Monday, 12 November 2012

Cry Wolf!

Here what are you doing?
There is one thing you can say for definite about living in Latvia, it is varied and not often boring. The biodiversity of the place is also rich and diverse, and getting more diverse by the year around here. This week we heard the news that a local farm has lost some sheep and the culprits are probably a wolf family. Now this is a farm that I have walked to to investigate whilst I was doing my wild boar study, so not terribly far. We had heard of wolves close by, as in 20km away and so have had it in the back of our minds that a wolf attack was always a possibility, now it is more real and we have to seriously look again at the safety of our animals. The sheep were not housed in a barn like most of the animals around here at night, as the days are still quite mild for November and the grass still reasonable, even if it has taken a hit with a few hard frosts and so that might explain why they were attacked, even with their electric fence protection. Recent logging near us might also explain why the wolves were in the area as they may have been disturbed, however, that still means they were probably close anyway.

Now why did the cat cross the river?
To get to the other side? And why?
No idea, she moaned about it all the
way across
The only good thing to come out of this news is that we got a tasty meal out of it, as we were invited around to eat as one of the guys working on the farm was cooking some of the lamb and the rest of his family don't like it. We even got some ribs to take home. Waste not! Want not! The meal out was a last minute invitation and one that Ian accepted with relish, even though we had only eaten an hour before. Once again it is like trying to feed a teenager around here i.e. Ian is a bottomless bucket at the moment and I can't fill him up, so the thought of some supper was enough for him to consider going back out in the dark and cold, even if it meant waiting ages for car windows to defrost.

The ocean we are waiting to recede.
Doesn't look so bad from here, but
believe me that is wide and deep
The rest of the week was spent battling the rain again for Ian. Oceans abound for sure, but at least by the end of the week we finally got some sun, fleeting though it was. It has been that bad that even when the rain stops there are still rivers of water running down the hill from goodness knows where. It does mean that Ian hasn't been able to finish laying the cable as the ocean (no longer a lake) has just got bigger instead of receding as he had hoped. Instead he has managed to get the rest of the cable buried in places despite the collapsing sides of the trenches and so all that needs to happen now is for that ocean to recede to a lake and he can carry on and finish the job. Fortunately the weather forecast is looking better but we could do with more sun forecast to dry it all up.

This is the river feeding the lake, where
there should be no river
Being new to this farming lark is one of wonder at times, often wondering what on earth we are doing but loving it all the same. One of the things we have wondered about is the gender of our chickens. We hoped we had sorted them out into one ark with one male and five hens, one ark with one male and four hens, one ark with four males for dispatching to other homes or to our freezer. Well maybe! Errr possibly! And then again maybe not! Some of the little darlings appear to be late starters and we were wondering if one of the chickens in the male ark maybe female after all, but we are still not sure yet. One of the chickens in the 1+4 ark is definitely turning out to be male and one we still have a question mark over. I guess we didn't do too badly then, because apparently even seasoned chicken owners are never 100% sure until the chicken either crows or lays an egg and none of them has done either of those things yet.

So far and no further. Here Ian was
digging the trench and immediately
burying the cable before it collapsed
but the route after this was far too wet
to dig with our tractor
I mentioned last week that I was frustrated that there didn't seem to be much in the way of small scale farm equipment and this week I found the ideal product, only problem is that it is a protype made in Africa, wonder how long it would take for someone to make one in Europe? Probably no time soon. As far as agriculture here in Europe is concerned, the only agriculture worth investing in is big agriculture and not the small scale farming. So the search continues for engineers who love a challenge and to see what they can produce.

Not too bad! Err we hope!
I'm glad the US Presidential campaign is over, now we can get back to some news as if there is a world that exists outside of America. It is not that I don't want to know what is going on, but the large amount of coverage gets tiresome in the end. It is also galling to see so much money spent on things like advertising etc. Spending in the order of $2bn, that would pay for three years interest payments on the Latvian national debt, it is 20x the losses of Haiti to the storm, despite the devastating loss of crops there (remember Hurricane Sandy and the fact it hit the Caribbean islands first?), and it would buy 100m mosquito nets, saving lots of lives in the process. So what would you have spent $2bn on?

Trenches full of water

Ruts full of water and this is on top of
the hill

But here comes the sun on a beautiful frosty morning
A quick update on the article for which I was interviewed: I came out of it quite well by all accounts. It seems to be a fair representation of what is in my report and what I said, we won't quibble on a few details as something could have been lost in the translation anyway. So all in all, quite a relief.


  1. Hope you both have a good supply of wellies! Don't know how you both have the energy to do all the jobs , not to mention your research!

  2. Ian does the jobs and I do the research :oD. Actually at this time of the year, the time to do the jobs is less and less and therefore we have more time at nights to plan and research how to do things. As for the wellies, we both have two pairs each and we both have one pair of steel-capped boots :oD

  3. In addition to that (and partly because I accidentally managed to publish the comment before I finished), I only have the trees and bushes to wrap up for the winter, kale and brussel sprouts to pick, so not that much left to do outside for me.

  4. First it's wild boar and then wolves! I've just watched about a Russian woman who fought off a wolf with her bare hands! I posted it on FB for you to see. At least you enjoyed a nice piece of lamb. But I keep thinking about your chickens. But I guess that when we upset the balance of the natural world, it fights back.

  5. I just hope they would prefer a nice juicy piglet to our chickens. Our chickens are currently in our greenhouse, which is not entirely safe but a deterrent, as it is just a sheet of plastic between the arks and the outside world. The arks are also hopefully quite secure, they are meant to be fox proof

  6. I wonder where all that water is coming from ? One crazy water table ? or incredibly dense soil so it doesn't drain ? or someone has messed with their land drainage somewhere and is sending it all your way ? Has Ian got a buoyancy aid on the tractor just in case he capsizes ?

  7. Part of the problem is that the land is a mix of sand, clay and granite boulders which means that in places it drains poorly and in others there is somewhere for the water to escape. What can happen is that the water drains down into a sandy area then travels along that seams until it finds somewhere to run to but that can even mean it going uphill if the water table is under pressure.

    Ian hadn't thought about a buoyancy device. He is now wondering whether to put the rubber boat on the top of the tractor just in case

  8. I do hope the wolves stay I'm off to dream about how to spend 2 billion, first thing on the list is those legs!!

  9. I hope the wolves stay away too.

    Well let us know how you plan on spending that $2bn, mainly so we can warn the person you are thinking of nicking the legs from first. I will stick with my sturdy ones.


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