All posts by Bill Sticker

Retired professional Expat and black belt in Sarcasm. Citizen of the world who keeps his native British accent for tax purposes. Travels a lot.

Making meadows

At present our two meadows are cluttered with newly shorn rushes and grasses. I’ve got a little more seeding later next week when the rain lets up and there’s a few other jobs like assembling my honey harvesting gear and prepping a few jars for filling.

Now some of you might have picked up on me planting a native flower called Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor). Here’s a brief video explanation of what it does and what we’re hoping to achieve;

Mrs S has been off to physio, so I’m off the leash from hanging curtains and shifting furniture to get on with what I consider the important tasks of harvesting and development of our greater property. Before we bought it, our little acreage was neglected for several years, so it’s going to be a bit of a long drawn out process to bring it up to a natural hay meadow standard and to clear most of the Dock and Rush, as organic hay will be fetching a premium price over the next two years, as politicians who do not understand agriculture pile yet more rules and dangle subsidies on the most productive sector of the economy.

As previously stated, we do not intend to get involved with these new rules, as they only apply to properties that take subsidies. Refuse to play the game and what can they do? Stop the payments you don’t take? Forcibly take your property unless you get with the programme? No Ministry would survive the adverse publicity.

When it comes to subsidies, I always apply Heinlein’s T.A.N.S.T.A.A.F.L. (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) rule. Specifically that all ‘free gifts’ offered by the political class have toxic strings attached. Because someone, somewhere has to pick up the tab, and if you take the poisoned chalice, as so many have found to their cost when trying to pay off their ‘Education loans’ or any other kind of government promoted loan. That will be you-hoo. Sorry. Bit of an eighties flashback there.

So no subsidies, just my own pocket. At least I can benefit from all of the payback. Same for the house. If we don’t have the ready money, well then it doesn’t get done if cashflow won’t allow, and even then I’ve learned to be a financial pessimist.

Besides, ‘Government money’ should be more correctly referred to as ‘taxpayer dollar’. Whenever an administration offers other people money, they will have to take it off the taxpayer first. Then there is the cost of collection, which means that people will need to be employed to collect the money to pay out to other people, which is a cost. Which means the money collected shrinks as more staff and infrastructure are required to take the tax and process the payments. Then there’s the risk of later, more venal politicians plundering the increased tax revenues or purposes it wasn’t originally intended for, then adding to the amount taken. So. The more ‘redistribution’, using empty buzzwords like ‘fairness’ and ‘equity’ the bigger the tax take, the emptier our pockets, and the richer the politicians get. Simple logic. The money has to come from and go somewhere, and the problems the increased tax take was meant to solve too often remain.

I’m also seeing a lot of “Pensioners thrown under the bus” rhetoric out there, and as I’ve stated before, I have no intention of being held hostage by a state pension alone. Mrs S is getting geared up for her projects, as I have been. Her workshop is coming together slowly, as is mine, although mine has the most holes in it, and will require the most investment. However, we have our first crop in and money to pay our taxes, so it’s not all doom and gloom. We will not be customers of any food bank.

On the topic of food I’m experimenting with soup recipes at the moment and our old fridge freezer is doing sterling work as storage. Current recipes being trialled are: Russian vegetable, Steak and vegetable, Fish stew, Celery and blue cheese. There is a modest crop of tomatoes still ripening in our garden which I hope to transform into a couple of litres of Passata. All of the aforementioned to become nourishing weapons in our battle against declining incomes as we head into official ‘retirement’.

Speaking of declining incomes, I’ve been doing an off the cuff price check with goods at the local Supermarket, and have come up with a rough local inflation rate of 25%. Bread is almost up a Euro per loaf. Cake similarly. Pre-packaged bacon up fifty cents, and this holds true across the board. At a rough back of a fag packet calculation, prices on staple items have risen more than a quarter over what they were last year. That’s a lot. This seems to hold true no matter where you shop.

And you can’t blame the Russians because these price rises began long before the Ukraine business, or the Yanks bombing the Nordstream pipelines. Think that wasn’t the Americans or one of their proxies? The long arm of coincidence would like to give you a good hard prod in the ribs. The Germans certainly seem to think it was the Yanks.

As for four blasts, one explosion might be down to poor maintenance or carelessness in one pipe, but four simultaneously? On both? Following NATO exercise BALTOPS22 and recent statements from both Biden and the CIA that they were going to shut down Nordstream? Then there’s the recently opened Baltic Pipe, from Norway to Poland. Can I sell you this bridge son? Great skyline, Only a billion careful users. The current US administration is no-one’s friend.

It’s almost like someone wants a world wide depression. With the manipulation of energy markets the lights may well be going out all over the world, and if we’re lucky we might not see all of them go out. For my own part I’ll be busy trying to make my meadows bloom. We do what we can do.

No sex please, we’re idiots

I see those fun loving extremists of the People for the Extermination and Termination of Animals are at it again. No sex for meat eating males is what they’re proposing. Give up the steaks or the biological female persons who align themselves with the anti-human cause of extreme nutventalism will forever cross their legs. Although as one who has been a card carrying environmentalist for most of his days, even I can see the blatant flaws in such thinking.

Living close to nature as I do, I can easily see the big ticking biological pink elephant in the room for those bio-female persons who choose the “Do as I say or no rumpy pumpy for you” course. Fine, say I. Let your biological line dry up with your ovaries, because that is what will happen. No sex = no children = no grandchildren = and eventually no one to pay for your bloated public sector pension (Or my pittance either).

Bees know that the hive is more important than the individual. The Queen must be carefully tended, because from her all life comes. Just so with human females, because through the distaff comes the march of the generations. Yet that very important job does not mean that she should micromanage her spouses behaviour like in dictating his diet, because as Rudyard Kipling elegantly put it:

I know, I’m married, and you know what? Despite the occasional disagreement, I would not have it any other way. Besides, if she demands something I can’t or won’t provide, we’ve come to the point where she will take a well reasoned “No” as an answer from me.

Recovery mode

Recovering from a moderate dose of the flu this week. Not COVID, just a bog standard dose of the lurgi which has left me with a morning cough and heavy sense of lethargy. Bloody thing. It’s been hanging around like the last guest at a party who doesn’t know when it’s long past time to go home.

That’s not really important because the meadows are cut, the grass crop is in and I’m out seeding just before dusk. The idea is to create a wildflower meadow with a particular native species called Yellow Rattle, a parasitic plant that cuts down the grass content of a given meadow by binding to the roots of various types of grass, allowing easier germination of other types of native species of meadow plant. Well, that’s what I’m told anyway.

One issue with grassland over here, because of Ireland’s geology, the soil tends toward wet and poor nutrient, which means rushes. Rushes (Juncus Effusus L), are little use for man nor beast and a pain in the bum to get rid of from pastureland. Experiments have been done, trying to turn them into some sort of biofuel, but so far nothing commercial. So I’m trying a parasitic planting to reduce the rushes in our meadows and thus improve the pasture and forage.

We’re doing our land management in partnership with an NGO which promotes the creation and maintenance of native plant species for pollinators and native bee species. My neighbours are all watching with interest, as their land has a similar set of problems.

We could be setting a trend here, if it works. Especially with the new ‘Green’ agenda being forced on us small farmers from above. The politicians can’t force you to stop using artificial fertilisers if you don’t use them anyway, but just you watch the townies start screaming as yields drop and food prices soar. ‘Sustainable’ my left buttock.

Speaking of bees. Last hive inspection before Winter is done, and I may have to wait until Spring before I split my colonies into heavily insulated ‘Nuc’s’. However, instead of feeding, I’ve elected to leave a ‘Super’ on top of the brood box on each hive so that my bees have plenty of winter food already. This means I have a reduced crop, but it still leaves me with a healthy surplus for gifts, mead brewing and personal use this year. So, win-win for both me and the bees.

As for me, I’ll feel a whole lot better in a week or so when I’ve shrugged off this damn flu. Because there’s a whole heap of things to be done before Winter comes, and people owe me favours, which I intend to do a little cashing in on.

The real granny killers

Mrs S has a dose of the dreaded lurgi, a SARS/COV-2 infection, courtesy I think of baby sister in law who came to visit even though she was coughing and spluttering. So, I’m busy keeping my other half cool, medicated and resting. Not that I’m that worried. Mrs S is a robust woman who will slough this latest illness off like she has everything else.

This may play ducks and drakes with her upcoming hospital appointments, but the restraints are off (leg & knee brace etc), and it’s only for physio anyway. Fresh air, good food and gentle exercise will pull her through with ease. It’s ironic really, because she’s had the booster shots and I have steadfastly refused to do so. So, it is what it is.

I see all the crazy green dreams of ‘Net Zero’ are starting to crumble, despite the insanity of places like Oxford and elsewhere hamstringing their local economies with pointless traffic restrictions. Newsflash kiddies. If people can’t get in to buy things, your city centres will rot from the inside out. Trade needs goods to move to be bought and sold. If the goods don’t move, the money gradually stops, and places become wasteland.

What ‘Net Zero’ also does is kill. Mainly old people on fixed incomes who can’t afford the skyrocketing bills caused by Net Zero policies and the pointless lockdowns. For the rabid greenies, well they don’t care that your elderly parent will freeze to death in the dark. Their empty headed fanaticism will result in thousands of deaths because, contrary to their beliefs, reality tells us that there is no empirically proven causal link between human emissions of Carbon Dioxide and weather The claimed correlation only exists in the output of bad theoretical models and the crazed ravings of rent seekers. I’ve looked at the source data and model output. There’s nothing there.

The rabid greenies, fraidy cat NIMBY’s and their insistence that wind and solar are more use than a chocolate teapot, will be directly responsible for people freezing to death. People like the loathsome Extinction rebellion and their protest splinter groups will be directly to blame for people starving in the dark. But what do you expect from the kind of ‘woke’ idiots who can’t even tell a man from a woman? Bozo’s.

You didn’t have to be a genius or a prophet to see this motorway pile up of an economic car crash coming. It’s so obvious that anyone with two brain cells to rub together can see it. Yet the cosseted urbanites of the rabid green faction, living off borrowed money the rest of us are going to have to repay, can’t.

Lifting the ban on fracking will help. The panics about seismicity are just that, empty panics. The ‘earthquakes’ associated with fracking are at worst magnitude two point five, which no one will notice because it’s below the range of human perception. These ‘quakes caused by settling as rock strata give up their oil and gas can only be detected by seismographs. Having experienced several over magnitude three I can tell you it’s like having a heavy truck roll by the house. A saucer might rattle, or a picture tilt, but that’s all. Mining subsidence from badly maintained mothballed mine tunnels can lead to far worse subsidence. A dryer than usual Summer or much wetter Winter can lead to far more ground shifting. Hardly grounds for killing the poor and elderly.

Now 1200+ scientists have signed a ‘world climate declaration‘ stating that there is ‘no climate emergency’. Unfortunately this body of scientific opinion will be ignored even after people start to die. Rather like the ‘Great Barrington Declaration‘ (With almost a million signatories) devised by well qualified immunologists and researchers is still being ignored by much of the political class, many of whom have blood on their hands over both climate and pandemic. Their policies are already killing more people than they ‘save’. Either from denial of treatment or putting a stranglehold on reasonably priced energy, or more directly from inappropriate use of badly tested ‘vaccines’ and ‘renewables’ not delivering in the depths of winter.

For me, I saw this coming a long time ago and have been taking steps to protect those I care for. Insulation. Affordable fuel. Alternate sources of food. The money we squirreled away for our frail dotage has been invested carefully, and as soon as Mrs S is back in action it’ll be full steam ahead.

The granny killers are not going to take us without a fight.

Violating community guidelines

Our guests leave today. In one case I am heaving a huge sigh of relief. Baby sister in law has proven herself a scorpion guest, my other sister in law not so much, but still almost as entitled. No wonder their husbands did not come with them.

There are guidelines to visiting. Unwritten rules about conducting yourself while a guest in another’s home. You get fed when the host or hostess says. Because their house is not a f*cking restaurant or a hotel. You behave with good grace, do not insult your hosts, or behave in an offensive manner. Sisters in law have broken all these rules in the last few days and they will not be invited back.

If it was just our daughters, this week would have been much more fun, but the unwritten guidelines of this specific community have been broken and the breakers will not be admitted to Chez Maison Sticker again while the host still draws breath. I’ve literally shed blood in this place (Although I have cleaned up after myself) and done my best to provide sustenance that all would find acceptable. Dietary preferences were accepted and catered for, but this was not good enough and I have been forced to waste the precious commodities of food and time.

The shrieking level also increased past acceptable limits. Tell me, why do some people have to shout so much in enclosed spaces? My dining room can accommodate ten at a push, but six last night sounded like a chicken house at feeding time. Twenty men having a heated discussion would not have made half the racket. But I bit my tongue, knowing that the womenfolk would shortly be gone.

Noting my silence, Mrs S chided me for my lack of ‘social skills’, to which I later retorted that I was not the one breaching the accepted rules of hospitality. I mean really, what does a chap have to do? Methinks when there’s a house full of females, not much apart from hide, which I chose not to do. Whose bloody house is it anyway? Answer; mine. Not theirs, mine. Anyone who doesn’t like it knows where the door is. And the road to the f*cking airport, too.

Even youngest has noticed, and vouchsafed to us while out on a drive yesterday; “Is there any way I can be emancipated from this family?” I know how she feels.

There is a saying, I believe one of Benjamin Franklyn’s “Fish and visitors stink after three days” Well the stinking for me started on Monday, when sisters in law tried to come the high hand in my bloody kitchen. They literally tried to order me about in my own home.

Well this is our home, our private space and I dislike being dictated to just because I am related to someone by marriage. As for anyone ‘reporting’ anyone at my table for ‘hate speech’ as is law in Scotland for example, I would throw them out immediately and never invite them again. Not even as someone else’s guest. Dinner table conversation is sacrosanct, and I will allow any topic of discussion providing people don’t start throwing food. That is not done. This isn’t a drunken officers mess. Ratarsed drunk is acceptable, bad behaviour like ratting to the ‘authorities’ is not.

Putting people in jail for an opinion likewise unless they are confessing to murder or suchlike. As for ‘misgendering’, those getting ‘offended’ are the ones who need locking up. In a padded cell for their safety and others, as the whole gender dysphoria thing is still listed as a mental illness. As is being a ‘Minor attracted person’. These are people who have no place in a tolerant civilised society.

On that general drift, I notice recently that some rather innocuous, mildly conservative ‘saves’ on my Pinterest (It’s the only Social Media I do) feed have been ‘removed’ for ‘violating community guidelines’. No idea why as the posts in question were about as offensive as Lemon Mousse. Just a collection of vintage pulp sci-fi covers, aircraft art, cars and motorcycles, a bit of politics and philosophy, nothing much. One even got reinstated after a manual ‘review’. Not that I care, I’ll save a few more like them and Pinterest can go stuff themselves. They can even delete my account, which I only share with Mrs S for interior design pictures, sod ’em all.

On a general note; anyone who demands my ‘respect’ will be firmly told; “My respect is earned, bone brain. Get lost.”

Now I’m off to the airport to send our guests winging whence they came. Afterwards I will probably sing loudly and happily all the way home. Something bawdy for preference. If anyone objects, I’ll tell them I’m just rehearsing. For what, I’m not telling.

God save the King

There. I’ve said it. The Queen is dead, long live the King. I may not like Charles’s stance on man made climate change, or his obeisance to the wokish side of politics, but I am sworn. And an oath is an oath. May God help me.

Queen Liz, Brenda, whatever you want to call her, is no more. No doubt with a sense of relief to be following her husband, but with concern for the future of the people for whom she was the figurehead.

How do I feel about this? For someone I could never know personally? Deeply saddened. Subdued and, in a dry-eyed way mournful. I’m not really a monarchist either. The whole wavy flag, my country right or wrong thing passed me by. Yet I understand the need for a head of state, and I’d far rather it was someone trained for the long haul, rather than some mere politician.

What I don’t want to listen to is the torrent of empty platitudes from mere politicians, because she, and she alone was my sovereign lady. I may not have cared for the actions of her politicians and servants, but since before I was born she was the lynchpin of the land of my birth and the greater commonwealth.

All I have to say is this. God speed Elizabeth. You served your people as well as you could from the gilded cage of your position.

For the next few days I will be wearing black as a mark of mourning and respect. I may not crack a smile for a while. Something subtly important has departed from my life, and from the lives of so many of my fellow expats.

Now what? I think it is time for new beginnings. A time for the end of fear. To rid ourselves of old dogmas like COVID and man made climate change. To abandon the woke minority to the obscurity they so richly deserve, and to tell the yanks to stuff their crappy foreign policy once in a while. To begin to live properly again.

Of such small things…

Goes the saying; “Of such small things is happiness constructed” and thus I have found a small slice of happiness in this vale of tears. My wife is happily chattering with her sisters, who flew from the other side of the world to be here. Both our kids are cooking Sunday supper, and I sit triumphant because I have finally won a small battle with our eccentric septic system.

There is a beer on my right hand with the promise of more, my other half got the most wonderful surprise when she was greeted by both her sisters and her children at the airport, believing that only two would arrive. My shrivelled black heart was lightened by the sight of her tears of joy. Even if she did give me grief about my navigation on the way home.

Upon our arrival at home I found that the drains were beginning to back up. We had this once before. One of the septic drains was built with too shallow a slope and a strategic U-trap had become partially blocked with builders waste, leaf compost and moss while no-one was living here, leading to low flows and human waste building up in the downstream drain. So we had to spend cash on getting a septic service in to suck out the worst of it.

Today I finally worked out where the problem lay and flushed it clean. All the stagnating waste has been hosed into the main tank and the offending blockages cleared. All it took was a little thought and a strategically deployed hosepipe. Job done.

Those drains have been the bane of our lives, downspouts leaking across the yard and becoming easily blocked in heavy rainfall. Now they run as they are supposed to. Fast and clear. It’s not a big thing, but it counts as a major tick in the box of our refurbishment, meaning we don’t have to spend money on a new septic system or tank cleaning. Hell, the money will no doubt go on soaring electrickery bills, but everything counts.

Now we have a full house. Albeit of all females with the notable exception of my good self and there is a properly working septic system. For the moment God is in his heaven and I have had two glorious peaceful hours watching a silly movie on TV. For once, Sunday has lived up to it’s promise.

I find myself no longer caring that the US has a senile old paedophile as figurehead. Or that a corrupt Russian regime has been fighting a war against an equally corrupt Ukraine and NATO. Or that energy prices are going to drive the world into a depression of unheard of proportions. But I console myself thus; the WEF’s plan to ‘reset’ the world will fail. The ultra-wealthy will fall because they will find that they need the rest of humanity whether they like it or not. The current Chinese regime will crumble because it is too corrupt to stand. No one will come out of the current crisis unscathed. Not even me.

But for the moment I do not care. Those I love are gracing my household with their presence, and no matter what the future holds, we will have had this moment together. We have these few days before the future arrives, and we will survive, because we are survivors. And for the moment I am happy.

Doesn’t happen often. We occasionally get these moments in the battles of our lives and I am learning to cherish them. They give us hope that the world doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

Dear reader, may I hope that you too will have such moments.

Cheers.

Bill

Irish Stew

It’s like an old joke. What does the Gardai say when he gets his supper “Irish stew – in the name of the law” This is one of my recipe posts, so if you’re not a cook, or interested in cheap food, pass on by.

“Irish stew? That’s a Lamb recipe Bill. Lamb ain’t cheap.” You might say, and you would be right, for a given value of right. Loin chops and crown of Lamb are not cheap. You do not use those cuts. You buy those cheap bags of frozen lamb bits or ask your butcher for ‘Scrag’ or neck end of lamb. Yes they’re full of bone, but this adds to the flavour.

This recipe is a make in bulk all in one meal, either for a family or to be frozen for later consumption. Can be made with frozen ingredients or fresh, doesn’t seem to affect the end result.

So, here we go. Make in a slow cooker if you want to save on leccy. This being a classic casserole dish Irish stew is best cooked long and slow. If you’re lucky enough to have a solid fuel stove, that is ideal because as they have to be kept warm, they’re great for slow cooking.

You will need: A four litre casserole. Cast iron or pottery, Doesn’t matter. A means of cooking long and slow. The longer the better.

The what:

  • Lamb, a kilo or two pounds is good.
  • Two or three medium onions, sliced or chopped
  • Two carrots sliced or chopped
  • Potatoes (Two pounds is fine) sliced about 6mm thick
  • Half a teaspoon of Salt
  • Half a teaspoon of black pepper
  • A sprig of Rosemary (Or a pinch of dried will do)
  • Three quarters of a pint of water
  • Optional extra, one parsnip

The how:

Get your butcher to chop the neck end into chunks, or buy a bag of cheap frozen lamb with lots of bone in. Slice potatoes, onions and carrots. put a layer of same on bottom of pot. Put in lamb, salt, pepper and water. Sprinkle rosemary over Lamb. Cover with more layers of potatoes carrot and onions. Put in your heating device of choice. Leave to stew on a low heat (150C) for a few hours. The longer the better. This is not a dish for being fussed over and watched. This is a dish for putting in the oven three or four hours before going out, working up a sweat and coming back with an appetite worth having. Note: leaving the bone in imparts a richer, deeper flavour because of the marrow.

Serve with crusty bread of your choosing. you will need a soup spoon for the liquor, it really is that good. Discard the bones because the meat should fall off them. Enjoy the succulence. On an Autumn evening this really does cut the mustard at the end of a long hard day. Serve with sliced stir fried cabbage (White or savoy) if you like. Contains all the food groups except chocolate and alcohol.

Alternatively, allow to cool and decant into freezer containers for later re-heating and consumption. Do both.

In these times of soaring energy bills and a cold weather, we need all the solid grub we can get. And Irish stew is good old stick-to-yer-ribs solid grub.

Happy eating.

N.B. “Serve with stir fried cabbage. Cabbage! Yuk! I remember school dinners!” I hear people cry. Here’s a little bonus recipe. You will need a wok, a quarter cabbage, a tablespoon of olive oil, one clove crushed and chopped garlic (Garlic granules are fine, a modest pinch will do) with black pepper to taste.

Slice cabbage thinly (4-6mm, under a quarter inch, is fine). Put wok on a medium heat, put in spoonful of olive oil, add cabbage, garlic and black pepper. Stir fry with a wooden spoon until lightly browned at the edges. Serve. It’s a lot more palatable than the boiled to death crap they used to serve us back in my schooldays. Very tasty and full of vitamins and minerals. Win-win.

Could, if, therefore

I think I’m having to give up on growing any brassicas after losing all my precious plants to cabbage white caterpillars. I mean totally wiped out. Broccoli, Cabbages, Pak Choy, everything vaguely brassica-ish. Leaves chewed to a filigree, almost to the stalk. Well, at least until I can sort out some garlic and soap spray for the next planting. My onions, tomatoes and beets on the other hand are in fine fettle. Salad stuff is kind of okay, but some of it has ‘bolted’ due to the weather and me not sorting out some shading for my salad greens.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but at the time of planting I was sans-Interweb, and so unable to source the advice of the many gardening gurus out there. That situation has been remedied and I am looking forward to a more successful planting and growing season of Winter veg. Of course, I have been barraged with advice, much of it contradictory and counter intuitive, however, wheat is being sorted from chaff and I will need to evolve a different planting plan for all my green stuff.

Speaking of the future, father of the atomic model, Niels Bohr was once quoted as saying; “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future!” I had no way of predicting that a blast of hot air sweeping in from Europe this year would affect us this far west, but it is what it is and my mind has been pulled every which way, what with the builders and all.

Temperatures are back to oscillating between 14 and 22 Celsius every other day, and despite all the hand waving about ‘Global Warming’, and how it’s all our fault, the weather remains cooler than usual for August. A petition of 1100 proper scientists saying there’s little, if anything to worry about will not make much headway, especially since the politicians love the drama of ‘saving the world’. Apart from a cold Winter. Then people are going to freeze to death, and you know whose fault that will be? The ‘Climate activists’ who can’t even keep up with real science (Or even look at weather history events from other centuries). And the politicians who made the decisions.

The IPCC report doesn’t help, even though all the claims don’t hold up under even the most cursory scrutiny. The report says that there ‘will’ be an increase in weather disasters, and predicts an increase in same, yet when you get down to it, it’s governed by conditional statements like “Could, if.” Yes well, I could fly by flapping my arms if I grew feathers, and therefore I’d be able to fly like a bird. But as I am unlikely to undergo such a transformation, I’ll be stuck buying an airline ticket and getting bored in an airport queue just like everyone else.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my bees are doing okay, filling out the frames, and with a good nectar flow, I may get a decent crop of honey next week, weather permitting. I’ll have to check the brood box for Queen cells, but as these are young Queens in my hives, the likelihood of swarming is not so great. However, it never hurts to check and do a split if need be. And this is the time of year to do it.

What with having the household upended for over six months, which I also did not foresee when we first made the decision to spend money on refurbishments. But we have adapted and improvised, making the best of a tricky situation. Mrs S got crocked with a nasty dislocation, but she’s on the mend and doing her physio exercises as directed. Definitely didn’t see that one coming, but we’re coping. All things considered it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster.

However, am grimly confident about my assessment from April 2020 that the fallout from the COVID debacle will be worse than the disease ever could be. I take no satisfaction whatsoever in being proven right. Along with a lot of other, far more eminent people who were deliberately ignored and silenced by those claiming that established epidemiological protocols were ‘disinformation’. How was that allowed to happen?

In the beginning the threat of the disease was unknown, but over April 2020 the figures told a more hopeful story, but the politicians ignored the unfolding data in favour of ‘worst case scenario’ data projections. By June 2020 the worst was over, but still the mainstream media and politicians, presumably seeking affirmation from the drama, kept upping the ante. I mean, mask mandates were imposed in August 2020 for crying out loud. Long after the worst was past in June that year. The data was unequivocal. The models told a story at 180 degrees to reality. Yet the model output was used as opposed to empirical data and standard disease control. People were kept indoors when they should have been outdoors getting some fresh air and exercise. Children, those at the lowest risk of all have had their emotional and psychological development severely damaged,

Again, the fault lies with the noisy activists and cowardly politicians. Also with those who had a vested financial interest in mRNA ‘vaccines’ which do not convey much protection compared to a healthy mixed diet, fresh air, sunshine and moderate exercise. Don’t forget the culpability of those using the “Science Denier” and “Conspiracy theorist” pejoratives. They bear much of the blame too. Ignorant, bigoted bastards.

Well the truth isn’t just out there, it’s kicking down our front doors and spitting in our eyes for letting ourselves be treated like cattle. And what’s coming soon is a completely artificial economic depression, caused by the lockdown enthusiasts and those pushing ‘net zero’.

Well I hope they’ll be happy with what happens next, because the rest of us won’t be. Right, I have some trading to do. Catch you later.

Here we go

The honey is almost ready to be harvested and I will be getting ready to start brewing in three weeks time. There will be spare honey, but half of that will be going as gifts and for personal use rather than for retail. My crop won’t be big enough for much more.

I’ve ordered my brewing gear and lined up the water, yeast and other materials for the mash. A still is in the mix and I’ve lined up some small barrels for ageing. So we’re almost all good to go.

Money is a bit tight, as we’ve run slightly over budget on the house alterations. Which is easily done on a major refurbishment like ours and we’ve had to keep a careful eye on what the trades are doing. However we’re on top of it and having heaved a shuddering sigh knowing that costs are still on the rise (Especially labour costs) and we got most work done before the worst occurred. Even so we’re having to take a small divot out of our reserves. No matter, we have enough. Better to spend some now before inflation annihilates it’s value.

I’m still watching world events with a wary eye, knowing the financial fallout from the COVID debacle will be with us for some time. However, we’ve done our worst case scenario calculations and heads will be kept above financial water. Unfortunately this is an outcome that many will not share, and Western politicians will be looking to rob Peter to pay Paul as they usually do, because they’re small minded vote-grubbers with no real courage or vision.

As for penalising Nitrogen. 71% of an inert gas? Who gave these people science lessons? Nitrogen Dioxide is no fun but Nitrogen Oxide (Laughing Gas ) can be. The politicians making these rules are a bunch of scientific illiterate morons, as are the people advising them.

Besides, adding Nitrogen compounds to the soil can be done with a Clover crop. It used to be part of the old Norfolk four course rotation system before chemical fertilisers were introduced in what was called the ‘Green revolution’ of the late 60’s and early 70’s. One of my Aunts participated in a few of the early Market Gardening trials during the 50’s and 60’s which she said increased her yields several times over.

The problem is that the politicians and others behind this assault on agriculture see nothing but the money to be made pricing farmers off their land and monopolising food production. Modern agricultural chemicals can feed several times more people than the old farming practices and despite all the unscientific brouhaha of ‘only 70 more crops’ before the soil is reduced to little better than sand, can, with small alterations to soil management, keep feeding people until the cows come home. If the politicians and activists don’t have them all slaughtered and replaced with massive insect farms first.

Fun fact: maggot farms are big business, or used to be, the output of which is mainly used mostly for feeding chickens. KFC anyone?

Personally, I’d rather have my protein from chicken than the insects.

Apropos of nothing

On the way back from a busy day out on Friday, Mrs S and I were confronted by two cyclists on a fast stretch of the link road up to localtown. Now common sense alone would have dictated that said slower vehicles be travelling single file, but instead both were puffing and wheezing across over half the width of the road. I mean who did they think they were? Tractor drivers?

This set off a spirited discussion about the need for some kind of licensing and insurance for cyclists. Mrs S being a now retired teacher, was adamant that all cyclists be helmeted, licensed, insured and taxed up the wazoo just like every other road user. I took the milder position that an insurance scheme for cyclists should be available so that those who fall foul of the law, or are held guilty of causing an accident should have some kind of insurance cover for any damages they are held responsible for. Those without should suffer the full financial penalty for any misdemeanours, just like any other road user, with the exception of horses I believe. but even so I am led to believe that many horse riders carry additional PPE and veterinary insurance, as horses are expensive to stable, feed and care for, and if startled and sent bolting down a road, some form of insurance is necessary to cover the expense of a large vets bill. Here’s the advice from Horse and Hound, who recommend some form of third party insurance for on road use.

An additional thought occurs. With 20mph areas being on the increase in dear old blighty, a speed which a bicycle is easily capable of exceeding, some form of identification for the cyclist in question should be available to the farces of law and disorder to hand parking or speeding tickets to the correct offender.

Then on Saturday I was listening to the GB news YouTube channel, and guess what they were discussing? The licensing, insuring and taxing of cyclists. Mind you, we’ve had this discussion before and Mrs S’ position on cyclists is well known; tax ’em till they glow and then book ’em in the dark.

This is what passes for entertainment because I never switch the car radio on. It’s bad for the blood pressure.

A

New name for an identifiable condition has been publicly called for. The condition in question is a low- to medium-grade anxiety disorder caused by the realization that the bureaucrats and politicians who are nominally in charge do not really know what they’re doing, cannot read or understand data, and will not course correct in response to new information.

It’ s caused by a grinding disillusionment and realization that the people in charge (including the people writing about the people in charge) are, if not quite idiots, not nearly as smart as they think they are and everyone is going to have to fight like mad to keep things from getting worse. Regrettably I can confirm that I am a terminal sufferer.

Lead suggestion is Scranton Syndrome.

Any others?

From the Daily Sceptic.

The word on… insect protein

Now there are cultures that subsist off insect protein. They are invariably poor, people often never reach their full physical development and they tend to be shorter than average.

Places where insect eating is most practised are Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and South Africa along with places in South East Asia. The very poor bits of the world. Where more conventional protein sources are not available, or there’s a famine.

At best, insect protein is a starvation ration, which the western gastro-intestinal system is not adapted for. For some Africans, certain parts of south East Asia, and in obscure tribes in South America, where deep fried tarantula is considered a delicacy, this is their lot.

Now as a beekeeper I do not agree with eating insects. Honey products yes, but that’s not the same as eating my bees, which I would strenuously object to. I happen to like my little workers and try to do everything within reason to ensure their safety and comfort. Shelter, food sources and plenty of undisturbed time to produce. Mass slaughter as a direct food source? Definitely not.

We have systems to produce good quality animal and vegetable protein, yet someone wants everyone to eat reprocessed insects. Never mind the problems with digesting chitin etcetera which leg-iron gives a quick primer on, without going into the details on various bad stuff like Toluene, exposure to which can cause eye and nose irritation, tiredness, confusion, euphoria, dizziness, headache, tears, anxiety, muscle fatigue, insomnia, nerve damage, inflammation of the skin, and liver and kidney damage. To name but one. There are other potential hazards in an insect based diet becoming a staple.

There appears to be no upside. So why in the bleedin’ crystallised feck are some people saying it’s a good idea and the way to go? They’ve either fried their two remaining brain cells, or as is more likely, there’s money to be made for people who don’t need any more.

The propaganda being spouted about this is reminiscent of the blather about breakfast cereals in the early 1900’s, many of which have a higher glycaemic index than sugar for heavens sake. It is worth noting that our massive intake of sugars and starches is most likely behind the ‘obesity epidemic’ and massive increase in type II diabetes.

No doubt we will be repeatedly told that like these unhealthy breakfast cereals (With perhaps the exception of mueslis etc), insect protein is the way to go, but is it?

I used to be a fan of a TV series called ‘Doomwatch‘ where a team of investigators faced down threats to the food chain and Earth. As a boy I had a grainy old 405 line set donated by a neighbour and managed to squirrel it up to my room to watch TV on low volume while Mum and Dad watched their programmes late in the evening. All BBC hokum of course, but I hadn’t quite hit puberty yet and there weren’t many girls to distract me. Well, none that would have anything to do with a rascal like me.

The scientist cast as hero, where a team led by a Dr Spencer Quist exposing human caused threats to the environment. Usually where a technology got out of control. Such as where a rogue virus escapes from a lab, or a new foodstuff has potential for harm. Which is where we came in….

Clockwork mice

Apropos a spin off from a discussion Mrs S and I were having between bouts of clearing up builders residue, grouting tiles and moving furniture. Has anyone else heard of this little phrase? It’s a device used in play writing where:

You have a bunch of clockwork mice. You know how they all behave – maybe some go faster than others, maybe one of them veers to the left, maybe one goes round in circles – and you want them to collide in an interesting way. So you wind them up and put them on a table. However, you must observe this one rule: You cannot touch the mice once they are on the table.

In the current cultural dysfunction, where no side is actually talking to the other in any meaningful way, the reason doesn’t matter, far too many people switch off their higher brain function and go full “Clockwork Mouse”.

Add to the situation that there are a lot of ‘playwrights’ out there who understand how a particular type of mind works, and simply spread information in a way that will cause the clockwork mouse in question to go spinning around the table, bouncing into other clockwork mice and sending them in turn spinning chaotically around the table. Some will fall off the edge, some will be knocked over, little wheels spinning as their springs wind down, and a few will be wound up so tightly that they literally explode in a shrapnel cloud of cogs and springs. Some will keep attacking another clockwork mouse until they in turn are disabled. You get the picture? Does this metaphor make any sense?

What I am describing is a stimulus /reaction loop where the frontal lobes are in shutdown mode and the emotions are in full spate. Like those people who attack people giving a talk or speech, thinking that by silencing one voice they will silence all. Few of these people actually think. Most just react. This goes for everyone, because like it of not, we humans are driven more strongly by emotion than logic, as I keep finding whenever engaging with an opposing mindset. Yes, yes, I know I should just wind my neck in, but they’re all such low hanging fruit the temptation is enormous.

I used to refer to same as the General Dyslexic, because 85% plus of the population couldn’t read, or be bothered to read simple instructions. Now I know that they’re all leading with their pwecious icle fi-fi’s, it just engenders a sense of “Oh well, what the hell, glad I’m not involved with that bunch of comedians any more.” The problem is that if you’re still breathing you have to keep a weather eye out for the bastards, because their poor decision making ability will impact you in all sorts of ways if you’re not careful.

On the upside, my bees are producing some very nice looking honey which will be cropped during the last major hive inspection in three weeks time. I may get my timing right and head off a possible swarm ready to fill one of my spare hives with a new colony, meaning more honey next year.

In these times of chaos and idiocy, it’s good to have a positive goal.

Getting a grip

Mrs S and I now have our house back. True, there are bits that don’t work and look a bit dog eared, but nothing that can’t be fixed without a few gallons of elbow grease and cleaning materials. We have power, we are once more connected to the jolly old Interwebs. We are home.

True, there are no paintings on the wall, some of which are not painted, no curtains grace our windows, but we are home. There is wine and beer in the fridge and food in the larder. We are not stumbling over a rats nest of extension cables. The heating works. Our showers are hot and even the dishwasher works. There is even the promise of a modest crop of honey in the next few days.

So we will be taking tiffin out in the yard this evening with two ever refilling glasses of Prosecco (Neither of us think we’re at the champagne stage yet) and a dry little Sauvignon blanc to complement our repast. We’ve spent a chunk of hard earned change to get to this point, but we currently owe no-one anything, at least until our next tax bills come in.

Mrs S is still hobbling around on crutches because she has to wear a brace on her leg, but we get by. Money moves to where it does most good, which is daily business by the way, not money laundering as one feckin eejit intimated. I take a dim view of being accused of something I do not do, and tend not to forgive such slurs. Call me any name you like and it won’t raise an eyebrow. However, false accusations will always get short shrift. My customary good humour always goes into failure mode on such occasions.

Notwithstanding, we are finally getting our lives back in some sort of order. Getting a grip, as they say.

Speaking of honesty, I keep on seeing some academic or luminary popping into the public press stating that they are ‘following the science’ and therefore anyone else is a heretic and should be publicly burned at the next barbecue. As one whose training includes courses on Technical writing and editing, I thought I’d have a look through the literature they claim is so air tight. I’ve deliberately left the TV off the hook, no Amazon Prime, no other televisual entertainment, so I downloaded a few tools and set to reading. The following is what I know to be true.

Let me explain; in technical writing and editing there is a thing called an ‘executive summary’, which is to put it in it’s simplest form, a list of talking points. Not definite facts or figures, but talking points. Things which look like facts, but sometimes don’t reflect the original document or can actively misrepresent what the original documentation says. Say a scientific paper presents with the interpretation that states that such and such might happen if the figures are right. If the mathematical modelling turns out to be accurate, In the executive summary this may be rewritten to read that such and such is definitely true, so help us God, so send more money please. We may have to recheck our figures to be sure. We really mean it about the money.

Now what is stated in the executive summary is often written by people who are not the original researchers, but those paid to interpret the information for the lowest common denominator of intelligence, politicians.

In the commercial world, a board of directors or senior manager requires an ‘executive summary’ to provide information that is timely and reflects the situation as presented. In the public sector, these rules seem not to apply and executive summaries are often posted as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, cross my heart and hope to die, terrapins tickle me if I lie, when the source documentation is often more vague on a topic. In the public sector the requirements for the summary can say “What’s the worst that can happen?” so those who produce the interpretations of the summaries provide the worst that can happen. Whether this is supported by the studies in question or not. Even NGO’s get involved in this cavalcade of glossy misrepresentation and very few people have the time and energy to tell them that’s not what the study says at all. Thus failure and inaccuracy have thus become baked into the system. ‘The science’ becomes “What we say it is. So there!” rather than the result of diligence, experimental replication and erudite investigation.

Scientific researchers who contradict these narratives constructed on the back of such executive summaries can find themselves out in the cold, because if they do not provide what the politicians underlings or the NGO’s want, bang goes their funding. They can even find themselves losing tenure, which is academic death. Unless they can get a decent social media channel going and have the skills to explain their work to the public direct. Even so, they risk being publicly derided by the dishonest as ‘conspiracy theorists’ spreading ‘disinformation’, even when such a statement is a bald faced lie.

We caught a glimpse of part of this phenomenon in a Twitter stream observed by Spectator Editor, Fraser Nelson during the ongoing COVID debacle, where the then head of SAGE was caught stating that they had been asked for a worst case scenario, so they had torture the data models until that’s what the pandemic looked like. A worst case scenario.

So politicians produce legislation based on bad information. Because that’s all they can do with the information provided.

Now if only we had politicians educated and motivated enough to see through the misrepresentations…. Bugger it. We’re screwed aren’t we?