10 September Tuesday
We are winning the Wasp Wars. There seem to be fewer insects going in and out of the slate opening in the roof. We will continue the attack until they are gone.
8 September Sunday
The guitar group from the Men’s Shed was playing at the market yesterday. 6 or 8 older men with guitars, and one man in a chair with a tambourine and a saxophone which he did not attempt to play at the same time. The men at the Men’s Shed were given guitar lessons a few years ago. Since then they have formed a band. They arrive and perform at the Saturday market a few times a year. Mostly they all sing together as they strum but at one moment a man named Bobby was introduced and he stood his guitar on its stand and sang out: Have you ever been lonely? Have you ever been blue? The whole band crooned along as background. Within minutes everyone in the market was singing along as they did their shopping. The stallholders and the customers were all singing with Bobby. He had that kind of voice. It was difficult to keep our attention on the problem of solving our wasp problem because the singing was louder than any advice we were being given.
7 September Saturday
It was not a good way to wake up. We thought that there were wasps on the outside of the window. Then we realized that they were on the inside of the glass. And we realized that there were a lot of them. We quickly closed the window to stop more from flying into the bedroom. That was a mistake. The wasps were not coming in from outside, they were dropping down one at a time from a tiny hole up in the ceiling light fixture. At short intervals, each wasp squeezed itself out and then hesitated before flying toward the window and the light. The room was full of confused wasps trying to get from where they had been to somewhere else. The noise was loud. Simon began by gently pushing them out the window with a section of newspaper. Then we began to swat at them. Then we got a fly swatter and started to kill aggressively. The vacuum cleaner was next. Alive or dead they got sucked in. We could not keep up with the number dropping down from the ceiling.
The morning was spent getting advice. Everyone has a wasp story. Apparently this year has been a terrible year for wasps. We have had one nest in the roof of the book barn but we have just learned to live with that crowd. We learned that the wasps are all hungry and they are angry and this is the end of their season so they have an air of desperation. I am not sure exactly why they are angry. Kieren told me about a destroyer foam which he says works the best of anything he has ever known and anything he has ever had to sell but he cannot keep it in stock. He sells out of it as soon as he gets it. It is not just the wasps who are desperate. People are desperate too. Wasps are making life hell for everyone. Jim at the market told us that Pat came to his house and rid him of the wasp nest that was in his shed. He did it with a tin of petrol placed in with the nest. We went over to discuss this method with Pat at his vegetable stand. He said he used a long pole to put an open tin into position and by the time the petrol had evaporated the wasps were dead from the fumes. The Co-op had a stock of Destroyer Foam and the woman there was eager to tell us how well it worked.
Back at home we had plenty of wasps still alive inside the vacuum cleaner. We also had them all over the duvet and in drawers and on pieces of clothing and in shoes. Some were dead and some were alive. We also had a few more stragglers coming down through the ceiling light. Simon filled the little holes and then he glued the light onto the ceiling with a long length of timber pressing it up and tight for a few hours so that no more wasps would be able to squeeze through. It took us a while to locate the place outside between the slates where the wasps were going in and out. It was on the opposite side of the house.
We had been instructed to use the destroying foam just before darkness or at dawn, while the wasps were inside and sleeping. There was a sudden moment when the night went from dusk to very dark. We were not paying attention so we kind of missed our slot. We decided that it was too dark to go up a ladder especially not knowing if a swarm of wasps might come rushing out at the person with the can of spray. The first raid was planned for early morning.
6 September Friday
The big black bull has returned. He is back in Joe’s front field. He was here for a few weeks and then he was gone and now he is back again. He is curious about me whenever I walk by. He comes over the the fence and watches as I pass. I like to think that he recognizes me, but I think he is not really interested in me. He is just bored being in that big field all alone all day long.
5 September Thursday
Gavin is back after three months in Boston. Many Irish college students do this. It is a part of a system called a J2 Visa. The students have permission to work for three months in the USA. They need to get the job beforehand, from a list which the J2 organization has ready. They live crammed into apartments that are too small for the many occupants. They have a wonderful time. Some of the students come home with the money they have earned. Some of them spend everything they earn and return for their last year of university completely broke. Gavin worked for a moving company all summer and he traveled all around both with the job and with his friends. He went out of the city into Massachusetts and to New Hampshire, Cape Cod, Maine and all the way to Washington DC. When I asked how he liked it, he was full of the excitement and the heat and the many differences. He commented that he was surprised that he never saw a single cow for the entire time he was in America. I was surprised that he found this notable enough to mention.
4 September Wednesday
The raspberries continue to ripen rapidly. I pick them twice a day. I am happy to share them. I am frequently told that I should be making jam. I do not want to make jam. I do not want to do anything with the raspberries. I just want to eat them. I freeze some to eat later. I usually keep one bowlful for us and take another bowlful to someone else. Each time I give the raspberries to anyone they comment that it is late in the year for raspberries. I explain that it is my Autumn Bliss breed but still they behave as though it is not right to be having raspberries at this time of the year. I offered some to Shirley when she was here re-painting a text on the gable end for Simon. She was thrilled. She said she loves raspberries. She announced, “Call me a pleb if you like but I just hate strawberries. I cannot be bothered with them. Of course I eat them out of a tin like everyone else but I would never touch a fresh one.”
3 September Tuesday
I am sitting up in my room. The stench of slurry spread across Joe’s fields is making my eyes water. I hate to close the door on a sunny day but this morning I have no choice.
2 September Monday
Paddy is a farmer. He has been farming all his life. He is 80. He is a big advocate for taking exercise. Two years ago he could not bend down to tie his shoes because he was so stiff. His daughter signed him up for a class in water aerobics. He likes the class and has been attending weekly ever since. He is proud that he is now both fit and flexible. He is proud of his body. Thursday last he was trapped in his tractor. He could not open either door to get out. He was trapped and locked in. He had no reception on his phone. He swung the back window open and crawled up and out over the seat. He is quick to tell everyone he meets that he could not have done that two years ago. Back then he would have had to wait the day out until someone came to find him and rescue him and that would have been if he was lucky. He might have had to wait two days for anyone to notice that he was missing.
1 September Sunday
The Lumpy Fields are special. The land is fertile land but it is rough. Disheveled is the way to describe it. It has been a while since I have walked there because the cows use the fields a lot in the summer months. Now I have Jessie and Molly to walk every day and that is where we go. There are many rabbits. Every field is bordered by hundreds of holes. The dogs go mad and run fast to smell everything and to investigate. They are finding their news in the fields.