Monday, 19 September 2011

Our special visitor

Well there has been lots of landscaping going on. Ian's been landscaping around our barn

Starting the process (Picture by Mavis)
Nice and level by the side of the greenhouse in preparation
for the snow in winter

Levelling off the ground by the barn
and the wild boar have been errrr hindering

Not helpful! Right between our raspberries and
currant bushes.
The wild boar have not just been digging up our land, they have been having a good go at the neighbouring properties too.

I know I am small but the photo gives you some idea of the
depth of some of the wild boar digging. If they would just
take off the top layer it would just be annoying but big holes
like this are dangerous for tractors. This hole area was one of
several about the same size.

I started my project this week of monitoring the pig activity and I first need to walk the perimeter of the farms and then log all the activity that looks new, so that I can record any done over the next few weeks or so. The problem is that it is a mammoth task, firstly walking all the way around as they are quite large some of them and then logging the damage, they have been so active just this last week that it is going to take me ages just to log the work they have already done, never mind what they will do over the coming weeks. Never mind! I shall be as fit as a fiddle by Christmas doing this, after the pumpkin weight training programme and the tomato challenge of carrying umpteen kilos up several flights of stairs in recent weeks.

Here we all are at the local hotel. Mavis is in the middle.
Last week, however did get off to a reasonably relaxed start, as we had our special visitor from England. It was quite wet most of the week but that was good in some ways as it just gave us lots of time to chat, and eat and chat and errr eat and chat some more. Mavis has been reading my blog now for over three years and has been such an encouragement, although we have never met in person, and so it was a thrill when she mentioned she would love to come and visit to see what we are doing. You can read Mavis' perspective on the trip on her blog. Besides chatting we also took her to visit our friends on their farms and one of them treated us to home-made pizzas using ingredients from out of the garden and cheese from her own goats, followed by honey cake and I suspect that was home-made too, using honey from our friend's bees. The other friend gave us a guided tour of the barn with all the animals in it and even gave us a milking demonstration, which she does by hand. It was very funny watching the calves being fed the milk afterwards and after they had finished the milk in their buckets they licked each others faces as they were not wasting a single drop of the precious liquid. It looked like they were kissing. Mavis has now got to see our land for real as well as the flats we have renovated over the few years we have been here. She has seen and heard firsthand some of the challenges and seen the joys of living here and hopefully taken away a real flavour of the place. Just a shame that it rained all day on the Friday she flew back and so Riga was more like a flying bus type tour - on your right you will see..... and to your left is ....... - in between mall hopping that is, where we ate and chatted some more, at least we stayed dry. The other shame is that Mavis missed the first tow of the season, as the very next day one of our young neighbours had managed to get stuck at the bottom of the allotments - not really sure what he would be doing there, but he was going nowhere fast if we hadn't helped.

Kissing calves (Photo by Mavis)
This weekend I started stripping the buckwheat seed of the plant, while Ian was busy landscaping. I got half a bucket, but it took me all afternoon, I hope the rest goes a bit quicker. We need some animals then we could just beat the living daylights out of the plants and then let the animals pick over any seeds left, but using the flail does seem to leave a lot of seed on the plants. Or we need one of those engineering types that love tinkering about developing little one off machines, anyone up to the job? At least harvesting the buckwheat will provide a rainy day project, as we can harvest the buckwheat in the greenhouse, even if I can't get out studying wild boar damage and Ian landscaping and digging drains.

The turkeys at our other friends farm (Photo by Mavis).
Looking ahead I finally got our plane tickets sorted for our Christmas trip to the UK, as they had special offers on for the days we were interested in travelling, the problem is that the next day airbaltic decided to announce cuts to staff and flights. It would appear though that the announcements are to do with a spat between the head of the airline and the Latvian Government. Hopefully they will sort it out very soon, instead of being yet one more casuality of brinkmanship between a powerful guy and the Latvian government. The Latvian government are actually the majority shareholder of the airline, but do not have a say in how the airline is run, and want to buy out the minority shareholder who runs the company. Not sure how that happened but doesn't seem to make sense really. The CEO is now back in Germany as he fears being arrested in Latvia for fraud charges. Not sure if the charges are real or trumped up either, but shows some of the challenges Latvians face.

I will just finish off with an excellent article on the effects of austerity on Latvia. The two authors are spot on about the reason for the drop in unemployment here in Latvia, it is mainly down to many people moving away looking for work rather than due to an improvement in the economy. We really need to generate a new economy now, one that does not penalise the poorest for the mistakes of the bankers - they maybe back in profit but the people are hurting.


Mavis said...

Wow, Ian has done a lot of excavating. That looks great.

Sorry to see the wild boar are at it again. I hope you manage to fit in all your visits to the farms for the necessary info.

I've just put another post on my blog and the farm visits will be in the next one.

Joanna said...

It was a lot of excavating but went quite well really. Have to go and see what the mess is like though as we did have a heavy shower overnight

ju-north said...

Pleased you had a good time together - it's always good to be able to visualise where people live and work!

Joanna said...

It was also a big encouragement for us

karen said...

so you are accepting visitors? get the kettle on!!

Joanna said...

Indeed we are. What time do you arrive? :o)

karen said...

anytime soon if you are making cakes.....

karen said...

and I'm not commenting on the top one in protest at the presence of that hideous spider.....
you do realise I won't be able to sleep now....

Joanna said...

I can do that, no problem :o). You just have to book the tickets now

Joanna said...

I did put a warning first, but you looked didn't you :oD

karen said...

looked???? couldn't miss it...