Author: Mark

Ninja Chicken vs Fox

Ninja Chicken vs Fox

I’ve mentioned previously about the fox visits my chooks have been receiving. The CCTV system that I have is movement triggered and I have it set to record between 10pm and 5am. I’ve been leaving them out overnight and they can be pretty restless, so I have hours of footage to wade through and am now not bothering. Last night was a warm night, so I left all of the doors and windows open and around 4:30am this morning, I heard a commotion. I went to the door and I could see the fox outside the chicken enclosure so I chased him off in the same manner as I have done on the previous occasion.

In my last post about chicken and fox interactions, I was left wondering if one of the chickens was goading the fox, I think I now have the answer. I’ve never seen anything like this before. There is one chicken in particular that has a taste for fox, and I actually feel a little sorry for them (the fox!).

Meet Ninja Chicken

Ninja Chicken on the offensive….

Ninja Chicken wants to play some more!

This is most bizarre, as I said before, I’ve never seen anything like it, but that Ninja Chicken has some balls…. I know that it’s a she, but you know what I mean. The hens all look the same, so I cannot differentiate between them, but there is one that is far tamer than the others, so I am going to guess this is her.

The Chicken Enclosure

The Chicken Enclosure

I’ve posted some video of the fox getting interested in the chickens, but I’ve not really shown the enclosure.

It was made by Force 5 Engineering Ltd in Faversham, www.force5ltd.co.uk. It’s made from tubular steel with infill weldmesh panels and has a galvanised finish. The thing is a bit over-engineered and was referred to as the gorilla enclosure by the guys that made it. If you were locked in, you probably wouldn’t be able to get out of it.

Initially it didn’t have a roof, but I decided one was required as I had seen foxes in the garden regularly and didn’t want any nasty surprises. About ten years ago, I kept chickens at a different address and the fox found his way in and destroyed four chickens and two ducks…. it was heartbreaking. The roof is made of the same weldmesh material and is supported midway with a piece of steel angle section.

Here’s a couple of pictures of it :

The tube is 42mm diameter, the weldmesh is 2″ x 2″ 10g, and the finish is hot dipped galvanised.

As mentioned on an earlier post, the hen house was gifted to me by Steve and Sam, it was in pretty good condition and just needed a few extra screws and a coating of creocote and it looked as good as new.

I’ve pimped it up a little, the black chest to the front of it houses a couple of sacks of layers pellets and mixed corn. There’s a bag of shavings and straw for the bedding.

As the enclosure is at the bottom of my garden, a fair way from the house, I didn’t want the grief of running cables, so all of the solutions are solar and wireless.

There is a solar PIR floodlight which I picked up for £30 in a sale at B&Q, I think it was an end of line, I’ve just cable tied it into place pointing towards the bottom of the garden where the fox appears from. It’s pretty bright and has the usual array of adjustments on it such as sensitivity, duration and light level for trigger. There’s plenty of similar out there.

Solar PIR Floodlight

I’ve added a solar powered PIR ultrasound critter scary thing which I saw in Lidl for £12. It has a setting for sensitivity and you can select the type of critter you want to deter; birds, rodents, cats and dogs, and of course, foxes. The idea is that then the PIR is triggered, it emits a high frequency sound that is normally inaudible to humans and is supposed to deter critters. It seemed to work on the fox for the first couple of days and then it didn’t. Oh well, only £12…

Ultrasonic Solar Powered Critter Scarer

And finally, the gadget that I really like is the Reolink Argus 2E. I wanted to keep an eye on the chooks when I am away and make sure all is well. I work fairly close to home, so it is pretty easy to get back in a hurry if needed.

This CCTV camera is wireless, solar powered, records in 1080p, takes an SD card, has an infra red light so it can record in the dark. It has a microphone and a speaker, so if you were minded to, you could have a chat with the chickens (I have a relative that I have given access to the camera and they regularly drop in to view the chooks and she quite often chats to them!). I have it set to record any movement between 10pm and 5am to the SD card so I can review if required. All of the footage posted on here is from this camera. I think it’s absolutely brilliant, I don’t know how it will fare in the middle of winter when there is very little sunlight, but currently it reports that it has 100% power throughout the day, and by the time I get up in the morning, between 4 and 5am, it’s reporting around 95%. This is even on busy nights where I’ve left the chickens out and they are roosting on the house roof and are restless. As soon as it gets light, it’s back up to 100% in no time.

Everything is controlled by an app on the phone and it is surprisingly slick, I’ve not found it limiting at all, which is unusual. I think that they’ve pretty much nailed it. It was on offer on Amazon and cost just short of £70.

Reolink Argus 2E Solar Powered Wireless 1080p CCTV Camera System

As I mentioned before, the roof is the same material, galvanised weldmesh, and shortly after installation I had some pretty heavy rain. The house and some of the bedding got a bit wet and the enclosure got really yucky. A friend of mine was disposing of a childs trampoline, so I repurposed this and used it to hold a folded tarpaulin into place and cable tied it to secure it.

Enclosure roof – a tarpaulin held into place with an old trampoline cable tied into place
Fox vs Chickens

Fox vs Chickens

Over the last couple of weeks or so I’ve been leaving the chickens to their own devices overnight. When they first arrived and dusk fell, they’d roost on the roof of the house. Each night, I’d walk down and lift them off and pop them into the house and lock the door, and let them out again in the morning.

In the following video, the chicken awkwardly hops off the roof of the house (I’m going to get some sort of ramp or ladder for them). Now, the timing is interesting, I have a feeling it already knew that it was being watched by the fox and was trying to goad it. Have a look at this behaviour – it is in complete contrast to the last video I posted of the chicken/fox interaction;

Is the chicken goading the fox?

As you can see in the next video, the chicken isn’t bothered in the slightest. I think I’ve missed some footage over the last couple of weeks, this looks a little rehearsed to me.

Chicken not bothered at all by the fox.

And finally the fox goes on his way realising that there’s no way in and that the chickens aren’t in the slightest bit bothered.

Bye bye Fox……

Is British Manufacturing Making a Comeback?

Is British Manufacturing Making a Comeback?

I work in an industry that uses metalworking machinery for cutting, folding and bending metal. Sometimes the machinery goes wrong…

One of the machines used is called a roller. Essentially, this is an electrically driven machine that has a set of three wheels, each wheel is on a shaft and rotates around lengths of metal fed into it. By clamping the wheels onto the length of metal, and applying pressure as the metal passes through, it bends it and the material comes out with a curve of desired radius. Unfortunately the material fed into the machine in this instance was too thick and caused the shaft of one the wheels to shear. Not good.

The machine in question is an AKYAPAK APK30 and the task of organising the repair of it landed on my desk. It needed to be fixed in a hurry as it was required to finish a project. So, no pressure then. I was given the broken component – it was a cylindrical shaft, about 50mm diameter and 300mm long, it had keyways (slots) machined into it and looked fairly intricate. It had snapped almost in half at one of the slots. Obviously a weak point, but this wouldn’t have happened if its maximum material thickness hadn’t been exceeded. Too late to do anything about that now.

I knew little to nothing about it and a quick search revealed that it was manufactured in Turkey and that there is a UK distributor. Phew. I contacted them on a Friday and explained my predicament and they said that they would check the UK stock and also check with the manufacturer. I was told that I wouldn’t probably hear anything until the Monday. Not good.

There’s a local machining company that I was aware of who have the facilities for making this sort of thing but I’d often discounted them because of the cost. Historically when a piece of machinery breaks, it’s always been cheaper to buy the replacement component from the manufacturer, even if it was imported. I’d seen this time and time again and have had things put on urgent delivery from places within the EU such as Italy and Germany. Considering the situation, I thought it was worth a punt, and took a 30 minute drive to the company in question and handed them the broken component and asked if they could copy it. They said for me to leave it with them and they would let me know.

They came back pretty quickly and said that they could do it in 2-3 days for £365 plus VAT. The reason why the could do this was that it wasn’t hardened; that means it didn’t require a heat treatment process which would add to the cost and time to complete.

I then got the price back from the Akyapak UK distributor which was £385 and approximately £90 carriage from Turkey and I would be waiting for 3-4 weeks.

I placed the order with the UK guys and had the component in my hand by the close of business on the Tuesday. They’d beaten their own time target, and the price of the imported component. I’m pleased and impressed with them.

Sterling is taking a bit of a battering at the moment and The Bank of America has likened it to an “emerging market” currency and word is that there is a flight from GBP into US Dollars and Euros. This means that the pound will weaken and imports become more expensive. Add into the mix the problems with goods coming through the trade barriers since Brexit and the delays are likely only going to worsen. This will probably go some way to explaining why it was cheaper and quicker for me to source locally, whether this becomes a continuing pattern will be interesting.

Inflation Again

Inflation Again

Interesting fact from the last quarter of 2020 regarding the US Dollar, and Federal Reserve;

“The Federal Reserve has printed unprecedented amounts of money to support the coronavirus-stricken economy. It has sparked debates about inflation and helped asset prices soar.

Data from the Fed shows that a broad measure of the stock of dollars, known as M2, rose from $15.34 trillion (£11.87 trillion) at the start of the year to $18.72 trillion in September. 

The increase of $3.38 trillion equates to 18 per cent of the total supply of dollars. It means almost one in five dollars was created in 2020″

The UK Government has been on a money printing exercise too. The chickens have come home to roost.

Me vs Fox. Poor Chickens

Me vs Fox. Poor Chickens

I let the chooks out just after I got up this morning, around 4:15am; I figured it was light enough, I hate the thought of them being awake and cooped up in the house. I went back into my house and left the doors onto the garden open, made a cuppa and sat on the bed reading.

Shortly after, I heard a commotion from outside, a chicken commotion, lots of clucking. Either they were having a nasty fight, or something was startling them. I knew pretty quickly that it had to be the fox, the one that I have been spraying my piss over everything to prevent it coming into the garden.

I know that the imagery ain’t great, but I was in my underpants, and I thought “I’ll get the little bastard, grabbed my bath robe and went to the doorway. I could see him about 50 metres away staring into the hen enclosure. I grunted something like “oh do go away you rotten toad” at him, and he heard, looked at me and did nothing. All the time, the hens are clucking like mad.

Now, for some reason, I didn’t put my bath robe on, I just sprinted at him barefoot down the garden in my underpants clutching the bath robe, and I covered the ground pretty fast, I’m quite proud. He soon moved.

Although the chickens were distressed at the time, they quickly calmed down and went on to lay an egg each and were more than happy to see me this evening when I got home. Hopefully these encounters will be few and far between, but if they aren’t, I think that they’ll get pretty desensitised to the fox knowing that he’s got his work cut out getting through or under almost a quarter of a ton of steel. Maybe in time, they’ll give him the birdie?

Anyway, I have CCTV on the enclosure, there’s two segments. The first is when he first appears, the second is where I get involved.

By posting this, I demonstrate that I have no pride and a sense of humour. May you find amusement in my embarrassment.

Video 1 – Fox Arrives

Video 2 – I Arrive. Not for those with weak bladders.

Stuff You Instagram and Meta

Stuff You Instagram and Meta

I was prompted for my date of birth on my elderly Instagram account at the weekend, and thought stuff you, none of your business, so put today’s date. It then prompted me to say that this meant I was zero years old and asked if it was correct. Of course it was! I duly wiped the amniotic fluid off my screen and tapped confirm.

Next thing I see is that my account is locked and that I have to supply ID, and if I don’t my Instagram account, and its data will be deleted in less than a month….

So, I then tap “appeal” and am presented with the following form;

when prompted for an ID image, I take a picture of the sky and send that. In the narrative, I put the following;

“I’m over thirteen, the content on my account over the years makes that very plain to see. I refuse to send you my government ID. For your records my date of birth is as given, 04/04/2000.

Several days later I receive an email from Facebook stating;

“We can’t give you access to this account or help with your request until we receive an accepted form of ID that matches the information listed on the account. Learn more about the types of ID we accept in the Help Center:
https://www.facebook.com/help/159096464162185?ref=cr

I have now clicked on the link, reviewed, and want to feedback to them regarding this, and there is nowhere that I can find to do that. I have now given up.

I’m not impressed, but what should I expect? It’s a free “service”. Facebook, or Meta, or whatever they call themselves own Instagram and the way that they make money is by getting users to use their “free” service, adding their own content, and then targeting advertising at them depending upon this content, and what they view on the platforms. From what I understand, it is a very precise science and they make a lot, a huge amount of money from it.

From what I also understand is that people are deserting the Meta platforms and as a consequence, their share price has slumped.

And my position in all of this? I can’t contact anyone to apply some common sense, so the only way for me to get my account back and prevent the deletion of years of my images and memories is to upload my government photo ID. Not happening.

Meta can delete my account. It can destroy that which it depends upon. My data, my content, my participation. And my goodwill.

Nope, Meta, I am not playing any longer. If you delete my lovely Instagram account, I’ll take my Facebook with it and remove myself from your platforms completely.

And if anyone is interested before it goes, here’s my lovely (but generic) Instagram account; Mark (@markish99) • Instagram photos and videos

Lay A Little Egg For Me…..

Lay A Little Egg For Me…..

I’ve gone and got some chickens. I finally did it as I have been threatening this for the last couple of years.

The hen house was donated by friends and I was fortunate to have the enclosure built for me.

I installed the chooks a couple of weeks ago and they were a few weeks from being at the point of laying and I am now just starting to get some eggs.

Me so happy!

The only negative is that Mr Fox is patrolling regularly. Now, I can stop this happening, but what it means is that I have to pee into a plastic bottle and distribute it around the garden every evening. If I maintain the regime, no Mr Fox. If I stop for a couple of days, Mr Fox returns.

Now, I don’t think that he’ll be able to get into the enclosure, but Mr Fox is renowned for his persistence, and one day I may slip locking up the hen house, or shutting the enclosure door. So, considering that, I drink lots of fluid, fill up the bottle and spray liberally every evening. Great.

Bank of England Chief – “Sod you lot, I’m alright, Jack”

Bank of England Chief – “Sod you lot, I’m alright, Jack”

Okay, Andrew Bailey didn’t quite say that, but I think that is the essence of what he said.

In a nutshell, he’s gone on record warning about inflation; energy prices, food prices etc. And he’s also said again that workers shouldn’t request pay increases to help dampen the inflation increases. By this, he means you need to suck it up and suffer in silence.

I guess this is another one of those “We’re all in it together” moments. Except we’re not. We’ve already seen that.

MP’s received a 2.7% pay increase last month, this is approximately £2,200 per year and was done after the first time that the Bank of England asked workers to not request sizeable pay increases.

2.7% of the average wage as at February 2022 is £780. Quite a difference. So, Joe Average would get £1,420 less than an MP with the same percentage increase.

Oh, and Mr Bailey earns £570,000.

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