Saturday, 25 July 2015
Albert Einstein and the bees : Ignore the science and give in to the chemical industry
|Native black bees in Kilchoan far from oilseed rape and neonicotinoids|
The UK government has just lifted the EU wide ban on neonicotinoid seed dressings to control flea beetle in oilseed rape crops, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that this stuff does affect bees. Its a political decision ignoring the science. Perhaps that's why they haven't published the minutes of the latest UK Pesticide Safety Committee meeting. Could be that the discussion didn't suit the chemical industry and the NFU.
Our bees here in Lochaber are safe enough its when they are foraging in oilseed rape crops that the bees are poisoned. It seems that any species that ingests oilseed rape tissue, pollen or nectar is susceptible. According to one credible scientific source it only takes 5 maize seeds treated with neonics to kill a partridge.
Lab experiments have shown that the bee's ability to navigate and find its way back to the hive is damaged by these chemicals. There is an important principle at stake here; The "Precautionary Approach" it means we should assume that there will be damaging side effects of new technology and it should therefore be thoroughly screened, tested and evaluated for environmental safety.
It seems that the pursuit of profit at any environmental cost is compromising the UK Government's obligation to keep us safe and the environment healthy. Members of the Pesticide Safety Committee might consider resignation en masse in protest. But of course they won't!
Without the Pesticide Safety Committee's work we would still be using dieldrin and DDT ,nerve gas derivatives, to control parasites of sheep while poisoning wildlife and Shepherds.
Friday, 24 July 2015
Little Grey Fergie splits the firewood.
Linked to the Fergie hydraulics it exerts about 12 tonnes pressure at the splitter blade and goes through the toughest wood smoothly, quietly and quickly. Its a pleasure to use. I did suggest that people would pay for the experience of operating it at today's Sports Day but of course you have to consider "Elfin safety!".
Harry Ferguson probably did more to revolutionise post-war British farming than any other person. He provided a vast range of tools to fit his tractors including a saw-bench but it seems that he never thought of a log splitter.
The tractor was built in the 50 s and then renovated by Alan, it putters away driving the hydraulics sounding and smelling as a tractor should.......... smells almost as good as a hot chainsaw cutting pine on a cold winter morning.
Monday, 13 July 2015
Something really nasty
Dermatophilus congolensis sounded nasty enough; crusty skin rubbed off when it itches followed by a secondary infection. Its caused by a bacterium but it is spread by direct contact like orf
|His companion the Cheviot tup hasn't been affected|
He has produced some first class lambs and he has to go this year or he will be mating with his daughters. He'll be difficult to sell for breeding with his scarred face so will probably end up in pork pies and pet food.
Pony baggage : Fat, teeth and new shoes
|Jenny Wren getting fat|
Ponies get fat on fresh air and weeds, even in what seems to be a bare paddock and pony owners are for ever thinking; " does my pony look fat in this". This being a horse rug. They have very efficient digestive systems; the ponies not the owners, so unless they are working really hard like Black Beauty or my Grandfather's Clydesdales did ..... don't feed them anything at all when they are at grass, especially in the Spring when the green stuff is full of soluble carbs. Manage them so you can still see their ribs.
A horse's teeth grow continuously otherwise they would soon wear away to stumps, they are not just there so that horse people and every Irishman can tell how old your pony is, they also contribute to making Vets wealthy because they need regular home visits for tooth maintenance with a file.
Finally but most importantly; they need new shoes and pedicure more often than their owners. This means that you need a Farrier. Farriers have arcane and mysterious skills acquired over many years at college, in the Army and the gym. Never forget that they are doing you a favour by attending to your pony entirely at their convenience and by taking all major credit cards for the eye watering fee.
I am still avoiding the baggage because Sue Cameron, Connie and Rosie deal with it.
Monday, 6 July 2015
Jenny Wren : Arab x Highland pony arrives
Jenny Wren is an Arab x Highland pony, good looking but sturdy, the good looks from the Arab genes and the toughness from the Highland genes.
She must be tough and hardy she has been out wintered on wind swept Hebridean island for three years without a shelter.
Formerly a trekking pony on Mull she seems quiet and well mannered but hungry. As soon as the head collar came off her head was down and she was eating. We'll have to keep an eye on her she could get fat very quickly up there.
The plan is for the girls to ride her under their Grandmother's supervision while they are here in the school holidays and as Gracie is now two and a half its time that she can get started.
|Up to the hill|
|Tough, hardy and good looking|
Saturday, 4 July 2015
The N. Atlantic coast : unfit for human habitation?
We took the train to Tarbes, hired a car and went house / smallholding hunting.
The estate agent explained that there were basically three types available. Houses built or renovated by the French were beside a main road with stylish décor, lots of stainless steel and impressive vegetable plots. Houses renovated by Brits had terracotta tiled floors, oak beams, wood burners and a skip load of empty wine bottles. The third category was described as, " habitable" , this meant that the former farmer occupant had recently expired and the corpse had been removed, lots of scope for "remont" !.
Despite there being many suitable nice places we decided against moving to southern France its benign climate and promise of a rural idyll. Much of it is as remote as Kilchoan and where ever you go you need social capital, friends and neighbours you can rely on. This is difficult to acquire unless you are moving to a job, have children in school and are willing to join the village cycling club.
Language isn't a problem, Dormouse has read Proust in French, mine largely acquired in Quebec, is passable and mildly amusing to the natives. I do admire the place. France is the most civilised country in the world; its almost worth enlisting in the Foreign Legion to get French citizenship after five years service.
So here I am, in waterproofs most of the time on the edge of the N. Atlantic wondering sometimes, "is this fit for human habitation" after all, as a species, we evolved in the tropics and sub-tropics, perhaps it was a mistake to move too quickly and too far from the sun.
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