Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The excitement continues

This is an example of the widespread damage that wild boar
can do to pasture land. That was probably one night's work
Oh yes the excitement continues here in Latvia, yes I am still counting pig holes. Well it is a great excuse to be out in the open, instead of stuck indoors reading more academic papers - that will come of course, as I will need to read more on the subject of wild boar and wildlife conflicts. I've even lost a few more pounds of weight in the process of tramping hither and thither across farmland. I did have a bit of a fright though this week, as I thought I had managed to delete one lot of photos representing over 2 hours of recording. I'm not the emotional sort but I came pretty close that day. Fortunately I did manage to find them, as iPhoto had decided to store them in a different order to the one I thought they would be in. I also found I got some other photos mixed up, because after a while one pig hole can begin to look pretty much like all other pig holes, but I have learnt that I need to take reference pictures to help keep me on track in my counting. There are probably easier ways of doing it but that would probably require expensive equipment.

Yes more damage, but what a glorious day!
Yesterday I came up over the hill to inspect more pig holes on one particular piece of land and was met with a sight of utter chaos, my first thought was "oh my goodness what have the pigs done now?" but something wasn't quite right. The chaos did not consist of tossed around mounds of grass turfs like the pigs often do, in fact it almost looked like huge mole hills but so many of them. Eventually my nose and eyesight clicked into gear and I realised it was manure, the farmer was muck spreading, so for the next three hours I was blessed with some gorgeous autumn weather, clear, bright and dry, sweetly perfumed with the odour of manure - not exactly my idea of a fresh air.

I think this courgette (zucchini) escaped our attention for
a while. Marrow Rum anyone!
Here in rural Latvia it gets very dark at nights, there is not a huge amount of light pollution, that has its advantages, as a clear night sky is a sight to behold with so many stars, but it also has its disadvantages, namely it's dark, very dark! It is law to wear something that reflects for walking at night, which makes perfect sense on the unlit roads, of which there are many. It also necessitates the need for making sure that we have a torch on us in winter and until recently was a necessity just to get from the car to the light switch for the hallway of our stairs leading to our apartment on the third floor (second floor UK). The problem was that to get to the first working light switch, we had to navigate about 6 steps, but now we have lights with sensors and we are no longer left fumbling around in the dark looking for the switch, when we have forgotten our torch yet again. It's only a little thing but it is still bliss (we're easy pleased!) Light sensors also means that we don't have to rush down the stairs at night, just to make sure we get down before they switch off and get plunged into the dark midway. Not easy if you are having a slow day, or carrying something.

Can you believe that these two kittens (Sofie on the left
and Bella on the right) can fit into such a small box
and not long before this were rolling around the floor fighting?
Our kittens have been a delight and great entertainment. It is a bit scary watching them beat seven skittles out of each other when they play chase, but they don't seem to do much damage and often curl up together to go to sleep, so can't be all bad. Of course we have had the various accidents, first while we were teaching Sofie about using a litter tray (fortunately Bella was already toilet trained), but also we have had the protest moves when the tray has not been as clean as they like. Without going into too much detail, we did have one little kitten moving around on the floor like she had worms and there was rather a mess in her wake - let's just say it is not a good idea to eat string!!!! Also thank goodness we walked in the door at just the right moment to deal with the developing situation. Aren't kittens wonderful!!!!! We have now dealt with the fleas and the lice that came with them, and no fleas do not just bite cats, they do like humans too. We have still not got them vaccinated as the vet does not like to do everything at once, and quite right too, so they are back tomorrow for those. At least they have now been wormed and using a tasty paste that you squirt into their mouth rather than those dreadful tablets. You know the ones that you have to shove down their throats, meanwhile stroking the throat and quickly shutting the mouth tightly to prevent them spitting it back out. I did get quite good at that with our cats, but there was one who was ace at pretending to swallow the tablet and spitting it out minutes afterwards.

Our lower pond has lapped over the bank now. Difficult to
believe that earlier on this year we were watching it rapidly
The fleas and the lice have not been the only wee beasties to contend with this week. Fortunately just about all the biting things have hit the deck with the colder weather, although sometimes cellars are inundated with mosquitoes as they look for winter quarters. The other wee beasties I had to contend with this week was in a full box of cornmeal. Sometime in the process it had got an infestation of maggots, which does not fill me with a great deal of confidence. I was not terribly happy at finding the little wiggly things in the box when I had plans on making some cakey treats to take with us when we are out and about. Good job I had other options and a good job I spotted it early on before mixing in the ingredients. It is amazing though how such small creatures can cause such misery and changes of plans.

The Stanley family
We have now added to our Stanley family. It has been great to find products that really do last and do what it says, ie in this case flasks that keep tea hot. They are not the light weight carry around everywhere type flasks, but sturdy metal products that bounce. The food flask finally arrived from England and been put to use already, great for these cooler days, also a good way of using up some of the produce we have processed into soups or sauces. Ian though has got into the habit of naming things, maybe he has been spending too much time on his own out on the land and so we now have (from right to left) Stan (1.9 litre flask), Mrs Stan (1 litre flask), son of Stan (insulated cup),  and the food flask is Uncle Stan - the strange one in the family and not quite the same!!! Should I be worried do you think?

Even our middle pond now has water, wonder how long this
will last.
The dipping temperatures are certainly a reminder that winter is not far away and we have been making plans for winter storage, not just of the produce but also the farming equipment. The barn still needs a concrete floor and there is no time to lay it, because the ground is too wet now to have deliveries of the sand and the gravel we would need, so that means Ian just has to level the floor as best he can and concrete it next year. He will also lay a drain in the floor to hopefully prevent a quagmire in the barn itself when the snow melts (assuming we get snow of course) and then he can start to put the equipment inside, to get it under cover for the first time since we bought them. We have had them under tarpaulins the last few years. We have also moved kale and swiss chard into the greenhouse so that we have some plants early in the year and maybe even over winter - who knows! We are planning to put the caravan (trailer) in the greenhouse to protect it from the weather, as it will just about fit between the internal posts. We are a bit nervous of doing this as our last greenhouse fell down in the snow of last winter, but we think this one is much more sturdy and maybe we can put planks across the top of the caravan to save it if anything disastrous does happen. It might also mean the caravan will be a little warmer than when it is stood outside, which will be good for sheltering during dinner breaks. We also have two roofing jobs to do as our workshop developed a leak and our wood store at our other apartment is not in a good state either. All jobs clamouring for attention before winter really does set in. Speaking of which we had our first frosts this week.

We are not meant to have a pond here

Fortunately Ian is on the case, digging
ditches. We now have a drain away
that goes all the way into the forest.
Oh yes and for those who missed my weekly blog yesterday, we had a lovely time meeting new friends. Did you know that Rottweiler puppies can be really cute? All seven of them! Don't worry, we won't be succumbing to these cute ones, a Rottweiler in not on our wish list, even though when well trained they do make great family pets and would probably be great at chasing off wild boar.


  1. Seems like you are surrounded by 'wild life' at the moment! The kittens look like good company

  2. Lol, so true and not all of it is welcome. The kittens are good company, except they seem to delight on sitting on my trackpad which doesn't make using the computer very easy at times.

  3. fascinating post....I buy cloth in preparation for winter...you have lots of ''proper'' things to do!!

  4. Lol I like that Karen. Mind you I hope to dip into my fabric stash over the winter too


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