The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur at Chez Titflasher, what with the usual runup to festivities, visits, getting the flu two days after Christmas, and being out for the count until the 4th. I am still trying to rid myself of the lovely chest infection which came in about halfway through.
As the more interesting symptoms (neck boils and hallucinations amongst others – I was beginning to think I had caught the plague) subsided, I was plunged into a manic race researching a potential job, attending an interview on Christmas Eve, mugging upon the company in between bouts of fever, staggering off on new year’s eve to do an undercover visit and then attending a second interview on the 5th. My winter/spring cleaning has progressed no further and hoovering was done on hands and knees over several hours and between coughing fits.
The weather has got substantially warmer since Christmas and we are now snowless but certainly not frostless. It is still cold, damp and icy up until about midday. So I was very surprised to find spiders alive and well outdoors. I have a few which I nuture in the conservatory and whilst a few have succumbed to the cold or old age, I have quite a few still knocking about.
I have however never seen spiders outdoors at this time of year. Half-grown, they scurry about under the dead leaves on the lawn. Food is very scarce and I am worried that they are not old enough yet to mate and not big enough to survive the next few months and this may drastically affect the population come Springtime. I suspect that changes in the weather (and last year’s hard winter) may have led to late breeding.
I have also noticed a huge increase in the numbers that are plunging into the foxes’ water bowl. I am fishing out between six and ten a day. Call me weird, but I like spiders. They are hard working, intelligent and great survivors. Whilst I wouldn’t pick anything barehanded that is likely to give me a good nip, only the very large (as M says, “the ones with boots on”) make me pause. And I hate finding dead spider floaters. With all the moisture about, they can’t be coming into the bowl hoping for a drink and the foxes don’t get anything added to their water that might attract them. I have also moved the bowl several times since this started, in case there was a particular place that the spiders congregated. No luck – I am reduced to fishing out pathetic, small, crumpled bodies every morning and evening.
By the old spoon and kitchen towel method (pick up any still moving or which look like they are unconscious instead of dead with spoon, drain excess water and place on kitchen towel to dry out) I have managed to save a huge total of 3. As there is a lot of water about, last night I took the water out of the bowl and had a think. Human food colouring might upset the foxes’ tummies so I am going to have a hunt for some animal-friendly colouring just in case it is the water’s transparency that is the issue. However, I do suspect it is something to do with the weather, as I have had a water bowl in the garden for years and although there are a few spider casualties every summer, I have seen nothing on this scale before. If anyone has any other ideas, I’d be pleased to hear them.
In the meantime, the cats (who have had limited outsides because I was darned if I was going to try and keep an eye on them when I was staggering about, seeing things that weren’t there) have trashed the house even further, found new uses for my internet cables (but Mommi, the modem makes such a nice noise when we push it off onto the floor) and discovered Mewsie’s penchant for well … mewing.
As previously mentioned, he chirps or meeps whenever he feels he is being paid attention, or wants attention and is by far the noisiest of the cats. Merely mentioning his name will get you a full chirrup, combined with über-cute rolls onto his back or a snuggle at your feet. It is very endearing but the cats (Arthur, Merlin and Poppet in particular) have clocked onto this. I heard a whole lot of brrreeping from the front room a few nights ago, so went in to investigate. Mewsie was sat in front of the fire and the others were, one by one, stretching out gentle paws to touch him. Every time he was patted, he meeped, which was clearly providing huge entertainment value. A stern word from me had no effect and eventually he found refuge under the bed.
More fun was had the following days as the others picked upon it and he was pawed every time he walked past anyone. They had their very own live squeaky toy. The net result is a much quieter cat and less fun all round. Clearly, it does not pay to be too cute in this house!