Monday, 20 February 2012

And that was the week that was...

Well can you see them? The wild boar. They are the black
specks in the very distance on the road. The road is
the white trail between the trees ie under the snow.
Picture the scene, we are travelling along a snowy track, going to observe feeding sites for wild boar in the forest. Suddenly in the distance a group of wild boar cross the road. Stop! Stop! Says the hunter sitting in the back. So we come to a stop and I take out my camera to take a photo, but of course they are too far away to get a good picture. They cross the road and disappear into the forest and the hunter tells us to move on slowly. At the point where they crossed the road he tells us to stop, and he tells us to get out of the car very quietly and not to make a noise with the doors. We change the lens of the camera for a long lens, and creep out of the car. It is at this point I was wishing I wasn't wearing red - well how did I know we would actually see some wild boar at 3pm in the afternoon? I also wished I wasn't wearing a waterproof coat and waterproof trousers, as we cautiously and as quietly as possible followed the hunter. Suddenly he motioned us to crouch down and to look through the trees, the wild boar were in there snacking on the beets and potatoes. Gradually we stood up and moved a little closer, one juvenile who thought he knew better than to listen to mum was still hanging around. Ian being taller than me started to take photos, but it was difficult to get a good picture due to the trees. The hunter made a noise, the wild boar looked up and Ian got his photo!

And there's the youngster who wouldn't listen to Mum
Well that was the start of a very interesting week. I have met some amazingly brave people this week, who are working hard for the good of Latvia. It was a real privilege to meet them and talk to them. I wish I could share more, but sorry I can't; just to say if you are the praying sort then pray for those who love their land and long for a better place for their children and their children's children and are willing to fight to get that. Also pray for our translator, he has been doing a brilliant job and has really caught the enthusiasm for what I'm doing with my research project, which makes the job a lot easier. I have seen people with passion from all sides of the debate over wild boar management and heard tales to inspire and sadden. It has been the most incredible month but now the hardest part begins, to condense all that I have discovered into less than 15,000 words that will help the debate as best I can. Not much to do then! I had to smile when I read this somewhere this week (sorry I can't remember where)
"To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects ... is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism ... kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful." Thomas Merton
Because it was Valentine's day when we went
to the hotel for our weekly meal
I long to see communities flourish and be transformed from hopelessness and despair to one of hope and optimism and it would be too easy to get side-tracked along the way by all things that could benefit from change. Every time I contact my tutor he reminds me to stay focussed. So let's hope that I don't kill the root of inner wisdom, but rely on God to help me stay focussed and on track to see transformation in one area of life here in Latvia, or at the very least be a small part of that transformation - I am not sure that I can play an important part, but if all I can do is offer a word of encouragement here and there to keep things moving I will be very happy.

Who are you looking at?
It has been a week of highs and lows - aren't such week's like that. Poor Ian has been on the brunt of most of the lows. Early on one day Ian was in the car and made a right turn, he glanced away to check traffic and when he looked back the old lady he had seen crossing the road had disappeared from sight. He suddenly realised she was lying on the road having slipped on the ice, he stopped the car in plenty of time and got out and using the international work "okay" he helped her up and she was laughing "normal" she said. Phew!  Well that wasn't too bad but later on in the day we were in the nearest large town and we had been to the supermarket and needed some diesel to get us home. The petrol station is right opposite the supermarket and so Ian just pulled straight across the road - bad move apparently. A few seconds after getting out of the car a policeman approached. None of us had seen the "turn right" notice and now Ian has a 20 Lat fine I'm afraid. Now we know why the police sit in that particular position on a frequent basis, a bit of a moneyspinner place to sit methinks.

A fine set of antlers on this one, although apparently
it won't be long before they lose them for this year.
Wouldn't have minded quite so much but the trip to the supermarket was a bit of a waste of time anyway as I managed to make a right hash of picking up some chicken for a quick meal. What I thought looked like some chicken breasts turned out to be the carcass of a chicken for soup. Here they often sell bones for cooking, you can get salmon scraps for soup stock, chicken bones for soup stock and pork bones for soup stock. I must, I must concentrate more when I'm buying food. We had a tasty meal, just not a lot of meat in it. Oh boy! I was in trouble because Ian hadn't eaten much that day and it being the night of the incident with the police it was not the best of nights to make a catastrophic failure in the purchasing department. Good job we can laugh about these things but it was close!

A hunting tower where they can watch
and wait for the wild boar to come
It was not the only incident with cars that week either. Ian had gone out to the land to do some work and I rang him to see what he was doing, and when he would be back for lunch, only to be informed that he was on his way to help someone out as they had crashed their truck. The truck had been on the way to make some deliveries of humanitarian aid around the village when another car misjudged a slippery road and the two vehicles collided. Ian had to take the driver back to his land to collect a tractor so that he could remove the vehicle from the road. So added to all that excitement one of our cats has managed to pee on our plinth under our woodstove. Not too bad you would think but it is a glass plinth inset into a wood surround and the pee managed to get under the glass and we can't move it to get to it. And finally to cap the week the motor that Ian bought for our Dyson vacuum cleaner to get it to run on a 240V instead of the 110V it ran on, was bigger than the one removed and took a little more fiddling around to get it to work than anticipated - to Ian's credit he got it in and working so we no longer have to plug it into a transformer, but what a palaver.

A winter feeding station for wild deer. 
Despite all the excitement of the week, I have managed to get some preparations for the year ahead done. First of all I have ordered an egg incubator and brooder so that we can raise our own chickens for meat this year. Not a bad idea after the supermarket fiasco earlier, also not a bad idea anyway, as the supermarket broiler chickens, as they call them, are not exactly the tastiest meat around. If there is one thing we are getting used to is tasty meat around here, even if it is a bit different to what we would have normally consumed in the UK. So this year it's looking like we will add quite a few animals to our two cats as we won't raise all the chickens for consumption and some will be for eggs. The other bit of preparation is to get our seed order in. We have ordered different kinds of chilli seeds although they are all relatively mild, but lots of different colours, some purple, some deep red, one brown, some orange and some a more normal red. There are also more of those squash plants that we have grown to love this year and we expanding the range of those we are going to grow too. One squash has what they called naked seed, so we can just go right ahead and roast them and not break our teeth on the husks in the process of eating them once they are cooked. Once we build up a big enough bank of seeds from the naked seeds, it might be possible to get oil out of them (and just in case you have absolutely no idea of what I am going on about, this link will show you what I mean). Another squash will be like baby orange pumpkins, just right for the two of us, so that we are not wondering every time we go to open up a pumpkin, how many different things can we do with pumpkin this time. Although at the moment they are starting to go over and so we are having to cut them up quick and freeze them - which is fine because it is much easier at this time of the year than in the middle of harvesting everything else, and they do make a great pumpkin cake.

A pile of tasty beets and potatoes for the
wild boar! 
So what have I also unearthed on the internet this week? One article was a fairly sobering article for my generation up to my parents generation - a span of 20 years. We are apparently the stumbling blocks for todays youngsters and not the stepping stones on which they build. For those about to retire, the times maybe good, especially if they have been employed all their lives, but for those who are younger, who have experienced unemployment the times are grim, and even if they have employment those jobs may not be the best with good working conditions and favourable pay. What legacies are we leaving our children? What future are we releasing to them? By the time I get to retirement age (goodness only knows when that will be in 20 years time or so) will things have balanced out again and brought a release of opportunity to the younger generation? Will they live in a fairer society? I do hope so, but if I have to spend all my energy to see that into existence then so be it. I want a future for my children, not a nice cosy life just for me.

Mineral licks for the deer too, to keep them
Many of you may have seen the news that the Latvians have sent a resounding no message to introducing Russian as a second language. I wonder though was this effective democracy in action? After all the last referendum ousted the last Government and sent a clear message that people are tired of corruption in Latvia, but referendums are costly and I am not sure the majority of people really wanted the country spending money on the latest referendum, when schools and hospitals are closing or barely surviving. At least that didn't stop them turning out to register their votes, 69% bothered to vote. That in itself was a good thing.


  1. It certainly was an eventful week! Hope Ian has recovered from all his exertions. K got done for speeding 35 mph .... At least we haven't got your snow!

  2. I think Ian has recovered thankfully. I am hoping it is a quieter week this week, but we do have more snow forecast

  3. Hi Joanna,
    I saw you wrote 'international work "okay"' & I think you meant 'word'.

    What are all the chilli seeds for? Are you going to plant them around the vegetable gardens to keep the boar away? I know elephants don't like chilli peppers.

  4. Hi Pene, you were right, I did mean "word" not "work." Whoops!

    I wonder if they would keep the wild boar at bay, worth a try with some of them. Some will be going in our greenhouse and if we get enough we will sell them locally.

  5. I too think that things are so much harder for our children than they were for us....record youth unemployment, difficulty getting son has an excellent Music Degree and works in a warehouse. OK he is Mangerial but not what he hoped for when he was studying hard for his degree and piling up student debt.

  6. I remember one person who said, "don't they realise they will be providing for us when we retire?" If we remembered that we might be more inclined to think long and hard how we educate our children. In your son's case, who will be the ones who bring music into our lives? I do hope he gets the break he wants


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