Friday, 5 April 2013

A quick catch-up in pictures

Still being a newbie in the blogosphere, I've found it impossible to sit down and just rattle off another one.
However, today's gorgeous sunshiney weather - albeit still with a nip in the air - inspired me to unleash the Nikon (which has been mostly dormant for a while). That, in turn, led me to inspecting the contents of its memory card, which brought home a few intended blogs which went by the wayside.
I have therefore decided to present my loyal band of readers (well, the present Mrs C anyway) with a pictorial precis of what might have been ....

1. The Saga of the Clio Headlight Bulb. Just don't get me started. First rule of Car Club? You never buy a Renault. Second rule of Car Club? YOU NEVER BUY A RENAULT. You get the message ....

2. The Saga of the Broken Tractor Steering Arm. Necessity was the mother of invention for a while, and Heath Robinson my best friend, as the tractor is vital for carting about our big bale haylage, but it got fixed in the end (see shiny new part above), thanks mainly to a useful chat with John the Farrier and the intervention of a large sledgehammer and a bottle jack.

3. A flying (well, standing) visit to our recently-established wildlife pond by a heron. The photo was taken from about 75 metres on max zoom through the (closed) kitchen window, past a BT pole. I tried to sneak out of the door on the opposite side of the house to creep round and get a clearer shot. Got silently within sight, looked down to see where I was putting my feet, looked up - and the bird had flown. What? How? Hasn't been back since. Probably discovered there are no fish there. Yet.

4. Spring chickens - well, two of them are, anyway. These are one half of our residentially-divided 'flock' of eight and were the initial inspiration for today's photographic foray, as I was moving their house and run in the afternoon sunshine. The other two were rehomed to us via Freecycle, so we have little idea how old they might really be. My guess is fairly but what the heck. We have a 'home for life' policy - eggs or no eggs. The two on the left are actually mum-in-law's - the smaller, darker one was rehomed to her from friends after a fox got its coop-mates and the other one is the last of her four Bluebells. They are awaiting the refurbishment of their accommodation and some new feathered friends later in the year. Our two are called Whizzer and Chips (after the comic, remember?) and are some kind of legbar cross, reputed to lay blue eggs. When the weather's nice enough. Hmmmm .... I'll believe it when I see it girls.

5. Do you think they know I've got biscuits in my back pocket? They paused just long enough to snap my fingers off before resuming their mad, mismatched wrestling bout. You'd think Big Bad Mido would be more than capable of squishing diminutive Scamp beneath a Big Black Paw but oh no. Our little ragamuffin has obviously taken to heart the fact that when he went to the vet this week for his booster etc, he had to have a 'large dog' dose of anti flea/mite/anything-else-nasty spot-on. All 11.8 kilos of him (Mido tips the scales at a rather more butch 30). Obviously small dog syndrome.

6. And finally .... these little perishers' days are numbered. Small, cute and velvety they may be but they are quite rapidly taking over our hay fields with their invasive hillocks. So they've got to go. Aside from reducing the available grazing, any earth which gets in the late summer haylage crop during baling has an extremely adverse effect on the quality of the bale - which is only discovered in the pitch black of a winter's night, during a raging blizzard, after it's in position in the barn and unwrapped. It can't go on. Sorry moles, I'm on your case.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

This is The Daily Newts

Taking our two dogs out for their early morning constitutional is, in the great division of domestic labour, My Job.

Rain or shine, snow or storm, early shift, late shift or day off, I venture forth with Mido and Scamp for their first 'comfort break' of the day.

They then go back in their cages - their indoor sanctuaries, in the utility room - to dry off until breakfast, after which they have a proper, more lengthy walk (me if I'm home, her if I'm not).

Whenever we leave the house, Mido has a drink from the ever-present water bowl by the back (most used) door. He doesn't mind if the wind has blown a bit of detritus into it - after all, he is part Labrador and will happily quench his thirst from a muddy puddle if nothing else is available.

He doesn't even mind if he finds this:

He just ignores it/them and laps contentedly around them.

We do occasionally find other visitors to the water bowl - frogs from time to time, beetles of various sizes almost every day and, less welcome, the odd shrew. These presumably come for an innocent nocturnal drink, fall in and drown, leaving yours truly to fish out the corpse. I once found two.

I know I should - and intend to - rig up a ladder of some kind, to allow small creatures to escape while not impeding the serious business of canine thirst-quenching.

We have had one or two newts too, the common type with the bright orange bellies, which intrepidly make their way over to the house - quite some distance for a newt - from one of the nearby overgrown ditches and tiny streams.

However, we seem to be beset by a veritable plague of these delightful little amphibians at present. In the past week, I have come across one of them in the water bowl about five or six times.

I started just popping them into the nearest lush (aka overgrown) garden border, to find their way to a less hazardous location. Then I decided to carry one to the recently created shallow pond in our wet moorland field, which is about 200 yards away. He/she (among my many and varied talents, I can't claim to be an expert newt sexer) swam away happily and settled in the weeds.

This morning took the biscuit though. It being a 'day off' - i.e. not going to the office, as opposed to tackling the never-ending list of jobs to do at home - I was up at the crack of 7.30, which is a full two and a quarter hours later than if I am on an early shift.
It was a crisp, sunny autumn morning; the dogs were raring to 'go' and there, in the water bowl, were:

Mido blithely ignored them as usual and gulped down a few mouthfuls of water and on closer examination, the pair of visitors seemed to be an adult and a youngster (no s**t Sherlock!). The bigger one has a less pronounced orange stripe along its back and a much paler orange belly, with a few black spots scattered on it.

I carried them carefully to the pond and bid them farewell as they made themselves at home in rather more suitable accommodation than a shiny metal water bowl.

Look carefully and you'll spot them.

Better than a metal water bowl.

Hopefully, they should make it through whatever kind of a winter we have and add to the resident newt population next spring.