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Yes, that’s a Chinese diagram of a heating pump

pump

Meh. I flipped on the water heater in anticipation of a long, hot bath tonight and…the central heating pump died.

Yes, you heard that right: we don’t heat water all the time. Once every couple of days will do it. We’re reflexively cheap, the both of us.

I’m’a go sulk. And drink. But mostly sulk.

No, wait…mostly drink.

Also smell, because I need a bath.

September 19, 2017 — 9:24 pm
Comments: 12

Be vewy, vewy quiet…

woodpile

There’s a weasel in this woodpile. A camera-shy weasel.

Uncle B spotted it first and hammered on the front door, calling my name. This made me slam my hands on the desk in alarm, which flipped my fork clear across the room into a pile of books. But that’s not important now.

I dashed out without my glasses and saw an indistinct brownish blob dart under a piece of wood. We went for cameras and chairs (and my glasses) and sat and stared at the woodpile for twenty minutes. Nada.

Eventually, Uncle B lumbered back inside and Jack and I stayed glowering at the hole weez popped out of. Finally, a teeny, tiny slinky beast crept out from under a log, had a look around, didn’t like what he saw (mostly the cat, I assume) and slunk back in again.

A reminder that what Brits call a weasel, we call a “least weasel” — they really are not much bigger than an improbably long mouse.

Weasels don’t appear to like cat food.

Unfortunately for Mr (or Mz) Weasel, that there is not a permanent woodpile. It’s a pile of wood, just where the log man dropped it in the drive three weeks ago, and it all gets moved eventually. I hope there’s not a whole damn weasel fambly in there.

Yes, it’s a fair distance from the chicken house. And yes, I’ve locked the flock up as tight as I can tonight. Cross your fingers.


HOLY SHIT I JUST REALIZED: The Fritz had Jerry Lewis in the DeadPool. That means new one tomorrow. The Fritz, honey, you didn’t say anything….

August 24, 2017 — 9:43 pm
Comments: 23

The Ghost of Weasel Hall

mist

Infrared does some very strange things. We figured that out early on. One of the first nights we switched the outside cameras on, two of them showed the most amazing howling blizzard for half an hour. It was an IR gross exaggeration of a light mist. I guess. It was hard even to see the mist with the naked eye and t hasn’t happened since.

Something similar happens at work, where dust or moisture speckles swirl around in a seemingly purposeful way. One of my colleagues watching the recording firmly believes they’re orbs — you know, spirit doo-dahs.

I definitely think it’s just weird IR artifacts. I’m as psychic as a potato, me.

Picture above shows the camera in the garden that has its back to the chicken house. I hope you can make out the swirling mist. I see this many nights on this one camera. It’s a sort of twisty thing, like smoke, seemingly close to the camera. Very spooky looking.

My best guess is, it’s some kind of spider gossamer. Spiders love the cameras and crawl all over them (with B horror movie results). I guess the red lights either attract them, or attract bugs that attract them. They often leave cloudy, milky artifacts when they spin web up close to the lens.

OR maybe it’s some particular kind of mist coming up from the grass, bearing in mind how weirdly IR can exaggerate moisture.

Any other guesses?

August 7, 2017 — 10:28 pm
Comments: 24

SQUEEEEEE!

squee

Baby hedgehog. BABY HEDGEHOG!

For once, not from my kitchen. I saw it bumbling past in the drive and realized it was a little ‘un. And so, of course, I had to run out there and pick it up and scare it out of a year’s growth.

I tried to pick it up without gloves at first — holy cow, those spines are really sharp! It’s a little hard to tell scale here, but this one is about half the size of the adult we’ve been seeing — assuming it’s just the one adult.

Wikipedia tells me pregnancies peak between May and July and gestation is 31 to 35 days. So about right.

Ohmygod LOOK AT THAT LITTLE NOSE!

July 18, 2017 — 10:11 pm
Comments: 15

The monster that eats cats

prettygirl

This story has a happy ending, I’ll let you know right now. I wouldn’t tell it to you otherwise.

A few weeks ago, our neighbor came flying over to tell us she’d spotted Charlotte, our dear old kitty, in the bottom of her garden in a very bad way.

Dear god, was she ever. So much blood and fur. Her head was so messed up and bloody I thought she’d lost part of it. I was pretty sure I saw an ear in the grass. She was alive, though — panting hard and shocky.

It was a Sunday (of course). I scooped her up in a towel and Uncle B called around until we found a vet on duty.

She’s fifteen. Learning that visibly changed the vet’s attitude but, do him credit, he gave her a thorough exam (including the usual few expensive tests) and hooked her up to an IV overnight. No broken bones, no internal bleeding, no apparent brain damage (still has both ears, thank goodness). But she wouldn’t stand or respond, except to scream when moved. She tore a bloody strip off a careless veterinary assistant.

The only injuries he could find were two deep, horrible holes with long gouges in the top of her skull, like something with big canines clamped her whole head in its mouth and tried to pull her down into the ditch we found her by. I believe now that our neighbor startled whatever it was – which was more than lucky. No-one goes down that end of the garden much.

She began to purr the moment she knew she was home, but that’s all I could get out of her. For almost a week, she wouldn’t move or eat or focus. I forced water on her with a pipette several times a day (she could swallow okay) but otherwise let her be. I was sure she was starving herself on purpose, the way animals will when they’ve had enough.

But after four or five days, she would lick food off my fingers if I offered it. A couple of days later, she used the litterbox (I was never so thrilled to see a cat turd in my life). A few days after that, she staggered out of the back room and refused to return to her sick bed. She’s unsteady and a little loopy, but she’s positively back and absolutely her old self.

The pic is old. I took some new ones this afternoon, but you have to get close to see the scars, and why would you want to? She looks just the same otherwise. A little skinnier.

We’re so very grateful to have our old girl back. And with that happy thought, we wish you all the best of weekends!

July 14, 2017 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 32

Say, this glove smells like…hmfff…mff

yetmorehedgie

Yeah, sure, y’all laugh, but Onkle B looked down yesterday and realized he’d tracked hedgehog poo from one end of the house to the other.

Yes, we’re keeping the kitchen door closed now.

July 12, 2017 — 9:52 pm
Comments: 17

Shoo!

morehedgie

I have bailed this hedgehog — or a hedgehog, anyway — out of the house every night for a week. Sometimes twice.

No, he’s not tame. Every time I walk in on him, he gets that “oh, shit!” look on his face and disappears under the nearest piece of furniture. Little bastards are quick. Once he panicked and pee’d the floor. And then disappeared under the nearest piece of furniture.

In the end, we got some advice from Sussex Wildlife Trust. We were worried he might be sick or something. Nope. He (it’s almost certainly a he) has developed a powerful cat food jones. It started with the leftover bits of nasty old cat food I flipped out into the grass for the chooks and graduated into breaking and entering.

So I’m trying an experiment. At the end of the day, I’m putting the cats’ bowl out back for him. So far its…well, see the picture. The cats don’t seem to mind a bit (cats are communists).

Got a note from my next-door neighbor this morning: she put food out on the deck for her cat and caught a hedgehog with his nose in it. Broad daylight.

Either we have a family of the prickly little bastards, or we’re going to have Sussex’s most morbidly obese hedgie.

July 10, 2017 — 9:32 pm
Comments: 24

Comes the harvest

jam

Our first year here, we made tons of jam. We had such a fun time making it, and then we realized we…really…just…don’t eat that much jam. Even today, I find the occasional jar of gray glob from all those years ago.

We’ve learned to moderate our jam-making activities, but we still make a few jars a year. In the picture is the makin’s of a red jam — raspberry, tayberry, a few strawberries and gooseberries. That was several days ago, and it turned out real nice.

Tonight, we made redcurrant jelly. Two plus pounds of redcurrants cooked down to two little jars and a bit. I hate to think what that would cost if you bought the berries – they’re super expensive in the store. Oddly enough, redcurrant jelly is usually used on meat here. Brits, eh?

Good weekend, everyone!

July 7, 2017 — 10:51 pm
Comments: 28

Genius loci

spirit

What’s the difference between a crow and a baby rook? NOBODY KNOWS!

Erm, at least, it’s very hard to tell by looking. Baby rooks have yet to develop that crusty white flesh where the beak meets the head, the signal characteristic of the adult rook.

Pretty sure this one’s a baby rook, though. A) he had some remnants of babyfeathers sticking out of his back, B) this area is known to be alive with rooks. Not so much crows. And C) he was acting like a knucklehead chattering to Uncle B for a solid half-hour. Got some cracking good pictures, though some of the best had stupid bits of grass waving in front of strategic bits.

June 26, 2017 — 10:12 pm
Comments: 8

Bees!

bees3

BEES!

Our neighbor called this afternoon to warn us that a swarm of bees was seen headed our way. Sure enough, we looked out and they had clustered on the outside of our chimney.

This happened three years ago. They swarmed in the exact same spot. You can see a picture and read the story here.

Last time, we plugged the holes and so far we’ve only seen one bee in the bedroom. Well, several over several days, but finding the odd bee is not that…odd. We couldn’t see them this afternoon, but it’s raining.

Last time, they moved off on their own after a couple of days. If they cluster again tomorrow, we’ll build a gentle fire. I do not fancy hoovering dozens of bees out of my bedchamber every morning.

You know, I always assumed that .gif was an edit of the time Oprah gave a car to every member of her audience, but that video is here and it’s clearly not the same event. Did she do that more than once?

May 11, 2017 — 10:03 pm
Comments: 16