Hookin Farm, courtesy Orkney Museum & Library Service

the shaft
at Hookin

by wind
for wheat
& corn

to chaff

Hookin Farm, Alistair Peebles, 2011

Papay is the local name for Papa Westray, one of the smaller Orkney islands. I took the hopper plane for a visit in 2011, along with my Orcadian pal Alistair Peebles; we went to look for some of the farms pictured in photographs that he had tracked down in the library archive, showing the old style of 'windygear' windmills that were essential before the grid reached the islands. The ones we could find, with help from locals, we compared to the plethora of new small-scale devices, such as the 'peedie dragonfly' pictured below.

There are also the remains of a 19th century turret post windmill, on Holland Farm – and in one of the farm buildings, the remains of a horse-powered threshing mill.

Alistair Peebles, 2011

   the island grid
   is regulation
   Orcadian green

   fields connected
   by dykes within
   an irregular coastline

Holland Farm, Alistair Peebles, 2011

Beneath the waves a cable connects the island to another island, the same cable that continues on to another island, that one called the Mainland. 

Neil Rendall explained how the New Year storm sheared the cable, but the Power boys came over and fixed it – they stayed at the Youth Hostel – and it lasted fine, for two months, but now it’s broken again, so the island is on the generator which makes the electricity's a bit flaky.

'peedie dragonfly', Alistair Peebles, 2011

   in that golden age
   a peedie dragonfly
   seemed to hover
   over every field

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