Monday, 14 January 2013

We have a horse!

A shaving horse, no not for beards, for shaving bits of wood
Ian walked in one evening and said "We have a horse!" My first thought was that a neighbour's horse had got onto our land or something, the next thought, albeit fleeting, was "What has he done!" Fortunately all was revealed, when he explained that it was a shaving horse. I bought Ian some books on Roundwood Timber Framing and Coppice crafts and together with a book bought many moons ago called Green Woodwork he finally got around to making a contraption that helps him to make various wooden objects. It's quite impressive really and made solely from wood from our forest. Neither is it nailed together, but uses wooden pegs. All it took was some time. For those who don't know what it is, a shaving horse was described as the Black and Decker work bench of its day in "Tales from the Green Valley" (the DVD I was talking about last week).

Now that's what I call a hammer!
Ian has been busy all week making things. Added to the shaving horse is a pole lathe, or rather an adaptation of a pole lathe. The problem with a pole lathe is that it uses a pole which would mean going into the forest to look for a pole, not so easy with the snow and then the pole needs anchoring into the ground - not easy now it is frozen and so that aspect will be used in summer. Ian has been experimenting with different set ups to make the lathe work, using bicycle inner tubes, bungee straps and different ropes and string to experiment with. Each day he has come back with something different to show me, a mug rack - which unfortunately split in the warm house, a spoon and a rudimentary turned piece of wood. He promised me an oak table and high back chairs but I haven't seen them yet. I think they may take a little time to materialise. 
A treadle lathe

Oooh the stress we've had this week! Not only walking on sheet ice to post a letter, but trying to decide on a combination microwave. Now buying a microwave could be quite easy, just look it up on a Which report, see what's available and what suits us and buy it! No chance! The models available in different countries are well..... distinctly different. One microwave we looked at only had information in Russian, another one was available elsewhere and so wasn't too bad to look up. At least the Which report gave two companies that we can find here in Latvia gave the thumbs up for the ability of their microwaves to actually cook- a useful feature I find and so it was narrowed down to a Whirlpool and a Panasonic. In the end we went for a Whirlpool, because its bigger, unfortunately it did not arrive today as expected. Heh ho! Delivery companies! Don't you just love them! I suppose I shall have to ring tomorrow and find out what has happened to my microwave.
The blue rope turned out to be better
than the traditional hemp rope. We
must have the wrong sort as it kept
matting up. You can also see Ian has
started on turning the wood. Not perfect
yet and I think we have a way to go
before I get that table and chairs

Our seed order is completed this year and I managed to narrow that down to just two seed companies this time, instead of four like last year - mainly because I have saved many of our own seeds and I still have seeds leftover from last year. I did a grand stocktake to make sure I knew what I had, which kept me busy on a winter's day. I couldn't purchase solely from one company, MoreVeg, that I have used for a few years now, as they didn't have Sweet Meat squashes, which I am reliably informed can last a whole year and so something we want to try, as it is something to fill in the hungry gap when other things are past their best and before the salady things start coming through. I have used MoreVeg for a few years now, because they are excellent for small packets - I mean who wants 100 cauliflowers? The small packets are often around 50p which means it is possible to try out many different vegetables at relatively little cost and since we are still finding out what works for us, that is very useful. Someone emailed me this week via a post I had made on another blog, because they were struggling to source Sweet Meat pumpkin seeds within Europe, so 
I am making sure I give out the link and for the Styrian pumpkin (which has seeds without the hard coat) as they are a bit scarce too. If you know of anywhere else please feel free to post a link at at the bottom.  Anyway the link for the Chiltern Seeds is as follows 

Sweet Meat -
Styrian Pumpkin -
Their veg catalogue is a lot of fun too, with some interesting illustrations, their website is quite boring by comparison, but still it does what it has to do and that is provide information about seeds.
Even a three legged stool

We thought we were on a roll with the eggs, as we were getting two a day for a little while but we are mainly down to one a day - from 9 females! Actually coming from one ark only. Not stupendous really, but it is still early in the year and it has gone chilly again, so hopefully soon they will start to produce more soon. It turns out our suspicions were right with one of the birds we weren't sure about, it is a male and he reliably informed Ian of that fact with a cockle-doodle-doo, well kind of, give the guy a break he is a novice at it. Mind you, he just signed his own death warrant with that noise, we have nowhere to keep a single male in these temperatures and he is starting to flex his muscle, which will only lead to fights in the ark eventually. For the time being we will leave him as he adds extra heat, but any fights and he is out of there. The other bird we weren't too sure about has laid the eggs and so we are pleased we were right with her, as she is a lovely looking bird and obviously a good layer as she is the only one to be consistently laying eggs at the moment. So all in all, we didn't do too badly when we separated the chickens out, we were only wrong with one of them. Still miffed at that! It would have been the best layer of the lot.
Just to prove I really did get the skis out

I finally got the skis out this week and made my own track for cross country type skiing out on the land. That way there is no one to watch when I fall down, which fortunately was only once this time. It was only a small track and only took about a minute to get around, but at least I could practice the movements, which is what I was most bothered about. I now have to sweet talk Ian into making me a track maker to make the tracks a little easier to make and then I can make an even bigger track out on the land.
Enjoying the sun

I must be getting emotional in my old age, or it's my hormones at this time of life, but the new song by David Bowie made me cry. It just spoke to me of a world weary from crisis and I just wanted to put my arms around the singer and say "It's going to be okay, there is hope." His singing reminded me of Solomon in Ecclesiastes, a man full of wisdom who explored life to the maximum and yet at the end of it all opted for the simple life.
The Final Word. Besides being wise himself, the Quester also taught others knowledge. He weighed, examined, and arranged many proverbs. The Quester did his best to find the right words and write the plain truth.                           The words of the wise prod us to live well.They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together.                           They are given by God, the one Shepherd.But regarding anything beyond this, dear friend, go easy. There’s no end to the publishing of books, and constant study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else. The last and final word is this:                                          Fear God.                                                                                                         Do what he tells you.                                                                                     And that’s it.                                                                                         Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 The Message) 
The alpacas are much more confident with Ian now. Here is
Hercules eating straw from Ian's hand
David Bowie has lived a life full of variety, never conforming to the norm, an intelligent man who experimented with life, which echoes Solomon's quest for deeper meaning. At the end of the day, it seems both have found some kind of answer in simplicity. Being wise, being the great experimenter, living life to the full for both men was never the answer, both seem weary towards the end of their lives.

Sunday was such a beautiful day
A song came back to me this week from the dim and distant past "Through the barricades" by Spandau Ballet, that talks of love through the barricades in Northern Ireland. On the 13th January 1991 the Latvians built barricades to protect various sites in Riga, a sign to the Russians, "this far and no further". There are times to build those kinds of barricades, to declare "this far and no further!" And there are times to love through those barricades. For many people here in Latvia, they have barricades in their hearts, built through years of suspicion and corruption, barricades of mistrust. No one can blame them for they have been much abused in the past, but I feel it's time for those barricades to come down now and for people to love each other through those barricades. So that is both my prayer and my goal, to help bring down those barricades.
The frost was an inch thick on trees and wires. It's difficult
to select the best pictures of the day


Mavis said...

Ian is so clever at making things and you with your creativity. When you get your new house on the land I can see a business being set up selling homemade tools and gadgets and things made out of alpaca wool. One step at a time (as you yourself have commented.)

Joanna said...

I have to admit, Ian has got much better at woodwork over the years. He is progressing from the "well it's functional" to actually making some nice objects. He just needs a little more in the way of tools - isn't that always the way?

Would love to be able to create with the alpaca wool products. Looking forward to messing about with that soon

R & G in UP said...

Love, love this!!
Well done you guys!

Ian - is this wood holder thingy like the object I designed years ago for holding logs still? It's still in use ... like my grandpa's tools I inherited. :-)

Joanna said...

Thanks R &AMP

I'm not sure if the wood holder is like yours, you'll have to send a picture of it :). It is great though to be using things so many years later. Might have to see what is left of my grandad's tools too. He was a joiner

karen said...

oh I got Spandau Ballet this visit....I love them! Please can I borrow your skis for our impending snow? I think my road may look like your land if the weather men are to be believed.

Joanna said...

Of course you can borrow my skis Karen, pop round anytime :o)

Anonymous said...

Already made a saw horse, really happy with the result. As I said in my blog, I'm planning on building a pole lathe over winter, the main issue for me is how to line up the 'grips' that will hold the wood in place while turning, I can't even profess to being an enthusiastic amateur, more like a clumsy oaf :)

Joanna said...

Not sure how he did it, but I think it took one or two goes. You're always welcome to pop by if you want to check out how Ian worked it out.

Joanna said...

Also if you click on the email contact above, you can then contact me directly if you ever want to arrange a visit