At the beginning of the month my brother was here and in amongst going off MoHoing, he helped a bit with the varnishing. All the windows had peeling varnish and the house was looking very tatty, as nothing got done last year. My brother is not scared of heights so was quite happy to varnish the highest lintel - K was happier to be down the bottom of the ladder because it bounces when he goes up it! Now most of the house has been done and looks a lot better.
In chicken news, poor Davie has Scaly Leg Mite. I haven't encountered that ailment before, so had to do some research to find treatment. It seems that dunking their legs in vegetable oil, or smearing them with vaseline, seems to be the most popular. Either literally suffocates the mites, but you have to keep up with the treatment because just like fleas, there's a breeding cycle of x amount of weeks (I forget right now and can't be bothered to go googling again!). Plus it's necessary to sprinkle insecticide powder or diatomaceous earth (the latter I don't have but mean to order some) around the shed/coop to kill any mites lurking there.
As for Randy, Sue who was his original breeder and who rehomed him after the fiasco here, has let me know that she has had to put him down. At first all seemed well and he seemed calm and happy with his new flock of hens. Then one day he attacked Sue for no reason whatsoever and caused her injury. She wasn't bothered about herself but feared for her old Labrador who wanders around amongst the chickens. It wasn't a good idea to breed from a cockered with aggressive tendencies either. So he's history now.
In butterfly news, I was really pleased to spot a Lulworth Skipper on the Verbena, as I've been watching my lavender for them, which is where I have usually spotted them. They are tiny and only the female has light coloured markings on her.
I found a Swallowtail cat on my bronze fennel and it's funny how they are much more yellow than those who munch dill. There is also a really daft caterpillar who has decided that the (umbrella) base to the bird feeder on the lawn is a good place to pupate. I wonder if it will be eaten by a bird, or will those danger colours work to protect it? Those colours won't still be there once it has pupated though. I'll keep you updated as I can see it out of the kitchen window!
The Chiffchaffs like the fennel too, and flit about after insects. I can watch them through the living room window as they can't see me unless I get too close.
In pond news, first of all, the moorhens have only been around sporadically. It's been two years since we had any nesting here. However recently the food we put down for the ducks by the beach was disappearing at a rate of knots and we were being shouted at by hungry ducks when we went outside! The mystery was solved, as after several times of seeing five 'somethings' gliding away into the undergrowth, and thinking they might have been juvenile moorhens, it seems we have Mrs Mallard and her four nearly full grown babies living here!!! This last week I have managed to see them a few times as they are getting a little braver, but it's amazing how five ducks can hide themselves so well on a pond as relatively small as mine.
There hasn't been a lot of dragonfly activity, but there have been tons of damselflies! I see several species of blue ones but can't ID them all unless I get reasonably close up photos. The ones below are White-legged Damselflies (Platycnemis pennipes) and they have been mating and ovipositing like crazy. Good, all the more damselflies in future years!
This bee was sleeping on a leaf on a plant in the pond.
In veg patch news, it continues to be a mix of complete overgrown mess and floral wonderment. And I have some potatoes! There are three plants which must have come from tiny seed potatoes that got left in the soil two years ago. Hopefully they will be Desirees, the red potatoes. Soon it'll be time to harvest them so I will find out.
I have been to the Melodious Warbler Walk twice, on warm sunny days, to look for butterflies. Being a farm track the verges don't get cut like beside the roads. There are a good amount of Skippers but the vast majority of butterflies are Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, and its teeming with them.
A bit of Skipper ID advice - below is a Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris), and its antennae tips are red.
And here is an Essex Skipper, with black antennae tips.
I have seen quite a few Dingy Skippers but I just seem to miss getting any decent shots! This is the best I could do.
A female Brimstone.
I managed to capture a male Brimstone as it was flapping its wings open.
As you all know what colour male Brimstones are by now, then may I present one of my images in monochrome...
... and to make up for that lack of colour, here's a blast of clashing colour! There's even a free hoverfly thrown in for good measure.
So what's this about, you might wonder? Well it's the results of my most recent blood test and shows the state of both my red and white blood cells. Ignore the numbers, what is special is that there is NO BOLD on the page!!! I've been seeing bold for about 18 months plus, as bold signifies the results outside of the normal range. I've been anything but normal obviously, so to see that my body must finally be throwing off the chemo poisons and getting back to normal is a cause for celebration.
There is other good news, and some not so good. Whilst the neuropathy in my fingers has got a lot better, my feet are not doing so well. There hasn't been any change for several months and just lately it feels like they are getting worse, particularly my right foot. It feels like it's being held in a vise - it's a bit like if you tie up shoe laces way too tight, but I can't undo them to relieve the pressure. However I can feel with my toes and the soles of my feet much better than before, but that also means that walking barefoot, like on a beach, is difficult - every tiny little pebble that is bigger than sand grains is like walking on barbs for me. Not so great when bits like that get between my sandals and my feet! Unfortunately I now feel too much and my feet are mega sensitive. Even light fingertips can feel like I've been pricked by something sharp. It's very disappointing as it's been a year now and I don't know what I can do about it. Except wait and hope for the best. :-/
OK it's time to be cheerful again, and that is precisely how I feel. Three months after taking them and my antidepressants are working properly! The last few weeks I have felt happy - someone else told me that when she took them there was no sudden change but that one day she realised she felt normal again, and that's exactly what has happened to me! I feel human again as my sense of pleasure has been returned to me. And not just when away from home, but finally at home I can walk around the garden and take pleasure in the little things again. I haven't quite got full vim and vigour back (that will probably take many months and not just to do with the depression, but still getting over the illness) but I've been pottering about the garden doing jobs that need doing, although I'm still putting off housework! I do feel much more energetic than I was. I now have the utmost sympathy for anyone suffering from depression having been there myself. It's hell.
I have also started doing exercises as we are off on holiday next month and I want to be able to do some hikes without collapsing in a heap! Believe it or not I've been back on my exercise bike - yes I can manage to sit on it - it's not exactly comfortable but like many seats, after a while the nerve damaged bits sort of forget that it's uncomfortable.
I ordered some new swimming cossies as my old ones were ancient anyway and wouldn't fit me now. I also have to think about hiding the bag. So I've got some brilliant swim shorts from Lands' End and a sort of swim skirt that I bought from an ostomy supplier - that one comes up above the belly button and is ruched so hides a bag very easily, and has a pouch thingy to put it in and hold it in place. The swim shorts show a bit of the top of my bag but that will be covered with the tankini tops. However I went wild and ordered a bikini top too - it's kind of large and retro looking so looks great with either the shorts or swim skirt for a 50s look. Apparently that's quite trendy these days! I'm feeling so chilled these days that I couldn't care less if I show a bit of bag top - who is going to notice anyway? I'm far more self concious about my flabby cellulitic thighs! (Another really good reason for getting swim shorts.... oh and doing exercise).
All that brings me to more good news. I already have a supply of mini bags which is for when I go swimming on holiday, but I am wearing them more often now. That is because the last couple of weeks I have been self irrigating! My first two sessions were with my stoma nurse who has taught me how to do it. Basically I am giving myself an enema through my stoma, and getting rid of the contents of my colon. That gives me a couple of days (cross fingers) where no, or little, poo comes out of my stoma, meaning I can feel much more confident about going out and about, no worries about leaks, no discomfort, no more bad smells, no more having to go to the loo just to 'fiddle about with' my bag even though I don't need a pee. Anyway so far it seems to be working great now I am getting the hang of how my body is functioning and how much water I need to use. Hopefully if it continues to go well and I am confident enough I can wear just a stoma cover/plug which isn't much bigger than a large plaster. Being poo free will be a godsend on holiday as if we are out all day in the mountains, away from the MoHo, then I won't have any worries about having to bag change 'behind a bush'! I will, however, have the fun of irrigating in the van's tiny bathroom, and the accompanying smells emanating throughout the van. Hey ho, K will just have to get out of bed and go and sit outside! :-)