Monday, 18 June 2012

Competition time

Lovely blossom, I thought it was a mock orange at first but
on closer inspection it didn't give off the heady aroma of
a mock orrange. Beautiful flowers though
Excited? Well you will have to wait as the competition is further down the post. First of all it has been planting, planting and more planting, weeding, weeding and more weeding this week. It's monotonous and boring really and my back aches, but when I step back and look at the result it is good and worth the while. Most of our recent plantings are growing well, some of the types of squashes are struggling a bit, but I reckon with enough sunshine they should recover as they can be fairly resilient (as long as we don't have a frost that is), if not, we won't have certain types of squashes. We have three different plots where we grow food as well as the greenhouse and some things grow better in the different places, something we are still learning about. At least, despite the still cool temperatures we have had just lately we have had a crop of peas and salad leaves from the greenhouse and our broad beans are nearly ready. One evening we had sauteed peas, radish and chinese cabbage with the roast carrots and beetroot thrown in at the end. The peas and radish were from this years plantings, the chinese cabbage was from the shop after the desire for something fresh and not stored in the freezer, jar or in boxes of sawdust overwhelmed me, and the carrots and beetroot are last years rather rubbery, but still tasty produce from last year. This mixture of veg is much more my style of cooking and something I would do regularly when we had a much larger household, it is more difficult to maintain when there is only the two of us and also when I rely on our own produce.

I love lilacs and we have loads around
here, all on the wane though now.
This time of the year does mean there is an awful lot to do, some of it can wait but often it is weather or time dependant. We got the oats in at nearly the last opportunity to get a crop, the weather being against us on that one and perhaps some lack of preparation - ie getting the seed bought, but it is not like we can just pop to the nearest shop to get some, we have to travel about 30 miles to get it, which means a trip has to double up to get other provisions and so takes time. The weeding, if left I am sure you know, can quickly overwhelm a garden and keeping on top of that can be a major task, especially if other things crop up to distract or take priority. I was disappointed therefore, this week to have to turn down the chance of meeting up with some old friends, but we had to acknowledge that we haven't got as much time and travelling quite a distance to see them for just a few minutes is not really something we can afford to do now. We are more than willing to do airport runs if it means we get a good chance to chat with someone - we don't mind chatting and weeding if the other person doesn't mind us carrying on, or there is always the evenings, we don't even mind giving up a whole day if we get a good chance to really share heart to heart with someone, but unfortunately from past experience meeting up with people at camps where they have come to lead activities is not the place for a good place to share. When we started coming to Latvia we used to teach English in some of these camps and in those days they were much less structured, they had an innocence about them, but times have changed and children have changed in the last 12 years. Today children expect more and camp leaders have got more organised, not always sure that is a good thing on either account, then again parents pay for their children to attend camps and I guess they are looking for some sort of value for money from them. What that does mean though is that camp helpers are busy and the chances of an uninterrupted couple of hours chatting is highly unlikely and perhaps a bit selfish to expect it, so we declined.

Hoppy having some time out of the box, so it doesn't get
run over in the bun fight when I gave its box mates some
potato, cucumber and oats.
Our little chicken hoppy, has been giving us cause for concern. There was one point I was praying for the little chap (or is it chapess?) and I wanted to see a miracle, a sign that healing will flow in this place. Well a miracle happened but not quite in the way I expected. For the first time ever here in Latvia I saw comfrey. I had been kind of looking out for it as it is good for composts and since one variety is called Russian comfrey I thought there was a good chance there was some somewhere, but never seen it, till the other day that is. We were wending our way home in the car and had just pulled off the land and travelled a few metres down the road when I saw some. I got Ian to stop the car and we both got out and had a look, sure enough it was comfrey and I took a leaf home just to make sure. The comfrey was so close to the edge of the road that it was in danger of being cut by the road maintenance crew when they clear the road edges, or removal by the grader when they level the dirt road and so the next day I got out my spade and removed it to our garden. As the stems were tall, I reduced the size of it as that should aid in the transplantation and it also meant that I had some comfrey to use as a poultice for the little chick's leg. We needed to get the inflammation down and the wound healing and the comfrey seems to be doing the trick. It also gave me an idea, I know there are lots of herbal books out there but I also know that my Latvian friends use different herbs to the ones we do for some ailments and I was thinking of gleaning the information from them to produce a different kind of book, one based on the seasons as well as the recipes from the Latvian countryside. Worth a try anyway and may save some of the knowledge from being lost in the process. Just have to make sure I take plenty of photos this year of all the different plants to go in the book.
Hoppy's box mates. Two got taken out last night for bullying
Hoppy and were put in the big box, but they in turn were
getting picked on by those in the big box so had to be put
back. I think they have calmed down a bit though after
the experience.
The chicks in the big box, no longer yellow fluffy chicks
as they gain their feathers. They are a varied group of chicks
some buff colours and some speckled grey and some white.
Will be really interesting to see what they turn out like
One of the stork chicks outside our other apartment. There
are definitely two and may even be three in there

The flower bed outside the other apartment. I'm really pleased
how this is turning out but I think I have a purple and blue
theme going on here. Click on the picture to see the flowers
Well while I have been weeding and planting, Ian has been constructing again, here are the results so far. I'm not going to tell you what they are, I want you to guess and all will be revealed next week when we show the finished constructions.

Construction No 1. Can you guess what this does?
Construction No 2. Photo 1
Is it a coffin? No! (Yes Ian has a macabre sense
of humour at times)

Construction No 2. Photo 2
Is it a bobsleigh?
Construction No 2. Photo 3
Construction No 2. Photo 4
Nearly there but not quite. Any guesses yet?
Construction No 2. Photo 5
Maybe this will help? (Vital farm equipment Paul)

An interesting comment was posted by a friend of mine, Liz, on someone's blog, the question was essentially "Did they give the money to the wrong people? What would have happened if the money instead of being given to the banks was given to people to pay off their mortgages? The money would still go to the banks then, but people would have been better off in the process.What would they have then done with the money released from not paying off mortgages? Some of them would have squandered it surely? But what about others? I also wondered what would local farmers in this area do with a cash injection? Would they have replaced or invested in new equipment? Would they have repaired dilapidated housing and barns? Would they have tried some new innovative approaches to farming? Would that have had more effect on the economy than giving it to banks to fund bankers bonuses? At this point I guess we will never know.

I shall leave you with a video that someone posted a link to on facebook, that basically explains in cartoon form what I've been trying to say about the Latvian crisis for the past goodness knows how long. How we measure success is important and this really puts it in perspective and besides is funnier than me pontificating on the subject, yet again!


  1. Hope you get a better response to your competition than I did with mine but my guess is it's a sluice box for getting gold out of the soil. They do say 'There's gold in them there hills' otherwise haven't got a clue!!!!

  2. No Ju, although it might come in handy for that

    A sluice box, now there's an idea, wonder how much gold there is Roger. And as for your competition, I can't understand why the offer of a week at your place didn't tempt more people to answer, you are a great host and your blog makes an entertaining read.

  3. I've no idea what Ian is making but I do know that you are both always SO busy. And now you are thinking of writing a book!? Is there no end to your talent?

  4. At least you will find out tomorrow.

    I wish we weren't busy, but I know it is for a season, there is at least a lull when all the planting is done before the harvesting begins.

    The book is something I had in mind for a while and the time between studying seems the right time to do it and maybe it could help with fees for my studies, who knows!

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  6. Try again

    At least you will find out next week.

    I wish we weren't busy, but I know it is for a season, there is at least a lull when all the planting is done before the harvesting begins.

    The book is something I had in mind for a while and the time between studying seems the right time to do it and maybe it could help with fees for my studies, who knows!

  7. well, i've got the first one. it's a trick to stop the wild pigs. you've covered up the sign posts so they get lost and wont come and touch your land.

    the second one i reckon you pour something in the top then the grid is sloped so maybe it sorts something.

    or maybe the fact that it is sloping chicken wire you keep the chicks underneath and they self sort for size so the little ones stay under the lower bit, and as they grow they have to move away from the small ones to where there is more head room. not sure about the chimney tho. is that for roosting with a high top so foxes cant get in, the hatched chicks fall to the bottom and go to the bit with low chicken wire ....

    perhaps you make smoke in the chimney bit and lay out fish on the chicken wire to smoke it.

  8. Absolutely brilliant Liz, you had me in stitches.

    As for the first one, inspirational, now why didn't I think of that!

    We had thought of the last suggestion, using it as a smoker but keep on guessing

  9. The first one I think you gave me a little hint on when we were there. To do with flying?

    The second one, a vital piece of farm equipment? A toilet/shower with built in drainage system?

  10. Getting there on the first one Paul

    A toilet/shower for a midget I think, but of course vital farm equipment


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