Monday, 7 October 2013

To Tartu and Back Again

On the road between Valka and Smiltene. A
nice place for a cup of tea
Actually that should say "To Home and Back Again," but it doesn't have the same ring about it. I had a lovely drive home from Tartu last week. Shame the sun didn't come out, which means the photos I took on the way back, don't bring out the best of the glorious autumn weather in the landscape. Still it was nice to be able to pull off the road for a sandwich and a cup of tea on the way home and just drink in the view, as well as my tea. It was a more relaxed ride back home than up to Tartu, as I didn't have to be somewhere for a particular time. The rest of the week was taken up firstly with trying to do some more studying and I'm making my way slowly through a mound of academic papers that I need to sort through to see if they are any use to my studies. I do hasten to add that is not a physical stack of papers but virtual papers sat on my computer - no wonder I need new glasses. I am also trying to write up some articles to go in journals using the information I gathered from my Masters and that has been an interesting exercise in trying to get the relevant thoughts together and not cram in every single point that I discovered along the way. Will it get any easier - possibly! Then again it might not.
Blueberry plants showing their autumn plumage. Pity they
weren't covered in berries earlier on in the year. At least they
look nice now
Black beans, navy beans, brown beans, 
I try not to do too much studying over the weekend, unless I have had a day off during the week. It doesn't mean I am not doing anything, but I am doing something different and this week it was harvesting, just for a change. We have been blessed with some extra help this week from the American family staying at our other apartment. They have helped Ian shift wood and I wouldn't be surprised if they would rather not see another piece of wood in their lives, but at least they should be warm enough in their stay and we have some wood brought across to keep us going too. They also sat and de-podded that whole box of beans that I posted the picture of, on last week's blog. That was nearly a days work for two in that alone. That didn't mean I got out of de-podding beans either. The beans I podded actually turned out a little different to what I expected, they must be crosses of different sorts and so there was a surprising variety of colours of beans. One group I planted were all black beans, but when I opened them up there were chocolate brown ones, navy blue ones, plain brown, purple and of course black. I'm not sure which colour I planted in another block but the beans I opened up were a mix of pink spotted ones, brown lined ones, plain brown and pinky red ones. It was quite a lot of fun and they did look rather like jelly beans.
You need to look hard at this one, but in the middle is a
seed with a tiny shoot. We are hoping this is barley and
we will see how that grows for next year. Another
experiment and we hope to have a little more success than
with the oats. We will probably bale it green like the oats
and let some go on to ripen properly and then thresh it.

The wild boar have reduced the amount of good grass for
the alpacas, so Ian enlisted their help in our middle pond
area where there is no water at all. There was lots of long
green grass, but they made short work of it. Saves him
having to strim it anyway. 
That wasn't the only harvesting I did. It was forecast for rain and so I decided the priority was not the potatoes that are still sat out in the garden (as far as I know anyway), as they won't come to harm unless the voles eat them, but the amaranth and quinoa. I started off processing the amaranth by rubbing the seed off the plants into a box, but that was taking far too long and was hurting my back, so I then took to just stripping the whole heads off and then spreading them out in the greenhouse so they didn't go mouldy. I was worried though that the cats might think this was a new kind of litter box and so made sure they stopped out of there. The quinoa wasn't quite ready and needs to dry more before the seeds would come off easily and so I cut the heads off and tied them up in bundles in the greenhouse. At least the rain won't spoil them and I hope they don't get too damp and mouldy in the greenhouse. Sometime I really need a drying room for all the harvest. That will definitely be on the list one year, maybe a one that can be heated with wood heat too to speed the up process in the damper time of the year. I somehow think it will be a couple of years before I get that done though.
We now know the new alpacas are due to arrive on the 20th
so Ian is busy getting on with the fence. Here are the fence
poles that have been painted in preservative
The wooden bridge that connects two of Tartu's many,
many parks
And after all that! Back to Tartu again. A different route this time though. My supervisor was going up on the Sunday from his summer home that is only 3/4 hour away from us, so I hitched a lift up with him. He has loads of apples at his place and so while we were there, we gathered a crate full ......and then a large bag full .......and then another carrier bag full. Plenty for eating, for juicing and making apple cider vinegar. Something to look forward to when I get back. There are times I have to remind myself that it won't be long before all the processing is done - apart from the squash in winter time, if they start to go off. I will appreciate all the stored produce though in the middle of winter I'm sure.
Cobbled, tree lined streets also abound
Paths paved with gold
Tartu at this time of year, is definitely a place paved with gold, in other words the place is covered in autumn leaves. It does look beautiful though. I had a particularly productive day too. My lift up to Tartu gave me the opportunity to talk about expectations with my supervisor and being English, but with much more experience of Estonians than I have, he was able to help me to plan how to work better with the people at the university. Emails don't work - I found that out. They do sometimes, but not all the time. I was advised to actually go and see the people and talk about the things I need to. I haven't done that for two reasons, people are busy and I always thought an email was quicker and I am also more used to dealing with people online for my studies. Well somethings have to change, and so I called in and had a quick chat with one of the lecturers and I am now down to help out in a seminar on participatory processes at the end of the month. Success! I decided to call my other supervisor too, but he was away in Budapest, I did manage, however, to get an appointment to see him. Success number 2! And last, but absolutely not least, I managed to get hold of the lady I met through my blog again and we had a lovely lunch and chat together. I did decide though not to go to that wonderful cafe with cakes, as I wouldn't have been able to go without feeling I had to take one back for Ian. Maybe I should have done though as Sunday was our wedding anniversary and I disappeared off again. We have been married for 29 years now! At least there is always next year, especially as it is our 30th.
A little different to my frozen pathway to
university of the winter 

There are lots of statues around Tartu and this one is near
to where I stay


  1. Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous! And MAGIC BEANS, Jo! How did you do it?!
    Jeff is eating quinoa nearly every day. I'll tell him to nip over and get some once it's done curing or drying or whatever it is that quinoa does in the secret hours of the night. LOL
    I'm so excited that you're progressing in your studies and that you're getting on in publishing and will have opportunities to lecture. Cheering for you from Michigan!

  2. Thanks Lori and congratulations on your book. Here is a plug for you

  3. lovely pics of the autumn leaves. just the first hints of them turning here;

  4. and the book looks interesting - focusing on the positives, "like"

  5. It was rather weird to come back from summery South France and see so much evidence of autumn on my return. Shows what a difference being up North has.

    I like the positive aspect of the book too and written by a very lovely, positive lady, who it was an absolute pleasure to meet

  6. do you EVER relax and d nothing at al????

  7. In the evenings, well most times :)


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