Monday, 10 September 2012

Mites and The Ministry of Quick Thinking

Well, while the rest of the country has been soaring on an Olympic high this summer, down here in ‘Tales’ it’s more of the usual lurching from one domestic disaster to another. Between builders who vanish like early morning mist mid-job, to drains that collapse the day after I turn down home insurance that would have covered said drains, there’s never a smooth moment. But the latest mishap is the most unpleasant, and, worst of all, it’s all entirely my fault.

I wrote last year about our little ‘Twilight Saga’ which, funnily, is the one post that generates the most hits, presumably horrifying people looking for vampire stories rather than my musings on poultry mites. For those of you who don’t keep chickens, the birds are susceptible to nasty little red mites which hide in their hen house and crawl out after dark to feast on their blood. Oh, and the bugs would probably survive a nuclear holocaust, they seem to be virtually indestructible.

Anyway, being very lazy, I hadn’t checked the henhouse for mites for a while. Conscience troubling me, I decided to inspect it one evening last week, and was horrified to find the house crawling. Gritting my teeth, I filled buckets of hot soapy water, and by the time I’d finished sluicing, there was nothing moving. But what to do with the mite-infested straw and sawdust I’d removed? It was getting dark, and I couldn’t think. Then I had a flash of inspiration: the plastic compost bin. Genius. You know, I thought, when I have so many good ideas, it’s a wonder I’m not asked to be an advisor in a government department or something. I could head the Ministry of Quick Thinking. Without a second thought, I tipped all the bedding into the bin and went in for a well-earned glass of cold beer, patting myself on the back for being so clever.

It was a few days later when I next went to the compost bin. I lifted the lid, and dropped it with a shriek. The bin, the lid, and now my hand, was a seething mass of mites. It was like something from a horror film. That’s right: in my haste to find a solution for the infested bedding, I’d stupidly overlooked the fact the compost inside the bin is nice and warm, perfect for mite multiplication.

No idea what to do, I ran indoors to wash my hands, and fretted over what to do, plumping for the option of hoping they’d go away by themselves. But if none of this was bad enough, that night I couldn’t get to sleep for the cat messing around. He sleeps on my bed, and went on scratching and shuffling until I was ready to scream. And scream I did when turning on the light revealed both he and consequently my bed were crawling with tiny mites.

I have attacked the bin repeatedly with disinfectant inflicting a high death toll on the ghastly bugs, but there are many survivors still crawling. The cat, banned from everyone’s beds, is sporting a thick layer of mite powder and an indignant air. I’m told I need to take the straw out of the compost and burn it, but the thought of having to reach down into the infested compost bin is so abhorrent, I have yet to pluck up the courage.

This is an example of why I’m not asked for advice on any matter whatsoever. Roll on winter and lovely heavy, mite-killing frosts, that’s what I say!


  1. Nice to see you back. I haven't visited for a while as your blog seemed to have gone rather static! Not sure why I checked in today but glad I did.

  2. Lovely to hear from you Libby! Yes, 'Tales' had ground to a complete halt. I've been very busy, and just handed out drafts of the novel I've been writing to friends press-ganged into reading for me, so watch this space! (but don't hold your breath...)


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