Stayin’ alive

Lockdown restrictions have changed again. So I can go to a pub but I can’t have two friends (from separate households) come into my home? I can mix with some but not others. Hmm, ok. Or maybe I just haven’t read the new rules properly to understand them. But I’m not the only one with communication issues though. The bees are currently getting fed sugar syrup at the moment (I keep wanting to call it sugar soap, something entirely different but rolls of the tongue easier). And they are drinking it (syrup, not the soap) like there is no tomorrow. Now, there may not be any tomorrow for some of the bees, but at the moment, they want sugar and they want it now.

All well and good until our weather picked up a bit. The sun shone and the midges disappeared (well, kind of). So you open windows to enjoy the warm air. As a newbie (no pun intended), I didn’t think anything of it. No issues before in opening windows in September on a sunny day. But now we have bees. And we had a plate of beeswax on the kitchen counter, melted down to remove the last of the honey.

The bees decided that they should implement some of the lockdown rules and avoid overcrowding in the hive. And it felt like half a hive divided itself to set up an ‘all you can eat buffet’ in our kitchen with the wax. Can’t socialise at home but you can head to a pub. So they went out for dinner. An all you can eat buffet with a discount if you not only invite a friend, but bring another with you. And they just kept coming. The place was buzzing. Loudly. Thankfully no Covid police went past the window at the time to hand out fines (honestly Officer, it may be in my kitchen but I did not organise it!!).

Although the bee rave was in full swing, I decided it was time to break up the party before more came. The beeswax was quickly moved outside and on seeking advice from an expert, opened the windows fully to allow the bees to yes, come in but get back out again while we waited for the hive’s contact tracing team to start notifying the masses that the wax was now on the bird table (now known as the bee table to the Mini Crofters) and NOT in the kitchen.

The information slowly filtered through; the bees finally seemed to decide it wasn’t as much fun anymore and they needed to head elsewhere. As evening fell, the beeswax outside was the only sign of a party. A fairly tidy lot I must say. The kitchen was back to its usual hum drum, the bee’s flight path outside the window stopped, the sun soon set and stillness returned to the air.

Until the following day. And today. We have tried to have the windows open but no, the bees like the kitchen. Today wasn’t as busy (with bee traffic) but still, their communications team need to up their game. The bee table has now been moved away from the house to see if that helps and the beeswax has been hidden away. Let’s hope the long party weekend is over for the bees.

The Final Countdown

Harry, Theo and Alan’s opportunities to perform their version of Shawshank Redemption are limited. In fact, if they manage to escape now they really will need to be added to the team in Hollywood’s Ocean’s 11. Yes, after the trio escaped on their first day, they were named after escapology artists: Harry Houdini, Theodore Hardeen, and Alan Alan. Harry was the ginger ninja who nearly became folklore by heading for the hills. Runty MacRuntface, who was no where like a runt now. Thankfully bucket training became a very useful tool. But they have now got to a stage where they are ready for the next chapter.

The livestock trailer was moved into place yesterday so they could get use to it, prod about and be familiar with it. For yes, in that they will then head to their forever home.

They have done really well digging up the ground, escaping (they would notify you in the space of ohh, about half an hour if you accidentally left the electric off) and well, just being pigs. They have covered more ground than I had initially calculated (based on the previous pigs’ digging ability; it turned out these guys were less moving and shaking and more digging and shovelling). Covering more ground was great. Ok, the electric fence needed shifted more often then planned but as it was set up to expand their ground area over time, it was very exciting when you could keep extending it for them. They then head off before winter hits. The winters here are not pleasant (we have done pigs over winter once and said, not again, not necessarily for the pigs, but for us). We are high up and can be hit with snow which doesn’t lie even at the neighbours (aye, it’s the tropics down that way when you head for the council road).

The ground the pigs have been on will still need some work. Stones have been lifted and shifted but there are plenty from more recently that need uplifted. When the pigs were smaller, this was easier. A smaller sized pig can come up beside you and want a good scratch. But they have grown. Now, they are not massive but have the potential to join a rugby scrum and win. So with that, I have left the stones recently for once they go and I don’t have to rugby tackle everything (because yes, they will play along and yes, they would win, I accept that so I just bide my time). Rushes can have a very strong root base so even they will need to be fully uprooted to ensure we don’t get a new crop next year. And then the soil needs levelled. Pigs are good at digging, less so at tilling. They aren’t really the immaculate golfer’s lawn makers. No, they are the serious ploughers, not the high demanding massive tractors needing fuel to run but muscle fuel doing what they want to do.

So, tomorrow we say farewell to them and soon hello to pork back on the menu. If they do escape think I will just claim full ignorance as I’m sure they would do well out in the hills, spooking hillwalkers and running like mad when they hear the sika deer shriek. So coming soon, is pork!