Monday, 11 March 2013

Skipping along. Not!

Blue skies of winter
Another milestone week this week, it is ten years since we left England. It's hard to believe it is that long, as time has flown by and we seem to have done so much in that time. We lived in Denmark, I learnt a little Danish, loved the transportation system in Copenhagen and liked our Danish house, if only it had another floor it would have been perfect. One of the ideas I would like to take from that house into our new one, if possible, is to have a utility room as soon as you come in the door, so that all those mucky boots, coats and vegetables have somewhere to go before being traipsed through the house. New Years in Denmark was always something to remember too, it was almost like being in the blitz, but an awesome experience. Colorado was inspiring too, all those mountains. Ian still misses the blue skies, but I missed the clouds when I was there. I also began to see how and why Americans think the way they do, it is different to a European mindset, not necessarily better and maybe not worse either, just different. Whilst in America I also got the chance to go to Brazil three times, which was quite an experience.

Freezing cold outside but lovely and
warm in the greenhouse. A chance for
feet up and a James Herriot book
It is also five years since we came to live in Latvia and in that time we have done out two apartments, had a barn and two greenhouses built (if you remember one fell down in a bad winter), got animals and just thoroughly enjoyed our time here. I have also got a Masters degree and now embarking on a PhD, something I would never have envisaged when we set off on my travels. In all that time we have met some remarkable people along the way, not many of them would think they are remarkable, but they are and whilst sadly it hasn't been possible to keep in touch with everyone for one reason or another, we are still the richer for having known them.

Ian's been busy again. He made this trailer for the tractor.
I love the little details like the stand for the trailer, just
like on the real thing and the wooden thingymajigs on
the wheels which he made on his lathe
Talking about my course I am taking statistics as one of the compulsory courses I have to do, it is not a subject I'm particularly fond of, but our statistics lecturer loves his subject, however 2 1/2 hours is perhaps getting a bit long for a lecture. I actually leave early (well on time actually but he is still talking when I leave) as I have a bus to catch. If I miss it then I am stuck in Tartu for an extra day, nice though it is, it is also nice to get home. I nearly managed to miss the bus this last time, as there were lots of people at the bus stop and they all had tickets. I found out today that I have to be down there 15mins before the bus leaves to be able to buy a ticket at the office, this is going to be a challenge on Wednesday with the paths being so icy. I shall have to put on a bit of speed where the paths are not so bad. This March seems to be turning out to be colder than February, with sunny days to melt the ice and intensely cold nights to freeze it rock solid again.

Icy here too. That snow bank is also snow from the
greenhouse, it wasn't that deep really. 
The icy paths are not doing my nerves any good, two falls in recent weeks has not improved my confidence on the ice, I feel such a twit when folks just stride on past and there am I with my ice grips on my shoes, shuffling along. Still I would rather shuffle along than hurt my arm again. The first arm I hurt is fine now, if anything it is tired because I hurt the other one and it has do more work and being my left arm it is protesting (that conjures up some funny visions). My right arm that I hurt last week is getting better, but it still hurts a lot and I haven't got full mobility back in it. I keep stretching it bit by bit to try and get it moving yet I still feel rather pathetic when I wince putting my coat on. Mind you that is an improvement from last week, the reason it hurts putting my coat on is the weight of the coat, at least I can put it on easier now, last week putting on a blouse hurt. I must say I was really grateful for all the sympathy I got last week on the blog, thank you for taking the time to comment, it was greatly appreciated.

More seed boxes made too, ready for when we get back off
our hols
The weeks do tend to fly by just lately and if we are going to see some of our neighbours and friends we have to try and make a point of seeing them when I am not in Tartu, otherwise the weeks would pass and we wouldn't really talk to anyone much. We didn't get off to a good start with one of our neighbours, but we have made amends this week. Ian went to move the car so one of our neighbours could clear the snow away from the roadway with his tractor, which I mentioned that last week. While he was down there, he got chatting with the young man that we hadn't seen eye to eye with and found out he really wanted to see development in our village, Ian suggested to him that he could do with talking to me, since that is my field of study. One evening we decided to call around and see if he wanted to chat some more, we were welcomed in and spent hours chatting, later on relatives arrived too and we were invited to a small party with cakes and more jasmine tea - how could we refuse, especially since we knew the relatives reasonably well and I had taught the mother-in-law English a while back. The occasion was International Women's Day, not a big thing in England but celebrated here for sure. Still one excuse is as good as another to eat cake! Even after we left the home, we met another neighbour outside who was having a smoke, we knew him as a child from kids camps but he isn't often in a talkative mood, he was that night though, and surprised us by the fact he remembered our boys from those times in camp. We perhaps could have chatted longer but it was far too cold to be stood outside for very long.

Definitely a grumpy looking cat and a bit of a scar on the
side. She isn't that grumpy though, really
One of our children has managed to get flights booked to come and see us in June, bringing with him his wife and baby son. It will be the little ones first visit to Latvia and they are already teaching him a little song about tractors, which he loves. At around six months old, the little one will probably love seeing our alpacas - or at least I hope he will. Mind you, as much as I am looking forward to them coming, I wasn't so ecstatic at the time I got a text regarding what flights to get. At just gone midnight I got a text with the query and a few seconds later a second one apologising - oh yes! Someone had forgotten what time it was in Latvia. I suppose it shows that kids can still wake you up in the night, even if they are over 25 from time to time. I'm sure I will get over the fact he managed to wake me up the night before a 2 1/2 hour statistics lecture - no wonder I was having trouble staying awake.
Our chicken that was sick last week is on the mend. So far
all bits are where they should be and she is eating well now.
Same can't be said for the cockerel on the left. As he was
the most immature of cockerels he is no good for breeding
and only kept as long as he has been to add his body heat to
the ark over the winter. Now he has gone to the great freezer in the sky, well actually the freezer in our dump room and I
have the scratches to prove it. No he wasn't unduly treated
badly, it is just chickens flap around a bit after being
dispatched and I didn't have hold of him properly.

They've talking about us (Hercules and Tellus)
We have been wondering what to do about the alpacas. We would like to buy some more and we are looking at options for buying. The ones in Sweden are more expensive as they were the last time, but we know how to get them sent across now. We are thinking of talking to someone locally but not sure about the genetic quality of the animals. They maybe okay with our male as he might have some good genes to pass on - he had a very good fleece as a youngster but never tried as a stud male. Our options are more limited with trying to get a house built this year too. We had wondered about seeing if people would like to sponsor an alpaca, after all they are rather cute. It has been done by other farms too and usually involves sending cards, pictures and updates a few times a year. Sounds like a bit of fun, I mean what would we write about the alpacas in a quarterly newsletter? I am sure there must be some more ideas out there though and wonder what people would think is great for a bit of fun and what some people would just think is silly. So all ideas gratefully received and if you want to sponsor one, then you can always send me an email (just click on the icon on the left-hand side).
Pick me! (Hercules)

Happy chap! Blue skies, what more could he ask for?
Ian and I were chatting this week (yes we do sometimes actually talk to one another) as we had both seen an article about an accident between a motorcyclist and a bison. You don't often see a bison on the road there, believe me, we lived there for 15 years, but the occasional cows and sheep we have seen. The tight twisty roads don't help either and you always had to drive as if you expected there to be something around the corner, without getting to paranoid about it. Apparently the farmer checked the field every day, but says there is little he can do when cars and walkers damage stone walls and fencing and I agree. Even if the farmer is very diligent it is still possible for animals to get out, okay some farmers are not quite so diligent as others but even with the best will in the world, those critters will escape. Some are more likely to escape than others, like Hercules our alapca. If any of them were out it was usually him. Eventually we got the better of him and managed to stop him escaping, but it took time to find out the best method of keeping him in. As far as cows are concerned, usually one strand of electric fencing will keep them in, but not all of them and not all the time. Putting up and taking down the fences is hard work and farmers have got other things to do with their day and so country dwellers  and visitors do need to take care on the roads and not expect them to be clear.

Evidence of a visitor, but what animal?
We did get onto more philosophical fences too and wondered if some fences were meant to be broken. Some of the fences are their for our own good and sometimes they are there to keep us out of places we would rather be or are even better for us. So should you be breaking out of a fence today? Or should you stay where you are? Always worth a ponder or two.
Not this one for sure.

Tellus supporting the "Enough Food If Campaign"


  1. Wow. 10 years and 5 years. Can hardly believe it. A big congratulations for modelling something quite outside the box.

  2. Thanks Martin and thanks for your input along the way

  3. Big congrats and admiration for what you are both doing - and being - you certainly are in the right spot!

  4. Believe me Liz, I have no intention of ice skating, never did enjoy that sport.

    Thanks Ju, I appreciate your comments

  5. Amazing how God leads in unexpected ways. You are both doing an amazing job. I second Ju-north's comments.

  6. God certainly does move in unexpected ways. I would never have met you or be sat here in Tartu with someone who I made contact with on the blog and all because God said write a chronicle.

    Thanks for seconding Ju's comments

  7. Congratulation on your anniversaries :)
    Also very encouraging about your kids still texting with issues. Long may it continue :)
    And love the pics of the alpacas

  8. Thank you Diane, I'm also encouraged the kids keep in touch, I shall just rib my son at every opportunity though about it :)

    Glad you like the alpacas

  9. you have packed so much into ten years! I need a rest just reading it.....take care on the ice. I feel for you in that situation as I have been there myself too many times.

  10. In some ways it is amazing how much you can pack in by not being busy Karen. I sometimes think folks miss their dreams as they just get so busy doing stuff! You are living your dream by the sound of it, doing embroidery and teaching others of your passion. That sounds worth it! :)

    Thanks for the sympathy, much appreciated


I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi