all varieties give way to the deep purples and blues of bluebells and harebells, spring has certainly taken over here on Islay.

Even the Happy Farmer seems to be bouncing along with an added spring in his step.

In the village of Keills a few weeks back and his bouncing ‘spring’ steps led to a spectacular line dance. An impromptu performance as more men stopped their vehicles to join the Happy Farmer in the ‘Electric Slide’, as with arms stretched out wide, he could be seen galloping to the left and to the right. Shimmying across the main road.

Apparently, this was not dance steps he was shouting out though, and line dancing was not meant to be part of the proceedings. Far from choreographing some fantastic new dance routine across the village, the spectacle was in fact triggered by a runaway sheep.

She skipped from garden to garden, sashaying her way through the village as the Lifeboat Coxswain, the Happy Farmer, and a few more volunteers, indulged in a merry jig called ‘Catch that sheep’.

They did their best to try and navigate the sheep back into the Happy Farmer’s arms. The sheep was having none of it.

In true sheep fashion, she was bleatantly ignoring the dancing men, enjoying giving them the complete run around. Eventually, they did manage to steer her into a neighbouring farmer’s fank, finally re-uniting her with the Happy Farmer as she was captured behind a gate, before being escorted home in the rather plush surroundings of a local builder’s van.

I wonder if the builder has noticed there was an intruder in the back of his neat van? A few small sheep offerings perhaps, left as a donation, a token of appreciation for her lift back to Persabus?

The Happy Farmer has since delivered the van back to its owner, who is hopefully none the wiser. That, or a few more drams might be called for by way of thanks next time they meet up.

The Happy Farmer’s ‘Porch project’ has seen the last nail was finally hammered into the wall, securing a strip of pine, displaying a neat set of sturdy coat hooks. Old brass coat hooks with a story to tell.

Rooted and repurposed from the depths of the shed, these hooks were salvaged by my late father-in-law when the remains and remnants of the original Keills Primary School building were abandoned in an old quarry on the farm.

Coat hooks that have lain for decades, in among the last of the ‘Old Boy’s treasures’, from the days when my late father-in-law farmed the land. School coat hooks on which many generations of Keills’ families, including the Happy Farmer’s ancestors, would have hung little jackets on before starting school.

A little piece of island life preserved and stored away, many years ago, when a modern new school opened back in 1959, replacing the original stone building. An old school with an open fire for heating and no running water, as supplies were then collected by the school children from the well at Keills, and latterly the water tank on the farm.

Coat hooks now restored and ready for use.

It is a work 'in progress', reminding the Happy Farmer of their presence and purpose. Jackets and fleeces appear to still be struggling to find their way onto those hooks.

Instead, I keep finding those jackets ‘hung up’ in a pile, or strewn across the Wellington boots and waterproof trousers, that are handily placed in the middle of the new tiled floor, forming a mini obstacle course, for anyone entering or leaving.

The new porch houses a little collection of ‘bygone-treasures’. There’s an old heavy wooden chest, from the mid-1880s. Another family heirloom, from generations back, now providing a handy seat and store.

Beside the door, there’s the old wooden butter churn – although I don’t think we will be making butter in it anytime soon. The final touches will be little name tags of the late characters from a bygone era of those old school classroom days at Keills.

The porch then, that began as a few sheets of plywood, as the frame was constructed in the shed, now has a good nod to the past, the present, and the future. A fantastic buffer to the winter storms and gale force winds that blow straight off the sea, battering the old stone farmhouse, now leave not even a whisper of a draught.

A porch for hearty welcomes and gatherings, and hopefully here for a few generations to come, long outliving our time at Persabus.

The new build brings offerings of a little peace among the ranks, as the necessary ‘porch nagging’ from the Happy Farmer’s wife has simmered down, with the promise that it might even draw to a halt, once the Happy Farmer stops seeing those hooks as a monument to the past and finally learns to hang a coat or two on them.

Out in the fields and with lambing in full swing, even Tiggy, the flat-coated retriever’s nose has had to be diverted from the delicious offerings of the Persabus 'maternity wing'.

Having a newly acquired talent for rolling herself in anything offering a hint of a pungent scent, dog walks for the interim are now involving circumnavigating the ploughed field which will soon be sown with barley.

But these rambles around those ploughed furrows brought me to a new discovery. Thirty or so years of Persabus living and I finally discovered the old Keills cross shaft, which was standing on top of a low stony mound, dating back to the 14th or 15th century.

It is something I knew of, but had never discovered before, as it lay hidden for years in the depths of the nettles and brambles. It is thought the cross once stood at the junction of the old drovers’ route leading to Finlaggan and Ballygrant.

An old stone dyke marks the boundary between Keills and Persabus, and now the surrounding site has been beautifully restored by Iain McNeill. His garden backs onto the ancient site.

In his spare time, he has taken it upon himself to carefully build a beautiful traditional drystone dyke around the mound and the cross. With the grass kept neatly clipped, the site will hopefully now be preserved for the generations to come.

In the fields, the Happy Farmer has young helpers at hand. The Keills school children are excitedly working alongside the SNH to develop a site on the farm to attract the corncrake back to Persabus once again.

If you happen to hear the rich crex crex of a corncrake ... send them our way.