Monday, 7 May 2012

Phew again!

So green now!
It has been an exciting week but it was "Phew!" because of the temperatures this week. The weather has been glorious, especially when the cool wind dropped. I was working in the greenhouse at one point and it was 30C in there, not too pleasant. Fortunately today the temperature was much lower and we had some much needed rain, as it hadn't rained for two weeks. It's hard to believe that just two weeks ago we were praying for the rain to stop and the land to dry out finally after the winter. This has meant though that we have got a lot done on the land in preparation for our alpacas and for the growing season ahead. Ian has shifted all the wood from the area where he was working to make way for the paddock we are going to construct and we've shifted the remaining bales of hay off our ski hill to let the grass grow. We are going to need hay for our own animals this year and so it was quite important to get that job done. Ian also finished off the rotavating of the allotment plots, as well as rotavating a new area in our orchard plot so that I can put herbs in and rotavating some pig damage on a steep hillside to level it off.  He has also filled in some other deep pig holes on the land. If we didn't deal with damage cutting the hay later on in the year will be a nightmare. Not content with rotatvating Ian also ploughed a section of land in readiness for an oat and clover mixture that we shall plant for a slightly more nutritious feed for our animals.
Orchard plot

Rotavated pig damage

Ploughed land

All the tomatoes in and most are made cosy with a bed
of straw. As you can see though, there is still the other
side of the greenhouse to sort out and plant up. That's
what comes of using the greenhouse as a storage place
over winter.
You should see the list of jobs Ian has written for himself, it runs to a full page of his notebook where he writes down all his jobs and where things are planted. I haven't been idle though, I have planted all the greenhouse tomatoes this week and made sure they are all cosy with a nice thick bed of straw, as well as planting onions, peas, beetroot, hamburg parsley, fodder beet, cabbages and cauliflowers. We have such a short season that it is tempting to get everything out but we can still get cold temperatures and so we have to be wary. The longer days also are quite deceptive too, as there is still a hint of light in the sky at 10 pm now and there is some light in the sky at 4am, by 5:30am the sun is up and the day is bright which doesn't help when trying to get some sleep for the day ahead. Sunday though we slept in until 8.22am - that is really late for us. We often sleep in until 8am on a Sunday but not this week. Maybe we needed it!

Chick number 1 - no names but then again there is no
guarantee that we will know which is which by the time
they all hatch
I said it has been an exciting week and that is because we are now the proud owners of three baby chicks. We candled the eggs when we got back from our Swedish trip (which means shining a very bright light through the eggs to see if there is a chick inside) and we were a bit disappointed to have to take out 14 of the 24 eggs we had bought, as they didn't seem to have been fertilised. They weren't expensive and so it wasn't the end of the world but it was kind of sad to have to take them out of the incubator. To leave them in though risked infecting the other eggs if they went bad. On Saturday we took the incubator of the rocker mechanism and raised the humidity in preparation for the chicks hatching, and on Sunday the first cracks appeared. This morning Ian came in with his usual cup of tea for me and he announced we were the proud parents of a baby chick. Maybe that was why the cat was meowing at 5am this morning - I wasn't impressed with her for waking me up with her noise and let her know what I thought. When we got back from the land baby chick number 2 was hatched. I told our neighbour who has a little boy that some of the chicks had hatched and so they came round to have a look and we all watched with delight as chick number three hatched. I don't know which was the best, seeing the chick hatch or the little boy's face lighting up as it managed to kick off the last bit of egg shell.
Chick number 2 looking a little groggy

We haven't got our alpacas yet and it is still a work in progress but we did get the chance to talk to the person who we hope is going to transport them. That was an interesting evening as the guy who will hopefully transport the alpacas is German, but his wife is Latvian. The Latvian lady's daughter was visiting and speaks good English and so we were invited round to talk about the details for the transportation. It was a rather pleasant evening as we sat outside and as we had walked around Ian even had a beer (he does not drink and drive at all), we chatted about the alpacas but also got onto other topics including the inevitable question of what were we doing in Latvia (if you don't know then you can read a potted history here). This story is not a short one and made even longer because it had to be translated first into Latvian and then into German - mind you the story got shorter with each translation I noticed. I think its great how we can have a great time despite the language barriers and we even got invited back any time, which was rather nice.

Marsh marigolds
We do live in a beautiful place but it is not a rich place and so we were rather surprised to be told that the gardens at the back of the apartments where we have one of our allotments along with about 20 other people is up for sale and the price tag is 80,000 Lats ($149,300 or £92,000) for 4 hectares (about 10 acres). These seem like Riga prices to us, not rural Latvia prices. If someone was to pay those kinds of prices it would price the locals out of the market, it would also upset those who would lose their gardens - a source of fresh veg which is not readily available in the local shops and also a necessary supplement to reduced wages and reduced pensions. If someone was to buy the land for building then they would be building on a steep piece of land and be overlooked by the technical school, the accommodation block for the school, several homes and an apartment block. I somehow think that anyone paying that much money for a piece of land would not want that - well I hope they don't. The reason for the sale is a financial crisis for the Latvian Lutheran church that owns the land. It would be interesting to see if they can choose a different economic path when it comes to selling property they own. It is a real chance to engage with the community and to seek a fairer more equitable share of the property.

A rather tired pussy cat after spending a night out on the land
So in the face of so much crisis the artwork "The Scream" goes for a record sum, hmmm now why does that remind me of that song again (Del Amitri "Nothing ever happens" which I have blogged about before several times). When will record sums stop being paid for paint on canvas? There are plenty of artists today who would value the revenue to keep producing beautiful objects, inspiring pictures or challenging prose. How many potential entrepreneurs could have been given a start with that sum? Instead the money is locked up in a single painting, painted by a man who is now dead! I think we should value old things, our history etc. but we need to value the living more.


  1. NO-one could say you are bored! Great work - I feel tired just reading about it!

  2. Good to know you have been able to be busy with the fine weather. We seem to have had nothing but rain since that fine week we had in March. It seems that 'make hay while the sun shines' is not just a saying but a way of life for you! Love the chicks. Hope by now you have a few more hatched.

  3. I do love the variety Ju. You should come out and see us sometime, I'm sure you would love it.

    You are so right Mavis, I'm sat inside at the moment on the computer on a fine day but it rained yesterday and it is just a tad too wet to put the seeds in and to go trampling about on the soil. Still I got two loads of washing on and I shall go and do some weeding and strawing up at our other place.

  4. I can imagine the delight on the little boys face seeing the chick amazing event for a child to witness.

  5. It was indeed a delight Karen, it was great timing as he turned up just at the right time.


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