Monday, 2 September 2013

Puddles and squashes

Autumn begins
I forgot to mention last week, the storks have gone! We saw some circling around on a Sunday a couple of weeks ago and then we saw just a few after that - the stragglers. Definitely all gone now though (well that's what we thought until we saw one very lonesome looking stork on the way into Riga). With the exit of the storks, the trees have taken their cue and decided it's autumn and autumn colours are beginning to tinge the countryside. We even had our first proper rainfall in a few weeks, enough to actually wet the ground. We badly, badly need the rain as our ponds are almost down to a puddle. I have never seen them so low, even in the last hot dry summer three years ago, which is bad news as we still have the greenhouse to water and now have to think about bringing in water for the animals as there hasn't been enough rainwater collected off our caravan and the pond water is too low to give them that. At least the cooler days means they don't need quite so much water and there is lots of moisture on the grass first thing in the morning. That is something that has really surprised us this year, that despite the lack of rain, there is so much dew that the grass is actually growing quite well.

One of our pond puddles
We managed to collect the most important crop of the year in this week, our potatoes. As usual the potatoes were grown on two separate crops, one had a good amount of potatoes but a lot of blighted ones too, one had lots of small potatoes but some of the plants were still green too. We decided to only lift half of those and see if leaving it till later would mean a bigger crop. Not sure if maybe the different variety we bought in this year was just a later maturing crop or it was due to the place they were planted and the type of year we've had. Oh well! As a gardener you are always living and learning and there is always next year. At least this year we have more potatoes than last year, that's a blessing as we are not planning lots of trips away, well Ian isn't.

Well I'm okay now! 
Another surprising thing this year, we saw a  squirrel. A very skinny looking brown/red squirrel. We didn't get a good look at it as it was while we were driving along and it very nearly ran out in front of us. Now that would have been just typical if the first time we see a squirrel in this country we ran over it, but fortunately it took a double take and decided to scamper back into the woods. We feel sure it has heard there are hazelnuts on our land. That's another first too, we haven't seen those around our place, hazels yes but none with the nuts on. I have some sad news too this week. We lost six chicks in all, to whatever ailed them last week. Not exactly very good at all, but at least the rest have perked up and looking pretty good now. Even the big chickens are looking much better after their bout of illness, not related to the chicks, but some mould in the buckwheat made them wheezy. Just one hen is still causing us some concern, but they are starting to roam around again and it probably won't be long before they are all being a nuisance again.

Gaining trust!
I have been rushing to get some work done this week for my paid employment before the start of the new university semester. I have taken a step back in my job and I will no longer moderate the student cafe that I have been doing for the last 9 years, a younger lass is taking that bit on. It means I don't have to be online all the time, which makes it easier when I am jetting off here there and everywhere. I also felt I was getting too old for chit chat with teenagers all the time. I love talking to teenagers, but not for a job any more. I'm still around for trouble shooting and I have some bible studies to do. There is still some details to work out as to what else I do, but it will be nice to make a change.

Morning mist
There has been frustrations galore this week. I had to redo a proposal for a doctoral seminar. Basically it means writing a piece that they think is acceptable to be discussed amongst my peers, well I made a complete hash of it. I hadn't been able to get hold of my supervisors (holiday time) until this week to get it amended and so I had to redo it all before Friday. I got something together anyway that was acceptable, but it was just a hassle I could do without. Deep joy! I wouldn't mind but I made some terribly basic mistakes, the sort of mistake that had my kids done it when doing home-ed I would have asked them if they had actually read what they were meant to do. I think my mind is still too distracted and I need to de-clutter it sometime. At least I don't feel so tired as I did about three weeks ago, the iron tablets seem to be having an effect. Going up and down the stairs doesn't seem such a hassle either now.

Horsetails looking bejewelled in the dew. Pity we don't
actually want horsetails in our field but they look pretty
At least I managed to get a poster printed on time. I have to take that with me to a course I am attending in France this week. I was so pleased that they were able to do it and have it delivered to the apartment by Friday. I was even more pleased when I saw the van roll up outside the house, I could have kissed the guy, but I don't think he would have appreciated it. I even have business cards now, the poster and cards are all designed by my youngest son. He can do the work a lot faster with the software that he has than I can. The problem with the poster though is that firstly it didn't come in a cardboard tube, just thin card surround it and bubble wrap and secondly it will only go in one of our large cases and not wrapped in the card or bubble wrap. I have wrapped the poster around certain items of underwear and put a large towel on top of my clothes and under the poster. The bubble wrap was then put across the top of it. Hopefully that will stop it from getting crushed and I just hope I don't get stopped to open my case.

Another beautiful summer's day in the nearest big town to
We have made some progress on the house. We now have our address and we went to the notary to sort out a contract with the owner of the land, to get a lease. Only the owner of the land is in Canada and we have power of attorney for her. This meant that one of us represented the owner and one of us represented us. So Ian is leasing the land from me in effect and he has to pay me 10 Lats (£12) a year (I won't spend it all at once, honest). We had an issue at first as the notary would not handle the writing of the contract, as we don't speak Latvian, but she said we could write out a contract between us ourselves using an online template and she could notarise it (legalise it), as long as we had a translator present. Off we went to the architects office and the architect wrote out the contract, she also managed to get a translator - an English teacher from one of the local schools. A very nice fellow indeed. Needless to say we now have his number in case we need his services again and I'm sure we will. He nearly didn't take any payment either as he said the architect had done most of the work, we still gave him a token payment anyway.

Nice and clean and don't the squashes look nice on the
I spent Sunday cleaning though. We have visitors today and our apartments needed floors washing. The problem with summer is there is not that much time to do it and so it needed to be done. It wasn't just the floors though, there were squashes that needed a wash and laying out, onions needed outer skins taking off and soil removing before putting neatly into some baskets. All jobs that have sat there for a couple of weeks. We have over 100 squashes now, to last us through to next year. They are not just for us but also the animals. I like squash because you just plant them, they may take a bit of time to really get into their stride but then they just sprawl over the place and take care of themselves by smothering everything in their path. The squash just then need cutting off the plant, curing the outer skins so they are nice and hard and then leaving until winter time. Some squash last just up to Christmas, some into the new year and some we have this year, should last through until this time next year if we wanted to. They are great winter food and when they do start to go off they can be made into preserves or frozen at a time of the year when there isn't that much to do and it isn't that much of a problem to have the oven/cooker/fire on all day. Easy! This year it will be even easier as the animals will be getting the majority of them. Even if we are a fan of the squashes we grow, we can't really eat that many of them.
Close up on the bedroom windowsill

Bedroom 2

Kitchen windowsill

Living room windowsill. Do you think anyone will notice
that we use this apartment as a storage place too?
See you hardly notice them
Not so sure where these will go though! 

It's a hard life
There is definitely no blog next week. As I said I am swanning off to the South of France, ten days up in the mountains. Life's tough heh!


  1. the squashes coordinate beautifully with the provencal colours of the room.

  2. Gosh, Joanna, you've got quite a pumpkin crop this year!!! :)

  3. And we still have more to come Pille. At least the animals will have a good feed too, as well as us.


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