Monday, 27 September 2010

A good old-fashioned workout

Fly Agaric. Not a mushroom for the pot obviously but they
are so beautiful. We have quite a few of these in
our forest.
After a week of reading books and papers I was ready to be out of the house. I spent all summer on the move and being inside isn't so great, well not while the weather is so nice. With a lovely weekend in store we decided to pick apples, we haven't many per tree but certainly enough for us to get by on. Never ceases to amaze me though when Latvians look at apples and say what sort they are and when they will be ready as one of our neighbours did when I showed him our haul. I am lucky if I can identify a variety in a supermarket, never mind on the tree. I guess I have a lot to learn. Also spent some time shifting yet more grass, is there an end to it? Something will change next year, I am positive about that, we haven't decided what to do as an alternative for definite and keep throwing ideas about but doing the same next year will not be an option, it just takes far too long. The sheer physical aspect of the work sure helps to work off some energy but my elbow is beginning to hurt, a sure sign that it is not a good idea to keep going.

Ian has been ploughing again. This was
another area covered with the dreaded
ground elder. We shall let the frost do its
work on the roots over the winter ready
 for planting something in the spring.
One thing that one of  the Latvian political parties seem to have missed is that the old traditional methods of farming take too long and too much manpower to sustain today, judging by some of the literature arriving in our post box. Latvia is heading for the polls on Saturday and of course we have had the usual political leaflets through the post. One of the leaflets has a typical old-fashioned Latvian country scene on it, the Latvian haystacks, storks, forests in the distance and lots of open fields. It is of course an illusion, yes you can still see the old hay ricks but they are becoming rarer because they take a lot of manpower to build them, the forests are not so distant as the trees grow up in abandoned farms and even the open fields that are left are at risk because of the explosion in wild boar digging big holes in them. If Latvians wish to retain their traditional looking countryside there is going to have to be a shift to buying more home produced food, dealing with the wild boar or accepting fences and hedges as a natural way to go (or roast boar anyone?), and maybe they need to spend some time helping farmers stack grass so they can keep the old ways going. Any volunteers?

Yes we have wood. At last!
And this is the base in all its glory! Well its a start.
The news that Latvian wood exports have increased by 53% in 7 months reminded me of something I forgot about last week , we have wood finally! In fact we even have a base for our barn. That is it mind, just a base but it is a start. We just seem to get to the stage where our patience seems to have run a bit thin and then there is a movement in a project, it has happened time and time again and we are kind of used to it, but sometimes it is just a tad irritating. Good job folks seem to have a sense of when we might be running out of patience and get motivated or organised to get on with something. 

A cute little fellow
Another project we have had ongoing all year is our other apartment. Part of the problem is that our Swedish friend who is helping us out has a lot of back problems and so from time to time he can't do anything, then he has been busy with projects on his farm over the summer and sometimes life just gets in the way. It hasn't helped that the work has been rather more complicated than we anticipated as the false floor that was put in for a walk in shower previously had warped slightly and let water through to the wood base, the result was that the whole floor had to be taken up but not before work had been done thinking it was going to stay. It would have been far quicker to rip it out at the beginning and start afresh. Still we did manage to find matching tiles to the original ones for the floor and the wall and so it could have been worse. 

A rather vain pond frog as he posed to have his photo taken
for quite a while
We are off to England soon and thought I had better check out if my old English SIM card still works. I had a few surprises, the first is that I found the SIM card, the second that the phone where it was residing picked up a signal when it was switched on. This of course is not normally such a surprising event but this was my American phone and it had never worked outside the city of Riga and so had been consigned to the draw despite being only two years old at the time. I was so pleased that it was working though as my old Danish phone is showing many signs of it's 7 year old lifespan and has taken to occasionally turning off at random times. Not helpful! So one night I spent switching the SIM cards around and entering all the new phone numbers I have for life here in Latvia, which took rather longer than I expected. It made me realise how many new people we have got to know over the past two years.

Not as pretty as the Fly Argaric but some amazing structures.
Not sure if these are edible or not but going to investigate
In a previous post I mentioned the title of a book "What got you here, won't get you there" by Marshall Goldsmith, a management book that encourages business leaders to look at new strategies rather than rely on the old systems that had got them to the places they are in now. Something businesses are in dire need of now but that is not what captured me, it was the title. I knew that God was taking me on a different journey not one I had travelled on, and a few years down the line it sure seems that way. Now I am studying rural development, something I would never have thought of doing before and certainly not something that was particularly uppermost in my mind as I sat on a plane flying to Brazil from America where I was living, and rubber necking to see what the lady next to me was doing. The phrase encouraged me to step out and to try new things knowing that what had taken me on an extraordinary journey to the States via Denmark was not going to define my journey from that point either. I had learnt many lessons along the way, valuable lessons that still help today, such as adjusting to different cultures where needed but the trajectory is different. I still am not quite sure where it is all heading but I was reminded of it when I have twice come across the phrase "an action plan for getting from here to there" in my readings for my course. It all sounds very sensible to have an action plan to get to there from here, but where is there? How do you get there, if you have never been that way before? How much planning can you do? I think I would rather view what I know now as a toolkit that prepares me for the adventures ahead, rather than trying to plan too far ahead and get stuck along the way and mired down because I wasn't too sure of which direction I was heading. Travel light, travel easily, but travel I will. I shall plan for what I can foresee and trust for what I cannot.

Our first chili pepper. It is not a particularly hot one but
hot enough for us. 
On a completely different note I discovered this week that I am the right height for something at last! To be a hobbit at 4ft 11 and 3/4 inches I am a quarter of an inch off the cut off height for a part. Shall I apply do you think?


  1. I regularly put an order in to our local Somerset Farmers (and have it deliverd to the door)One of the things they do that we really enjoy is Wild Boar and Apple burgers. You have the apples so all you need is to capture a wild boar! Seriously though, like you, I think we should all try to buy a bit more home produce.

    I have learnt in life that the more I seem to plan for the future, the more God seems to undo my plans as He has a whole new set of plans of His own. As you say, it's best to plan for the next step as we see it and trust God for the rest.

    I, too, am short of stature so maybe I could join you as a hobbit?

    Hope you enjoy your visit to the UK and if you're passing near Somerset you are most welcome to visit us - we do have a spare room if you needed a sleepover.

  2. I am looking forward to the day of wild boar and apple burgers. One day Mavis! One day!

    Looking forward to the day that us two hobbits can get together, such a shame we won't be anywhere near Somerset this year but I shall bear it in mind for sure, God willing as they say.


I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi