Monday, 30 April 2012

Phew!

Our patent pig proof protection! In
reality they are heavyish logs with
strips of wood nailed on from our
old greenhouse, which have more
nails sticking out. We have two rows
nailed on, which hopefully will stick
in pig noses if they so much as get any
where near our blueberry bushes.
Let me sit down and catch my breath a bit this week. I know some of you think we rush around doing a lot, but that's not true normally. Our life is different and varied and that is partly because we don't have nine to five jobs and so it leaves us free to lead a quite eclectic life with plenty of time to stop and observe, drink cups of coffee by the pond and spend the evenings just perusing the internet (sorry have to admit that). Last week was different because it did seem to pass by in a whirl. Last Monday I mentioned that we found out there was a possibility that we could get some local transport for the alpacas we wanted to purchase, the only problem was that there was a finite time to get them and that time was very soon ie next week and so that meant a sudden rush to Sweden to go and look at the alpacas and the farm where they live to see if the whole idea was feasible. Monday we booked the tickets and by Wednesday we were off to Sweden. The timing was great though because it was dry, if we had been at home Ian would have been itching to get out and about doing things, but still having to wait for dry conditions underfoot. It did mean that Tuesday and Wednesday morning was spent trying to get things sorted before we went like planting some new blueberry bushes we had got with some hopefully pig proof protection.

Leaving Riga
We took the overnight ferry from Riga to Stockholm, which was a novel experience for me. I think I may have been on an overnight ferry once before but not slept in a cabin and even then I cannot be 100% sure of that, as it seems to be only a vague impression and I would probably have to check with my parents to find out if I was imagining it. Our journey out of Riga took far longer than I thought it would, as Riga is not on the coast exactly and took an hour and a half before we reached the open water through an industrial landscape of towering cranes and silos. The big ship of course has to travel slowly in the river so it doesn't churn up the bottom, hence the long slow cruise past. We saw coal wagons that come from Russia being unloaded adding to the massive piles of coal and a ship being loaded with the coal, constant busyness, constant moving in a dirty soulless looking environment. I found it quite fascinating really. On the way back we sat on the opposite side of the ship and this was far more rural, with houses and boats, such a contrast! We had some noisy girls in a nearby cabin, but the noise from the ship drowned them out and so it wasn't too bad and it was certainly more comfortable than trying to sleep on an airplane and not as confined.

One of the many islands we passed on the way into Stockholm
I hadn't realised that Stockholm is situated on an archipelago a truly amazing sight to wake up to once out on the deck (no ocean view from our cabin I'm afraid). The islands rose out of the mists in the morning and we could see little cottages nestled amongst the rocks and the trees, as well as some quite grand houses. Some cottages were quite isolated, whereas some islands were quite densely populated. We stood for hours watching the islands sail by until the cold finally drove us in. Once in Stockholm we became quite nostalgic for Denmark. We lived in Copenhagen or KĂžbenhavn as it is known locally, for three years and in that time we got very used to the zone system of travel, which made getting around by bus, train or metro very easy. The Stockholm transport system isn't quite as easy to work out and there certainly isn't the information that there is in Copenhagen. In Copenhagen all the bus stops, train stops etc. have maps with the routes for the buses and trains on and it is easy to see what number buses and trains you need to get to where you want to go. The zones are also easy to work out. We thought we had worked the system out in Stockholm (once we found the bus stop that is, no information in the ferry terminal to say where they were), but when we tried to purchase a ticket it began to look rather complicated. In the end we decided to try walking to the train station as it didn't look to far on the map that Ian had picked up off the ferry and indeed it was a brisk walk but doable. We did manage to purchase some tickets in a metro station but once on the train we found out we hadn't purchased the right ones and ended up paying extra, which was fine and the conductress was very nice about it and very helpful. No complaints there then.

Yes a wind blown me with cute curly haired Gotland lamb
We had a marvellous few days just north of Stockholm as the farm is situated in a beautiful place by a large lake. We stayed at a little Bed and Breakfast place and the lady, an English lady who had married a Swede, had just got some orphaned Gotland lambs that needed to be fed by bottle. They had beautiful curly black fleeces which was so soft and so that breed was put on my list of interesting fibre producing animals for the future. We got to see our three alpaca boys who we hope to buy, but they were a little aloof without a bucket of food, so we didn't see much of them close up. By the time we get them though they will look rather different, as they will have been shorn, teeth cut if necessary and certainly toe nails cut - they were a little curly and ready for cutting. It was good to see the set up and noticed their land was just as wet as ours was when we left, which means that our rather wet land is not an issue. We were reassured that our accommodation arrangements were satisfactory and our winters were not a problem, in fact their fleece will benefit from the cold. Feed will also not be an issue as we should have enough hay from our ski hill to feed them and they need only a little additional feed on top of that.

The three boys in the foreground.
Besides being reassured on the practicalities of raising alpacas we had a great time talking about a myriad of topics, as the couple who own the farm have lived in many places and so a wealth of experience on different cultures to talk about, which if you follow this blog you will know suits us very well, as we do like to talk to different people. We even managed to squeeze in the niggley little detail of looking through a contract for purchasing the animals, left till the last moment of course. We helped with the yearly barn clean as well, as we had interrupted a rather busy week for the owner to come and look, for which we were rather grateful, but were paid well with a fine feed afterwards. We also helped the bed and breakfast owner to pick wild anemones for a friend of hers and wired in her electric fence to keep her lambs in. I guess not every guest to the B&B would know how to wire in an electric fence.

Even the forests are suddenly carpeted with wood
anemones.
We arrived back to glorious sunshine and some very green grass. Everything looked so different, that we felt we had been away much longer. We hit the ground running though as we need to get so much done before we get alpacas and if it is as soon as next week we have a fence to build, but still fit in getting the gardens prepared for our veg growing season and a field to sort out. We had lunch and then headed on out to the land and finally got all that hay in off our land as the ground was so much drier, we even managed to get the horse box out of the barn with the car, which only four days ago was a mud bath (it's not perfect, but it at least walkable in now). Today we got the caravan out of the greenhouse to make space for the tomatoes, melons, chillis and cucumbers, and rotavated the gardens - well I prepared one garden and marked out areas not for rotavating whilst Ian got on and rotavated. I then headed indoors to get a bible study done and some paperwork which needed doing. So I admit, this week is a bit of a rush and we do feel the pressure is on to get work done, but that's okay the summers are short here and we know this is the busy season, there will be a quieter season in mid-summer when the planting is done and the crops are hopefully growing and again in the winter when it is time to relax - or work on my next academic project perhaps. After all as the good book says

                                           There is a time for everything,                             and a season for every activity under the heavens                                                      (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
A bit difficult to see but a parade of the King of Sweden's
guards as they went to change places with those who had
been guarding that week. 

One of the females - lovely coloured coat

Clown the father of the boys, getting a bit old now and
in grand retirement as there is now a new boy on the block.



6 comments:

  1. Phew indeed! I feel tired already! Enjoy!

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  2. Lol, the sunshine has been good and we are still on a roll, so hopefully things are getting sorted in preparation for the alpacas

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  3. you have made me very nostalgic for Sweden, Stockholm is truly beautiful.
    So you didn't miss me.....good. I would hate to think of you pining!

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  4. Stockholm reminded us of Copenhagen where we lived for three years and it made us quite nostalgic too.

    I hope you enjoyed your time away

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  5. I had a wonderful time in London with my daughter, thanks...a full day in hospital didn't spoil my fun...it will be a great tale to tell the grand children when I get them!!!

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  6. and Stockholm is beautiful, I spend a few days there when I visit my brother. I have never been to Copenhagen, (except the airport) and would love to go there.

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