The bees knees…

“To infinity and beyond!”

Having all but finished the water reed re-thatch in Rawridge (just the porch to do now that the scaffold is down) we are now out at Tatworth re-thatching a lovely little cider barn in wheat reed. Not quite so lovely are the Tree Bumblebees nesting in either end of the old thatch, mad as hell that I’ve disturbed them and landing several good stings. Luckily another customer who lives nearby, is a bee keeper, so on the hottest two days of the year so far I could be found looking a lot like Buzz Lightyear, in a heavy white canvas suit with mesh visor. Filled with new confidence I was back on the roof, but the bees kept coming with a tick tick tick as they each hit the visor. Pretty disconcerting for all I was protected, if melting inside the suit. I was later told that you’ve got to calm your breathing, and this, together with the fastest bit of thatching on those ends that I could manage with reduced vision and heavily gloved hands did seem to calm me and the bees down a bit. I’m all for saving the wildlife, but that was all a bit much!

Not quite so wild are Daisy’s cattle. The new calf and his mother are doing well, although he was less than pleased to have had some items removed from his person and flippy flappy ear tags fitted…cue much shaking of the head followed by sulking amongst the bluebells. The pigs are well and fine, with one of the sows in pig again and the yard cat is proving to be a successful hunter, although he’ll still run to the gate when he hears the vans for his morning snuggle. If you try and forego the snuggle, you’ll have a near permanent attachment to your feet and ankles as he winds his insistent purrs around you. It’s quicker and safer for cat and man just to pick him up and give him some time.

We’ve been spending every spare hour building Daisy’s pole barn. It’s in a sheltered spot and funnels cool air through it which has been a mercy on the hotter days. The roof is on and the back wall built, so we are not far off being able to find some hay and get it stored ready for winter. Casting the concrete floor might take a while as it seems there is a national cement shortage. I hope it ends soon as Daisy has started talking about ‘doing things the old fashioned way’ and ‘…maybe we could cobble it’. As nice as that would look, we’ll be tied up till Christmas if we start cobbling floors.

Mind you, I’ve just been given, without doubt, the strangest gift in my 30 years of thatching….to help with time management. The Rawridge people made me a spread sheet, showing all the hours worked, the rainy days, the days off (we do have them occasionally!) in the hopes that I would be better able to manage my time and improve productivity. The chap who created it is clearly a talented man, valued highly in his place of work and I do believe that I will frame his spreadsheet and put it on my wall; but I’ll be honest there isn’t much that will move me from my pattern of work: I’ll get there when I do, and once I’m there I’ll remain until I’m done. It has served me well all my life and I see no reason to change. The Tatworth customers, however, went to Otter Valley Ice Cream for the first time and with a large amount of icepacks and cool boxes, and possibly being a little heavy on the accelerator brought me back my favourite combination…chocolate and vanilla in a cone…I’ll leave the reader to decide which of my customers gifts pleased me the most.

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