Monday, 4 July 2011

Odd week

Really excited to see our grapes growing.
I hope they taste all right after all this as
we have waited three years for this
and they have miraculously survived
two bad winters
Been an odd week this week. We are still doing the job the banks should be doing and helping where we can, but, as I told one person, it is a privilege to be able to share what God has blessed us with and if it makes life easier here, then that is good, and if it gets some businesses going, then even better. There was one point that I was just a little worried if we doing the right thing because money can always be a difficult subject between friends and I asked God for some specific encouragement about the matter. I got the most amazing reply back in the form of an e-card, from someone with no connections to Latvia thanking me for the way I invest in the lives of others. It wasn't just sent to me, it was sent to other folks as well who had also invested in this young person's life, but for me it was as if God had sent me a personal reply to my prayer that just answered any of my worries about whether I was doing the right thing or not. No matter what the possible issues should be, it would seem that God's answers to any worries I might have, is that I should keep investing.

Our plot on the land with sunflowers
growing well
One of the advantages of keeping this blog and a photographic record of what we are doing. is that we can look back over the years to see what we were doing a year ago or two ago and compare it to where we are now. For instance we have tomatoes coming now in the greenhouse, but how does that compare with last year? We feel like we are far behind because the greenhouse took so long to build, but when we look back we could even be ahead of last year, which is quite a relief. The hot weather in June of this year in the greenhouse must have brought everything on quicker than the cold wet June we had last year. Outside, however, everything is behind due to a lack of rain - it's swings and roundabouts I guess. It does show though why mixed farming is so necessary in the chaotic times with the vagaries of the weather. Mixed farming means that if one crop doesn't do so well then maybe another crop will, instead of relying on one massive monoculture crop to supply the income. I used to find in Derbyshire where we used to live that if I grew two sorts of beans, french and runner beans then I would do well with one sort if the other one didn't do too well - could never remember which did better in which kind of year though, as we didn't keep that kind of data then. Here we tend to also grow crops in three different places as the micro-climate in the three different locations is slightly different and by growing some crops in the three different places we stand a chance of doing reasonably well somewhere, that is as long as we don't get pestilences visiting all plots. This year we have been battling Colorado beetle on our potatoes. As insects go they are very sedentary and very easy to catch, but they are voracious eaters and will sit there happily chomping through many leaves if you don't catch them and so constant vigilance is required. On the subject of growing, our field of buckwheat is coming along nicely, we obviously timed it well by getting it in just before the rain finally came and now it is growing faster than all the other weeds that have germinated in the damper conditions, which is very reassuring and exactly what we wanted it to do.

Germination looks good until you realise that it is not all
buckwheat but lots of weeds too
I was hoping to say that this last week we had been to see an alpaca farm, but I am having difficulty getting hold of the guy. I rang the other week and we chatted briefly after which we arranged for me to ring on Tuesday, but when I rang he couldn't hear me. I sent a text instead and he texted me back saying he will ring me, but he didn't - well not that I know of. I have tried several times since, but all to no avail. It is really hard to know what the problem is. Is he avoiding me for some reason? Possible here in Latvia, as people can be wary of dealing with foreigners. Has his phone broken? Also possible too. I am disappointed, I was really hoping we were getting somewhere by finding someone who raised them in this country. I still believe it is the way we should go but not really sure how to proceed now. I will give it one more go tomorrow and if that doesn't work I will then get a Latvian to ring and see where we go from there.

This shows the good news though, as the buckwheat is the
larger leaved plants that are taller than the rest of the weeds.
One other thing that buckwheat is good for is that bees
produce a glorious dark honey from the pollen of buckwheat
we shall have to see about borrowing some bees I guess.
The oddness of this week was added to by an invitation from a friend to join a meeting to pray for the outgoing President of Latvia. The prayer meeting was located, in a Lutheran church, across the river from the place where the President was holding a party to say goodbye and it was an ad hoc meeting as it was only arranged the day or two before. We started off with a selection of songs by a brass band which seemed a bit odd at times, as I have never been to a meeting with a brass band before. I have heard meetings led with organ music, piano, guitar and drums and even saxophones, clarinets, flutes and violins but never a brass band complete with euphonium. As they played the more regal music, I could imagine a procession fit for a King, with the trumpets ringing out declaring his presence and it was quite awe inspiring at times. Unfortunately though there was a mis-communication and after an hour of the brass band, the lady in charge of locking up wanted to go home, she wasn't prepared to stay until 10pm as we thought had been arranged as she had already had a long day. Still it was good that we got some time where we could come together to pray for the President and his new career, wherever that takes him. I do indeed wish him well on his journey as he has really showed himself as a man of integrity by standing up to the dishonesty displayed amongst many of the Latvian Parliamentarians.

Butterflies love Ian's Lada too
To complete this rather odd week I have had a rather mixed day today too. Part of it was spent taming the monster tomatoes from sending out sideshoots, as they are the sort of tomatoes that send out sideshoots as soon as your back is turned (for those not into gardening, sideshoots means the tomato plants are concentrating on growing more leaves and not on tomatoes and so taking out the sideshoots helps to concentrate their minds a little on the job of growing tomatoes). Part of it was spent being the not so glamorous assistant to Ian by pumping the brakes of his Lada, as he bled the brakes - we now have a Lada where the brakes all work, which is kind of useful. The rest of my time was spent reading academic papers and making notes, whilst sat in the caravan sipping cups of tea. Odd it maybe, but enjoyable it was! Although it is a little frustrating for Ian's Lada to be sat around because it is not in good working order, it has meant that Ian has had a chance to brush up on his car mechanic skills from all those years spent maintaining crumbling cars when we lived in the UK. While in Denmark he had only bikes to maintain, whereas in the US and here, so far we have had relatively new or new cars, so not much maintenance for him to do. He therefore has relished the challenge and endured the frustrations of getting a car working again.


  1. A colourful life! "What's next papa?"

  2. Oh indeed, can't wait to see where we go next :o)

  3. Even the odd weeks are very interesting. Everything seems to be growing amazingly quickly and suddenly there's life everywhere. I hope the issue about the alpacas can be sorted soon.

  4. It is indeed amazing, how quickly things grow and then go over. Our strawberry glut has now finished. Must get some more strawberry plants that carry on later.

  5. ''sitting in a caravan sipping tea'' sounds divine. Not sure about the reading of academic papers though, don't envy you that one.

  6. Divine indeed! Most of the papers are quite interesting really :o)


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