Monday, 3 September 2012


Never seen this before, a rainbow in the
morning fog
I haven't been doing so well with jars just lately, thankfully this time the jars I managed to smash weren't full, unlike the full jar of tomatoes that I smashed not so long ago. This time one was at home, but embarrassingly one was in a shop. I picked up a pack of 8 bottles and at the bottom was a hole that I didn't know about until I picked it up. Oh boy! I am feeling rather clumsy at the moment, especially as I have also managed to walk into the handle of the chicken ark and have a wonderful bruise on my leg now. Must be my age! Anyway all I could do was gesture at a lady that there was a bottle on the floor and leave her to it, felt more like running off and leaving it. Today I managed to redistribute rather a lot of grape puree, leftover from making grape juice and put through the vegetable strainer. I'm not sure what happened really, but bits flew in different directions and the bowl tipped onto the counter. Thank goodness not much went anywhere else. I decided to freeze the puree since I didn't trust myself to make jam out of it just yet. Good job we went today to go and get a large chest freezer because our upright freezer is full to overflowing, as is the section under our fridge and I have hardly even started freezing things like broccoli, which is just starting to get going and beans.

"How's your children, errr I mean alpacas" said my friend
last week! Haha
It has been a smashing time from other angles too, but this time in a nice way. I got to see the 20 week scan of our first grandchild which was really exciting. It is a little difficult at times to remember that our daughter-in-law is pregnant, as we are not in constant contact or get to see them often - just one of the downsides of living far from family (although that depends on the family I guess, I am sure sometimes it could be a blessing). Planning to see them will be a challenge, especially as we are aware that our animals need to be looked after too, but I'm sure we will manage it. The scan pictures though are fascinating, especially the one where we could see the spine curving around so beautifully of the little one all curled up in Mum's tummy.

We have a squash plant. Last year we had a whole load by
this time in the year as you can see here
This week hasn't been the sort of week where we get done what we planned. The forecasts have been completely useless for us this year. The weather has been just far to unpredictable and that makes planning jobs a nightmare and that includes this week. For instance today the weather said light showers, which was the case out on the land apparently but over the apartment it was a torrential downpour for at least half an hour and some showers on and off. At least we did get one side of our land cleared of hay bales earlier this week and now they are all stacked or dumped as the case maybe. The stacked ones might be useful for bedding but we won't know until we open them but they seem like they maybe okay. The rubbish ones are stacked in a line for growing pumpkins over next year or dumped in a pile while we decide what we are going to do with the one particular part of the land. We are now debating whether to put another pond in and see if that helps to drain a field, as well as use the spare soil to raise the level of the rest of the area. We were completely whacked after clearing the bales, even though they are small there is a lot of them and by the time we had cleared around a hundred of them we could barely lift them, so we finished the job off working together, at least that way we could lift them. Awww! Sweet heh?

Not the best photo in the world but as you
can see, autumn has arrived here with this
glorious maple
I mentioned last week that our friend said autumn is the time of year for escaping animals, well it appears she's right. Not only have our alpacas been stretching the limit a little, but our neighbours cows escaped. Ian was working in the barn and I was in the greenhouse when we both heard voices and we looked out to see the neighbours cows and two of our neighbours looking rather flustered and frustrated. All of their cows had found a hole in the fence that some wild boar had made and decided that we had better grass than they had and came for a visit, or maybe as Ian said they had heard about the alpacas and fancied a visit. Our alpacas weren't impressed and disappeared off to the workshop where they live (I know we still call it the workshop, even if now it is the stable really) and one or two of the cows decided to try a closer inspection, but fortunately Ian got to the gate first and shut it before they could get in. There is no telling what sort of a job it would have been if they had got in there as they trampled over the fencing that keeps the alpacas in their extended area. We then helped our neighbours to herd the cows back to their land and then they kindly took us back in the car as we had tramped over quite a few fields to get them back to where they belong. It gave us a chance to show the husband around as he had not seen our land, or the alpacas.

Some better behaved cows on our way back from getting the
freezer. If you look hard you can see the lady in the horse and
cart who is driving them

Arriving at their new destination (photo by Ieva)
The other change of plan was due to helping out some friends with transport. We found out that they are moving and there wasn't much notice, but they needed to do something with their sheep as they weren't taking them with them to their new place. Another of our friends decided they could take them and we ended up moving them from one friend to another at short notice, i.e. we only found out in the morning and we moved them that afternoon, but at least we got a nice meal out of it - the mushrooms picked from the forest were heavenly.
Ian trying his hand again at herding, this time sheep not cows
(photo by Ieva)
Enjoying the sunshine in their new home (photo by Ieva)
Our combination microwave is quite old
now but still works well, if you can get
the tiny microswitch to work that is. It
is frustrating that for the sake of a small
switch the microwave might have to be
thrown away. We've tried looking for
parts but it is so old it is not helpful.

It was back to school today for the children and it was fun seeing so many of them in their smart clothes and carrying flowers. One of our neighbours is a teacher and he came back carrying some flowers even though he is male, it is quite normal here to give flowers regardless of gender. It wasn't a full day back at school, just a sort of celebration of the beginning of the year, classes should start tomorrow. It did mean though that our neighbour turned up just as we were trying to manoeuvre the freezer down the stairs and he offered to help. Although I managed to help get it down the stairs the wrapping started to disintegrate badly and it was more difficult to hold and so I was really pleased when our neighbour reappeared having changed to help get it into the basement room itself.

It is interesting on a day when children go back to school after the summer break that we had been talking recently of the difference between work and toil. Physically we both work harder than we have ever done, but some people wouldn't class it as work, because no one employs us and no one pays us. So many people though go to work and it is a burdensome thing to do - is that toil? Were we toiling when we were putting bales of hay away? It was work and it was hard work, but it was a warm day and we were out in the fields and not stuck in an office. We even had time for discussions to try and work out the best way to deal with the bales so they are useful for next year, even if that means only useful for compost. So what do you think? Is there a difference between toil and work? Or are we just nitpicking?

Updated photos to properly credit the photographer, our young friend Ieva


  1. Indeed! Hopefully we are getting better but not sure our neighbours would agree this year. We need to sort out the weeding

  2. Work or toil? I always think of toil as something with negative implications - work that takes a lot of effort and is a burden to the point of making you miserable. The dictionary says that work is 'the application of mental or physical effort to a purpose; the use of energy'. I think that we tend to think that if you enjoy something then it's not really work, whether you're paid or not and regardless of the physical effort needed.

    Anyway! - I think you both work very hard. And it's nice to be your own boss.

  3. It is nice to be your own boss. Let's hope that we can continue to do this. We just need a little more in the way of finances coming back to maintain what we do.

  4. according to work is from a northern european origin meaning work, or maybe pie crust (?); toil comes from the latin for a machine for crushing olives. with my cultural prejudices i think that ye olde english invaders from the north probably meant work by work where as the romans meant get those lazy britons to put their back into it, so what if they drop dead in the process.

    W.C. clearly thinks that toil is a strong word /

    "This famous quotation comes from Sir Winston Churchill's speech on 13th May 1940 to the UK's House of Commons. He had recently taken over from Neville Chamberlain as the British Prime Minister. The speech was intended to be stirring and uplifting call to arms. Churchill was aware of the public hopes that he could change the direction of the war - much in the way that ailing sports clubs hope to change their fortunes by appointing a new manager - and he wanted to make best use of that tide of feeling. He was also well aware of the difficulties ahead and, not wanting to raise false hope, he entered notes of caution and warning.

    He had used the I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat line to his Cabinet colleagues earlier the same day. Part of his speech was:

    "I say to the House as I said to ministers who have joined this government, I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering."

  5. Well that's a fairly comprehensive answer Liz :o). I think W.C. has the right idea that toil is definitely a strong word. Toil like that is only okay if there is an end in sight and an urgent purpose to fulfil and I guess he thought that would be the case and he was right.

  6. how exciting to see the scan!! You work very hard, I can tell that from your posts but it is obviously a pleasure so I would say it isn't toil...that word has negativity attached to it.

  7. I agree Karen, toil has very negative assosiations attached to it. Even when it feels very hard there is still the satisfaction that now the majority of our food is produced by us.


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