Monday, 3 June 2013


I challenge anyone to moan about mowing their garden
lawn, when you see what Ian has been cutting. You can
see the greenhouse and the barn, way in the distance. He cut
most of it with the two wheeled tractor, so a lot of walking
Somethings in the air! It was the local elections this week in Latvia and in our area people seemed especially nervous and on edge this time, debates were heated at times according to our sources. Rightly so! Changes were afoot. It was interesting that in the week 12 months after the unusual thunderstorm I talked about in a previous blog there were meetings of people to plan their election campaigns - something was shifting for sure. The battle was won 12 months ago, but the outworkings and the rumblings continued. On the surface of it, the election didn't seem to change much in the end, but in reality a lot has changed. Instead of 13 seats on the local council, there were only 9 due to administrative changes. The mayor's party still won, but instead of 7 seats out of 13 he had 5 out of 9 and one of those deputats as they are called rarely attends meetings anyway. The other four seats were won by people with determination to see change and will begin to question every policy and every santim spent. It will sure be interesting to see what happens regarding decision making here.

A nice arty shot! Ian can take the credit though
I just pray that those active members do not become co-opted into any dodgy schemes or under the table working, but I think they know that there are plenty of others who are in turn watching them to check to see they are working with integrity. I don't feel that a significant number of people are satisfied any more to accept that sweetners are the way to get things done. I think a lot of people are tired about that. We were talking to one of our neighbours about the election and she explained how many people are still afraid of the mayor, afraid of losing jobs when so many are teachers in the various schools, and technical college, or in the various jobs associated with the council because they are owned by the council or have contracts with the council. I loved her response though, "I'm free!" she said "and my son is free. I might lose my job, but I'm free." Quite right too, and when others discover that freedom, then the chains on this place will fall off. So for all my praying friends out there, pray for freedom of hearts and then we will see a people rise up with pride in who they are and where they live and choose not to be afraid.

Not all are frantic, some have time to lounge around in
the sun
It has been a bit of a frantic week at times, I have had deadlines for an academic paper submission and an application to a summer school of interest - only to realise I had until Friday to complete the application for the summer school, starting from Monday when I found the information. We also realised that I needed a passport, which was is in the UK being processed (I hoped!) or a National ID card in order to vote in the Saturday elections. Ian was fine, but I had neither, so we trundled off to the big town to see if I could get one, and Ian applied for one as well, since he was there. When we got to the immigration office, a very nice lady helped us out and in the process informed us that if we so desired we could have permanent residency now, rather than just our temporary residency. At this moment in time we are not sure what the implications are for this, or if it makes any difference at all, besides the fact we can have our National ID card for ten years and not five. The upshot of all this is that we are now permanent residents of Latvia. After all that worthwhile fuss I now also have my passport back - was the extra £50 for priority processing then?

A hair cut definitely needed in this heat
We ordered shears this week for our alpacas and confirmed our order for more alpacas, still waiting for the invoice though. We had thought it would be good to have the  animals in September or October, before bad weather sets in, but one of them is pregnant and can't be separated from the cria (foal) until later ie November, unless we were willing to pay even more money for the cria as well, varying between 7500 SEK(£750, $1140) if it is a male to 25000 SEK (£2500, $3800) for a female. We decided that was a step too far at this stage and so we decided to go for the later delivery date and pray the weather holds. I somehow don't think the weather will be quite like the weather we are having now, which is a tad too dry for my liking (visions of having to water all my plants flutter past my mind's eye) and rather hot. Today it reached 32C (90F) and rather humid so I was a little drip for most of the day.

Plenty of grapes on the grapevine
There are a few random things to mention too this week, we found a rather nice Italian pizza place run by a young couple, a Latvian married to an Italian, who met in the Manchester area (UK)- of course! It is not often we bump into people in these more rural areas who have a clue where I come from and thus rather unexpected. It was nice to chat though. Another unexpected event might seem trivial, but for me it is significant because it showed care and concern. I mentioned before it has been very hot (sorry for those who have suffered some rather cold weather in the UK just recently, not trying to rub it in really) and I went to our other apartment to do some gardening, but forgot my hat. One of my neighbours was out working already in her garden and she asked me about it, and I told her I had forgotten it (in Latvian, are you impressed? Okay it was only single words, but at least I remembered them). Later after she had finished for the morning, she came up and gave me her hat to borrow. I gladly took it from her, as I had a lot to do, all I needed to do was to leave it in her greenhouse when I had finished with it. She's a treasure for a neighbour, always ready with a smile, in fact we have nicknamed her and her husband, Mrs and Mr Smile-a-lot. At least it meant I got the potatoes hoed to cull the weeds and strawed up to keep the moisture in with our hot, dry weather.

And plenty of blackcurrants on the bushes on the left.
These bushes come from off cuts of our original bushes.
The heap is ready to take some squash plants, just need
time to plant them now
The last random even is a severed wire. Our alpacas are kept in a shed overnight, but during the day they can run around in their paddock (not that they run that often, unless it is throwing it down with rain or they are fighting) or in an extension that we set up in different areas linked to their paddock. The extension is electrified, but only when they are out. Last night something broke the wire. It looks chewed rather than broken and none of the posts were knocked over, neither was there any damage to the ground. This makes us wonder if it was a fox rather than wild boar that we often have problems with. We wonder if it had got entangled in the wire and chewed through it. Something has been around and has made one of our cats quite nervous, jumpy at the least little sound. So maybe a fox! The other cat, we don't know about, as it looks like she is off on her travels again. I don't know why she disappears for days on end, and it was a few days before our other cat got jumpy, so we don't think that was the problem. Talking of unusual animal responses, one of our alpacas came right up to Ian today and looked him in the eye, they don't do that unless they are upset about something. Ian thinks the flies are really bothering him, so we will have to see about making up a fly repellent spray for him and see if that helps. Just need some essential oils of the repellent kind.
The comfrey rescued from the side of
the road is doing well. It wouldn't have
survived this winter as the snow ploughs
really went wide this year and this plant
would have been in the way

Our transplanted rhubarb made its appearance too

Strawberries flowering away

Garlic under the A frame. No special reason for the A-frame
being there apart from I haven't shifted it from last year.
Latah tomatoes under the little greenhouse thing and self-
seeded lettuces on the right. No shortage of lettuce then.
These are from the plants that had gone to seed and I had
fed the chickens with last year. Worth trying again to see
if we can have early lettuces in places where we want them
next year.


  1. Wow! That's some 'lawn'. Well done Ian for all the mowing. Your land is looking very productive. All the hard work seems to be paying off. Love the alpaca - he looks like a big cuddly toy.

  2. It is some lawn indeed. Hopefully it won't need that doing every year, it is just trying to reduce some of the weeds that have got into it, to leave us more grasses and other types of plant material that makes good hay.

    He does look like a big cuddly toy, but he spends a lot of time in the shade at the moment and really needs his fleece cutting. I hope those shears come today

  3. lovely to see the pics of what you're doing - tho it's only the visible tip of the iceberg of what you're really up to. xx

  4. If it wasn't so warm, it would feel like an iceberg too at times. It is such a busy time of the year


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