Monday, 27 June 2011

First glut of the year

A glorious daisy plant that I haven't even planted myself
It didn't take long but we now have a strawberry glut. We have had strawberries in salads, strawberries for dessert, strawberries in ice cream, strawberry sauce, strawberry and gooseberry jam (using up some of last years gooseberries before the next lot arrive), as well as eating them straight from the plant; we are now kind of strawberried out but at least they freeze and we have tried drying some too to see how well they last. Other plants are beginning to get there at last and we have had the first sugar snap peas, swiss chard and some thinnings from our kale. Everything is still rather slow though due to our late start with the greenhouse, my studies and the dry weather. The wetter weather has certainly been welcomed for bringing the plants on, but not always so appreciated by everybody in our house (hehehe).

Okay I know you have to look hard
but you can see our prayer flags out
there in the field, waving away keeping
the hoover birds off our buckwheat! 
We were so excited to see that our buckwheat has germinated and growing well despite the attack of the hoover pigeons last week. They did seem to look like little vacuum cleaners as they strutted along and, as I said last week, it was so disheartening to watch them, especially when they didn't really seem that bothered by our presence at times. I had read that shiny things waving about is supposed to scare them off and so I thought foil strips would work but I wasn't so sure that they would last very long, as the foil we can get seems to tear so easily. In the end I made foil ribbons by sandwiching foil in cling film and then ironing the strips - at least that felt less likely to tear. We also noticed that wearing red and waving madly seemed to scare them off eventually and since I have loads of red ribbon we decided to try some of that too. Ian then tied the foil strips and the red ribbons to long sticks and placed them around the field and it seems to have worked. Ian watched one day as a group of them flew in the direction of the field, and seemed to be heading downwards before suddenly back tracking and flying off. Result!!!! Now our field just looks like it is surrounded by prayer flags fluttering around in the wind.

There they are, tiny buckwheat plants
This week we have been for a look around a friend's new factory unit, well when I say new, it is new to them but really it is a relic of Soviet history - it was fascinating. Old tins with Russian language labels, cart wheels, and many other fascinating things littered the place, Ian was in heaven pulling out items to show me. Our friends thought that Ian would love to help clean up and so spend time spurching (a good Northumbrian word for a rummaging through stuff) through all the paraphernalia but Ian looked a little apprehensive at the thought, we both had visions of our car becoming filled with all sorts of interesting looking items that might come in useful and goodness only knows where it would all go, we would need another apartment just to hold it all, or another barn built. So is anyone interested in a genuine bit of Soviet history? An empty tin that once contained tuna, empty bottles of smuggled alcohol, genuine 80s Soviet phone made in Latvia, cart wheels etc. and that is just some of the weird mix of things there.

Glorious sunset on Ligo evening. The day after seeing
our third longest day in 12 months, since we spent
midsummer down under at Christmas time.
This week the Latvians celebrated Ligo which is their midsummer festival held on the 22nd June and we were invited to join some of our neighbours by the pond with the obligatory bonfire and barbeque, drinking beer in Ian's case and pear juice in my case. It was an idyllic evening of chatting and eating, with just enough wind to keep the wee biting beasties at bay and yet just warm enough to sit outside, especially welcome as we had had a lot of rain this last week. None of us were up to waiting for the sun to come up around 4am and so at 1:30am we headed back to our apartment with the stars glinting faintly in the still just light sky, full with food and friendship. I was chatting with our friend today about the festival and she was saying that for most festivals in different countries people organise parties where they invite people to come, but Ligo is different as parties just happen, the whole day is about parties, with people coming together in an organic kind of gathering and not a formal organised event. That sounds like the way God would organise something, with people coming together to sing, to talk, to just hang out around a bonfire and then move onto another gathering to sing some more, to talk some more, to eat some food, enjoying each others company and appreciating the good things that God has given in the beauty of his nature.

Ian mowing the "lawn" wearing his funky headgear. Actually
it is my anti-mosquito net that we bought in Oz
earlier this year. 
We have been here over three years now and we have found in that time that things take time to happen here, whether it is really getting to know the neighbours because it takes time to nurture and deepen the relationships, or time spent just getting something built, or the time taken to pull a project together. Of course somethings can happen quicker and it is not just things working in Latvian time, sometimes it is because I will sit on something rather than push something through. I get the feeling though that it is not good to push things through all the time, either that I am getting too distracted with other things. It is good to try something in a small way first, sit back a bit and see what is the next move, a bit like our land really. Sometimes we have some definite idea of what we want to do and work towards that, but as we work at it and occasionally take a step back we can see we need to adjust our focus, change direction or re-plan what we want to do, for instance we were going to have two greenhouses built but the only place for a second one would be nearer to the trees and that means more shade, to put it somewhere else will mean tearing up more land and we are more and more loathe to do that. We are growing to love the variety that marks out the land, the patches of wild strawberries amongst the taller grasses, the orchids nestling amongst the shadier areas, the sheer variety of grasses on one piece of land is quite staggering. Whenever we try and identify a plant we can't just look it up under the grassland section we have to look it up in all the sections as we have patches of dry grassland, rich meadowland plants, woodland plants, you name it we have that habitat somewhere on the land.

Weird looking caterpillar
Another thing we have discovered over time is the costs incurred for honesty. Doing things properly costs money and, in Latvian terms, lots of money. Our greenhouse project will cost a lot in architect fees, fees for putting it on the map and goodness knows what other fees and they add up. Our chimney installation for our wood burning stove cost quite a bit for such a small project too. Setting up contracts with notaries also costs lots of money with money getting paid to the state in fees for this that and the other. All in all, honesty costs a lot of money and is absolutely no incentive for doing things the right way at all. I can understand that the state needs to levy charges for some things but some of it seems unnecessary and some of it seems to be there to put people off instead of encouraging an honest approach to business, or making alterations or whatever the project. To move forward and bring more businesses out of the grey economy I believe that the costs of honesty are going to have to fall and people need to see some benefits to working everything above board. Sticks are all very well but a few carrots may help too.

Our miracle pool is a rather odd colour at the moment
as the rain has washed a lot of silt into it making it a sort
of beer colour.
It is easy to tut tut at such disincentives and roll our eyes at such vagaries of the Latvian system, but it is not the only system that is broken and needs fixing. Latvia at least has the excuse that it will only be celebrating 20 years of freedom from the Soviet system this year, not a long history at all and much of the Soviet system lives on in peoples minds making progress slower than some would like. So what excuse do countries  for discouraging honest dealing that have had a far longer history of independence? A Peruvian economist, Hernando de Soto, has written a rather interesting article regarding the way that facts regarding who owns what has been quietly destroyed to the point where no one knows who owns what leading to the debacle we have recently seen with sub-prime mortgage scandal. One thing for sure is that they are facts Jim, but not as we know it. It is scandalous really, allowing those in positions of wealth to exploit the system, instead of governments doing what they can to control the greed.   This system of destroying facts certainly provides no incentive to newly developing countries to get things right. Reforming the Latvian system seems like childs play compared to the reform needed in the financial world of more advanced economies. Time for a change methinks!

Our bottom pond recovering after the drought with the
addition of some grass seed to hide the scars 
St.John's wort

Monday, 20 June 2011

Sweet blessed rain!

Rain clouds gathering, and most welcome they were
Well our drought is over finally and our ponds are filling up nicely. It was worrying to see them slowly disappear along with the forecasted rain that never arrived. The bottom pond dried up so much that Ian could get the tractor in and so he put the back hoe back on and started digging it a bit deeper, to see if there was water further down. After digging through a peaty layer he found two drains - Bingo! The water was still slowly pouring out of the drains and so he had found another source of water that hadn't dried up with the lack of rain and we also have a lot of peat for compost for next year. Our drought ended firstly with a couple of good soaking rains, for which we are grateful, as we had planted seeds in anticipation of the rain and didn't want them all washed away. A deluge after a drought just means the water will run off and not really wet the soil which is not what we wanted. The deluge did arrive later though and in fifteen minutes of rain our first pond rose about 20cm to the overflow pipe, our second pond had a puddle that didn't last long and our bottom pond rose up past the deep hole that Ian had dug and into the basin of our original pond. Much better.

I think this must be a butterfly that has just emerged from
its chrysalis, waiting for its winds to unfurl
I mentioned last week that we were having trouble finding buckwheat to plant in our ploughed field and I had our scouts out trying to find some, well one came back with a successful report, a farming friend had just sold a load of seed, but he did manage to scrape together enough from his barn for us to seed our field with. The grand total of 19 kg of seed was 5 LVLs ($10, £6) but an hour and half drive to get it. Our friend has a hunting ground for people to practice and so we got to look around, as well as venture across a rope bridge. I managed it, but wasn't too good at scrambling across and Ian couldn't help me across as having more than one on the bridge at once only made it worse. At least I managed to avoid a plunge into the river below. We were also presented with some beaver sausage and just in case anyone is wondering what a beaver sausage is, it is a sausage made with beaver meat. Don't want anyone getting confused now!

The grass has grown so tall this year, about this time last
year it was only just above knee height, this year
it is taller than me and nearly as tall as Ian.
Ian managed to get the buckwheat sown in the field using the old-fashioned broadcasting method and then turned it in slightly with a chain harrow (a bit like a giant rake) and, with perfect timing, the rain arrived later in the day to water it in. It was a bit disheartening though a few days later to arrive out on our land to see a flock of pigeons busily grazing the field, feeding their fat little bodies with our buckwheat that we had tried so hard to get. Ian shouted at them which startled them and as they were about to land I waved at them madly, as I was wearing a bright red sweatshirt it seemed enough to see them off. The following day though they were back as expected, but I discovered that whacking a pair of trainers together makes an excellent pigeon scaring noise. Kept me busy in between the rain showers, weeding vegetable plots, planting seedlings and cleaning the caravan.

More unwelcome visitors, the pigs are back, not so helpfully
digging up a grond elder patch that Ian had cut.
This month so far our outgoings have been really low but we have still managed to eat well despite that. Our garden is just starting to produce some leafy salad type things and our strawberries are beginning to turn too and they are delicious. We were also given 3 litres of goats milk the other day and I managed to make goats cheese using nettle juice and some kefirs to form the curds. It turned out very well, just like a traditional goats cheese and all the whey that was produced is being slowly used up to make loaves of bread as the whey makes a lovely moist soft loaf. So you can see that we are certainly eating fine foods on a limited budget, which reminds me of what I felt God say not so long ago "Wait and see what the Lord will do!" He is certainly providing for us in some amazing ways.

A present Ian made for me, isn't he kind? 
We received an invite to a name day celebration this week for one of the youngsters in our apartment block. Name days in Latvia are big occasions and they are listed on calendars that you can buy, so that you can know when all your friends will be celebrating their name day. It is traditional to take a small gift to friends celebrating their name days, but doesn't always involve a party The idea for this one though was that a few of us would get together to build a tree house for the children, which would be a bit safer than them trying to build one for themselves. Well that is the theory anyway as one poor youngster managed to step on a nail and he ended up going back to his mum who happened to be a doctor on call that night. Apart from that incident the rest of the night went quite well, I even gained a new best buddy. One of our neighbours has a young son who is often shy of us due the fact we don't speak Latvian, but for some reason on this particular night he decided we were friends and we played badminton, or rather as much as you can with a three year old, and shared crisps. The next morning though we were back to normal and he seemed to be shy again. Oh well! It was nice while it lasted.

Look carefully and you can see bees. These bees have
made a home for themselves in our straw pile
I have definitely finished my post graduate diploma in Managing Sustainable Rural Development now, as I got my mark for the last module this week. I am not sure of the final mark exactly as it all has to be verified but it is looking good and I am very pleased. It means I can move onto the next bit now and get started on the Masters thesis. This should take me 8 months and so hopefully I might actually be finished early and get into the sowing season a bit earlier next year. Well that is the theory, and this is Latvia so it may take me a little longer, especially if it takes me a long time to organise interviews with farmers.

A gorgeous looking beetle
One of the questions we get asked a lot here in Latvia is, what are we doing here? Good question really and we sometimes wonder ourselves. We definitely can't be said to be farming properly, as we are still in the learning process and we are not sure if we ever could make a real go of it at times. We do try and move forward without damaging the lovely piece of land we are privileged to be working on though. We often get caught up in the beauty of what is around us and we have no wish to disturb some of the equilibrium. We are also trying to work some things into the natural lay of the land, for instance planting woodland bushes such as blackberries, tay berries and blueberries close to groups of trees or only digging up areas that have become covered in invasive weeds such as ground elder. We certainly wouldn't want to dig up the whole meadow as to do that we would lose some of the gorgeous orchids and other wild flowers that are abundant. The problem is though that although it puts food on our table, it doesn't put cash in our hands to pay internet and electric bills. We still have plenty of savings but it won't last a lifetime and so we still have some way to go to answer that question but I do feel that God gave me some of our purpose for being here as I read Acts this week in the Message.

Acts 3:22 For the time being he [Jesus] must remain out of sight in heaven until everything is restored to order again just the way God, through the preaching of his holy prophets of old, said it would be.

Another pretty little butterfly. There were so many pictures
I could have put up this week of the insect life on our land
I feel part of that restoration is restoring a garden to what it should be, namely a productive pleasant place to be. I also feel we are helping to restore some trust as we help where we can, and I feel we are also restoring hope to some people too. How does that provide us with an income in the future? No idea! But I do know God provides in some creative ways and so I am not too worried about that. In some ways I feel that what we are doing is similar to what a prison warden in Hawaii is doing in providing a healing environment for prisoners. Latvians often feel imprisoned in a hopeless place, they love their country and want to make a go of a business or farm but the circumstances of their life or the economic environment traps them into a feeling of hopelessness. I do hope that our garden/land will become a healing place and what we do provides healing. The prison warden in Hawaii is certainly providing proof that there is a way out of hopelessness and despair and it needn't trap people forever, now that sounds like restoring God's order to me!
This is the marjoram I harvested this week for drying

These incredible eggs were on a marjoram leaf. They are solid
little balls arranged so perfectly

The re-re modelled pond. The pool in the middle is from the
digging that Ian did this week where he managed to dig down
to the drains

A marsh orchid (I think), there was a whole glade
of these pretty orchids

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

It ain't 'alf 'ot Mum

A purple marsh orchid I think. The orchids in the fields
are getting a bit swamped this year as the grass is a lot
taller than last year at this time. The heat must have made it
grow rather tall, very quickly.
Boy has it been hot this week, we have had temperatures up to 30C most days and so all my planting that I had scheduled went out of the window, as there was no point when it was so hot and dry too. In fact we haven't had rain for weeks until Sunday and then it was a half an hour of good soaking rain but only in our village and not out on our land. The soil is that dry though that even the good soaking it got still means the soil is pretty dry and needed a good soak to plant some more seeds of broad beans, lettuces and beetroot. At least the temperatures have now dropped making it easier to do some work outside and worth trying to plant out some of the unfortunately stunted plants we have got that have been sitting on our windowsills waiting for the right time to plant them. I am actually a bit weary of the garden at the moment as it all seems a bit pointless when half the stuff I have planted withered and died with the heat, and it isn't as if I didn't water it. I guess I could have braved the mosquitoes and watered everything at night, that might have made a difference but I couldn't really face the mossies and I have felt quite drained. Probably end of term feeling combined with the heat and being disappointed at not getting stuff done, so I guess the cooler temperatures this week will mean I will get a chance to perk up. At least the caravan has served us well during the day when we needed a quick nap or just a sit down in the shade.

Our seriously depleted pond, re-landscaped
The mysterious still flowing spring with
One of the worrying parts of this drought is we are almost down to just one pond now, as even the bottom pond is drying out rapidly. This was the pond we were hoping would be useful for topping up the pond nearest the greenhouse in a dry season, fortunately that one is still quite full, although dropping slowly. The bottom pond drying out does mean that Ian got a chance to do some more tidying up and digging out, so that when the rain does come we will have a deeper pond and it meant removing the grass that was growing on the high clumps in the middle. So with the drought, water has been quite an issue for us and we were therefore delighted to find that a spring we knew about is actually still flowing quite well and with a long hose we can pump water out of it to an old bath we have put in our vegetable patch. Ian has dug out the spring a bit more and also put sandbags around it to raise the water level higher and it still continues to fill, which is such a relief. We decided on sand bags for ease of banking it up and also it means that if it rains too much we can remove the bags and let the water level drop. It does kind of feel like a constant adjustment to the circumstances, instead of doing the same thing in the same way every year, each year has brought with it new challenges. I guess it means we don't get bored anyway. Looking back through our photos and blogs shows that last June was quite wet and relatively cold.

The piece of land awaiting the Griķi seeds
As Ian has finally finished ploughing the piece of land that was a huge nettle and ground elder patch we wanted to plant it up with some buckwheat or griķi in Latvian. We thought it would be easy to find in an agricultural suppliers but we were obviously wrong. We chose buckwheat because it is a crop that is grown in Latvia and it is also a short season crop which means we can plant it now and still harvest it this year. It also makes a good mulch crop that combats the weeds easily and so should help to prevent the regrowth of the ground elder, but first we have to find it. If the worse comes to the worse we can plant it with clover for a green manure crop or oats and peas for a hay crop but we wanted to try the buckwheat first. We have now got our scouts out seeking to find the elusive seeds.

Bath anyone? Our newly installed bath for water for the
new vegetable plot. Needs a cover before it becomes
Trying to find something like buckwheat seeds illustrates one of the big problems here in Latvia and that is the lack of information. In the UK I can google buckwheat as a green manure or as an agricultural product, but here in Latvia there seems to be some uncertainty as to where to look, even by those we think may possibly know like local farmers. This lack of information is a big problem in development as it makes a task so much more difficult and so people are more likely to give up. I am a pretty determined individual and so willing to keep trying but I can see why others wouldn't be bothered. So our search continues but at least I have now found someone who knows someone who has actually planted the stuff - at least thats a start.

Red and black striped stink bug - what a glorious name heh?
otherwise known as Graphosoma lineatum. It is definitely
not a Colorado beetle though
Some wildlife is making an appearance again this year that we don't often see, or hear as the case maybe, some of it not always what we would want to see, such as the Colorado beetle. It is endemic here and not a notifiable pest as it is in the UK, but we have only seen some in the first year we planted up potatoes and none more since, until this year that is. We will have to keep an eye on the plants and see what happens as they can decimate potato plots. Other wildlife includes a crane that flew over our land and we don't often see those, storks yes and lots of them, but not cranes. In fact Ian was telling me that a couple of storks flew down to see what he was doing by the pond and were very disappointed that he wasn't cutting grass or ploughing and did not like the fact he kept getting out of the tractor to use the back hoe. The corncrakes are definitely back on our land, but unfortunately trying to take up residence in a whole load of ground elder that Ian was just about to cut. It is always a dilemma as to whether we cut the ground elder as we need to get that weed under control or let the corncrakes nest there, but we have decided that they are only just beginning to nest and they have plenty of other places nearby to take up residence and so we are going to go ahead with the cutting. At least Ian is just going to use the slow two-wheeled tractor which means they have plenty of time to get out of the way.

Greater butterfly orchid. Glad to see these
back again but I think we will have to
cut back the young woodland where
these flowers are growing or they will
get swamped and we wouldn't want
I have been using Blogger for these posts for over three years now, in fact I have just passed my 200th post without noticing, but the other day without warning I signed on and the whole thing had changed. It all looks okay, but it did take a bit of finding my way around and I could do without sudden unannounced changes. I do like to be told first before big changes are made - grumble grumble. The 200th post was not the only milestone that has happened recently, we have finally sold our house in England (if I had had more energy this week I would have done a little dance). It took 18 months to get it sold but at least it is finally gone, which is a great relief as now we can start to make some plans as to the directions we want to be heading in.

I got a smoking and curing book recently from my Mum for my birthday and got around to trying it out. I managed to make a rather good pork and egg pie, real summer comfort food and even tastier because it is not filled with nitrites which makes my mouth sore anyway. I was also in Ian's very good books for making the pie as he enjoys a good pie. So in the picture you can see some of my other efforts. In the back picture is a bacon with a dry cure of just salt and honey, front left is old fashioned corned beef which is nothing like the tinned stuff and takes two weeks to make, the last picture is a ham in a wiltshire type cure, that will be ready to cook Wednesday.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Mulching, watering and battling hornets

These colourful wooden insects are based outside the
local bakery for children to play on
I like the banking arrangements this week, as we started to get money back in, instead of it going out, which is encouraging. Also encouraging is the fact that hopefully our house sale will complete on Wednesday, that should make things easier to manage as it will finally mean only having one tax authority to deal with and not two or even three as I have had to do some years. I shall enjoy filling in our final British tax form and informing them it is all finished with. Yet another piece of encouraging news is that I am a couple of steps nearer to completing my diploma, as my tutors have almost finished marking my work, just one piece more to be finished and I will know for definite if I have passed and what kind of grade to expect. So far it is looking really good.

Looking quite neat and tidy
We are getting the greenhouse planted up and it looks nice and organised, pity the plants have suffered from being too long in small pots, so we'll have to see how they fare later on. We have even finally planted up our grapes that have survived two winters in pots as well as adding two more vines to our collection, so now we have one white vine which looks like it is going to give us our first harvest of grapes, our old red grape is still just hanging on in there after dying back to the roots for the second year in a row, but at least it is recovering well now; we also have another red grape and one bluey coloured one. I have refrained from planting much else as it has been far too hot and too dry and with a bit of a breeze to really dry things out it would mean even more watering than I am doing now. I think my arms are stretching with all the carrying of water and this is made even more interesting when I have to navigate the electric fence which doesn't have a gate and so it means ducking between the wires (don't worry I do turn it off first or it would certainly make the navigation even more interesting). I have been putting as much straw as possible around all the plants to reduce the drying effects and I am just hoping we can nurse things along until some rain, hopefully this coming weekend but with temperatures up to 30C in between it is not good, especially since it is over two weeks ago now since we had a small shower. So we would gladly trade a few days rain with anyone who wants to send some our way, even Ian is hoping for rain which is not normal as he is definitely a hot, sunny weather kind of person.

Our white grape with flowers
Besides watering I haven't really done much else this week apart from weed plots and mulch them. I did have a scary experience with the mulching at one point today as I was in competition with a hornet for the straw. I think that it was contemplating using it for a home and was not best chuffed when I was removing it for my plants, in fact I decided to give it a rest this morning as I didn't really think I stood much of a chance against an angry hornet with just a hay fork for protection. If you have never heard a hornet or seen one, they are scary - think humungous wasp on steroids and you have the picture, next add in the drone of at least 10 bees and you have the sound. I hadn't realised how much straw is coveted as a home for bees and hornets until we have built piles of the stuff, we have two bees nests in the straw on the land that we try and remember when we are shifting it for mulching but they don't tend to build their nests in the most convenient of places and it is a pity they are not honey bees either but still they are important but hornets are not something I particularly wanting to encourage to set up home. I think the one from the morning has given up thinking of moving in as this afternoon it did not reappear, much to my relief.

The red grape just hanging on in there
I did manage a creative few hours which is wonderful. We took as much of my sewing stuff up to the other apartment as possible, so I can get on with some panels to hide curtains which will be different sizes and also to make a belated birthday present of some cushion covers for our daughter. Not sure if she will like the designs so far, but I had fun making them and if she doesn't like those, they will end up in the panels instead. In fact something similar may end up in the panels anyway as I had so much fun making them.
Ian trying to hide behind a pole. Actually
he is tacking up the fleece to give a degree
of shelter from the sun. 

Ian has been pretty busy too, getting the greenhouse sorted as well as the land. As it is so hot he has to get out there early to open up and stay late to close up. Sometimes he bikes out there so he can spend time in the gardens at home but most times he is out on the land. This week he has been using the two wheeled tractor to tackle the ground elder, particularly before it flowers. It has definitely become an ever increasing menace and we hope that by continuing to cut it every couple of weeks we will give other plants a chance to out grow it and drive it out, but it is certainly a battle. At least using the two wheeled tractor is a lot quicker than strimming it as Ian has done in the past to keep it down. He has also been ploughing a vegetable garden for our neighbour as all the other tractor drivers she normally asks to plough for her are either busy doing their own plots or broken. It was a good job they mentioned it yesterday as Ian was going to swap the plough for the spring tine to sort out the piece of ground he ploughed the other week. Our next task is to hopefully get some buckwheat as it is a short season grain to put in. That should be an experience harvesting that.

A tenacious daisy growing in the dry and compact soil
The E. coli outbreak in Germany has thrown up some interesting debates on our approach to modern life and how we abuse the use of antibiotics. The E. coli is apparently resistant to many antibiotics, but in some ways this should not be of particular concern as antibiotics should not be given to patients with diarrhoea anyway, as it can knock out the good bacteria which helps to combat the dangerous E.coli. Our digestive systems are full of bacteria and living in harmony most of the time, it is only when they get out of kilter there is a problem. We can help to keep our digestive systems healthy by eating certain foods such as yoghurt or kefirs and other fermented foods too. I hadn't realised that sauerkraut and certain pickles were actually probiotic foods until recently and apparently very healthy for the gut and so a return to home-made processing of foods maybe a good thing for our health - which is very convenient when one of the books my daughter got me for my birthday also contains recipes for fermenting foods. Another issue the outbreak raises is the routine use of antibiotics in factory farming as this is part of the reason for the increased in multi-resitant bacteria. If animals were not housed in confined conditions they wouldn't need to use the antibiotics, as they would be much healthier, so our cheap meat comes at a great price in terms of quality and health of animals and humans. Isn't it about time we thought more carefully about where our food comes from and maybe going for more expensive, well-cared for meat eked out with some cheap pulses like beans and peas, than continuing with our addiction to meat?