Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Enough Foxes, Already!

I promised you a few pics of us scrubbed up for the wedding.
Here are a couple taken by other guests and posted on
Facebook, l-r Liz, Mr and Mrs S and the author.
I am thinking I may have been obsessing on our fox issue lately and the blog has become "all about the fox". Vulpes vulpes and his/her kin have rather taken over to the detriment of stories on all the other many aspects of this story of a small holding. Our foxy adventures may also have taken over the village with even wife of Mike-the-Cows reporting to us a fox she saw "by the bridge near the crossroads".

Liz and I with J-M (left) and Em-J (right)
John Deere Bob was down at his kesh (a concrete bridge over a drainage stream), half a mile downstream from ours, this morning and reported "so many fox tracks in the snow" as well as rabbit tracks, hare prints and pheasants. "There must have been half a dozen foxes", he declared, "there were so many I'm amazed they'd not 'swept up' all the rabbits!" Even Mentor Anne is riffing in the comment section of my last post that the place is "teeming" with foxes. The word must have gone out that we are running a "Fox MacDonalds" Enough, I say! I will make no more comment on the fox story unless something amazing happens, at least not for a while.

I quite liked this rather bizarre one.
You, the reader, will know there is all sorts going on behind the scenes (sightings, hunts, killing, insults and mild effronts and even (gasp) the blackening of names) but I will , from now, only post up the body count as a post-script.... Fox #2..... Bridget Jones style, when/if it changes. I will leave you with just one of JD Bob's tongue in cheek pearls of foxy wisdom. Chickens, pheasants and any other bird, he tells us, are safe as houses at night from Brer Fox because they perch in trees. Not so (allegedly) the turkey. Bob, in one of those stories he has told us several times as he sometimes forgets he has already shared it, says that the fox knows to walk round and round the turkey's tree so that the turkey, looking down and trying to keep his eye on the fox, twists his neck round and round. The turkey then gets dizzy and falls off the perch into the waiting jaws of the fox. "Did you ever hear that?" says Bob as his cheeks and eyes crinkle up and he rubs his hands together, chuckling his breathy giggle. That's it. No more fox-bore.

I like a good drive on snow - always have since I was a young fan of Motor Rallying. I enjoy the (rather tame) risky feel of barely having grip and feeling the starts of mild slides on corners, quickly corrected of course (this is the family car on standard tyres, after all!) and knowing that you need to drive with extra anticipation and alertness. I love the headlights peircing the gloom and the optical illusion of the 'star-field' of blizzard flakes parting in front of the car to whizz by all around your 'trajectory'. I had some fun, then, last night, heading for 'Bee School' in Longford in the dark. There was a good covering of snow on the minor roads all up through Moyne and Fairymount to French Park, though the main roads from French Park were clear on the outward journey. On the way back I met a blizzard between Termonbarry and Strokestown and there was laid snow on some of those bends from Strokestown back through Ballinagare. All good fun.

Our first goose egg of 2015. The 'use first'
egg is a first from a chicken with a soft
shell one end.
This 'Bee School' is my studies towards the Intermediate "Written Practical" exam at the end of March. Written in that it is a written paper, 'Practical' because questions will be on practical hive/apiary tasks and management, honey extraction etc, as opposed to the 'scientific' paper which is on bee biology, anatomy, diseases, honey chemistry and all that jazz. This is a whole different ball game to last year's 'Preliminary' paper which was an easy, entry level, half hour, 20 questions, single (or few). word answers. Name 3 major parts of the bee's body (head, thorax, abdomen). Name 4 substances bees bring back to the hive (nectar, pollen, propolis and water). What is the main problem with honey from oilseed rape and heather? (It sets hard quickly in the comb).

The kitchen gets knocked about a bit.
This paper is 3 hours long, 5 questions of at least half an hour of writing asking for lots of detail on (for example) aspects of a main disease (hive signs, symptoms, effects, risks, legal side (i.e. is it reportable), remedies, apiary recovery). It's going to be fun - the pressure is on. Liz has opted out of this one; she is happy to own just the Preliminary Certificate and slowly build up her knowledge and experience hands-on in our own hive(s)

Our other news is two simple bits. The plumber has come and installed the new dish washer, which involved also swinging the sink round by 90ยบ to 'look' out of the kitchen window at the setting sun. We have just about managed to get the fridge back in, which looked likely to need a new home in the corner of the Dining Room for a while. Liz ran the washer for the first time last night and is delighted with it. She won't mind me admitting that I have always been a bit jaundiced about these machines and my default setting would be to do the washing up by hand; in my head I see them using more water and energy than you need and pumping out more waste chemicals but Liz has long dreamed of this day and she's just handed me a drink, so I will keep quiet on this one! Meanwhile, I had a nice surprise  this afternoon when I spotted a goose egg in the nest compartment, our first of 2015. We may have 4 females this year (one is a bit 50/50 at present and may prove to be a gander) so we should do OK for eggs. We are not allowing any broodiness in geese this year as we don't want any more goslings.

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