Monday, 8 August 2011

All baled up

Our ski hill from the top

Some of the 29 bales of hay we now have. Some of these
have rolled themselves down the hill. 
Oh the aches, I should look like Arnold Schwarznegger for the aches in my upper torso from battling the two wheeled tractor the other week and fluffing up the hay this week, but I don't and I am still the same rotund shape and perhaps only a couple of pounds lighter for the trouble. Still it seems worth all the work when we look at the land now and see 29 large bales of hay sat there. We cut the hay and someone came with a tedder to turn the hay and fluff it up, to help it dry. The tedder worked on the flatter areas of our ski hill, but we still had to arrange all the hay on the steep areas into long fluffy lines. Our lovely neighbours organised the tedding (not sure if that is a correct term or not) and the baling for us and we are so grateful for helpful neighbours who know the locals that have the right equipment, it saved a lot of hard work. We thought it would be baled on the Friday but the guy with a new baler said our land was too steep and so an old tractor with an old baler was organised, but we still expected to have to do the really steep parts - remember it used to be a ski hill in Soviet times! We were getting nervous that none of it would be baled in time before the rain, as the old baler broke down, so we were very relieved that they made it in plenty of time and the promised rain did not arrive until today, Monday. We were even more relieved to find that they had baled even the very steepest areas - that must have been hairy! We didn't have time to get out with the camera to take a photo over the weekend, as we had visitors and it rained today, but Ian was taking our trailer back to the land after a neighbour borrowed it and stopped to take some photos especially for all you blog readers out there - isn't he sweet! We weren't expecting 29 bales of hay though, we were expecting 20 and our neighbours were also expecting less from their lands too. One neighbour only had the right money for the normal number of bales she usually gets and another got 58 instead of the usual 40, we thought the grass had done well this year.

Our greenhouse is looking very full now
Besides helping us organise getting the hay done, the young lass who translates for us is learning many new terms in English for farming terms, but so are we. I have a tiny bit of experience with a sheep farm, as my godmother lived on a farm with Herdwick sheep in the Lake District and we used to live in a farming area where I used to take note of the seasons as I walked around and took an interest in what was growing there, but my farming vocabulary is very limited. Ian's isn't much better coming from a mining family. We end up on the internet so much, doing research on equipment, on what to grow, what techniques to use and the list goes on as we learn what we can do. Trying to communicate with our neighbour does make us realise though how inadequate the English lessons are for those living in rural areas, there is a lot of information on the internet that is helpful, but  a lot of it is in English and if people do not learn the vocabulary of farming terms, then it is hard to look for the information. English lessons are useful though for when you get lost in a city, apparently!

We have melons growing again this year
In the same way as last year, all to soon the season seems to have turned and the frantic sowing of seeds has more or less stopped, apart from a few catch crops and some sowing in the greenhouse in anticipation of some fresh autumn veg, which I will get round to soon; instead it is replaced by the frantic saving of veg for the winter months. There are times I feel like asking the plants to take a breather so I can catch up, as I pick yet more beans that will need to be frozen. At least I know we will appreciate it in the winter months, especially when I do not have to buy any veg yet again. The other problem with the turning of the year, the cooler nights and shorter days, is that a certain someone in our house - and there are only two of us and it's not me - starts to chime "Winter's coming!" I might swing for someone if they carry on, I mean it's late summer and we still have autumn to go yet and probably still have quite a few more warm days to go (at least I hope so anyway). I might have to let him off though as he has been podding dried peas to keep for over the winter and for next year and it has been a bit of a thankless task due to a large amount of losses caused by pea moth grubs, probably about 80% of the crop was chomped to some extent. In fact we have been finding the wee beasties crawling across the floor of our other apartment where I had left the peas to dry right before we were due to have visitors staying over night. Not what you want! Internet here we come  to look for natural deterrents/natural extermination regimes, I think.

We still have a lot of grass to cut but this will wait until
after the corncrakes have gone as it not good hay making
material like our ski hill grass
Over the weekend I got a package of seeds from Agroforestry Research Trust that sell a range of seeds for permaculture. We love the land that we manage and growing bushes and trees that can stay in one place means we don't have to keep digging it up and ruining the soil structure. I was looking for Szechuan pepper seeds first of all, as I fancy growing some seeds that can be used instead of having to buy normal pepper seeds. I was delighted to find that the seeds will stand -20C, which means that they should survive our winters here, even though it can get colder than that, the ground is not usually that cold if it gets a blanket of snow on it and we can always wrap them up for added protection. I started looking for other seeds too that would tolerate cold winters and ended up with quite a list of mainly shrub seeds. Some sound really intriguing like the Chocolate vine with fruit that has pulp which is supposed to taste like chocolate, or rhubarb that tastes of apples and a bush with fruit that tastes of liquorice, as well as one that has fruits that look like blackcurrants but again taste of apples and is ready in June, unlike most berries that are ready in July/August. Hopefully this will all add up to a very tasty hedge around our orchard as well as plants on a steep piece of ground near our greenhouse. I'm looking forward to tasting the fruit of these shrubs but I guess I am going to have to be very, very patient.

I finished this a bit ago but couldn't post it, as it was a
present for my niece. Not sure if she likes it but I posted
it on a craft site the other day and someone said it was
trendy. Can never be sure if it is or not with not living in
the UK for so long
Visitors are like buses here, you don't see any for ages and then three come at once. We haven't had many visitors in while but we have had two lots over the weekend and our son arrives next week. The first visitors we had were some friends who we have known for many years and our children grew up together in the local church we used to attend. We were really excited to hear that they had gone to India to help in a school out there over the last year, but we never got to hear the full story until this weekend. Although they are now back in the UK they still have plans and dreams for further adventures and it was great to listen to them and be able to show them our plans and dreams too, as well as some of the realised plans on our land. We also introduced them to some of our friends, who kindly showed them around their farms so they know who we are talking about when we write our blog and can picture the scenes more easily. As we talked and laughed lots the years rolled away, they were such an encouragement to us to keep going, doing what we are doing, as well as praying for blessing for us.

I knitted this for my nephew and it has cute little hippo
buttons on it. I saw a picture of him in it and was
relieved he hadn't grown out of it in the time it has taken
me to knit the two items and send them off, he also looked
quite cute in it too I thought.
Our second set of friends, we have only just got to know in the last year, but nonetheless we have really gelled and love their company when they come. It is great to be able to talk to friends who understand what it is like to be immersed in another culture, not always understanding what is being said all the time, but still loving the country of Latvia and the generous people who live here. We can talk berries, jams and juices, laughing at the contrasts between the UK and Latvia and generally spending a lot of time talking and eating - the perfect day. Do you ever get the impression I love talking to people? I like solitude, peace and quiet but I also love companions who like to talk about lots of things, as long as it isn't shopping, especially if that is while eating. I would be no good on a holiday where all we got to do was sunbathe, I'd get bored far too easily.

A rainy day project. This wall has
needed plastering for quite a while
but in true style it was left and left.
I may post the finished picture next
week as I have to say, hubby has done
rather a splendid job on it and finished
it just before visitors arrived.
A friend I have met a few times over the years has a blog (worth looking at as she takes some gorgeous photos and then does even more amazing things with photoshop with them), she was relating a small incident with the local air sea rescue and it reminded me of one of my school skiing trips when we went to France. It was nowhere near as dramatic as her incident, but with hindsight it could have been. One afternoon we went a little further afield on a ski tour with our instructor, but unknown to us the weather was about to change and a fog was coming down. The local mountain rescue team were clearing the mountain to prevent incidents and they were leading us off the mountain. I was a timid skier and was nervous of the edge, as it looked pretty steep, and in my nervousness I kept skiing away from the edge and into the banks. I was holding everyone up and in the end the mountain rescue team put me on the stretcher sledge they had with them and  after that we progressed much faster. When we nearly reached the bottom and everyone was safe, the team then put on a spurt and we left the rest of my group behind, as we hurtled down towards the cafes and restaurants at the end of the run. Great fun for this rather timid teenager!


Mavis said...

How interesting all those differnet flavours in the pkants. I love the idea of chocolate vine. Please ask Ian to stop singing about 'winter's coming' at least until AFTER my visit. You say 'and we still have autumn to go yet and probably still have quite a few more warm days to go (at least I hope so anyway)' I hope so too!

Joanna said...

I know I can't wait to try them. If you are ever in the Totnes area, maybe you could call in and try them out for us :o), that is where the Agroforestry Research Trust is based.

As for singing 'winter's coming', you can rest assured I frequently tell him to stop it, as did one of our friends who visited the other day :oD

ju-north said...

I don't know how you find time to fit everything in! Seedtime and harvest ... part of the rythmn of seasons. Found some autumn coloured leaves yesterday - got quite a shock as I am still in summer mode. Keep safe! x

Joanna said...

Last week it was hard to fit it all in, I have to admit but like you said it is part of the rhythm of the season. In this respect Ian's chime "winter's coming" is actually a relief as that is a down time when not much outside can be done.

We have leaves turning here too, an climbing vine on the side of the house is starting to turn red

Mavis said...

'pkants'??? You know I meant 'plants'.

Joanna said...

It did take me a minute but I worked it out and it made me giggle :o)

Pille said...

Joanna - I've ordered plants from Agroforestry Research Trust as well (quince, Egremont Russet apple and champagne rhubarb) - what a small world :)

And how exciting to see that you're growing melons!

Joanna said...

A small world indeed Pille. Did you find the seeds easy to germinate?