23 August 2010

Seeking Forgiveness & Declaring All Out War

So why did we lose half a dozen chikkins?

The short answer is we are numpty amateurs at poultry keeping and not sufficiently alert to pest and disease hazards: specifically those from red mite infestation and coccidiosis infection, and even more specifically from a combination of the two things.

Yes, we knew there were red mite in the hen house but assumed wrongly, that it was sufficiently under control; it wasn't.

The red mite (actually grey until they have drunk blood), are smaller than a pin head and inhabit the nooks and crannies in the timbers, particularly at perch ends, and come out at night to suck the blood of the roosting hens. This weakens the birds, making them anaemic and (more) vulnerable to other infections.

Which brings us to coccidiosis: a single celled protozoan gut parasite, endemic in all poultry but, under normal conditions, and in otherwise healthy birds, will not cause them undue harm. In birds weakened by red mite infestation, it can however, be fatal.

Thus, at clodhoppers, we seek the forgiveness of Capt Mannering and Black Adder and the other fine birds we have so carelessly lost, while at the same time, declaring all out war on red mite and coccidiosis.

The battle commenced with an attack on all fronts: a thorough cleanout and disinfection of the henhouse with Jeyes fluid. Then a full frontal assault on red mite with a blowtorch - the heat penetrating the nooks and crannies and killing them - (to be done with care obviously: it's a wooden hut). Then an attack with WMD (aka chemical warfare) with mite kill spray, and a dusting of the birds feathers with red mite powder.

Concurrently, the coccidiosis infection was treated by mixing a sulfonomide powder into the birds drinking water which they drank for 3 days followed by 3 days clear water and then another 3 days on treated water.

Rapid improvement in the flocks health, appetite and production quickly followed.

While this strategy has been effective for the acute phase, we are about to try a tactic (new to us), for the long term control, maybe even eradication of, red mite.

This involves the use of diatomaceous earth (aka diatomite or kieselgur) which is made from the fossilised remains of a type of hard shelled algae crushed to a fine white powder (particle size 10 to 200 microns) which, to us, feels like talcum powder, but to red mite is razor sharp and lacerates their waxy exoskeleton and absorbs all their fluids & lipids, dehydrating them to death.

See? I have no mercy now.

It is harmless to the birds and can even be given in their feed to destroy internal parasites.

All this should get us well back on top of the situation. I still feel bad though, and I'm going to kick myself round the block a few times and never evva evva, go away on holiday, evva, again. Not EVVA.

20 August 2010

Ratzi Taxi

Dear Papa Benedict

Can't wait. Only a month to go now!

We're thrilled you're bringing the popemobile with you, but don't forget to get it taxed, tested and insured: very important that, and do watch out for our traffic wardens, they can be demons you know.

I know the cost of your visit is soaring to over £50 million, but don't let that bother you: there are plenty of ner-do-wells and protestants we can get that off. Besides, Mrs Clod sais she can supply any amount of wet fish if that will help cut costs ,and she is sure you will enjoy a good kedgeree for breakfast.

Anyway, it will be worth it just so you can give Harriet Harman a good talking to: God knows she needs it! Just ask him! All that nonsense about equality and not allowing Catholics to discriminate. What IS she thinking of?

There may be one or two other recalcitrants protesting your visit: probably spurred on by that disreputable primate inter pares Mr R Dawkins. Don't worry Jo, our security chaps are more than up to dealing with that sort of riff-raff.

Besides, most of them are harmless and will only be carrying placards saying 'Less Of That Sort of Thing'. Goodness only knows to what they refer.

Some misguided individuals are even harping on and on about the importance of seperating church and state. Thank goodness you are coming to put them to rights. We've never fallen for any of that nonsense and, with your divinely guided assistance, I trust we never will.

Mrs Clod sais she notices your state is only 0.44 square kilometers, and she hopes you can make it bigger one day. Me too.

Anyway, we'll all be rooting for you in Westminster Hall. Give 'em hell Jo..... Oh!



PS - Here's a pound for the parking meter. Just don't leave it in Liverpool.

12 August 2010


Tis all very going off on holiday but there is always a jungle when you get back.

At least the greenhouse if full of lovely grapes, peaches and tomatoes.

Oh, and the chikkins have coccidiosis, but that's another story for another day.

10 August 2010

General Petanque de Plantagenets et Madame de Camping Oye Plage Formidable

I'm no longer surprised that we have had so many wars with the French over the years. They are really terribly easy to start. As we drove into what looked like the parking area in front of the accueil at the campsite we were given the hairy eyeball treatment by a squadron of elderly French gentlemen with silver balls.

How were we supposed to know it was a boules pit?

A boules pit with one of the most important and serious games of boules ever played anywhere, ever, in progress. It didn't help when I gaily said "Bonjour, je suis General Petanque de Plantagenets." Should've just backed the car up quickly really.

Anyway, the accueil is firmly ferme but there is a button to push. There is nearly always a button to push. So you push the button as you do and wait dix minuites for a response which arrives with a surly 'Oui?' 'Ah Bonjour madame, je cherche pour un place pour camping pour un nuit seulment, c'est possible?' Nobody would've understood the reply. Not even a native French speaker. "I think we have to wait, do you think she said we have to wait?"

We wait. The old men are still eyeballing us and muttering. I think they think that we have plantagenet electro-magnets installed behind the headlights and are switching them on and off to ruin their game.

We wait more. I decide to go off and see if there are any places left, it looks pretty full. [translation] - man runs off in abject fear of facing Madame de Camping Oye Plage Formidable, leaving better, (at French), other half to do the bargaining.

I wander off pondering how the game came to be and why it is taken so seriously. It occurs to me that during a thirty years war or a hundred years war, or one of the (how many?) other wars, there is bound to be a certain amount of sitting around in abject boredom with sod all to do before the next bloodbath commences. One can only engage in so much cannon polishing.

One such day, an unknown soldier (let us call him Henri), will have idly tossed a cannonball a distance and said to his mate 'Je bet you can't hit that mon ami'. 'Bof,' sais mon ami, spitting out his last Gouloise, 'pas problem'. 'Vous missed mate,' chuckles Henri, 'prochain!' And so it begins.

I think it best not to tell them we are of the House of Lancaster whence came Henry IV, V, and VI who I think all gave the French some right royal kickings at one time or another in our glorious history.

I wander the site and come across the piscine and contemplate whether I am fit to be seen in speedos. Then I remember, with not a little relief, that I don't have speedos, only a pair of shorts - and I probably won't be allowed in with those. Clodlet will be pleased though. Opposite the piscine is a nice little plot, plot 150, with some shade and nice fresh looking grass. Perfect.

I rush back to the accueil to give the good news but am passed by a golf buggy driven by Madame de Camping Oye Plage Formidable with Clodlet riding shotgun and beaming. I am beckoned to follow. Madame Le Golf Buggy drives us to a burnt out desert of a pitch on the main path opposite the toilet block. It has at least six bits of grass left that might be living. Everything else, 'desole monsieur', is booked.

I walk back to the car and crank up the electro magnets behind the headlights.