As a huge, melty sun rose in the sky, the cat could be heard singing at the kitchen window.

Apparently, the song is called ‘Fosgail an uinneag’(‘open the window’) and the verse continues… ‘And I’ll let you pat me on the back on my way to the breakfast bowl’.

The horses are standing patiently, heads hanging over the low garden fence, waiting for their daily ‘pickings’. Someone must have told them apple crumble was on the dinner menu last night.

Once the bag of goodies was duly delivered, they could barely stop to speak as they happily munched their way through the peelings and apple cores being gently passed their way.

Bramble, the collie lab cross is at the back door, tucking into a bit of leftover roast, and so the feeding rounds begin.

Days of grey ‘smirr’ have given way to crisp cold sunshiny mornings, giving the whole clan on the farm a much-needed lift. Even the Happy Farmer has a spring in his step, lifting that gait, curing that aching ‘chassis’.

A few weeks ago, he was left with a sore ‘spring hanger’. I do miss old Hughie, the farmer from along the road, but the ‘Hughie-isms’ live on and provide an endless source of entertainment. Hughie had a knack of capturing the aches and pains of everyday life so perfectly with his rich vocabulary and that soft Islay lilt to his voice.

I often wonder what old Hughie would think of the new developments that have evolved long since his passing. The old farmhouse he had grown up in had burnt down long ago and Hughie, had moved across the single-track road to a more modern bungalow, beside the loch, in among the old farm steadings.

It may have been a newer build, but once you stepped across the threshold, it was very much a working farmhouse kitchen. A place for gatherings, as dripping was spread onto thick white bread and served up with mugs of sugary tea and milk.

Today across the winding single track road, just to the left of what was once the farmhouse, stands Islay’s newest distillery, Ardnahoe. What would old Hughie have made of the sleek modern building with its large car parks, its pagoda-like ventilators stretching into the skies?

His quiet hill farm, in a remote rural spot, suddenly getting swept up in an exciting new venture that would see guests from far flung corners of the world making the pilgrimage to visit.

Carefully thought out and skilfully designed, Ardnahoe Distillery blends into the landscape, is hidden from the road and offers the most spectacular views across the Sound of Islay out to the rugged and beautiful west coast of Jura, the Paps rising high above. It attracts a lot of foot fall and has provided a lovely setting for great coffee and lunches, as well as the draw of whisky tours and tastings.

Fraser Hughes, the manager at Ardnahoe, drew the first ever dram of Ardnahoe Single Malt Scotch whisky at midnight on November 8, as, after a three-year wait, a cask of the oldest of the distillery’s spirit matured into whisky.

Old Hughie would certainly have enjoyed that and would have had a tale or two to add to the story of Ardnahoe’s whisky journey. A journey that began way back as the base of the original old copper ‘illicit’ still from Ardnahoe still wobbles precariously, like a weeble, across the old wooden floors of our farmhouse.

It was a present from Hughie to my late mother-in-law and doubled for years as a plant pot in the sitting room. Another piece that, had I got my way in those early days, would have been heading for the ‘skip’. That round-based heavy copper pot and I had many a ‘falling out’ over the years. Now it stands, a little piece in the history of Islay’s whisky heritage.

Little did the Happy Farmer know, that when he embarked on his building and diversification projects on the farm, the whisky peat fires were also getting fuelled and stoked and whisky connoisseurs’ thirst for our little island’s malts was growing at a rate of knots.

Other adventures and journeys were unfolding in tandem, as in December, 2000, Mark Reynier, along with partners, finally achieved his dream of acquiring Bruichladdich Distillery to take it from its mothballed state back into production.

Farmers were whisked along on the journey, taking the story from the grass roots of the barley growing through to whisky production, as Bruichladdich encouraged barley to become a staple crop on the island, turning to local farmers as a celebrated source of the grain for their whisky.

The Happy farmer’s building projects continued. We took up residence in the renovated old farmhouse on a wild and stormy night. Huge claps of thunder, as sheets of fork lightning lit up the dark skies, and I was convinced the old tree in the garden had collapsed through the roof.

It was strange leaving the main farmhouse, scooping up our young family and moving across the yard into what was once the old original farmhouse. A house full of character and charm, with huge oak beams across the kitchen ceiling, and an open fire in the sitting room.

The fire surround restored from the ‘treasures’ in my late father in law’s sheds, had been in the family for many generations. The brass companion set, a gift from old Hughie along the road.

The settling in process did not take long. I was soon in my element with oil-fired heating at the simple click of a button. The large comfortable farmhouse kitchen, with patio doors leading onto a walled garden. The joy of all those modern conveniences woven into the spirit of the original building.

I was soon at home enjoying the luxury of our new space. The Happy Farmer, however, remained unsettled. In his eyes, it was a huge move, going across the yard. He was positively home-sick.

It took him a year, taking the main house back to its bare stone walls, getting the interior gutted, the roof stripped off, giving him the bare shell to pick and point, sheet and plaster. New life was breathed into old wooden doors as they were dipped, removing years of paint and varnish. The staircase and floorboards were sanded and oiled.

The ‘finishings’ are the real stickler, just when the journey is looking almost complete, empty and echoey, as the workers’ tools begin to retreat, it is all of the skirtings, those light fittings, switches, sockets, the facings, all of the niggly little bits, that chew into time. The several coats of paint needed to cover the walls, and then all the certification and inspections.

I did not think I would ever want to leave the beautiful, cosy, old farmhouse I had made my home. I could never imagine the main farmhouse without the draughts and the damp.

There she was, though, pristine and restored. The 1950s tiled fireplaces replaced, encased with huge carved antique wooden mantles with cast-iron fire surrounds. Big empty rooms, the smell of fresh paint and then the final carrot, the newly installed oil-fired heating at the push of a button.

The race to that finishing line saw us move back into the main farmhouse on Christmas Eve. One year’s belongings, along with a baby and a toddler – and one very happy Santa.

We did even manage a tree and decorations, but who knew you could acquire so many ‘necessities’ in just one year of life? Who knew little sticky fingers and our lovable big dopey flat-coated retriever could leave so many patterns across those walls?

Once emptied, the whole building needed repainted, scrubbed from top to bottom, ready for our first paying guests. As we moved out on Christmas Eve, those guests arrived the day after Boxing Day, and so we dipped our toes into farm diversification with our first self-catering cottage at the ready.

Grasping at those seeds of change and growing with them in a positive direction, as with the whisky journey growing, whisky tourism was about to follow as those whisky gods were working their marketing magic.

What would old Hughie think I wonder?

• Rosemary is a farmer's wife from Persabus, on Islay. In her monthly column, she takes readers through the process of acclimatising to island life and making a sustainable future for her family by diversifying the business into tourism by providing holiday accommodation and running a busy pottery.