Monday, 14 May 2012

Naff week

Our Christiania bike finally made it out of the
basement to our land. I was using it the other
day to cart water and compost to the orchard
If I had written this blog yesterday then it would have been a different tale, one of woe and misery because that is how we felt. I was so ticked off yesterday that I said to God that I really needed some encouragement to keep going and sure enough he sent blessings our way. Nothing has changed and yet everything has changed. The weather was perfect for working outside, not too hot and not too cool, on the way out to the land the clouds were so unusual; to me they looked like the tops of mountains and I just imagined it was like having the mountains that surround Jerusalem surrounding our piece of land. I also received two emails that were encouraging, which helped to buoy up my mood. The problems of the previous week are still there but I have more courage to keep going at them. I was clearing turf today to clear the way for a path that will keep the weeds down better and as I was chopping away at the turf bit by bit I felt God say that is what we were doing, clearing the way but it is tough at times and it is slow work but if we keep going we'll get there. That's good enough for me!

You can see the wing feathers are appearing. This is their
favourite pose - all huddled around the feed pot. I never
realised they could grow so fast, no wonder these could be
ready for the pot in as little as 8 weeks. 
Our final tally with the chicks was four, which is not exactly brilliant. One died at the pipping stage, which is a real shame as we heard it cheep and we saw it pecking it's way through but it just didn't make it. A little bit of me wonders if we could have saved it. Part of the problem was probably how we handled the incubation stage, so I have learnt from the internet. I don't like learning things the hard way when it comes to animals, but it would be worse if we didn't learn. I learnt that when it says that chicks can remain in the incubator for 48 hours without a problem, then it really means that do not, unless in extreme circumstances open the incubator until all the eggs have hatched, so they can bond together and possibly even help each other out. It also means that the environment doesn't fluctuate so much. Having said that it looks disconcerting to have a little chick floundering around in the incubator, bashing into all the other eggs and possibly banging into the section that keeps the incubator humid for hatching, it looked like it would hurt itself or the others in the process.

Our asparagus has survived the winter.
Unfortunately we have to wait until next year
before we try a spear or two and it won't be until
the following year when we get a proper harvest.
I also learnt that our broiler chickens are probably Cornish crosses, a hybrid that grows very rapidly and apt to keel over from a heart attack due to obesity. Judging by the ways these little ones grow and eat their food I can see that is no exaggeration, they are monsters already and to think they are only a week old. And eat! They are guzzling machines. I had hoped to breed from them, but I'm not sure if we will manage. I know they won't breed true but maybe we can cross them with something that will grow slower, but nearly as big and be less likely to have the flaws of the monster breed. They are still cute though. We have our incubator up and running with another 24 eggs but this time they are layers and we will see how much of a success we have with these. We will candle them (shine a bright light through the eggs) on Thursday to see how many are viable, hopefully in some ways not all of them as 24 chicks in the incubator would seem rather a lot.

Ian has been doing some more ploughing, this time with
the two wheeled tractor. Takes longer but doesn't use so
much fuel and gentler on the land.
I also found out this week that doing a PhD is expensive £3828 a year for the next three years, a big step up from my £1300 (or thereabouts) for the Masters year. I feel God set me on this path and so there has to be a way, but at the moment I can't see it. Spending that much money would dip massively into savings which is what we live off. If we use the savings for me to pursue the PhD then savings aren't going to last long enough. Hmmm! Back to the drawing board I think.

We may have possibly lost our orchard, but
this was the view on my coffee break one
cool day working in the greenhouse. Life
is still good!
We have also possibly lost our orchard, or the majority of trees from apples to pears to plums. One apple tree and one plum tree are the only ones that show any life on them at present, all the rest are dormant or dead. Ian jokingly said that he was cutting the grass in the graveyard today and we ought to have some tombstones cut for it. All around is showing signs of life and so it seems strange that we are seeing nothing on our apple trees, although I think that it does look like some trees may have canker which can kill young trees. I know it has been a tough couple of years for them since we put them in as the first year was very hot and humid, with rain every week and a half and last year we had a full month without rain and had to resort to watering them. We've also had some tough winters with record lows this year and so maybe they were just too stressed to survive. We don't know but if there are no signs of life after two weeks we will have to take them up and burn them.

The first of what might be a series of stone
pictures for a fellow blogger Diane, from
Digging in the Driftless. We were talking
about stone walls and how they are made.
So here is a Latvian example.
We made it onto Latvian TV again this week, well our car did as we drove past the cameraman who was taking a shot of our apartment buildings. We did wonder at the time what he was doing. The reason for the cameraman was to get a report on the fact that our local water company, who also happens to be our local heating company, have allowed a pipe to leak raw sewage into the pond next to the apartment block for the last two years, despite being alerted to the fact. They did fix the leak - the morning of the report though! How convenient! I must admit though, I wish we had known that whilst watering our veg, good job we water sparingly and only when we have a drought and to water seeds in.

I love patterns and this is the reflection of a
net curtain we have hanging over the
doorway of our caravan to keep out insects.
I can't show you the swirling effect as it blew
about in the wind but it is quite mesmerising
Talking of our heating company, that also contributed to the naff week. We have been letting the processes work their slow way through before settling up our bill for the first four months of the year, as we object to paying for heat that was inadequate, but the company have sent us a letter to say they are going to call in a debt company if we do not pay by the end of the month. They also wrote another letter that said, because people have complained about the quality of the heat they are not going to turn the heat on in autumn. The phrase that springs to mind is "if you don't play by my rules, you can't play with my ball." They have stated that according to the contract they can do this, but according to the contract they should supply us with heat that gives us 18C +/- 2C, which shouldn't be too difficult as we have double glazed windows and new radiators, but they didn't all the time. Well we have to work on a letter in reply to that! Hmmph! Not a happy bunny was I!

Still a lot of seedlings to pot on or out. Growing season is
definitely under way.
And last but not least naffness of the week. The alpaca saga, and saga it is indeed. It's sorted, it's not sorted, it's sorted, it's not sorted - it is driving us batty. Now someone has decided that we need to vaccinate the animals before they can come into the country, but we think this is different if we were getting them from Germany or Denmark, so we now have to argue the case and this is just making delay after delay. The problem with a vaccination is that they have to wait 42 days to see if it has taken, but that then leads to transport issues. The other issue we thought was sorted is the transport, due to the fact the seller is away when the transporter was available for all but one day. We also found out that the van to transport the animals doesn't actually belong to the guy we thought it did, but to a friend and it may or may not be available. Sorry if all that sounds complicated but it is! It doesn't have to be, this is the EU with common rules for all and there is not the need for all this complication, it would also be nice if we knew all facts up front, rather than bit by bit, but that's how it goes!

Ian has been doing a lot of sorting out of
wood piles this week. This piece would look
great polished up but I think it will just end
up on the fire. We also need heat in winter.
Like I said at the beginning, the problems remain but at least we have the courage to face them again. We just felt really tired yesterday and sick of the issues. So thanks to those who took the time to encourage us, it was greatly appreciated.


  1. Keep going! God doesn't make mistakes! You are exactly where you should be, doing exactly what you should be doing but more importantly being who you are meant to be! You'll have a great time with Paul and Geoff!!

  2. Sorry to hear of all the problems you're having. It seems at times that they all come together and you are stretched almost beyond endurance to cope with everything all at the same time. Am praying for strength, wisdom and grace for you to see a way through it all.

  3. Thank you Ju and Mavis, your encouragement is very much appreciated

  4. Joanna, I'm sorry to hear you've lost a chick - and also about the damage to the orchard! We had a tough winter, but luckily all our plum and apple and cherry trees seem to have survived - even the quince shows sign of life (we ordered that from England)!

  5. We think our water table might actually be to blame as it is pretty high and has been since autumn of last year, from all the reading I have been doing to try and identify the cause. Losing one or two trees would have been disappointing but to lose just about all the trees seems quite weird. Quince apparently doesn't mind the wet and so we might put some of those in to replace the trees. Glad yours have survived anyway.

    Good news on the chick front, looks like quite a large number of the new batch of eggs might have signs of life, we will check them again next week.

  6. oh dear, you do have a lot of hiccups but I have every faith in you. I do feel very sad about your studies though. The cost is appalling......I hope you find a solution.

  7. Thanks for your support Karen, it is much appreciated


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