Monday, 11 February 2013

Religious chickens and not so religious musings

What's going on down there?
Our chickens are, or rather have been, quite religious, since they started laying they always had Sundays off. Not sure if they changed their religion this last week though, as they had Friday off instead. Mind you they at least gave us five eggs the day before and four the following day and so we are starting to move into the productive period now. Housing them in the greenhouse over winter has worked a treat. Even on the coldest of days in the minus 20s they have been fine after shutting them up in their boxes overnight. They have been scratching through the hay in their runs and turning it into lovely compost for us and eating up all the scraps we care to throw at them. Many people were worried that they would get frostbite without other animals to keep them warm, but this has proved not to be a problem. The problems we have had are keeping them watered with the tendency for it to freeze in their small water boxes, but Ian discovered just lately, they actually quite like snow and although we would have to watch it didn't make them too cold on the coldest of days, at least they won't dehydrate.

Blue sky! Looks good, doesn't it?
We are still running into problems with getting a house out on the land. This time it was the price of the architect. Unfortunately for us he is Riga based and prices are higher there than out in the sticks. It is a shame as we would have loved to have worked with him, but I am guessing that the solutions may also have been too expensive too. At the rate we are going, we may end up with another barn and not much more - only joking, but just! I am not sure how we are going to get it done, and we would only move step by step, but I do sense the need to be out there and getting involved in the farming community and for that we need a house. We also need a place out there as we are now tied with the animals. Fortunately another friend has suggested another more local architect and so we will try that route now.  I must admit that re-reading this paragraph makes it sound oh so sensible, but I did not feel oh so sensible when I read the quote from the architect. I knew it was going to be more than for the barn project, but felt quite shocked at how much more. It took me a day to pick myself up after that.

Not many candlesticks made this week, but look at the
potential candlesticks!
I have been emailing backwards and forwards a lot this week. I hadn't heard more from Tartu and decided to find out where they were at with my place. The paperwork should be done today, but lectures have already started. Fortunately they don't seem to be too onerous to catch up on, but it did mean that I had to get my act together to get myself up to Tartu this coming week. By the time you read this post I, hopefully, should be sat on a bus somewhere between Valmiera in Latvia and Tartu in Estonia. Seems weird to take a passport on a coach journey, but I have that ready too. To ease me in gently someone will meet me at the bus station and let me stay at her home again, an answer to prayer in itself. At least I can then find out exactly what will be expected of me in the next four years this week and therefore find out what my needs will be regarding accommodation too.

We found out recently we were supposed to making more
of an effort to thin out the forest from growth that was
stunting it and the weather hasn't been too bad, so Ian
has been making an effort to do some clearing. 
On the heating front, we are still plodding through with that. Our lawyer managed to get the papers done on Friday, which meant that we were able to take them down to the heating company this morning to get their official stamp and signature that they had received them. Hopefully now we might get some answers from them about the way they add charges to the bills without explanation and why they insist we owe money for inadequate heating. I'm not holding my breath though, the business is supposedly in such disarray they might not be able to. We'll see. The actual heating is also still a bit hit and miss. It was cool overnight with the radiators barely warm this morning - that was actually nice for a change as recently it has been too warm and this was reflected in the absolutely enormous bill we received. The bill was nearly 147 LVLs for one month. With average wages around 269 LVLs a month in our region (source Latvian Government statistics) and the minimum basket for foodstuffs and non-foodstuffs also at 113.36 LVLs (again according to Government statistics) that leaves 9 LVLs for electric, water etc. for a single person, nothing left for mortgage or rent. And they wonder why people can't or won't pay? We still haven't decided what to do about this months bill, there are question marks still over the way our heating is plumbed in and the new meter is suspect too. We would like some answers, not accusations.

This area is still to do and so you can see the difference.
Mind you when the snow clears we will have a lot of
tree stumps and it will be interesting to see how big
they really are.
I have had some interesting discussions via emails and blogs just lately. They have not necessarily been with people who I would agree with, mind you who could we say we agree 100% with, but it has been interesting to see my point of view challenged or supported from surprising sources. I think one of the big problems with the Christian church is its fear of challenge at times, its fear of facing questions and worse still the fear of not having the answers. Ian sent me a link to the Radio Two's "Pause For Thought" by Rabbi Shoshanna Boyd Gelfand. She talks about a Jewish tradition of Makhloket, which is a concept of arguing "for the sake of heaven." She says that the tradition was a way of rabbis to seek debate with people of different opinions from their own in a sincere attempt to get more in touch with the divine nature of God. It might even put a different spin on Matthew 18:19-21

Matthew 18:19-21The Message (MSG)18-20 “Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”
I've been busy too. I finished off this baby sleeping
bag for grandchild number 2. It still needs some
buttons on the bottom but I can do that later
What happens if these were actually short, pithy statements, and not meant to be taken as an integrated whole. Point one, a yes on earth is a yes in heaven, point two, what you say to one another is eternal (would we think more carefully about what we say if we thought about this more?), point three, a prayer together of agreement connects together with God in some way that one doesn't, point four when two or three of you get together for God's sake he'll be there - it doesn't say if we agree on this point, but if we get together for the sake of God. He can be there in the debate, helping us to see more clearly the breadth and scope of his work, of his desire for us a human race, of his perspective that is infinitely broader than our human eyes alone can see. We should not be afraid of talking to people who disagree with us, we should be grateful to them for showing us a different way of thinking. That does not mean we have to take on board everything that others say, but it does mean we get out of our brains the things that we believe, examine them carefully in the light of what is said and at that point decide if it is something we should keep or discard. Life should be a process of growth, where we carefully think about our beliefs, our reactions to situations, how we live our life etc.. For me there are some absolutes, such as there is a God in Heaven who cares for us, enough to send his Son who is also part of God, to rescue us from the mess we are in, he overcame death to give us life and expects us to live in that revelation. I have taken those beliefs out and I feel they have stood the test of time, even become stronger in some ways. But how we live our "church" life, the beliefs in the church on various issues, I am not as strong on, sometimes I even think they are a hindrance. I have no desire to throw the baby out with the bathwater and so I am happy for people to continue living out their faith, in the way they see fit. So let's talk about it, let's discuss it, let's not be defensive about our faith. Let us examine together what we believe and why. Above all, let us discover more about this creator who wants us on board to sort out the mess we've made and make life beautiful again throughout the world. Utopian? Perhaps! Possible? Well I think so and I will put all my passion and energy into seeing this world transformed.
I think we might need to clear our balcony

A view down the road. Yes there is a road down there


  1. Didn't realize you would be doing a 4 year course! I so admire your go-getting attitude! Hope all is sorted out for you soon. x

  2. Oh yes and feeling like a fish out of water right now :)

  3. lol - going back to being a student :-)
    glad the birds are laying regularly now.
    I agree about being open to discuss. I hate the way we throw opinions at each other via the press.
    Wisdom wisdom about the house. Can you have one without stairs in so you can live there as long as possible ?

  4. Yes sat in an open area, accessing the internet and seeing all these youngsters walking past. Feels very weird.

    As for the house, we don't know yet. We need to have a good chat with a good architect/building engineer to see what we can come up with.

  5. how exciting for you to be in Tartu...I am interested to know more about how it will affect your life. a week there? a month there? a month at home?

  6. It will indeed be interesting to see how it will affect my life, I wonder that a lot too. This semester it is two days here and then back home. I can access articles to read and plan from home and my focus is Latvia anyway. Next week it is likely to be three days but only because I don't have a lift back to Latvia and the buses are awkward times.

  7. It seems that your life is going to get even busier with all that to-ing and fro-ing to Tartu. Praying for strength and stamina to keep going and coping with it all.

  8. Thanks Mavis, I might need it

  9. are you gone? did I miss you? I meant to say good luck and adieu!!

  10. Been and gone and back again. I will reveal more later :)


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