Monday, 21 September 2009

Ploughing the land

It was Ian's birthday this week and what did he do? Fulfil a prophecy! About 18 months ago a guy who has a prophetic gift visited our friend's church so we went along and he said this to Ian "Brother, God gives you a plough and says you are going to plough in fields where others have never even tilled the soil before. He says you are going to plough in virgin soil, and that it’s good soil and that he has gone before you." We didn't think last year that this prophecy meant a physical plough with a tractor, we were thinking more in spiritual terms of how we were to connect to the land of Latvia. We do indeed suspect the land we have been working on has never been ploughed before just cleared and used as grazing but our little tractor did well and although Ian won't be winning any ploughing competitions yet, the furrows were straight-ish and mostly all turned over apart from the areas where the ground was just too uneven.

It has been a frustrating week though for Ian with the implements he bought. Most of the implements here use CAT 2 linkages and our tractor came with CAT1 linkages (these are just the links between the tractor and the implements), which he only found out when he came to try and put the implements on the tractor. You would have thought it would be simple to get some adaptors but no it wasn't. Ian went back to the company where we got the tractor from and talked to the supplies department, the guy there was fantastic, he tried to think of all different ways to do it until finally he took Ian down to a machine shop and in an hour and a half they made him some fittings that would do the job. The guy at the supplies department really went out of his way to be helpful especially since the machine shop was a different company entirely. Unfortunately it didn't sort out the problem completely but that meant finding a machine shop in our home village (they are everywhere it would seem) and it was then that we found out one of our neighbours owned one. Using local businesses sure helps to build relationships which is brilliant.

The House Martins are flocking, and we spotted one lone stork looking very sad next to a local big supermarket, the leaves are turning a brilliant red, and we switched on our electric heaters for the first time this week, all sure signs of the year slipping away and autumn (fall) in full swing. I love the changing seasons and it was something I really missed in Colorado when we lived there. In Colorado there are the two main seasons summer and winter and then about two weeks of spring and autumn. It made me feel as if the whole year was in a rush and it hadn't got time to die slowly in the autumn or burst into life in the spring. Here the seasons transform slower and I feel there is time to savour each bit. Talking of our time in Colorado we have finally closed that era in a way, by closing down our American bank account. We had to leave it open for a while because we weren't sure if we would have American taxes to pay and it is a whole lot easier to pay through an American bank but the need for it is no longer there so the account is now closed. I always think it is funny that the last thing to leave a country is our money.. there must be a message in there somewhere.

Last week I mentioned that we were hoping to have a polytunnel built this week and I also said I would believe it when I see them turn up. Cynicism won the day, the company suddenly discovered that it was going to be a whole lot more expensive than they realised to bring everything out our way and that sent the price soaring beyond budget. Our joiner friend Viktors has stepped in though and due to the down turn in the market the wood is available straight away instead of having to wait a week, so hopefully, hopefully we might get a polytunnel in a couple of weeks time. Pray the weather holds.

One of the good things about a downturn is the soaring prices of goods, evident last year in the Latvian market, has curtailed and the price of some goods are actually coming down to more realistic levels again. The minimum subsistence level is now at 165 LVL for food per person down from 174 LVLs in January but this has to be weighed against the average pension being around 150 LVLs and people's salaries have been slashed. You can see from that the figures do not add up and the pensioners are once again in for a difficult winter ahead.

Earlier on in the year a Latvian minister declared that the Latvian crisis would read like a story with twists and turns so I was interested to see how this is now echoed in a news article "So as the budget discussion heats up, there are sure to be new hair-raising twists and stomach-churning turns in the plot. People's Party jumps off the ship of state! Budget proposal tied to the tracks as a train full of opposition politicians hurtles toward it at full speed!!! Could this be the end?!" Sounds a bit dramatic for a news article on the economics of a whole country but the crisis is certainly unique, pity that it involves the livelihoods or real people.

(Photos: Ian's ploughing, his plough, a wonderful autumn sunset, scalped land after mowing)


  1. Hi Joanna and Ian,

    I guess it's a western (extreme west) European thing but stories form Latvia seem like tales from the American frontier of 200 years ago. That is very unfair to Latvia, but most of us know zilch about that country, probably because of the Soviet era.

    It’s a generalisation on my behalf but I do think that the people on "older" countries are far nicer that us cool and hip modernistas. I love the way that your supplier contact guy went out of his way to help solve Ian's C1/C2 problem. And also how there is apparently a machine shop in every village. Reminds me of the old days, not so long ago, when you could find a car mechanic on every street, willing to do a minor repair job for a few bucks. No longer.

    Anyhow, thank you very much for your regular updates from Latvia on CSH. Good luck to you guys, and we hope you triumph in the end!

    Best wishes,
    Danny & Fiona

  2. Thanks Danny. I think that is what Ian loves so much about this place as it reminds him of the North East when he was a kid, even down to the old ladies in head scarves. Not all folks are so friendly, but part of the problem out here is the Latvians can be quite shy and timid and the thought of possibly not being able to help or having to try and speak English terrifies them. Hopefully one day soon we will be able to speak the language and save them from the terror.


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