Monday, 9 August 2010

I cut that!


After! I cut that!
Sounds like the start of a children's story, "I cut that! But I didn't cut that!" Well that is what Ian and I have been doing all day, cutting hay. We decided to start cutting today on our land in areas where we have never heard corncrakes and we also cut carefully and slowly, partly because we cannot go as fast as the big tractors and partly to give wildlife a chance to escape - a mixed blessing for some frogs and toads as the storks were ready and waiting. I used the two wheeled tractor to cut some steep areas which Ian does not like cutting with the compact tractor and he cut the flatter areas. We also stopped at the last cut just to check there was nothing hiding in the undergrowth before we made the final cut, and I am pleased to say there was nothing I could see. The two wheeled tractor is slow but effective, cutting through wild raspberry canes and small saplings with no bother at all but it is heavy to pull round when the ground wants to take it off in a slightly different direction to the one I want to cut. In shorter grass that had been previously cut the two wheeled tractor was a doddle, just tootling along at a slow walking pace with very little effort but with the longer overgrown stuff I had to stop several times and take a breather, but I did it! And that is what matters. Have to confess though that Ian had to top up the petrol as the petrol can was full and I had almost finished cutting so I was rather tired and there was no way I was going to be able to lift a heavy petrol can and carefully fill the petrol tank. 
After. Ian cut that!
After. Ian cut that! Well he did have the bigger tractor
The tractor attracted a lot of interest from the local stork
population. We think they are young ones as we saw
some storks taking off yesterday and the older ones go first.
Amazing how the youngsters will still find the way though.
Stork in close up.
These are storage tomatoes, so hopefully down in our nice
cool cellar (basement) they may last until January. Well
if we don't eat them first.
We ate our first melon this week. It wasn't sparkling but
maybe I didn't leave it on the vine long enough, so I am
going to leave this one a little longer before we try again.

We managed to surprise our neighbour the other day by expressing an interest in some scrap metal they had that would be useful to us – we are the rich ones (comparatively) and yet interested in what others throw out. Not sure what they make of that yet! Subversive economics is fun! The thing is that we have grown up with the "waste not want not" philosophy and making good use of things that others think are waste, and having a bit of money hasn't stifled that. So now we are the proud owners of an old tin bath which I will fill with soil and water and put over a fire to sterilise the soil for potting compost and a set of shelf supports that get wider towards the bottom (if only we had been quicker though as we had seen them stood outside a shop complete with shelves but the shelves were burnt).

Patty squash. Some of these went to make marrow
butter but what to do with the rest!
A mouse had has a little nibble at this one.
Ian has given it a nice protective fleece coat to stop the
marauding nibbler.
It has been an interesting week getting to know folks. Sometimes we feel like royalty as we wave to people we know as we travel to the shops or the hotel, they are friendly bunch in our village. The funniest scene though is when all the children are out at our other flat (apartment) wave so enthusiastically as we drive in and then when we get out of the car they all say "hi", even the littlest one practises his English, and I don't think he is more than 3 years old. Funny how this week children have been trying to communicate with me more than usual. Children have varied reactions which usually range from fear of this person who utters strange sounds to rambling on oblivious to the fact I have no clue what they are going on about and only requiring the occasional ahah along the way. One little laddie often makes a point of saying "ciao" to me but this week he showed me his fishing rod as I was heading out the door and I could see it was in a bit of a tangle, so I sat down on the step and sorted it out for him. I even managed to answer the question "do you fish" in Latvian. Just in case you are wondering, no I don't! Now he tries talking to me on a regular basis which is helpful in many ways and he doesn't seem overly upset that I can't always answer his questions.

Ian was driving to the land and gave a lift to a lady who he recognised as a neighbour to our land. We thought she didn't speak English but understood a little, it turns out she knows more than we thought and as Ian found out her daughter is an excellent translator. Ian offered to show them what we have been up to on the land and they took him up on the offer. They were surprised at what we have managed to achieve in the time we have been working on it and impressed which is rather nice. Helps when you have the right equipment though. He also gained an invitation in return to show us around their farm the following day. So the following day off we trundled with gifts of marrow butter (doesn't sound good but it is gorgeous), some dried basil and a patty squash - all home made or home grown. After the tour around we sat and talked for two hours, finding out a little of their history and aspirations, and hearing how the Soviet times for them were not too bad, they had a house, a job and healthcare. The capitalist system has not been kind to them and to be honest I have to agree and say it is not a fair system either. There has to be a better way! We did not leave empty handed either a dozen fresh eggs and a jar of preserved fruit.

This week Ian was also fixing bikes at the orphanage. As you can imagine the bikes do get a hammering and so a bit of TLC (tender loving care) was needed, some miracles also were required but unfortunately not forthcoming. At least that which was repairable was repaired. Our bike mechanic son would have been very useful at this point and next time he is over he will be getting a job or six to do. Bikes weren't our only worry this week, our car was too. We had taken our two wheeled tractor to our friends to cut their hay as they desperately needed it cutting before August 15th to keep agricultural subsidies and on the way back our indicators stopped working, the dashboard wouldn't light up and unbeknown to us the brake lights weren't working either. Things were getting fraught as Ian tried to work out which fuses had blown and where they all were and it was looking increasingly like a trip to Riga yet again. It doesn't help when the only handbook we have is in Latvian despite requesting an English version. Eventually he found all the blown fuses and found somewhere in the village that stocked them and mercifully everything started working, it would appear that it is our trailer that is to blame. The roads around here are tough on vehicles and so something could have worked loose or dirt got into the contacts but at least now we know where all the fuses go - well Ian does!

This week has required a lot of food to be processed as the gluts in the garden start to arrive. I don't mind processing food when there is nothing else to do and the temperatures are cool but it was hot again this week meaning a steaming kitchen even with every window in the flat open and a breeze blowing through. I really did not want to process all the food by blanching as that requires pots of steaming water around. There is also nothing worse than spending all day out in the garden and having to deal with the harvest that evening because of the temperatures, still I won't be complaining come winter time. What was worse though is they decided to repair the gas pipe on a cool day I had earmarked for getting a lot of processing done. That was a bit challenging to say the least with just a microwave and a slow cooker working. Well that is once the electric came back on after the thunderstorm.

This was last week's dessert at our local hotel. One of the
reasons we were back there tonight! Well that and being
too tired to cook.
There has been quite a debate this week over the use of the word "Christian", to be or to not be a Christian is the question. A follower of Jesus, yes! A Chrisitian well that is arguable. While visiting friends last week someone asked us "is it difficult to be a Christian in Latvia?" I don't think he got the answer he thought he was going to get as we said yes due to the poor reputation of Christians in paying debts and poor treatment of workers not because people treat us any differently because we are Christian. Anne Rice this week and Paul Leader both asked the question is the name "Christian" so sullied that it is no longer a helpful label to use, in fact Anne Rice states she is still a follower of Christ but she is not a Christian anymore as she can no longer tolerate being linked to such a hate filled religion which is anti this that and the other. It is so sad that the loving faith that Jesus calls us to has become so tainted by some of those who claim to follow him. 

A friend of mine recently posted a quote on facebook "We are predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son" (Rom. 8:29) Too many Christians are working hard at getting people in to heaven. But we should make more of an effort at putting heaven in to people." Brilliant! Let's bring a little of heaven to earth as we go about our lives. What would heaven on earth look like? Sure feels a bit like heaven when we have lots of cheery faces waving away and saying "hi". 

Not sure what is going on with the photos in blogger but they weren't where I wanted them exactly. Oh well.


Mavis said...

The little tractor is proving it's worth, I see!

It's good to hear about your connecting with neighbours and the children. While living in Argentina and learning the language (I never did Spanish at school)I found that children were very helpful. They correct you without any awkward feeling while adults don't always tell you your mistakes as they don't wish to offend. The children and I always used to have a good laugh at my mistakes.

Like you, I'm finding Paul Leader's posts on Martin Scott's blog very helpful. It is so encouraging to find others on the same journey putting those same feelings, thoughts and doubts that I have into words.

Joanna said...

That little tractor sure is coming in very useful. Ian is not sure if he has the cutter set up on the big tractor as he keeps having to stop and sort it out and the little tractor just keeps on chugging away. It also tackles the raspberry canes and small trees growing where they shouldn't be.

I know what you mean about adults not wishing to offend. There is one friend who corrects me but then we are teaching each other too and she does it as naturally as correcting her little one, she is also a teacher of little ones so that helps.

It is indeed a great encouragement to see people who love Jesus walking the same route with all the doubts etc.