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Many years ago I amazed my boyfriend, brother and several other blokes when I rebuilt my boyfriend’s Triumph Bonneville gear box, after the guy who said he would do it failed to turn up and my boyfriend had flung several spanners in frustration then gone off to the pub. I had been told the gear box was extremely difficult to get right, so was delighted when on the first test it worked like a dream. All the guys were gobsmacked, but I’ve never been afraid of taking things apart, I can always put it back together (hopefully).
Living here requires creativity and a willingness to experiment and as we live far from the town and don’t have a car, being resourceful extends to DIY repairs.
I have had to deal with some very odd things in the the time we have been here, some pleasant, others not and some just down right odd. Like the time the egg seller came by the house, riding on his small horse. I was in the garden holding our 1 year old son in my arms, the egg seller passed me a bucket of eggs and then asked if I would like the chicken that was hanging limply by its feet off the side of the saddle. As the chicken was still fully feathered and I had yet to learn to pluck a chicken, I said no but the egg man was not so easily dissuaded from his possible sale. He took the string off the saddle and passed the limp chicken over the fence, telling me to feel the weight of the bird. Not wanting to offend the man I transferred the bucket of eggs to the other hand (still holding the baby) and took the dead chicken, which suddenly burst into life, flapping, squawking and screeching for all it was worth, frightening the life out of me, making the dog go into a frenzy of barking while the baby calmly decided to investigate the eggs. Thankfully the guy accepted his chicken back and peace was restored before too many eggs were lost.
Anyway, back to the repair story.
The other morning I switched on the microwave and it responded by making a frightening noise, certainly not normal. As the gas oven doesn’t work since the dog knocked the cooker over (she is a big dog) and I couldn’t fix it, I need the microwave more (even though I don’t like using it, being an old fashioned girl and not wholly convinced that microwaves are a good thing) so, time to take the back off.
As I moved the cooker to unplug it, I noticed a stream of tiny little ants, these little buggers are so small that if one runs over your skin, you can feel it but it can take a few moments to actually see it. They get into everything and will make their nests in the most unlikely of places, now here they were in the microwave.
So the microwave was unplugged, the back was off and there all over a part that said “WARNING! High Capacity. Discharge before servicing” were hundreds of little ants, happily making a nest within the part. There was also a powdery substance which could have been incinerated ants, all over the coils of copper wire that were on the side of the part. I gave a burst of ant killer spray in the general direction and out poured another mass of them carrying eggs.
They were still coming out a few minutes later. I decided that the best way to deal with them would be the vacuum cleaner but even with the nozzle on, it was too big to really get into the area. I got a drinking straw and taped that to the nozzle, perfect. It took some time but I managed to clean the ants nest out.
Obviously you shouldn’t really test electrical things without the covers on but on the other hand I had to test it, so I made sure I could reach the plug without touching the microwave in any way, plugged it in and switched it on. Success, no abnormal noises!.
Once I had replaced the back cover (and yes I unplugged it first) I thought I should clean out the vacuum cleaner bag as I don’t want to find an ants nest in there. I took the bag out only to find that a mouse must have been in there and had chewed a hole in the bag in a bid to find a way out, I assume it got back out the way it had got in. As I had bought this vacuum cleaner specifically because the bag is cloth and re usable, I don’t know if they sell replacements. Where’s the gaffer tape?

©Claire Pattison Valente 2011

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