Sunday, 11 November 2007

Preparing for the winter

I seem to be down to a normal number of spam messages, so presumably the program generating them has finished. I wonder how many messages it sprayed around the world. I reckon I had about 5000 returned messages, but I've no idea what the undeliverable to delivered ratio is likely to be. Only one person seems to have thought it really was me sending the junk.

Today has been a day of sorting things out for the winter. We've not finished, of course, but we have done several things. We put Jen's bike away for the winter, for one. She always has a lecture series which overlaps the weekend the clocks go back, and she can't depend on the trains to get her to work on time, so always rides until she's finished giving this set of lectures, then puts the bike away. The only work we needed to do on it was to fashion a small aluminium bracket for the fairing. The grp around the bolt holding one part to the frame had fractured, so I made a bit to span the gap and bolted it firmly to the frame again.

The other main task was to net the second pond. This entailed pulling lots of weed out of the freezing water and clipping back the leaves of the Japanese water irises, before stretching the net across. I also try to get as many water lily leaves out as I can while I'm at it. The idea is that any leaves that decay in the water raise the nutrient levels, so encourage green murky water in the early summer.

Pulling out lily leaves, it became clear there were several centres of growth. The radiating leaf stems were a bit of a giveaway. Reaching down into the water I found that there were great thick water lily roots right up to the edge of the pond. I grabbed some and pulled, and the whole lot moved towards me. To start with I just broke chunks off and piled them on the side of the pond, but eventually I pulled the whole thing out. There was wheelbarrow-load of water lily, combined with stinking, thick, gelatinous, black mud. Lovely! It all went on the compost heap apart from the original plastic pot still containing the original plant which I tossed back in. Then we netted the pond.

The other thing I've done this weekend was to put up a nestbox for tawny owls. I bought this thing made of stuff called woodcrete, which is a mixture of cement and sawdust. What I hadn't anticipated (or even given any thought to) was just how much the thing weighs. Must be 10 or 15 kilos, I reckon.

So yesterday I screwed it to the wall overlooking the neighbouring property (that wall is on the boundary and next door is sheltered housing for wrinklies) but was not comfortable that the screws I'd used were man enough for the job. During the night I remembered I had some much meatier screws, so this morning I was up the ladder again, and now I think the thing is much more secure. We really hope some tawnies take up residence. There used to be owls around when we first moved in 20 years since, but some years ago the old barns and sheds across the road were demolished and a handful of houses built, and since then there've been fewer owls. Fewer bats, too, come to that.


The HOR blogger said...

OOOoooo Do keep us updated with your owl prospects! I love that sort of thing, good luck Rob! :)

Winterizing is so much fun right? Speaking of I think I have several vehicles that could be asking for antifreeze, perhaps I should take a gander. :) Here we're heat-taping our pipes and getting things put away. GOOD BYE lawn mower! Ha! Ok so hello shovel. ;)

And I'm WAY late but the pendant you made for your wife is quite lovely! Like for real not just being nice, it's really pretty. Good job :)

Rob Clack said...

Thanks thb. Jenny really likes the pendant too, which is the object of the exercise of course!

We should be bringing in the tender plants, but actually the winters here are almost warm enough these days for many of them to stay outside. A neighbour leaves her dahlias in the ground all year, and in the past we've abandoned geraniums (pelargoniums) only to find them still hanging in there in the spring, so it's quite tempting just to leave the stuff out and hope for the best.

dulwichmum said...

I spent last weekend cleaning up for the winter too. Soon the Christmas tree will be in the hall and we will have pine needles all over the house... I do hope you get an owl to move in. Please keep us informed.