Monday, June 03, 2013

A Springtime synopsis, colony collapse, cars and cubs, not necessarily in that order

So, my dear readers it is way past time for a bit of a catch up, I've been remiss for many reasons, all, if I could be bothered to explain them to you, would be both valid and understandable so just take my word for it ok?

Anyway, pull up a chair, open a bottle and let's run through the news from the barn.

We've sad news for my bee-keeping followers, it's been a horrible winter and a worse spring for the little honey monsters but they seemed to have coped until the recent false spring which triggered a colony collapse, despite my best efforts to supplement their foraging with sugar syrup and my desperate attempts to deliver 5000 failed attempts at resuscitation.
I've now cleaned the hives and burned all the existing frames, (and many, many tiny corpses) and have built new frames and moved the hives to a new location where they sit awaiting the delivery of two new colonies, one from my local chum Ian and one from a breeder in Gloucestershire. Let's hope for a bee-friendly summer.

Tennyson assured us that springtime triggers a young mans fancy toward love, mine, sadly, tends more to thinking about fixing the Land Rover. I've tried everything to prevent the constant overheating problem, well, everything except the solution prescribed by my friend (and ex-Land Rover project manager) Keith.

He advised replacing the radiator, but I, of course, being very wise, tried everything else, several times in many cases. Finally I bit the bullet, launched myself into the steamy bazaar of Land Rover spare parts one finds on eBay and sourced a "very similar to" from China by way of Dunstable.

The radiator sat in a box for a month as I manfully prevaricated but finally, spurred by the faint glimmers of sunshine through the trees I embarked on a couple of hours of sustained wriggling, spattering, hose coupling, draining, clipping, flushing, binning and bracing and the old girl is now running sweet as a nut and we're roaring about the farm on the first day of summer (official). I've also found that, as you can see in the photo, lowering the windscreen can triple the number of slow-reflexed flies trapped in my welcoming teeth and eyes.

The chickens and I, well, enjoyed isn't the right word but we've built a healthy loathing for our cunning near neighbours over a series of fox-related adventures recently.

We've repelled incursions, thwarted tunnels and as the girls snooze in snug if odiferous safety I've passed many an evening, shotgunned up, and wrapped around a glass or two, waiting for Brer Fox to slink into the designated combat zone.

Fortunate timing and a German-made fox-trap have promoted a couple of predators to vulpine heaven but I suspect that the German fox may be a good bit smaller than his Surrey cousin. Looking at the imagery from the infra-red camera it seems that our enormous UK based Wonder-F├╝chse are looking at the trap and thinking, "ooh dear, that looks a bit snug."

So the trap has been most effective at delivering square meals to the young cubs who disturb our repose nightly with their merry chorus of yipping and yapping.

Frankly they are too damn cute at the moment for me to do the sensible thing and dispatch them to foxy-purgatory. Six times now I've had to release a snarling but dewy eyed little bundle of grey cuteness. Foolish I admit but what can I do? as they get rangier and mangier I'll rescind my cub-friendly policy.

The mantra of 'build a better mousetrap' seems to be appropriate here so project big-fox-trap was launched last week.

I've been converting a large dog cage (for transporting pooches to vet and show) into a state of the art fox-box. A weekend with angle-grinder, cable-ties, bike gear cables and a 250 piece Meccano set (thanks again eBay) has resulted in the production of a home-made varmint trap which now sits in the wood awaiting its first not-so-lucky visitor.

So that's you all caught up dear reader. I'm penning this on the second day of sunshine this year, really penning it too, sitting in the sun with paper and pen, how terribly retro.

As the unfamiliar yellow orb in the sky beats down on my milky-white extremities and bronzes them to a livid summer pink I wish you all well.

Roll on Summertime...

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