Monday, 23 May 2011

Oh we know how to have fun

I was going to take a lovely picture of all that lovely manure
but I forgot and so I guess you will have to put up with
this one instead. Would look even nicer to me if I didn't
know that is mainly ground elder in the foreground.
What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than shovelling manure, heh? You can tell we are gardeners when we are so grateful to neighbours for the offer of trailer loads of manure. One of the few advantages for a gardener here in Latvia is the length of time animals end up spending in barns and of course that means lots and lots of lovely muck, so we toddled off with tractor, car and trailer round to our neighbours, as that then meant we only had one lot of digging to do and that was out of the trailer. It was hard work and we were bushed after four trailer loads of the stuff and we only made a dint in the pile they have, so I guess we will be back for more. We also have another offer of manure from a farm that is nearer to our apartment allotments and so we have more fun to go yet. Oh yes we know how to enjoy ourselves indeed!

The cathedral is progressing well!
Digging manure was a break, can you believe? A break from writing essays. I have really struggled with the last few essays as I now just have too much information and trying to process it into an essay is not easy.  It took me all week and about three re-writes which is just not healthy. Good job my eye is still not quite right and I need to take care of it and so need to stay in a bit, but when there is stuff to do in the garden I want to be outside not stuck in. I am now onto antihistamines and anti-inflammatories to keep my eye under control and that seems to be working for the most part, I keep trying to reduce the amount until I feel it getting sensitive again. At least my assignment is finished and that is one more unit completed and just leaves me with a report to write now. I might resort to the old fashioned cut and paste method, you know the one with scissors? I did for this last assignment. I printed out the work I had done and wrote the titles of the paragraphs down on strips of paper and then cut up my printed work into sections and plonked them next to the paragraph headings I thought they would fit in. One reason was that I just couldn't settle on a structure for the essay to bring all the random bits of information together and then inspiration struck and I settled on a structure, but then all the information was in the wrong place. Hope it worked! Should get to know soon enough.

Our not so new caravan, aka mission control. 
I said last week we were soon to be the proud owners of a caravan, and indeed we are this week. It is dirty, it's a bit battered on the inside, but it is dry, and comfortable enough to sit in and when your working the land you don't need a palace. The orange seats and orange curtains are just so 80's but who cares! Caravans like trailers have to have documents of ownership and so Ian went with the guy who owned the caravan and the guy's nephew to act as translator. The young man like so many other Latvians had spent quite a lot of time in England, working in a frozen food factory, I would only hope he was paid well for the responsibilities he was given, but I somehow think not. He is back in Latvia now to study and so I hope he does well in that, but first he has to get on a course which is not always that easy by the sound of it. I think there are just not enough places for the number of students who wish to study, from what I understand. When they got to the nearest centre which deals with transfers of ownership there was a note on the door to say the lady dealing with it was not in and so a short trip turned into a mega trip as the guy was anxious to get it sorted, as he was working for the next 6 days anyway. Still Ian had plenty of time to chat to the guys and find out a bit more about life for Latvians.

Ian ploughing
Ian has also been out ploughing again, something he loves doing. I think if it wasn't so bad for the land, he would just keep ploughing it all the time. He now needs to leave it a couple of weeks for the weeds to rot down a bit and then he can put a spring tine (not sure if that is right but that's what it sounds like) through it and then it will be ready for seeding. Hope we find something suitable. Why plough you might ask if we haven't really planned what to do with it? The reason was that the area was a mass of nettles and ground elder and hardly a blade of grass amongst it. Those rather invasive weeds appear to have largely gone now and we hope to plant it with a grain, probably buckwheat as it is a short season grain, but also some alfafa (lucerne) and some timothy grass for feed and hay (Oh yes and not altogether)- thinking ahead you see! Well sort of, if we were thinking ahead enough we would probably have got the seed by now. 

If you look carefully you will see a bee
Ian was a bit worried that the residents of the bird house he had made had gone off the idea and gone somewhere else, apparently that isn't the case. It would seem that the mum must be quietly sitting on the nest instead, so hopefully fairly soon we should be seeing plenty of activity as the parents feed the young. Apparently it is only about 14 days before they hatch out. We haven't heard the corncrakes back yet from their long journey but certainly heard the cuckoo, noisy beasts they are too. Funny isn't it how the sound of the cuckoo is a much heralded sound of spring and yet it is a murderous beast. One the way home from the land one night I spotted a head sticking up out of a patch of ground elder at the bottom of our ski hill, I kind of shrieked incomprehensibly at Ian to stop as I was sure it was an eagle. I got out  of the car and got the camera on my phone ready and walked slowly in the right direction, sure enough it was an eagle and it rather lazily flew up out of the grass and away to a telegraph pole. I am sure it was laughing at me though, as I could not get a decent photo of it, and I even tried the video option but couldn't tell if it was even pointing in the right direction due to the glare of the sun, and needless to say you will have to trust me that I saw an eagle. So far the weather has been for the most part quite pleasant just recently and rained when we needed it and so of course the richly biodiverse insect life of Latvia is appearing in greater and greater numbers, first the fleas, then the mosquitoes and I have even seen a couple of horseflies. Wonderful isn't it! There are some things I wouldn't miss if they did not reappear.

So just picture it, teenage son and bike in the box, and mum
I was reading a blog just lately and the poor woman who writes the blog had had a rough week and her son wasn't faring much better either as he had had his bike stolen and had to walk three miles home. I know it shouldn't, but it made me smile, but only because it reminded me of the incident our son had with having not all his bike stolen, but a wheel and a seat. Quick release is not a good idea sometimes! It was rather late one night and we got a phone call, "Can you come and pick me up please, I can't ride my bike home." Easier said than done, as at the time we didn't have a car, but what we did have was a Christiania bike like the one in the picture. Well you should have heard my son on the way home, it was so funny, all I got was "Slow down Mum, please!" He was crammed into the box with his bike, because there was no way I was getting in there with his bike and letting him be in charge of the Christiania. By the way it wasn't all bad news on the blog, Gina made a fantastic looking art doll, it has to be seen to be believed, wouldn't mind being able to be that creative on a bad week.


  1. The thought of your son plus bike in that christiania bike is still making me smila!

  2. Only sorry it is your son's stolen bike that reminded me of the memory.

  3. You should write a book about your Latvian adventures one day!

  4. What a varied life you lead. One minute doing assignments for your studies and the next minute shovelling manure! Wish I had half your energy. Makes very interesting reading and I agree with ju-north.

  5. I do love the variety Mavis. One thing that attracts me to the University I am studying with is the variety of experience of the tutors. Not all of them are just strictly academics, and they live all over the Highlands and Islands. My main tutor is a crofter, a consultant for development as well as a tutor and he lives on the Isle of Lewis, other tutors live in the Orkneys, Perth, Inverness etc. Not sure how I would manage in a strictly 9-5 job, or a normal University.

  6. manure?? you get all the fun!! I hope you are making good headway with your report...take care of that eye!!

  7. Some people just do not know what they are missing do they, Karen? I am actually making quite good headway on my report, it seems to make sense but I do have around 200 words to cull ie just under 10% :oS. I decided not to head to our other apartment today as it was windy and I thought it might play havoc with my eye, which is a shame as I usually do work better up there.

  8. wind is definitely not good for infected or otherwise eyes....I used to suffer from a lot of styes and they were horrendous, you have so much sympathy from me..


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