Monday, 6 August 2012

Still hectic

Winter on its way? Tee hee! I usually tell my dear hubby
off for that sort of comment.
I know what the Matron of husbandry means on her website when she says 
"No time to take a breath because winter is on the way.  I feel it in weeds I pull – they don’t yield like they did a few weeks ago.  I smell it on the air, the first leaves decaying, and the scent of elder flowers always means don’t tarry with those tasks, this is a fleeting time.  Soon the mornings will be brisk and you’ll see your breath.  Hurry Hurry!"
The year has turned here in Latvia in the same way it has in Wisconsin. The summer seems to be all too soon flying away and harvest time has arrived. Summer has struggled here in Latvia, we've had some high temperatures but we have also had too many cool nights. Some plants that normally do well haven't thrived, like the beans that usually are very well behaved and produce prolifically are still struggling to grow, whereas some things that struggle in the heat normally, like brassicas and peas are doing really well and we only just hitting the problems with caterpillars now. The soft fruit is now just about in, the last of the gooseberries are picked and I even got some bonus red ones from a neighbour who had had enough of them and invited me to pick from his bush - my it was a vicious bush and no wonder he had had enough picking them as they fought a good fight to prevent me picking them too with all the thorns. Just got some blackcurrants left to pick and then hack back and it will be finished.

At least we still have blue skies and green grass for now
though.
The previous weeks we have been a bit anti-social and not seen many folks as we cut, turned and baled the hay. This week we have had visitors galore. People even turned up on our land to see us or return things and they weren't just coming to see the alpacas. I did forget to mention one incident the week before when we went to the hotel to eat. We called around at our neighbours for something, can't remember what now and they told us about their eventful day when four people turned up who lived in America but owned the land adjacent to our ski hill. They had had a great day showing them around and talking to them. Later on we saw four people who fitted the description our neighbours gave and so we introduced ourselves, since they are effectively our neighbours too. It was interesting talking to them and I even got onto my pet subject the wild boar and the problems and was able to confirm the picture they had of some digging was indeed wild boar damage. I also explained how it needed dealing with otherwise the problem will just increase and enlightened them in the rather complex issue of hunting here in Latvia. A bit later on in the week while we were baling they even stopped by to see us out on the land and ask our opinion on some machinery for land management. Not that we are experts on that for sure.

And flowers
This week, like I said folks were turning up left right and centre. Our Swedish friend turned up for some small bales of hay since they had run out on their farm, they will be taking half or thereabouts of our ski hill hay anyway, once we have counted them all and worked out how much we need. He was so pleased to be able to stack the bales in the back of his truck so easily because they are the small size rolls rather than the humungous size they usually do around here. To date we have 156 stacked and that is only about half of them, we also have another 52 purely for composting and Ian baled up 20 from round the alpaca area that he cut this last week in order to try and reduce the horse flies that were plaguing the poor animals. Problem is we might be running out of string. Other folks turned up to help us stack the hay, or to drop their son off to help us while they were painting at the orphanage - not his forte so we understand. Someone also turned up to drop our trailer off that they had borrowed. Of course we have also had the visitors to come and see the alpacas. It is not normal for us to have many visits while we are out on the land and we are lucky if people call in more than once in three months, so it has been quite a welcome change really.

Hoppy and her mates. Not quite the city centre but then
we didn't take any photos there
We also took a trip into Riga to see some old friends from the UK and spent a good day talking over cups of tea and lunch. It was interesting the first question, one of our rather perceptive friends asked which was "What have you sacrificed to be here?" It is a question we have talked about ourselves as we have much to do at this time of the year and if we hadn't got the hay in then we would have had to have canceled, rather than risk our animals going hungry over winter. The day had been forecast to be fine and so we effectively lost a days work to be there and we also were disappointed not to be able to show them what we are doing. We are keen for folks to visit us in our natural habitat so to speak, as it is then we can really show them where our heart is, it doesn't have quite the same ring about it when we chat about these things sat in the middle of the city centre and we can't verify what we do just by talking about it. We could paint a very rosy picture of what we do and it could be a total fabrication, unless you come and see for yourself. Anyway that does not mean we didn't enjoy the day and they very kindly treated us to all those cups of tea and lunch in return for us coming to see them. We also did enjoy talking about where they are at in their faith walk and where we are at too. It is interesting to see where people are journeying too and how God is taking people in some surprising directions.

Who are you looking at?
Talking of directions it was good to talk to one of our friends who had come to see us, or was it the alpacas? Hmmm! Actually it is someone we see about two or three times a year normally, either at their summer house or our house and we always go out to the land to have a look around anyway. He is a professor at Tartu University in Estonia and so it was interesting to find out a little more about the process of doing a PhD and the work involved and in consequence I shall go up to Tartu later on this month to have a look around and talk to some of the people who I might be able to work with. Meanwhile of course I shall also look at other places to see where that leads too.

It's a hard life isn't it? Catching a snooze in the caravan.
You'd never catch us doing such a thing now would you?
Errmmm well perhaps you would from time to time.
Just to round off the visits and visiting we paid an impromptu visit to some friends whose house we frequently pass and feel rather guilty for not having the chance to call in earlier. We ended up with a little cheese and bread supper and could have joined in with the champagne as they were celebrating their wedding anniversary, but Ian was driving and I don't really drink much alcohol anyway. There was also an interesting programme on the telly about Latvia in the 60s seen through the eyes of home movies and she translated it for us and we chatted about the comparisons during the advert breaks. It reminded us of the 50s in the UK, with the style of clothes and so we decided that it was at this point the Soviet Union was 10 years behind and were gradually slipping further and further behind from that point. Today we also took a trip to a town/village to deliver a sofa and chair using our horse box. An American family are visiting the area and had made friends with some folks who go to a church they were put in contact with and found out that the lady needed somewhere better to sleep on. The family were given some money by someone in their church back in America meaning they could afford to buy her something and so we volunteered to take it. Not a big deal really but meant we got to meet some new folks, which we are just about nearly always up for.

I don't sleep all the time
Despite all the visits Ian has at least cut all the areas that he can cut with the big cutter, all that needs cutting now is the parts that need the two wheel tractor or strimmer. Not sure when they will get baled though as the weather is looking a bit iffy this next week, but since it is mainly for compost that is no big deal and certainly better than our friend was explaining is happening in the UK where even silage is difficult to get as there isn't enough dry weather to even wilt the grass so they can bag it up. The weather is bad when even silage is impossible. Hay needs the minimum of three days and so that can be hard sometimes, but silage!!! Oh boy! That's bad.

Okay to me it looks like an upside down pig,
how about you?
It might seem hectic at the moment with late days and not eating until 8 or 9 pm and next week we have our daughter and her husband visiting, so the visiting side of things continues, but we only have a few more months before we are properly winding down for the winter, where there will be time to ponder and time to do the jobs that we just don't have time for in the summer. A time of the year when the hardest part of preparing a meal is not to go out and get it from the garden but to open the freezer, or the store cupboard for a jar and taste the season just gone. Winter is a time to breathe. Let's just hope by the time it comes around we have the blue skies and some snow - not too much but enough to make the day seem bright.

10 comments:

ju-north said...

A new season? Nice to see so many folks I should imagine! The network is growing!

Joanna said...

A new season indeed!

Mavis said...

It's nice that you are able to meet so many people in your busy schedule.
And I see you still have Hoppy! Glad she survived.

Joanna said...

It is nice to be seeing people indeed

How Hoppy survives is beyond me as she seems to get trampled on rather regularly and still she dives under them all to get to the food.

Liz Eph said...

you've got some lovely pics today. the alpacas are photogenic !

Joanna said...

Thank you Liz. I have to confess to them being some of last week's leftover pictures, we just didn't get around to getting any more this week

karen said...

yes it sounds hectic but also very fulfilling. and boy is it quiet here with the phone down the loo!!! Wish I'd thought of that sooner!!

Joanna said...

It has been fulfilling for sure.

I think you have one of life's answers to all problems, throw the phone down the loo and all will be still! Perfect :o)

Gordon Milligan said...

You are a well traveled lass as well. You seem to have a interesting blog here and it will be interesting to see how farming is in your part of the world. I look forward to following your post.

the cloud to me looks like a burning bush.

Joanna said...

I have travelled a lot in the last nine years indeed Gordon, thanks for dropping by.

A burning bush! I see what you mean. That would interesting.