Monday, 23 April 2012

Official now!

A little greener this week
Before I get to the all things official I mentioned last week we were in Jekabpils collecting eggs for our incubator, I didn't mention that we took the opportunity to do some shopping and have a fish and chip lunch - not often do you get those in Latvia, not proper English-ish style ones anyway so a rare treat. Later on in the day we were in one shop and we were looking at electric fences, as we will need two eventually so the alpacas can graze the land and not just stay in their paddock. Whilst looking at the different types a lady tapped me on the arm conspiratorially  and said something like "don't get that sort, these ones are much better." I've had shopkeepers tell me which sort of merchandise is better and not to choose what we were buying for different reasons but never a customer adding their opinion. Bless her! Hope she was right anyway, because we bought the sort she recommended.

Yellow flowers this week, maybe
Yellow Star of Bethlehem but if anyone wants
to correct me you are very welcome.
We were back in Jekabpils this week again, only this time we were handing in forms to register our barn for animals and get a flock number. It can seem a bit of a palaver at times to get registered for various things. We went to the office (once we found it that is!!!!! long story and involved several long telephone conversations with a friend to direct us there) and we gave them the forms, they looked at them and then gave us a piece of paper with the bank account details of the office and we then had to travel right across the town to the bank, pay the fees and then travel all the way back to take the receipt. That often happens with state institutions but it does ensure that they do not have to handle money and be a possible source of corruption. A photocopy was taken of the receipt, a quick phone call to a friend to finalise some details and all was done. We went home to await the arrival of our paper to say we are registered which we expected to arrive in about two weeks time, but much to our surprise we had a phone call from our friend and she had the numbers for our registration. Can't imagine getting that kind of service in many countries. So the palaver of travelling from one side of town to the other worked out for us in the end. Of course we still have to wait for the actual papers but we have the necessary numbers and that is what is important.

Okay so this looks like a plastic bucket to
you! It is but with the addition of a toilet
seat rim. After perching on bucket rims to use
the loo for the last couple of years we splashed
out on this. A very expensive plastic bucket
really, but as far as I'm concerned the comfort
is truly worth it.
So this means we are a step nearer to getting the alpacas, we have the necessary numbers we need to transport them, we even have transport lined up, because as we found out this week we might not be able to collect them ourselves,  and we are going to visit the farm on Wednesday to see the animals, but there is still a big question mark over whether we can get it all to come together and get the alpacas soon. It all hinges on whether they have the right vaccinations for the travel in the end, if they have then we will be fine, if not, it means waiting another 40 odd days and then trying to arrange more transport or arguing our case for picking them up ourselves.

Oh yes it's spring! Mr and Mrs Toad were a
little late for the ski run this year, all the snow
had gone by the time they were taking a hike
across our ski hill
We also finally got a contract signed with a hunter to hunt on our land this week. He would have liked to put a feeding station on the land in an out of the way place to distract the boar, but I said "no" as my research shows that they increase the damage and the numbers so I don't want that (I joked with his son, who was doing the translating that I had been reading too much). They are fine to drive hunt as long as the dogs are not released near our land - that was the advice of the hunter who specialises in training the dogs as they wouldn't like to be responsible for something bad happening to our alpacas and they are fine to build some hunting towers on our land too. So wild boar beware and maybe if you visit there might be a wild boar steak or two on the menu. At least that is a tasty way to help the environment, as they seem to be getting far too numerous and causing far too much damage and our out of balance with nature.

The school accomodation block is having a make over that
started this last week with scaffolding going up. You can
also see the smoke is still coming out of the chimney which
is situated behind the school and provides our heating. It did
go off this week though. Cooler nights are much easier to
sleep in.
Forgive me at times if I repeat myself and you may notice if you follow the blog that some of the same pictures appear year after year, well not exactly the same ones but something similar. That is because it is all part of our rhythm here, as our year is dictated by the seasons. Maybe I have mentioned the children playing outside our apartment before, but they are a joy to watch as they play with simple toys such as spades and buckets and not much more. Quite a few of them now and  different ages, playing together, having fun, getting muddy and splashing in the puddles in the sandpit. You can imagine the mess! I smile as I watch and part of me thinks, thank goodness they aren't mine, all that washing, but there is also a part of me that thinks this is the way it should be, not stuck in front of the telly or the computer, but outside in the fresh air and with active imaginations working hard. Oh and don't misunderstand me, the kids do have other toys but they are quite happy playing with their spades and buckets in the sandpit for hours on end. Even if I haven't mentioned the children, I will have mentioned all the things that are springing to life again, even after such a long time covered in snow. This week the grass is definitely greener, the days longer and flowers are starting to appear again. We even uncovered our fruit trees from their plastic winter wraps and turned on the electric fence again.

Not the best picture in the world but that
really is a water vole. Looking fairly
petrified poor thing.
Animals have featured prominently just recently from the eggs in the incubators to the wildlife on our land and our cats. One day we were sat having a cup of coffee watching the insects and frogs in our pond when I glanced up and there was a deer stood on top of the hill. I was quite shocked as it was mid-morning and said "Oh! Deer!" Which Ian, who was looking the other way took to mean "Oh dear!" and thought I was joking about the life we lead, sitting around absorbing the sun and drinking coffee on such a beautiful Spring day. Fortunately I managed to get him to see I meant a deer and we watched as it bounced across the land - they don't really run do they, they bounce! Another beautiful morning drinking coffee by the pond and we noticed something climb into our overflow pipe, it was the water vole again. We have found out they are vegetarian and not something we want to encourage near our greenhouse, but we wanted to be sure it was a vole and not a rat. We went to opposite sides of the overflow pipe and Ian fed a small pipe down the pipe to encourage it to my end while I stood with a bucket in hand to catch the thing. I wasn't too happy about this as I wasn't quite sure what it's reaction was going to be or if it was really a rat, but I managed and whipped the bucket lid on as fast as possible to stop it escaping. We then sat and finished our coffee while debating what to do about it. I was fairly sure it was not a rat, as it's face was too round and I am not sure that rats swim under the water so much and in the end we decided to release it in the bottom pond, further away from the greenhouse and so we wouldn't disturb it as much and also we felt it belonged on our land anyway. Just hope it doesn't cause too much damage.

Bella doing her car inspection last week
As for our cat! Hmmmm! We went for a walk around our land and our cats followed us, it was more like having a couple of dogs with us the way they followed us about. Eventually we must have gone too far and they bounded back towards the greenhouse, well that's what we thought. We walked the land, shifted a few bales to give the grass underneath a chance to breath and then headed back to the greenhouse, after inspecting the bulbs near the oak tree on the way back - and yes our mini daffodils are nearly in flower again. When we got back to the greenhouse there was no sign of any cats. We weren't too worried as they usually returned at some point and sure enough Sophie did, but not long before it was time to go. I put her in the caravan and continued packing things away and sorting out but still no sign of Bella. We called her by name and whistled for her, no sign! We walked back up the hill, calling and whistling, still no sign! Eventually we gave up and headed for home, there was not much else we could do. The next day we were up early as we hoped it would stay dry and we could shift the rotten hay off the land, but unfortunately it started to rain as we headed towards the land, gently at first but heavier as we got nearer the land. When we got to the land we half expected Bella to leap at us as she is not the bravest of cats normally and we wondered if she had been terrified by her ordeal. No sign! As Ian wandered down to the barn though, there she was! She seemed pleased to see us anyway, and she even seemed like she wanted to stay out, but that was all bluff, as soon as we got home after finishing jobs off in the greenhouse - no collecting hay as it was now raining consistently - she went to sleep and has pretty much dozed for the rest of the time.

A scene from The Good Life! Or the Good Neighbours in
America, where it was also shown. If you have no idea what
I'm on about then go to this site for more info. 
A few weeks ago I mentioned that Ian has ordered me a birthday present, well it actually arrived and it did indeed come in plenty of time for my birthday, which was on Sunday (oh yes the day we were going to collect hay!!!!). An amazing feat for my hubby, that does not often happen. Love him really as I am probably as bad. He got me a full collection of "The Good Life" - rather appropriate don't you think? Ian credits the series as the reason we are in Latvia and doing what we doing, must have sown a seed in his heart I think. He was going to get it me last year apparently, but when he looked the series was about £250 and not even the complete series at that. Anyway one night recently he dreamt that we were the couple in the series and when he woke up he did some digging around for the series again on the internet and this time he found it and needless to say he didn't spend anywhere near £250 on it - I would've gone ballistic anyway. Well that is our Saturday night DVD nights sorted for errrm quite a while!

The balconies are being removed on this side and the guy
on the right is using a sledgehammer to break up the
concrete. I haven't watched long enough to see what happens
when they get near to the completion of each balcony though.
One final note, I thought it was interesting that the newest head of the World bank will actually be a development professional and not an economist. The World Bank is the biggest development agency in the world and not really as much of a bank as the IMF is. I wonder if the head will have an influence on policies? The World Bank has improved over the years but still has a long way to go on implementing policies that are proven or risking money to gain some improvements - not all money given in unstable situations is going to work and that does mean taking risks from time to time. There is also a need to be in development for the long term and not expect short term results - so where will that all lead? No idea! Let's hope and pray he is actually effective as a leader and channel money where it is needed and not into big expensive white elephants that displace many indigenous communities which has happened in the past.


  1. It is fascinating to read about your life in Latvia Joanna... sounds very much like "The Good Life"

  2. So much going on with you - I don't think I can get my head around it all!

  3. Gina it sure does feel like the Good Life as we sit outside in the sunshine drinking out coffee by the pond.

    I must admit it feels like there is a lot going on this week Ju. Monday morning we are sitting around doing nothing because it's raining and by the afternoon we have a registered farm and ferry tickets booked for Sweden.

  4. I like your new toilet/bucket for the caravan. Ah! - it's the simple things in life ... !

    I'm glad things are moving along with the animal aspect of your life. Sounds really exciting. The Good Life indeed. I loved that sitcom.

  5. I know you will understand more than others why paying over the odds for what is essentially a plastic bucket was well worth it Mavis :o)

    As for the animals it could be all rush, rush and then nothing or a frantic rush to get things sorted on the land to get ready. We'll see

  6. I hope you had a great birthday and enjoy your trip to Sweden...however brief!

  7. We did enjoy our trip to Sweden and thanks for the greetings Karen

  8. Love "The Good Life". I can't count the number of times I've watched it. Ian strikes me as more sensible than Tom though. :)

  9. It is a great programme indeed and yes Ian is much more sensible than Tom


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