Monday, 1 July 2013

Race against time

Is it safe to come out now?
Not sure if our alpacas were relieved, but we finally collected the shears and they worked. The two unshorn alpacas were spending a lot of time in their shed because of the heat and not looking terribly happy. Now they are shorn, they are not terribly happy with the horseflies, but that's a different issue entirely. Our son and I tried valiantly to hold the alpacas down whilst they were being sheared by Ian in 29C (84F) heat, but that didn't work and in the end we made an emergency phone call to a friend of ours to come and help. It didn't help that our son's back was playing up either. Fortunately our Latvian friend works on the local sheep farm and was able to come over. He's used to handling sheep, even the large rams and often gives the sheep a pedicure, so our alpacas not only got a hair cut but a pedicure too. I think the alpacas are getting used to him, as he's helped us before, or they recognise the strength he has, he is quite gentle but firm with them and they quietened on down for him. Every now and again they did fight back, whenever they felt a bit of leeway, but on the whole they were fairly placid, despite the attention from all the biting insects around.
Well that doesn't look tooooo bad I think!

Franken bucket holder. Franken objects are defined in this
household as objects made from previously used items. We
now have a variety of franken objects around (see previous
For those who remember my emergency dental treatment back in Australia in April, I have been in the process of trying to get the money back out of the insurance company. I have now spent over eighty minutes on the phone to various people, being passed from pillar to post trying to sort it out. I have to say they were all terribly sorry and tried to be helpful, but unfortunately mainly useless in getting the issue sorted. Eventually I ended up with the right person, who got someone to phone me back and within five minutes of that phone call I knew what was needed to continue with the application. Hopefully we now have some resolution regarding this. I can hope.

A new chicken hutch to hold the older birds, where they
can free range around the alpaca paddock and hopefully
keep some of the insect population down. We need this
finished before the newest chicks are ready to move
outside into the box that we have the last lot of chicks in,
so three weeks maximum and there is a hay harvest to fit in
as well.
It now feels like a race against time, as I have still been planting some seeds and planting out some squash plants that have been sat in pots for ages and wondering if it is worth it or not? Will there be time for them to develop or not. There is still time to plant some of the quick crops like radish and the like and the crops that will stand in the autumn like the kale, but as for anything else, not really sure and I certainly do not want to be managing seedlings while sorting out the hay harvest. One of the reasons it has felt like a race is when one of our neighbours noticed some apples on a tree and commented "another month and then the harvest." As usual there is a cry that wells up that says "but the season has only just begun"

At least three sides are finished, just the roof and the back.
We are trying to work out the best way to gain access to the
nests before Ian finishes it off.
Our son and his wife and baby went back to the UKon Thursday, for a rest I think and our new guest came on Saturday. Just enough time to turn around really. I hoped they enjoyed themselves anyway and our son can now add alpaca handler to his CV. I think they enjoyed the bakery the most though, as it makes for a nice walk - well most of the way after navigating fly alley. There is a spot, in what must be a swampy area, that buzzes with flies that lay in wait for them. At least the pastries and the ice creams were worth the effort I' sure. I will miss the cuddles with our grandson, but it is something we always realised would be an issue with living so far apart and so I'm quite at peace about it. I will enjoy them when they are here as much as possible and be content when they are not around.

Some creative decorations outside our local
Our new guest has been brilliant at helping out and halving the time of some jobs. One afternoon she processed a bucket of strawberries, a job she remembers well from last year when she came to help me, as she has only just recovered from the over indulgence in order to enjoy them again. Another day it was two buckets, while I packed some of them into jars and syrup and made cordial out of the squashy ones and the ends that were cut off. Waste not want not! There were still three trays to freeze too. Today we spent about four hours while I weeded the potatoes which resembled a sea of greenery and she put a layer of straw around the plants to prevent as much regrowth as possible. The straw will also keep the potatoes moist in what still looks like a rather warm summer ahead, even if today was blissfully cooler.

These little fellas are outside the local technical school.
One seems a little worse for wear
One of the ways we keep in touch is facebook of course, doesn't everyone? Well the answer is no because Ian doesn't use facebook at all, but at least I can keep in touch that way. I keep in touch with a few people through facebook and like to read the posts, what I hate though is the fact that adverts have started appearing in the news feeds. It seems like a real intrusion, a bit like being out for a walk around town and having a flyer thrust at you in a way that you can't help but take it. I was pleased, therefore, that some companies are beginning to take notice of how they are presented on facebook. Companies do not want their adverts placed in inappropriate places, such as on controversial pages that they have no wish to be associated with. Maybe they will realise that their adverts placed in news feeds is too intrusive too and withdraw their backing. I can live in hope anyway.

A record, four baby storks outside our other apartment
As anyone who follows my blog for any time will know I am studying towards a PhD and my studies are about trying to get participatory involvement central to development in rural areas (in other words letting people have a say in development that affects them). This means I get to talk to lots of different people in my capacity as a researcher - I really love that aspect. There are a couple of issues that keep cropping up though and one of them is Latvians admit to not collaborating well, and they acknowledge it as a problem. This is based on the lack of trust that many have for each other, again something they are aware of. Collaboration, cooperatives and trust are all issues partly because of the complicated history of Latvia, sometimes from the World War era and sometimes from the Soviet times and the subsequent chaotic collapse of that system. A blog "Latvian History" does a good job of highlighting the difficulties faced by Latvians during the different periods of time and the authors most recent blog on the Latvian soldiers in the red army demonstrates particularly well the complicated history of this land.  I just pray that at some point in time, the Latvian people will be able to reconcile themselves with the past and move on, after all we have found them to be a generous and kind people and we would wish them to be able to trust each other enough to work together better.


  1. Don't know if you have any means of seeing BBC2 but there was a good programme with Kate Humble living amongst the alpaca farmers of Peru. If you haven't seen it you would enjoy it - very informative!

  2. it takes a while to get the feel of how a country feels about itself and to work out why they have ways of going about things and treating each other. i suppose like our unhelpful coping strategies the thing is finding creative ways of getting round it. may you have great wisdom and insight to be able to see what are the keys and what are just interesting distractions, and so that you can help them find appropriate ways of responding. xx

  3. Another friend told me about the Kate Humble programme, Ju and I managed to see a clip of the the alpaca herders shearing with a knife. Quite incredible

    Thank you Liz, it is really great to have your support and wise words

  4. I have enjoyed catching up here, I haven't been for a while. The Alpacas look much better for the hair cut and I can't believe you have storks right outside your window!! That's amazing. Pleased you enjoyed the time with the must miss him...

  5. It must be a busy time all round, I have barely kept up with your posts too Karen. The storks aren't strictly right outside the window, but easily viewable and we have seen them arrive from their winter hols a couple of times. That's always exciting as it signals the return of summer - even if they often arrive while snow is still on the ground.

    It would be nice to have the little ones closer, but such is life. I enjoy them when they are around and the time is perhaps more precious


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