Monday, 20 August 2012

No way to plan

I don't know why the crickets are attracted to our caravan
but we regularly find them in there, like this rather
splendid chap. Do you like the decor by the way?
Gorgeous colour don't you think? No! Not my style either
What an interesting week it's been and finished with quite a flourish in some ways. The weather has made a hash of any plans we have had this week, but I will get onto that and thoughts about the weather later but first I will tell you of another of our interesting encounters. Ian was out on the land, as normal, when a couple drove onto the land, they live in America (now doesn't that sound familiar?) and they or rather the young man's parents own the property adjacent to ours, but the opposite direction to the American family we met the other week. Now the young man's parents still live in Latvia, but they feel it is too far to come out to the property very often, so this young couple are feeling like they would like to come out and do some work on the land, something sustainable, experimenting to see what works. Again this all sounds rather familiar. They drove onto our land to talk to the crazy American couple they had heard so much about. Americans? Who us? Okay we speak English and we have lived in America and most of those associated with the camp just up the road from us are Americans, so we will forgive them for their mistake, funny what neighbours say about us. Ian ended up inviting them around for a meal and so tonight we have been sitting around the table listening to their hopes and dreams and they have been listening to ours. Seems like we may see more of them in the future and certainly we felt like a meeting of minds.

The first garlic I have ever grown successfully
 and harvested. The bulbs were given to us
last year by one of our neighbours and
they seem to have done well.
They aren't the only visitors to the land this week either. Our daughter and her husband of course who went back to the UK to continue on their merry go round of visiting as most expats do when returning back to their mother country and another couple too. She is Latvian whose parents live in our apartment block and he is French and they both work in Luxembourg, and they came out to see our alpacas. It was interesting to hear their story, to hear them yearn to have more of a stake in this land. Is the land calling back some of its younger folks? Those with dreams and hopes and visions? Those with ideas and a peacefulness to live in a rural place? The Latvian government have been talking just lately of attracting back some of their young folks, particularly those with a good education, but they don't seem to be so keen to attract the foreigners. I know they fear dilution of this small nation but few are pure ethnic Latvians anyway, and an infusion of new blood with an enthusiasm for the land and willing to be wedded to the land is more important than just attracting the nationals back. Build a vibrant community who love the land and you have something to attract the others back to.

Oh yes we have bales! Lots and lots and lots of bales. We
probably have around 600 of them, just over 300 are useful
for feed, the rest are compost. At least our neighbour who saw
Ian baling the wet hay was rather relieved to find out that
was all they were destined for, she was rather worried about
I have made some progress on what to do about the PhD, and this next weekend we are off to Tartu as someone has kindly offered us a place to stay for the night and means we get a good start to see Tartu University with our Professor friend who teaches at that university. The offer of a place to stay has come about through a contact from this blog, interesting how the blog has forged some contacts that I never envisaged. It will also be interesting to see where this visit will lead. I wasn't sure if working with an Estonian University on a Latvian issue was the right way to go and so it was interesting that today's encounter involved an Estonian descendent and a Latvian, even if they do live in America, almost like it is a confirmation that maybe this is the way I should go. Sorry if that sounds a bit vague and woolly but it is just my ponderings at the moment.

These bugs seem to adore my echinacea
plants. These are quite frightening to see
when they are flying as they sound like a
bomber plane and are difficult to work out
what they are in flight.
It must be the weather as I have been pondering a lot just lately. There are times in our lives when things are settled and life is predictable and then there are times when it is not. Sometimes that is just a personal thing but sometimes it is more general, like when an economy is in trouble, then just about everyone suffers, although there are often some winners in that too. Life at the moment is unpredictable for most people, even if personally it is predictable with a steady income and what seems to be a secure job, there is still this sense of something about to happen or the future looks uncertain. This year our life has been unpredictable and it has been hard for planning and that is mainly due to the weather. None of the forecasts has given a reasonably accurate forecast for the following five days. It has been "it will rain" "it won't rain" all summer and the forecasts have changed frequently meaning what first looked like a dry spell suddenly turns out to be showery instead and vice versa. Even the time we got the hay in, was uncertain as to whether we would actually get enough fine days or not, at least in the time it takes us to get the hay cut and baled. Some plants have thrived in the cooler weather, not as bothered by the insects that usually decimate them or just enjoying the cooler wetter weather, some have most certainly not. We will be eating more carrots and onions this year by the look of it and it is a shame we haven't more cabbages as they have done well, but I don't really like storing cabbages, although theoretically it is possible. As it is sauerkraut is looking to be on the cards as we have a few more cabbages than we can eat. We have plenty to eat at the moment but I'm not sure how much we will have to store over the winter. Of course that does not mean we will starve, we have plenty of reserves to see us through. We have managed pretty much on our own veg and some fruit for much of the past few years and so managed to reduced what we buy to a bear minimum, but whether that will change this year or not I don't know, but it is a pity in a year when prices are likely to be high. I'm guessing seeds will also be at a premium next year as some harvests fail.

Three trays of onions here, two white and
one red. And there's more. We like onions
we use them a lot!
That paints a pretty bleak picture and you would be forgiven for thinking I'm depressed or over tired but I'm not. The unpredictability actually encourages me. I can't think of anything worse than for this world to carry on as it is, with the unfairness and injustice. If the "unpredictable" gets the attention of people and gets people thinking differently, then I am all for it. I will happily put up with the temporary inconvenience while a new order is built. At the end of the day I still believe in a God who so loved the world he sent his Son to die for it, to set it right. Okay it is taking a little longer than most folks would like and maybe not happening in the way we would like, but he still loves the world and he will sort it out. He also wants us to get on board and work with him to set the order, maybe then we can start to plan ahead a little more confidently. Meanwhile he calls the dreamers and visionaries home, those who yearn for something purer, less corporate. An interesting week, an interesting week indeed!

And this is a banana shallot. Banana shallots
are small onions really. This one I wouldn't
have been upset to see as a real onion in size
it's huge. I was expecting something a
quarter of the size 
As I said an interesting week but not all good, we have one dead chicken and one sick chicken. Ian brought home the head male from the flock and he is looking decidedly sad. Not moving around and all hunched up. Guess it is off to the vets in the morning to check him over and see if the flock need some sort of worming or antibiotics. Drat! Just when we were feeling that the chickens were doing well.


  1. I know Ju. I am really looking forward to how this is all going to pan out.

  2. It is interesting how there seems to be an interest in people going back to their roots and investing in the land again. God is up to something! It seems that your seed sown into the ground (literally) is producing its fruit. Your visitors have heard about you and come to talk to you about it. Amazing what He does when we do as He says!

  3. Thanks Mavis that is encouraging

  4. sad to hear about your chicken...I don't think you sound sound matter of fact and pragmatic. A Lancashire trait...definitely.


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