Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Just catching up

Now we've had some rain, it feels safe to have
a barbecue again, unfortunately the wood got
a little wet too and Ian had to use the heavy
duty fire starter - aka the blow torch- to get it
going to provide the charcoal to cook the food
This last week I was running out of steam, I was just so tired. I am not sure if it was stress? rain? physical work? virus? combination? If it was stress, what was I stressed about in particular? Who knows, but I decided not to fight it and let my body work it out of its system and sleep when I needed to. I am quite adaptable in the end and I am sure the stress of conferences will diminish eventually, actually quite soon - as long as it goes okay that is. I will talk about the conference more next week, after all I don't want to get ahead of myself and there is still a lot to say about the week just gone and since I have some time in peace and quiet I may as well just get on chronicling it.

The barbecue spot - or is that frankenbbq? After all the metal
grid was lounging around in the basement and the bricks are
redundant ones from somewhere.
One of the stresses last week was a late night rain storm, this is not good for the constitution especially when accompanied by dripping sounds. This was the second time in a week that rain has poured in through the air ventilation chimney that is in the midst of repair and necessitated buckets to be arranged under the drips. Our problem is that many good trades folks have left and gone to Ireland or the UK and so we are left with people who struggle at times with life and drink to excess far to often. I do hope though that the guy repairing our chimney will sober up soon to finish the chimneys off. There was a lot of water came down though that night and a stone in our pond out on the land that I could stand on to get water because the water level was so low i.e. about 2-3 inches (5-7cms)  below the level of the stone is now submerged by about of inch (2.5cm) of water. That's a lot of water in a short space of time, even if it does take the runoff water from our greenhouse.

The squash season has arrived. At least we
don't have to do much more than put the
squash in the sun to harden the skins at this
Our summer time activities are so weather dependent that it does make us fairly obsessive about weather forecasts, we look at three sites mainly and in addition look at radar and satellite pictures and still they get it wrong sometimes. The most stressful point is when we want to harvest the hay and we feel like we are racing against time and nature, but once that is in we usually feel a bit more relaxed, until we have the race against winter and the preparations we need to make for that. As one journalist wrote recently though, sustainable farming can't be rushed, you need to take all the time you need. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and stop trying to fight nature - it often wins anyway and when you lose on one front, you may gain on another, something we found this year for sure. We lost out on some of the seeds that got planted that haven't germinated in the heat, or possibly germinated then frazzled due to lack of water, but we gained on another front in that Ian didn't have to mow so much as the grass wasn't growing. One of the losers this year, may have been the oats. We haven't had much luck with this crop, last years lodged (i.e. fell over) due to disease, as it got rust in the rain - don't laugh! Plants can get spots that look like rust. This year, it may have been the lack of rain. Fortunately we got about four bales out of it before it fell over, the last bit was left to see if we could get it to ripen and therefore save the seed. Instead the remaining plants were mulched back into the ground, so all is not lost I guess. We are not sure about the four bales either, as we are unsure if they were dry enough to bale - they are in the greenhouse where they are dry at least and we will see how they fare - if not it is compost for them.

The race is on to the raspberries!
I had another visit to the dentists this week. I had a tooth that was not good when I went to the dentist last time, but I couldn't get them to understand that I needed work doing on it and in the meantime it has got worse. My upcoming trip to Florence concentrated my mind though as I didn't want a repeat performance of emergency dental repair work needing to be done on my teeth again, so I managed to get another appointment for during the week, only they did some work on it and then told me I had to go back after my trip, meanwhile only putting in a temporary filling. Oh boy! Hope it lasts.

It's getting mighty crowded in that nest
We had more visitors this week as one of our neighbours who lives in America most of the time, who we met last year, brought his family to see us this week, first he brought his brother, sister-in-law, nephew and mother and then he brought both parents for a longer visit. They loved to see what we were doing and to see some of the possibilities for land use in the area, especially since they normally live near the sea. His father loves plants of all kinds and knows people who have grown different types of fruit and so we are hoping for cuttings, in turn he wants seeds from some of our plants too, like my "black" hollyhocks. We spent two hours talking plants and viewing the land, I even taught our neighbour some new words that he hadn't learnt in America, whereas I have at least learnt the names of berries in Latvian - not much use for knowing the translation of redcurrants etc. in New York I guess!

That brown patch in the middle of the picture is my
strawed up bed, rotting down a bit for future strawberry
and potato beds
Oh the excitement, a royal baby! Has the world gone mad or just the media? Oh yes! It's the silly season where they seize on the smallest thing because everyone else is on holiday. Still I wish the Royal couple all the best and hope they can bring up a well-adjusted little one despite the glare of the publicity. What is the fascination with a royal baby? I am mildly interested and we have running jokes in our family about the royal family and the idea they could pop in for a cup of tea anytime, so some sort of mild affection for the institution. I do think I would rather have the royal family than a Presidential election every four years like in America, that is hyped as democratic and seems anything but, judging by the amount of dollars spent, but still I cannot quite see what all the hype is about. The announcement and a few pictures is enough is it not? Not a detailed analysis of what the world's media is saying, an analysis of what his life will be like, a round up of ..... you get the picture anyway and I'm sure you saw the news too and as for the breaking news that his grandmother said  "absolutely beautiful, the family is thrilled" - what else was she meant to say? She is his grandmother after all and hardly earth shattering news. Rant over now!


  1. hope the conference went well. and that you can rest up a bit.

    i wasn't too sure about the baby thing. i think some of it is hype and selling papers, but i think some of it has much deeper roots of insecurity. britain, well, england in particular had hundreds of years when the royal succession wasn't clear and had dreadful wars about it. i think that's why henry VIII got so uptight about needing a son. he'd got the country stable and dreaded that it would all be wasted on yet more wrangling and fighting. it doesn't matter so much any more but it's a deep fear in our national psyche.

  2. Odd how somethings can manifest isn't it! Would never have thought about that possibility. I suppose it is one of the things we still do have, whereas we have lost much in the way of culture in many other ways. We don't have a definite culture in our lifestyles


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