Panic alleviated, different type of beetle!

Well with the colder nights settling in we’ve been getting the burner going. A fire for even 3 hours in the evening really warms the house as well as keeping us seriously toasty while watching telly, then just a quick hour on the central heating before we go to bed is just right.

The two large ash trees in spring, with the shorter pollarded one to the left, covererd in ivy a great nesting tree.

A few weeks ago we noticed a few beetles coming out of the wood, looked them up as you do on the wonderful internet and worried ourselves somewhat…
I identified them as the common furniture beetle, for the uninitiated woodworm!
So we vacuumed up as many as we could see and crushed them as we sat by the fire, wondering whether they were going to start eating the lovely oak floorboards and getting behind our dry lining… Do they eat tanalised wood? After a few days we got a bit less bothered, the sheer volume of them we couldn’t get them all! We began thinking that whatever we did they were probably doing their worst already.
I mentioned the issue of woodworm beetles in the house to a tree surgeon at my singing group, wondering if the boards would have been treated as we only put them down, new 3 years ago.
He asked in a relaxed and positive way if we were burning ash? yes.
Had we felled the tree in February? yes.*
Were they coming out through the bark? yes.
To my enormous relief said that it was the ash bark beetle… Apparently very common and looking almost exactly like the dastardly woodworm beetle.
So now I just squash the annoying ones flying round the light and vacuum them up every few days, there was quite a rattle down the hoover tube when I did the lampshade, must have been a few thousand tiny beetles to make that noise!

*Well before the problem of ash die back came into my consciousness, we have a lot of ash being in Wales, and are dreading the thought of losing them, we need to think carefully about 2 massive ones. We’re a little concerned as they could easily hit the house if they fell this way, but also don’t want to lose them. A previous tree surgeon friend cut one nearly as large down leaving a 10 foot trunk, which sprouted very quickly and now is a lovely sized tree, so we may do that again…


Chickens finally functioning as a unit…

So with the cold weather coming in I always feel a bit sorry for the chickens. We try to give them a bit more bedding to nestle down in if they want, but it does amaze me how they manage to keep warm.
The wet summer has meant that they have been hanging around in the porch quite a bit already, the only drawbacks are a lot of droppings and the occasional disdain from the cat as he has to get through them to his catflap! Sometimes he waits for a human escort through the rabble. We have a bench nearby that gives them the opportunity to perch at various heights, watching the changes in order has been quite amusing. It took a long time of for the new ones to settle in this time, but now they may be taking over.
They are loving the scraps, the picture shows them arguing over some rice with breadcrumbs and poultry spice, this lot will eat leftover potato too, other hens haven’t been so keen on them. Their favourite treat by far is the seeds from a pepper… We first noticed this while watching them attack the compost bucket en route to the heap, now we save every one for them.

They have been eating a lot of wild bird seed, one of their favorite hang out places is under the bird feeder, I reckon they eat more of that than the pellets we leave in the run, so their diet is very varied which must account for the fantastic taste the eggs have, (even our fish van man said they’re the best eggs he’s had in ages).
What is great to see is how they move around the garden together, often in pairs but not far from each other. Their behaviour is different from other groups we’ve had. These ones seem to like a fresh dust bathing area, so have made several new ones around the garden under the hedges and especially under the Welllingtonia (great redwood) we are lucky to have. It’s lovely and dry underneath, (so dry we store our big pile of kindling under there), but every evening – well around 4pm as the light fades, the girls are under some part of it or the hedge next to it, enjoying whatever grubs they can find.
Another benefit from this group is their apparent moss clearing ability, we’ll have to see what effect it has on the grass next spring and summer.