Monday, 17 December 2012

Cold times

Weird snow sculptures or one large snowdrift - that was a
road past our orchard once
Sundays don't seem to be a day of rest at the moment. Last week it was a burst water pipe and it meant Ian was busy even on a down day. The burst pipe was not due to ice though, but a pipe that punctured some how. I went to read the meter and as the meter is kind of propped up on some other pipes and so it has to be moved to read it, as I moved it a pipe ruptured and I had to put a finger over the now spurting pipe. I had to shout for Ian to come and do something, so that was him busy for the next few hours while he fixed it. Would have been an easier job if all his tools for the job had been in the house and not out on the land. This week it was drifting snow and having to do the kinds of jobs that just have to be done when you have animals and need to keep on top of the snow to keep them fed and watered. After shifting snow and changing bedding we decided to go and see if it was possible to get two large bales of 2 year old hay from the field to use as bedding in the greenhouse for if the weather gets worse. Can't be too much worse than it was this weekend with drifting snow, but you never know. Well first of all we managed to get the car stuck in a snow drift, then it took Ian a bit of time to sort the tractor out, and just as he arrived the grader clearing the roads pulled up. I think he waited to see if the tractor would get the car out, which fortunately it did and at least it meant we didn't have to try and hold a conversation in Latvian. We then spent the next half hour in the increasing gloom and horizontal snow, shifting the bales one at a time, it is a good job we don't have many more of that size left. We are keeping this years hay back for feed as we don't know yet how far it will go.
Outside our other apartment

Ian on snow clearing duties
It sure has been bitterly cold here, we have had colder temperatures before and that we can cope with, but it's the wind that is making it worse. On one day all of our alpacas were shivering in the morning but we think that is because the wind just happened to be blowing at an angle that was able to blow snow through the smallest of crevices. Fortunately after a good feed they warmed up and looked fine, even Turbjörn, this time though they were all head for the shed in between feeds to get out of the wind. We were also pleased to note that their fleece is definitely thickening up. I wonder if the sudden drop in temperatures has been one of the problems and it just means they haven't had time to grow their fleece thick enough, quickly enough. Our chickens have been fine though and those are the ones that everyone asks about. They are in the greenhouse and their arks are on deep beds, which basically means putting a deep layer of straw down and leaving it in there and then just adding layers on top. The composting manure then serves to increase the heat in the area, apparently it is quite healthy for them. They also go into their wooden boxes at night and they are packed in their with plenty of straw and so keep each other warm.
The windy day tore the protective blue tarpaulin off the side
of the accommodation block for the local school which is
undergoing renovation. I think they were trying to protect
it from the severe cold. 

Disappearing objects, well they would
be if the snow hadn't whorled around them
We are still having problems with the electric and it has been off again this last week. I really feel sorry for the electric guys, especially as we have got to know one of them quite well. The poor guy hasn't had a weekend at home for three weeks and being working many a night too. Part of the problem has been the amount of ice built up and now snow on top of that and many trees have been gradually getting lower and lower which is not so good on top of the ice encrusted wires. It looks very pretty, but just not what we want. The good news is that the papers for our electric has finally come through and means we can get connected up out on the land though. That will be a relief for Ian as it is not much fun at lunchtime as the caravan is just too cold but he needs the energy to keep going and so stopping for lunch is a must. He could come home but that is a lot of fuel in the car and means he can't keep an eye on the alpacas to make sure they are doing okay. It will be so much better when we have a house out there.

I cleared down there!
And there! Not so clear but it was a lot of work you know!
I have been having fun again this week helping to set up international trade links again. It is much easier ringing up on behalf of someone to set up the links than it is to do it for myself. It is also much easier for me to phone an English company than it would be for our neighbour to be talking on the phone in English. Our conversations are full of pauses and arm waving and periods of trying to work out what is meant or what the word is that we are trying to translate and that doesn't quite work by phone. It all sounds grand but really it is just nothing more than chatting to someone on the phone that has previously emailed and just trying to work out what is needed to happen. It's looking a positive link up anyway.

A lot of snow! Could be worse. Heard in Sweden it was
5m high in places.
People keep talking about Christmas and getting ready for it, I can't quite get in the mood somehow. It was nice to hear some choral singing from some church in England on the Latvian classical station as we drove home on that snowy day over the weekend, that felt a bit Christmassy. There are some lights and things out for Christmas but nothing like in England - thank goodness, where Christmas seems to start in September. We did get a Christmas card from our son and his family - that's a first, it was a cute card taken from a painting done by our adopted grandchild, our son's girlfriend's little one of a snowman on a red background. Very sweet. I have also been trying to finish off an embroidery for my parents for their Christmas present, but the nearer I get to the finish, the further away the finish seems. I have more work to do on it to make it look complete. I somehow think it is going to be late. The other preparation for Christmas is to decide what to eat on the day, we are actually spoilt for choice now. I told you that we have some wild boar meat, so we could have that, we could have one of our chickens we culled recently or now we even have the choice of a free range turkey too, which one of our friends blessed us with. Hmmm decisions, decisions!

I think the seeds sprouted inside the squash! Whoops
they were meant for next years plants and it is a bit early
to pot them up.
I also think I ought to get cracking on the knitting front, especially after the little scare this weekend. Our son text us to say he was with his wife in hospital and the baby might be on its way. I must say that if it had been it did not take after his father, who had to be threatened with eviction to get his act together to enter the world. It is still a bit early though as the baby is only due 9th January and fortunately the contractions all died down and she was able to go home, much to our son's relief too as he doesn't do well in hospitals.

Arrrhh! Some sunshine
Will Self had an interesting perspective this week, we have had the slow food movement, the slow travel movement, is now the right time for the slow news movement?
How perverse, therefore, that the contemporary news media keeps to an entirely different beat, an ever-accelerating tempo. The news cycle has been 24-hour since the early 1980s, but the number of updates within each of those hours has steadily grown. Now the letters of the threads that run continuously beneath the live reporting look to me like the cogs of a virtual flywheel, one that spins ever faster as it tries to provide our inertial present with motive force. More events, more comments on those events, still more events provoked by those comments, and in turn, comments on those comment-induced events. The actual is sliced, diced and winched forward, only to tumble off time's assembly-line into the great slag-heap of now.
Ian once had a picture where he saw a giant flywheel where God just put his finger on a switch to stop the frantic turning round. It didn't stop immediately but like a fly wheel when you flip the switch it gradually started to slow down, perhaps God will do that soon for life itself. Wonder what that would look like? All life in the slow lane, time to breathe again.

Disappearing under a blanket of white
Of course it is not really possible to finish off an item like the above without mentioning the horrible events last week where a young gunman entered a school and killed many little children in the US. Certainly an item, sliced, diced and winched forward. I did consider doing what some other bloggers did and not post out of respect, after all what is news about our weather compared to the avalanche of grief the parents, friends and families of those murdered children must be feeling. I can't even start to comprehend what it must be like for them. I decided not to in the end, not out of a lack of respect for them, but out of respect for many other children that are murdered in our violent societies around the world, many of whom will never be mentioned in news bulletins, some of whom will never even be mourned by people in this world. It is a horrible, horrible thing to happen and the grief and the shock is very real and the reason behind it will have to be addressed, but they are not the only ones and so I decided to go ahead and post anyway, my heart still goes out to the parents and families of those little ones and to all those who have lost their children. May we all work towards a better future for our children.


  1. Good comments. Hope things warm up for you soon and that positive things will happen for you.x

  2. Thanks Ju for those positive thoughts. We would like the wind to drop and maybe just a tad warmer but not too warm yet. There is nothing worse than melting snow to only have it back again later. Now it is down we would rather it stay down. Some sunshine would be nice though.

  3. You do have a lot of brother echoed what you say about Sweden too. It was pretty horrendous there for a while.
    Those poor children....and yes, other children too who we never hear about and must not forget. Really there are no words.....

  4. One of our friends here is Swedish and so that is how we heard. Still the chaos doesn't last for weeks, just clean up and get on. At least the snow seems to have stopped for now.

    No there are no words for the horror. I think the only words worth echoing are President Obama's when he said "We must change," but that comes later in the cold light of day, when analysis really has to happen to change the situation, not just in the US, but in other places too.

  5. our ruth read up follow up from that incident in the states - research has shown clearly that the reporting of those events is crucial. the people who do these things are highly suggestible, like people with addictions, and reports of suicides. reporting that only talks about the victims and not about the perpetrator however doesn't trigger others to copy. but does the press heed the warnings ? does it self regulate ?
    the other thing that could help is better and cheaper availability of non-stigmatised psychiatric care in the community for fragile individuals.

  6. That sounds interesting research Liz. I wonder why the media doesn't take notice though? You would think that stories of the lives cut short would be far more "interesting" than the story of the perpetrator. I guess part of the problem is the balance of intrusive reporting for the families sake, whereas in the perpetrator's case, there isn't that felt need for sensitivity. Mind you, how on earth the family must feel, particularly his brother, goodness only knows.

  7. just wanted to say happy, happy Christmas to you!!!!xxx

  8. Aww Karen, that is really sweet of you. Hope you have a lovely time with your family. All the best for the New Year


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