Monday, 26 September 2011

Hmmm! Interesting!

A neighbours lake
Our village has been undergoing a certain amount of transformation just lately. A disused building, I think linked to the old water system, has now been dismantled completely instead of just being left to rot, which is encouraging (unfortunately no before pictures). Another building on the main road has had new windows installed after being vacant for quite a while, again not sure, but I seem to think someone told me it was a small cafe at one time. The road up to the technical school has now been tarmacked (asphalted) and about time too. The road up to the high school was fine but just past the high school the tarmac ran out and then it was dirt road, and a pretty lousy dirt road at that, right up to the technical school, which didn't really look good for all those visiting from abroad on european funded exchange type trips. Outside the high school there is also a new skatepark, a request from the youngsters of the village. Finally the lake is returning as well, as they start to finish off the new hydroelectric station, not sure if it is replacing or complementing the old system yet. Unfortunately you are going to have to wait for photos as I haven't got around to photographing any of them yet. It is nice though to see steady improvements to the infrastructure and look of the village, even in these difficult times and my prayer is that people themselves see transformations in their own lives and not just in buildings. 

A late flower
It was a birthday week here in our household as Ian turned another year older. As usual we didn't really do much except go to the hotel to eat and Ian ordered steak, which they actually had this time, so he was very pleased indeed. My present to Ian was another addition to the Stanley family. We now have two Stanley flasks 1.1L and 1.9L, a Stanley insulated cup and we now await a Stanley food flask, as soon as our son ships it across to us that is -hint! hint!. They are certainly robust enough as one survived a fall from the car recently, a fate that saw the sad demise of two previous flasks and are certainly great for us out on the land, especially as the weather turns cooler as they really do stay hot - worth the investment with the hammer and use they get in our house. Another reason for going to the hotel though was a lack of electric and water - nice present! We knew the electric was going off as the electric company send out emails and texts to alert us, they even send us an alert 5 minutes after they turn it off - at least we then knew it is the company working on it and not some random fault. Unfortunately, although we knew about it, I am not sure some of our neighbours did. One neighbour was having work done on his water system and the water was turned off and they worked on the water all morning but then the electric went off and so did the noise from the apartment below, next we saw the work van disappearing - no electric - no work - no water! Fortunately the workman did come back once the electric came back on, but that did mean a noisy evening and no water until much later. Good job we have two apartments as it meant it was no problem to get some water from there.

Fieldwork. I am standing in one of the wild boar holes
This week I started chronicling the wild boar damage on different properties around the area for my Masters research project. It has been interesting walking around with the farmers, as they show me where the boundaries of their properties lie and where some of the worst damage is. It is pretty bad! I have recorded holes over 50cm deep and some damage that covered an area of 8m by 8m and seen damage today that covered even larger areas than that, but not got round to actually recording them yet. It is so disheartening to see as we know from experience the repercussions of the damaged areas, where invasive plants get in and good grass doesn't get established. What was once flat areas become difficult to walk across without time consuming remedial work. For us each new patch adds yet more time in Spring flattening it out, adding grass seed and hoping the ground elder doesn't spread into it. For others it represents an area where the hay could become contaminated with soil if the cutter cuts into a hole, or hay cutting equipment breaks, or an area where cattle or goats cannot be fed. One farmer has had to forget about plans to expand as they cannot grow their own feed, the pigs would love that too much. 

Damage that covers 8m by 8m

This hole might not be so extensive
but it is deep. My stick is marked off in
5cm graduations. This hole is 45cm deep
and if you can imagine what would happen
if you stepped in it once the grass grows back
or a tractor wheel hits it.

Fresh damage on our own plot, on what
was flat ground

Footprints along the side of a public
road. The wild boar do not seem
to be afraid of travelling on the roads
The frustration with seeing the damage and lack of options to deal with the problem here in Latvia lead to one of our rare arguments. Ian was moaning about the damage and I said that it was one of the reasons that I was doing the research I was doing, he turned to me and said "What good is that going to do? What difference will it make?" I saw red! I was not happy, as he may as well have said that this next year will be a complete and utter waste of time, as no one will listen anyway. In my saner moments I would agree, what difference can I make? Who will bother to listen or read my findings? Who am I to think I can make a difference? I work on the principle though that I have to do something, I cannot sit back and watch it happen and shake my head sadly. Maybe my work won't make a difference, but the next person's might. Maybe my work will change things or be at least part of the answer. I don't know! But I have to hope that there is a reason for all this work. I have to believe that despite the circumstances I can make a difference. As Galdiel said to Frodo in the Lord of the Rings 
"Even the smallest person can change the course of the future."
Before you think badly of Ian, he did apologise very quickly and admits he was wrong. It shows though what our neighbours have to live with and have lived with a few years, their frustrations are greater than ours. The general consensus of opinion is that there wasn't a problem 5-7 years ago - depending on which area we are looking at. The huge messes left by the wild boar are recent and not an ancient problem and yet they keep coming up against the attitude, this is their problem and nothing they can do about it. Not helpful for the future of farming in the area.

Grapes, just before they were picked and
eaten. They were tasty. 
Just thought I would up date you on the fermented cucumbers, hmmm well we finally tasted them and they are errrrr interesting. They are not awful, but their taste is very different and I can't quite make up my mind if I like it or not. Fermented foods are supposed to be healthy for us and the reduction of such foods in our diet is possibly some of the reasons our bodies don't work like they should. They are also a great way of storing foods for use over a longer period of time. Well it is about 2 hours after eating the cucumbers and I don't feel sick, so maybe they are okay, you will just have to check out my blog next week to see whether we are still okay.

If you have an hour or so to spare then take a look at this film. The guy is a gardener who takes time to talk to God about his garden and with amazing results. I have to say that after this year when everything seemed to be a bit too much, his way of gardening looks so easy and what's more doable. My heart has been asking how did Adam tend the garden of Eden, can we capture some of that connection and ease of gardening? Maybe this guy has got some of the answers and certainly some things we can learn from.

Warning to all arachnophobes, look away at this point, in other words, if you are scared of spiders then the last picture is something you will want to avoid
Had to remove this little guy before he got squashed under
the wheel, took a bit of doing but managed it in the end. He's
gorgeous though, isn't he?


  1. Interesting indeed! Just by being there you are having an influence on the land and the structures on it!

  2. How can you call any arachnid gorgeous? Different ... colourful ... but gorgeous?

    I know sometimes it seems 'what's the use' of doing something (I refer to your study of wild boar). You may think that all your work over the next year won't make a difference. Who knows? - it just might and maybe it will set other people off to actually say something and if enough people talk about it, it could well make a difference. What I do know is that doing nothing will not make a difference. I'm praying that the evidence is so strong that somemone will have to sit up and take notice. The way I see it is that if the boar were not a problem then some people(!) would not invest in expensive boar-proof fencing!

  3. I hope so Ju, but it is a privilege to be here.

    Arachnids can be such fascinating creatures. I have to admit that any in the bedroom are ousted and usually from the living room but other than that as long as they maintain their distance and don't invade my space. I'm okay with them.

    Thanks for praying about the research Mavis. I would be more than happy to see others also doing work so there is a cumulative voice


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