September is bat counting month so off I went with the Lothian Bat Group to peer into 20 or so bat boxes to see who was at home in Hermand Birchwood, our small SWT reserve in West Lothian. There are several different types of box, but until recently only one kind of bat, the Common Pipistrelle. Recently we have found that some of them are Soprano Pipistrelles, something which must be obvious to a Pip but was hidden to us until we developed DNA analysis of bat poo, although they do vary in other ways, such as the frequency of their echo-location. Now we have Natterer's bats too, which seem to be on the increase either from global warming, some other factor or even simply that Natterer's are much more cautious about new accommodation and let the Pips try it out first.
Here's a Natterer swearing in bat at being woken up at 11 am. I think they are quite cute,(though perhaps not pretty) being small and furry. And, before anybody suggests otherwise, they are completely harmless.
The next project is a couple of poly-tunnels, here's the first frame, there's not much point in putting the cover on just yet as the ground needs preparing. The second will be much larger and more home-made looking.
I was told of some unwanted horse manure, fairly mature stuff, nearby, so that's the next job, getting out there with the grubby trailer before it reaches the ears of other gardeners. I think I'm going to need a small digger to level the site of the larger poly-tunnel, so that'll need factoring in too. The objective is to extend our vegetable growing season and to make life a bit more difficult for our occasional visiting rabbits, which are only cute when in the right geographic locations.
They don't seem to understand that does not include the vegetable patch where they transform into the rampaging bunnies of death, and occasionally into ex-fluffy bunny stew.
Progress continues with the Midges, that's the cars not the ferocious little insects,
(Re the insects, my thanks to Paul for pointing out Smidge)
Back to the cars, I finally got a device to check the tracking on the Green Midge, and sure enough it was well out, which accounts for the tyre scuffing. I also replaced the Herald front springs and shock absorbers with the slightly less firm ones from a Spitfire. The combination of changes improved the handling considerably. Sadly in the process I found two petrol leaks, which in themselves resulted in fairly easy fixes, but led me to discuss the matter with an engineer friend. The upshot was that the Triumph engine is not the type I thought it was, and explains the lack of power. Fortunately I have a spare that is the correct type, so the current engine comes out shortly and I'll start fettling the new one, which means a new exhaust and other fiddly bits. Tom, the engineer, sent me a picture of his ideal car, a Singer Le Mans Special, and I admit I can't see much wrong with it.
Below, to give you an idea of what they go for now........
Sale Date: 24th July 2013
Lot Number: 76
1937 Singer Nine Le Mans Special Speed
Sold For £30,240
Reg Number:FTF 477 Chassis Number:5633 Engine Number:3238 Cc:9hp Body Colour: Dark Green Trim Colour:Green MOT ExpiryDate:June 2014
This charming example of Singer's rare Le Mans Special Speed is a 1937 year model manufactured in 1936 which factory records indicate was sold new to a Mr HA de Morgan of the Isle of Man by WH Shimmins in Douglas. In the current ownership for the past 40 years, 'FTF 477' was restored approximately 13 years ago by renowned marque specialist Ian Blackburn and is described as currently having "very good" paintwork with "excellent" bodywork, 4-cylinder engine, electrics and interior. Work carried out during the restoration included replacement of the ash frame, body, paint, interior and chrome-work whilst all running gear was restored. Finished attractively in dark green with green leather, this sporting Singer is offered with Swansea V5 document, old logbook, road fund licence to May 2014 and MoT to June 2014.
It's pretty close to the kind of thing I'm aiming for with the Midge, but at £30k you can see why I'm building my own.
It does make you wonder why the manufacturers don't just put them into production again. If I can do it.........
The walking club set off for a third walk on the 29th, and we spent a delightful couple of hours wandering through a bit of wood and burn (stream) countryside, just 3/4 of a mile from the house. Waterfalls, burbling water, birds and such, with a lunch/snack break in the middle. Very pleasing and lots of life, the universe etc discussions.
Here's a view looking back over to Tarbrax. a lovely sunny day, but I wouldn't stand there when Winter hits, that's a time to appreciate the comforts of civilisation, whisky, log fire, double glazing and a good book.
Speaking of log fires, well they need wood, and that needs to be dry. The corrugated iron roof of the wood-shed was getting a bit too rusty to be trustworthy, so a new roof , about £200 of new style wrinkly tin, and a bit of work and there we go. It took a couple of days work, but that was because it's always slower retrofitting than doing a new-build.
There is a volume of 12 cubic metres of chopped wood there, probably 8 cubes of solid wood. Should do for now.
I'd rather have had the same colour as the rest of the garage but my supplier changed manufacturer, the difference in colour is rather stark at present, hopefully it will mellow with the lichen etc. Still it's much smarter than the previous corrugated iron, which, in turn, will become lids and shutters for the compost heaps. I'll have to tidy up that side wall soon, and let the air circulate better, though the current bits of 30 year old recycled garage wall seem to be working reasonably well.
The stuff to the right of the same picture is the next garage extension, another freebie, ready to go up once I put a base down. One advantage of this kind of building material is that I can take it down or move it fairly easily.
The image below is the roof for it, the same sort of profile sheeting but with an insulating foam layer. Sadly black was the only available colour, but that will only offend the more observant pilot.
I do like building things, or repairing them. My neighbour refers to the activity as shed therapy, I'm not sure that was supposed to include shed building, but I feel it is a worthwhile activity as it allows for more room for the more traditional 'inside shed' shed therapy.
Of course shed therapy tends to fill sheds with useful machinery, benches, shelves, cupboards, etc. Resulting in the eventual need for more or larger sheds.
I'm looking toward finding a pillar drill at present, but there again I will need hubs and spinners for the wire wheels on the Red Midge. Decisions, decisions..........
That'll do for the moment, I promised to repair Fiona's telescope case, and that needs doing before lunchtime.
Well it's the 2nd of October already, and the autumn leaves are turning to some beautiful shades of red and gold, always reminds me of Justin Haywards song 'Forever Autumn'... well it would, wouldn't it? Once the frost has shifted the trees over to their winter setting (and caused the wood to dry out a bit) I can drop a couple of them and add them to the wood pile, and that will clear the decks for the poly-tunnels. More room and more light.
The poly-tunnel project is the result of a series of influences, I've got the space and If I don't do something on it, then the weeds will colonise it again. So the tunnels will suppress them, and we can ensure a bigger, pesticide free crop for longer. This last year's crop was very good, being warm for so long. It would be nice to make that happen more often.
Also, although I'm not expecting a fimbulwinter, in the event of Vesuvius going pop, as apparently it might, the food supply could get tricky. A long shot, but a little extra insurance against poor summers won't hurt.
I used Google search to check my spelling of fimbulwinter and was somewhat startled to be presented with a page explaining how to cause one using witchcraft! Why any witch, smart enough to be able to do it, would want to start a small ice-age is beyond me.
Well I'd better go and take a look at a nearby garden centre where, I'm told, there is information about do it yourself poly-tunnels and a supply of plastic sheeting.
It's a slow process, driving about looking for people who know about poly-tunnels, I can see why most folks either use the internet to buy one from the manufacturer or ebay. We heard of a few contacts who might be able to help, but they tend to be out doing things. Still, the ground will need clearing and levelling and I'll need to put down some soil, manure and whatever, not to mention knocking over a few trees that have outlived their usefulness. All useful firewood anyway, and blocking far too much light at the moment. Two or three spruce (I think) and some rowan. The biggest rowan is almost dead, and I wouldn't trust it to miss the smaller poly-tunnel frame in the next gale anyway, so I'd better pre-empt it.