Monday, 15 October 2012

Franken.......

Frankenbarrow! Cobbled together from cladding from our
kitchen to provide a much needed extension. 
Squelch! That is the sound most heard on our land at the moment. It's wet! We did have a couple of days of dry weather and it had just, and I mean just, started to dry a little when it rained heavily again. Ian still has to go out to the land to let the animals out and so he has got on with barn jobs, tidying it up and creating Franken monsters. Franken monsters? Has he gone mad? Yep probably! I explained he felt a little like Dr. Frankenstein last week, creating his monster table named Frankentable, monster sink- Frankensink, monster shelves - Frankenshelves etc. Well this week he made his monster wheelbarrow, so meet Frankenbarrow. So why Franken...... ? Well Frankenstein was really just a recycled human, made up of bits from other people and Ian's creations are reusing material usually leftover from other projects or, to use the up-to-date phrase, "repurposed" At least the rain hasn't stifled his creative streak. It might not be in a beauty parade of garden and garage products but they are functional and are at the moment costing us nothing.
It was that wet our alpacas were looking rather grubby.
They look better than this now though

As for me it has been hard work this week and I definitely felt quite depressed at times, which is not me really. There was one day there was nothing for it but to reach back into the archives and dig out my chill out songs. Singing "break the chains on this land" (from Iona The Island) with the sun appearing for the first time in days lifted my spirits immensely. I also watched some birds circling in the air and felt "yes that's where I want to be" and I let my spirit soar with them and then watched in amazement as other birds started to come, joining them from all directions, I really felt God speak deep into my soul. At least now I have strength to carry on now! Plus the giggle from watching a coal tit that kept coming to the window and occasionally tapping on it as it tries to understand why it can't get at the squashes drying on the window.
Spiders webs in the evening sunlight draped across
the fields

One reason for feeling depressed were work issues. I normally just plod along doing regular checks and chatting with students on the online student café I moderate, all ticking along nicely for a few years until something changes and for some reason more issues pop their head up and more active intervention is required; well this is one of those years. The kind that demands rapid responses and then thoughtful planning to address the issues in the long term. It means that work is not boring at the moment and definitely challenging and normally I would relish the challenge, but not now. I and a colleague relish boring now, we have other things to do too challenge us. Then again for the sake of our students we will address the issues wholeheartedly and try to work out some good solutions that are helpful for all concerned.
Ian giving a little perspective at the top of the hill. He is
stood where the house will be with a 3m stick in hand
to give some sense of scale

I also had an interview with a journalist for a hunting magazine about my Master's thesis on the conflict over wild boar management in the area I live in. It was a bit nerve wracking really. I had to explain what I had done and why without giving away confidential information, but I also wanted this issue of too many wild boar in our area wrecking agriculture to get out and be highlighted. Some of the things I recommended were also covered. It was quite hard to strike the right balance, but we both agreed that it was really stupid that no one apart from me was doing research in the Latvia on wild boar management, despite the widespread destruction they cause, at massive financial costs to farmers. It will be interesting to see what is actually written though.
Our house in situ.What it could possibly look like

So have I done much else this week? Not really. Trawled the internet for biodigesters and such things, but really I have been too busy to do much else. The good news is that a recent frost has signalled the final stages of our harvesting, it really is all downhill to winter from here. Our chickens were moved into the greenhouse now it is virtually empty, at least it will be less draughty and a lot less damp in there. Moving the arks was made a lot simpler by the visit of some friends to see our alpacas, it is easier with four to carry the arks over longer distances rather than just two. Frankentrolley made earlier in the year would have got bogged down in the mud anyway. We also spent a bit of time walking through the floorplan for our new house to see where things would be, see if it would work and Ian got to talk with our friend who is an electrician to see how we would get electric to the house - unfortunately we can't use the nearest electric cable it is too high powered and would need a rather large transformer for domestic use, we have to use a lower powered one further away. At least it all looks feasible, so far.
Frankenseedboxes. Made from some wood which had been
destined for firewood but decided they were too good
to burn and used for making these instead. Other
pieces ended up as backs for coat hooks.

Our heating is still an issue. I wrote to the company this week basically saying that we are still not paying until the issue of the quality of heat is addressed in accordance with consumer regulations and if it is not addressed we will see you in court. It didn't say that exactly of course, but that is the general gist of the matter. Well in response the boiler is on ....... only heating the other apartment block and the school and not our apartment block, because we want too much. Apparently we should not expect water 
hot enough to heat our rooms to the temperature stated in our contracts, that is unreasonable and until we drop those unreasonable requests we will not be getting any heat. Well I guess we are going to have to see what the court says about that. Sigh! I really wish they would see sense and just heat the water hot enough. It is stupid that they cannot even provide what the contract states and try and shift the blame onto everyone else except themselves. Don't really see why the courts should be the place to sort this out either, but if that is the system then we will use the system. Don't worry too much about us though if your thoughts conjure up two shivering folks, trying to keep warm. We have a wood stove, we have oil filled radiators, plenty of layers to keep us warm too and if the worse comes to the worse and the temperatures drop far too much then we have another apartment where we have wood fired central heating. And our neighbours? Well some have already come off the communal heating system anyway a few years ago - the rest of us are stuck on the system, one more off, then all off. Many have woodstoves themselves and electric radiators, so the chances are they will be fine for the time being. 

8 comments:

ju-north said...

New house?! I must have missed that - are you moving far?

Joanna said...

No not moving far. The house you see in the picture (you may have to click on it to see it enlarged) is one that our son and I have been working on for our land. Ian was providing a reference point so that when our son does clever things with photoshop he can show us what a mock up would look like in the place where we are thinking of building.

Mavis said...

The enlarged view of your 'new house' looks great! Reading about all the Franken- things that Ian has made I couldn't help but think he must have a lot of Franken-sense!(Sorry!) But seriously - isn't he just so clever and saving you money at the same time.

Joanna said...

Glad you like the "new house," you'll have to come and see it when it is built - hopefully! I must admit it made me giggle about Franken-sense - love it!

karen said...

well I don't like to think of you being cold but I dislike thinking of you being ''down'' even more. As for rain....we had horizontal rain here this morning, I even wondered if I would get home from dropping my son at work without the need for a quick swim!! Take care of yourself and stay WARM and DRY!

Joanna said...

Thank you Karen for your warm thoughts. I have to say I am better today, I don't tend to stay down for long fortunately. I hope my parents leave the rain behind though when they visit

Allotment Blogger said...

I have just reblogged your excellent idea about franken-items! I hope your heating issue is soon resolved - I remember a cold winter in France with similarly tepid heating and it wasn't fun.

Joanna said...

Glad you found the Franken items interesting Allotment Blogger, it is great fun being able to reuse items.

Our heating issue is still ongoing with the temperatures set to plummet but fortunately we do have a wood stove, so all is not perishing cold.