02/12/2014

The other evening, once it was dark, LSS went out as usual to give the rabbits their last meal of the day (and overnight snack). When she came back, she was puzzled. “Either a miniature UFO has landed in the garden, or you’ve installed something that I didn’t know about. There’s some sort of light flashing alternately red and blue.”
“Oh good!” I exclaimed. “Or maybe not good. The good news is that it’s working. The bad news is that the flashing light is the water level alarm for the greywater sump.” I went out to check. I had installed a small LED circuit to indicate a high water level in the sump leading to the reedbed (in case the pump fails, for example). Fortunately the pump had not failed; there was just some condensation on the sensor wires. I moved these further apart, so that resolved the issue.

T has become somewhat unreliable lately. He had asked if he could come around this week to crush some malted barley, in order to brew his next batch of beer. I told him Monday would be the best day, as I didn’t have much else planned. He simply didn’t turn up. Unfortunately I’m somewhat busy the rest of the week, so he’ll have to take pot luck. If he turns up at all, that is. Now that M will no longer be paying the bills, he’ll need to find a job PDQ. And good luck with that, in this current economic climate…

The hens now have a penthouse. Their original roosting area consisted of hazel branches fixed to two sloping supports. The problem with this arrangement has become apparent recently; it was too vertical. This means the hens lower in the pecking order become covered in droppings overnight, because they’re roosting immediately underneath other hens. The base cannot be moved outwards to increase the angle because there are two concrete pillars in the way. The chicken coop used to be the laundry area, and these two concrete pillars originally held the washing/scrubbing board.

I therefore constructed a new roosting area, consisting of two slim planks of wood fixed to a frame on the wall. The planks provide enough space for all of the hens, so they can all be on the same level should they so wish. And I reduced the width of the original framework, so they can use it as a ladder to get to the main perches. We’ll see if they like it.

The temperature has plunged recently, not rising above 3 degrees during the day. The house is toasty warm though. Unfortunately we now have a problem with stink-bugs. They seem to have made the wood in the wood-shed their home, so I now have to be careful when filling the wood cupboard. If any are inadvertently brought indoors, it’s not long before they’re flying around the house. And probably because they’re annoyed at being woken up, they tend to produce their characteristic smell. They’re not called stink-bugs for nothing!

2 thoughts on “02/12/2014”

  1. Hi Rob,
    What a wonderful tool the internet is for telling you things you already knew but never realised!
    I was intrigued by your reference to ‘stink bugs’, never having heard of them before, or so I thought, so I Googled them and found out what they were. We have them here in the UK, but I’d never realised what they were. I just thought they were quite a sweet looking, harmless bug, that occasionally would land on me, crawl up my arm then fly off. I now find they are quite a pest to farmers, quite offensive to (some) noses and have a rather long name which could be difficult to say if you’d had a few! (Pentatomidae).
    My research also said that the scent form these stink bugs differs from person to person, some smelling nice or nasty coriander, others may smell the bitter almond scent of cyanide (which it contains in minute quantities and is an anti predator defence thing)
    What do your bugs smell of when they get excited? I have maybe smelt it before, but with my contact with them being outdoors, and with us living close to the countryside and all the ‘aromas’ that that entails it’s possible I may have confused their scent with something a little more organic!

    Regards,

    Roj.

    1. Hi Roj – nice to hear from you again.

      Oh, you’ll know the smell when it hits your nose. As to what it smells like – oh dear. Describing a scent in words. Not something I’m good at. Unlike Jilly Goolden – that presenter on some UK television food programme (can’t remember which one as I would reach for the remote to change channels as soon as she appeared) who would taste a wine and go off on some weird description like “There’s a hint of cherries dipped in birchwood sawdust with an aftertaste of shoe-polish…”

      But I digress. Yes, there’s a whiff of bitter almonds, but it seems a bit like rancid butter as well; it sort of catches in the back of your throat. To my nose it doesn’t smell like coriander. Suffice it to say one stops breathing if at all possible until the offending insect has been despatched. We’ve found the best way is to wait until they land on a flat surface, then trap them with a whisky tumbler. Empty, of course. Slide a thin piece of card between the surface and the glass, trapping them inside. Then the whole lot can either be taken outside, or – my preferred option – simply shaken into the woodstove, where there is a satisfactory pop and fizzle. Hey, it’s not as though they’re an endangered species. Unlike the dormice which had started to eat our pathetically-tiny stock of apples and the dried bread for the chickens. But that’s another story.

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