As electronics have become ubiquitous in everyday life, competition has forced down both price and quality, with the result (and an ironic result, I think!) that it’s the ‘no moving parts’ components that are most likely to fail, rather than the physical, mechanical controls. Somehow, I doubt that’s due to recent advances in the engineering of the humble on/off switch. More likely it reflects the fact that the electronic bits and pieces mounted on circuit boards are now so numerous, so varied, and produced in such vast quantities, that there are simply vastly more of them to fail. From our experience, the most common single cause of failure is not dropping the device on the floor, or spilling coffee over it, or an outburst of rage-against-the-machine. No, the most often repeated single cause of failure is, in our view, a surge of voltage or current ; and the most common cause of that is not, as you might guess, lightning strikes, but rather the surges rippling out from, for example, a worn-out pump, or a cheap vacuum cleaner, or the start-up of a desk-top fan, or a number of storage radiators all turning off at exactly the same time.
With three houses (our own and the two holiday lets), each with electronics in almost every room (and, would you believe it, even the chicken house too!) we’re finding that a worrying proportion of our revenue is lost to replacing electronic devices that have stopped working, or have gone haywire. The recent electric storm that frizzled the telecom master socket and killed the solar thermal pumpstation? Well, as the days have gone by, we’ve found more and more things not working. By now, it’s no longer possible to prove that all these were damaged by the same electric storm – or even any ‘insured event’ at all, and as our insurance excess is pretty high, this is just an episode we’re going to have to put down to experience.
So far the losses seem to be:
This is just at our own house : fortunately, it seems this time around the two holiday lets seem to have been well outside the zone affected by the power surge. So, yes, it could have been worse. True. But it could also be better.
Power surge protection – at domestic scale, is still quite new in the UK (where the risks are not as great as many places in the world), and the range of products is relatively limited – and expensive. But that’s what we’re now looking into: multi-layered protection : at the consumer unit ; at spur outlets for heaters, ventilation units and such like ; and at sockets for items like TVs, computers, printers and so on. It’s likely to add up to a lot of money – yet still less than just the latest round of replacements.
This is one very lucky Welsumer pullet!
As soon as I entered the hen house, this morning, I could distinguish, amongst the babble of the flock demanding their feed, one voice that was of distress. Quiet, but persistent.
I found this pullet with a rat trap snapped shut across her neck.
Fortunately, due to the trap having seen a lot of action over several years, the rectangle of hard wire that ‘does the deed’ itslf has become twisted, and only fully strikes the wooden base at one corner. The pullet’s neck was caught under the other.
I freed her with ease. She could stand, unsteadily. I took her home with me and let her rest in a box of straw.
Now, late afternoon, she’s fully recovered, and ready to go back with the rest.
Now let me be clear about this, the croft is right next to a shoreline with plenty of interest to rats. It is unrealistic to expect we can eliminate them. They can get into the henhouse by the same means used by the hens themselves – the open pop-hole. They not only eat the feed put out for the hens, but they also spoil the feed that they don’t eat – and then the hens won’t eat it. We have to set traps.
Traps are set under an up-turned big heavy fish box, with a stone on top, in the corner of the henhouse. Rats can get in through the hand-holes. Chickens can’t. Or at least that’s what I thought. They can see through the hand-holes, though. And they can smell the sheep nuts with which the traps are dressed. And it seems that a young pullet can reach quite a way in through that hand-hole, too, to try and get one of those tasty little morsels …
The extraordinary thing is that, the trap having sprung, she managed to drag her head – and the trap with it, out through the hand-hole. I found her on the far side of the henhouse.
It’s my fault. I should have anticipated this. Now the traps are set and the bait laid at the centre only of the fish box, out of reach by even the boldest pullet.
Lesson learned. Thankfully at no great cost. That is one very lucky pullet!