Monday, 22 July 2013

Slowly, slowly

You will have to make do with one of our alpacas in
silhouette as we haven't got around to taking a photo
of our escapee. Well we were expecting to have him for
Sunday lunch, but just didn't find the time to do the deed.
Now I just want you to picture the scene, there I am picking peas and Ian comes up for a chat, next thing we know is there is a bang and a flutter of wings, our returned cockerel had escaped. Was it a last ditch bid for freedom? He was due to be dispatched in hours or had I just not fastened the coop up well enough when I fed him earlier? Who knows. What we do know is that he led us a merry dance around the area in trying to catch him. At one point Ian went off to fetch the fishing net that we had bought to catch errant chickens in and whilst doing that I headed him away from my garden. While I was waiting for Ian the cockerel settled down to contended clucking outside the chicks arks, it was as if he was telling them there was food just outside. I watched him for a while, as Ian had quite a way to walk to get the net, and he definitely looked like he was trying to interact with the chicks and take care of them, as cockerels do. I hadn't really realised until we starting raising cockerels that they put a lot of effort in to making sure their females are fed, we had only had three hens before in a small ark. Ian returned and the chase began again and after several trips into and out of the forest edge, he was netted. We decided to give him a chance, could he teach our dippy chicks to get into the box at night, since he always put himself away at night? They had been a real nuisance to Ian when he was out on the land on his own. There was only one way to find out, and our chicken dinner got a reprieve. He took to the chicks right away and started scratching the ground and showing them seed that they had missed, he didn't attack them at all as we thought he might. Time will tell though if he is any good at getting them off to bed at night, although he does seem to be doing okay so far.

Rather wet as you can see. We also have
noticed recently that whenever it rains
we have water coming through our
toilet ceiling. Unfortunately the guy who
was supposed to be doing a professional job
on our apartment block chimneys has been
too drunk to finish them off. Again
unfortunately tradesmen can be difficult to
find, either they are too busy or in England
or Ireland.
Our heatwave broke on Friday and we've had some quite dismal and wet weather since. It looks quite autumnal really, which is very bizarre when we think back, as this time of year is the start of the English school holidays and as kids we used to look forward to what we considered the long summer breaks . The reality is that it is rather late summer heading into autumn time and the UK schools have some of the shortest summer holidays in Europe. Here in Latvia they have already been on holiday for well over a month and go back around the same time as UK schools. The rain, however, was much needed as fields were drying out and grass was getting shorter in supply, but after two days there was already mention by several folks that it was enough now and can we have the sun back. At least the poor weather meant time to visit some friends that we haven't seen for a while, well if you don't include the time that our Swedish friend popped in to make sure we were still alive because he hadn't seen us for so long and we usually go to their house because it is easier. It is a problem with the summer though as the jobs stack up. We hadn't been for that long we actually ended up stopping about 5 hours reliving the summer highs and lows. Our Swedish friend's new saying these days is "Slowly, slowly" that way he makes sure jobs get done without wrecking machines, it's just a little frustrating at times. The pancakes and fresh blackcurrant jam were worth staying for though.

A picture from sunnier times. Bladder campion I think
In the garden this week I have finished off getting most of the berries in, just one blackcurrant bush to go, but not all the currants are ripe on the shady side of the bushes (just remembered as I type this though that there is another bush I had forgotten about - oh well). Hopefully by midweek the weather will be better and I can get out and get them. The gooseberries are in and I have dried the green ones and they make great raisin substitutes, quite sweet and still juicy. We even managed to dry one lot in the solar drier, so it does work - when we have the sun that is. Redcurrants have just been collected, washed and frozen. I haven't much time to do much with them at the moment. I did get chance to process the blackcurrants though, 9 jars are in light syrup for breakfasts and the split ones, leaves and not quite so ripe ones were put in the steamer along with some from last year and made cordial and jam after sieving the steamed berries. We are starting on the tomato glut now too, so I have made my first batch of reduced tomato sauce and I shall freeze that too after it has finished cooling on the windowsill.

You can see our errant chickens, away to the forest
The raspberries are still producing too, but we are still having to fend the chickens off them periodically. We are also fastening the chickens in a bit more because they have either stopped laying so much or laying eggs elsewhere and we are trying to encourage them to lay in the chicken hutch. This free ranging malarky is hard work and rather less productive than we would have hoped. The idea is that as they forage they will find much of what they need to eat, but we are beginning to wonder if their foraging is actually causing them to use too much energy just running around -- especially away from us when we are chasing them off the raspberries. We will not really know until next year if they have an effect on the fly population as we think those kinds of insects have diminished a lot now anyway and not likely to be back before next year, although don't quote me on that.

A geranium possibly! I'm sure someone will correct me if
I'm wrong. I have some very intelligent followers 
I'm not sure if I will get the chance to post next week, as I shall be in Florence, Italy for my first academic conference. I've been trying to prepare a 12 minute presentation - it's hard trying to keep it on time and I may just end up reading from a script what I need to say to keep me within such a tight time limit. Fortunately I can read quite well from a written script, its all that practice of reading books to my own children, children at Sunday School and a playgroup. Little will they know as they sit there and listen the reason I can read properly instead of using a monotone. Poor Ian will just have to fend for himself again. I'm sure he'll manage.


  1. I'll miss your update next week but hope you have a good time in Italy. It might seem like a bit of a holiday after all that harvesting and processing food.

  2. You never know I might surprise you, it depends on whether I find time and the internet on the Sunday to write it. No promises though.

    You could be right Mavis, it might feel like a holiday of sorts but a scary one. I will feel much more relaxed once my presentation is done.

  3. well, it will be a change from chasing chickens anyway. if only life could be a nice balance between the exciting and the banal. will you have time to do any sight seeing or will it be a there and back ?

  4. Hi Liz, it looks like I might be able to have a look around before the meeting, especially as it is in the centre and not near the hotel for the first evening. There also looks to be some time off on the Wednesday afternoon, as there is a meeting of the members and I am not a member of the organisation holding the meeting. It most certainly will be a change from chasing chickens anyway

  5. I hope your trip to Florence is going well....


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