Monday, 16 December 2013

Washing day?

Just curious. Turbjorn came up closer, but kept backing off
when I got the camera up to take a photo. Obviously
camera shy
Washing day? Well you will have to stick with me to the bitter end to find that out. If you have been following along with the blog, you will know that last week the lecturer didn't turn up for the first lecture of the week. There was no phone call and our administrator couldn't even contact her. Well on the Tuesday she did appear with what seemed like some lame excuse of "unforeseen circumstances." Makes you wonder what unforeseen circumstances stopped her from even picking up the phone to say, "Sorry can't make it." It certainly doesn't help a lecturer to develop rapport with the class, but she did make an excellent study for my teaching course. I think I spent more time analysing what she was doing and trying to achieve than actually listening to what she had to say, as well as amusing myself by watching the other students reactions. One student is five months pregnant and as time to eat came and went, you could see her tolerance levels were dropping and more and more food was emerging from her bag. The teacher didn't take the hint though. Unfortunately she seemed to be making just about every mistake in the book. She paced around the floor, didn't make eye contact and after spending ages explaining someone's theory, she told us that she didn't agree with it anyway. So what was the point in that!

Ian has made new latches for the gates. Better than blue
string anyway that freezes to the gatepost
Occasionally the students, yes that included me, would just start discussing something that they felt was important, without any prompting from the lecturer or it might have been just to amuse ourselves and to stop us falling asleep (I'm not sure if one student did fall asleep and that's not easy in a class of about 12). It showed that as scientists and researchers we wanted to discuss the topic of the philosophy of science, but I just don't think the lecturer gave us much space to really unpack what we had read. It was almost as if the outdated theories were more important than engaging with modern thinking and the connection to scientists today. Scientists do have to grapple with the philosophy and to some extent, a lot of my work is challenging the way scientists and experts think in relation to "ordinary people" and to their pet subjects. Just because you are an expert in the field, doesn't make you the font of ALL knowledge, just your area. Likewise a farmer knows his fields - literally and better than an expert. Both can learn from each other  (I know, I know I said something like that last week and maybe the week before. Pet rant I suppose). At least that point came out quite well in the discussions.

We still call the one in the middle spuggy, because she
looked like a sparrow when she was born. 
Our next lecturer, turned up a few minutes late and was very apologetic. After the performance of the first lecturer on the subject we were ready to forgive just a few minutes. This lecturer though seemed in contrast, as timid as a mouse and she tried so hard to do all the right things, but it didn't quite work, as she still talked too long. I really felt like telling her that a few weeks with our lecturer in higher education teaching would work really well for her. At least she gave us more time to unpack what she said and again we enjoyed the time to discuss. I suppose it did help that she wasn't trying to cram two days worth of lectures into one day, like the other lecturer. 

I don't think this is meant to be an art
installation, but I thought it had an
artistic quality
I have also been analysing my classmates on the higher education course and their 15 minute lecture practice, but we were supposed to be doing that, so that's okay. I was quite pleased in a group analysis that one of the students commented on my practice about two weeks ago and said he enjoyed the activity, so that one will stay on any course I do. There were quite a few things we learnt from each other, such as looking at the students - seems obvious but it is easy to forget when trying to think about how to put a point across well. Being enthusiastic can help enormously, even a less than perfect presentation can be lifted by at least conveying enthusiasm for the subject. Ending on a high is also a good one. The last presentation, the lady struggled in what to convey in just 15 mins, but she finished by letting us play with paints and a chinese calligraphy brush - this was such a change from all other lectures that it meant we actually quite enjoyed her presentation and it was a good way to end our mini series of lectures. Another student was a good story teller and this meant that she could get away with more time spent talking than the rest of us. That makes the point that we should play to our strengths and we don't all have to teach the same way. 

The pond filled to overflowing with the snow melt from last
week. Quite a difference to earlier on this year, when it
was just one deep hole in the middle
It wasn't all lectures last week, just nearly all week; I also took my host, who has been letting me stay at her place during my time in Tartu, out for a meal, as a way of saying thank you and as a little Christmas gift. Since my host resides in Tartu, I left it up to her to choose where we go, although I do confess to admitting that we couldn't go anywhere swanky, but she knew that anyway. Still the meal was very nice, we went to Crepp, which is a pancake restaurant, not that either of us had pancakes though I had smoked fish pasta salad in a creamy sauce, followed by crème brulée and my host had warm chicken liver salad followed by the same dessert. With coffee and a pot of tea for me it came to about €22, so not bad for a city. I do think that Tartu is a very pretty city to visit and as it is not very large at all, it feels very intimate. They have decorated it beautifully for Christmas and every turn of a corner presents a different view of Christmas lights. Although my trips up here have finished this week I shall be back again and the next time will be February for GIS training. GIS is a type of mapping programme that gives rich information in map form – well that's the blurb anyway.

Ian feeding the boys
Now you hear a lot about my trips up and down to Tartu, but what about Ian? Especially now the winter is set in. A typical day for Ian starts around 8:30am ish when he gets to the land and he starts by turning on the radiator to warm the caravan through, before letting the animals out. Having electricity out to the land, is making a big difference for him. Our chickens that are in the greenhouse are in three arks and they get let out in rotation, one set per day to have a run around the whole of the greenhouse. This is a bit of extra exercise for them, but also means they can eat any greenery left, grubs if they find them and do a bit of manuring in the process. The morning is rounded off by different jobs on different days and varies with the needs of the day.

Made it past the girls
Around midday he goes to feed the animals. Now that it is getting colder he is supplementing their feed of hay, with sheep concentrate and vegetables for most of the animals and some extra layers pellets for the chickens. Now you have to try and picture the scene, as Ian carries 7 trays, two bowls of sheep concentrate, plus one bowl with some veg and some chicken feed in a screwtop jar (I think with more animals this might have to change a little, as the tower of trays might make it difficult to balance). His first task is to throw some feed into the chicken hutch to distract the chickens whilst he feeds the male alpacas. This gives him the opportunity to watch the animals and get a feel for how they are doing, as well as helping them to get more and more used to him.

Enjoying the extra treats
The next stage of the process is more complicated. Two of the new chickens that we took down to the big hen hut have taken up residence in the new alpaca house with the ladies and they have a tendency to wander around under Ian's feet while he tries to carry the trays to the girls. A couple of the ladies, also try to get ahead of the game by getting into the feed before he has had a chance to distribute them, so he tries to shield the trays from the onslaught of the girls, meanwhile trying not to trip up over the chickens. He then throws the chicken feed to distract the two pests and then puts out the trays for the girls to feed from. Again he is watching their condition and just getting acquainted with them. More important for these, since they are the ones that he will have to interact with more when they are having babies. Next are the sheep. At some stage there is also the bashing of the pond to clear the ice to get some clean water for the animals. Then done! Till evening when the process is repeated, but this time the trays are put in the alpaca houses.

One of the pests, before disappearing under the alpaca
This week we lost two more chickens, two of the four we took down to the big hutch. Unfortunately one succumbed to the cold, but it was a fairly small one and the other just went missing. Of the other two, one relocated to the other alpaca house and Ian took the other one up when he (?) was looking rather cold and lonely. We found out how they are going missing this week. Ian and I were just preparing to go and dig up some carrots and things and headed out of the greenhouse, when there was quite a commotion amongst the chickens and our alpacas were charging around the paddock. It was difficult to know what was going on at first, but then we realised that one of the birds flying around, was not a chicken but a hawk. It was actually flying around the chicken hutch and the alpacas were spooked by the squawking and went charging out of the way. Hmmph! So much for the theory of them keeping the chickens safe. Ian half wonders if the male alpacas are quite glad that the chickens are disappearing, as they seem less tolerant of them than the girls do. We thought that the hawk was catching the chickens out in the open when they went wandering, we didn't realise that the hawk might actually get so close, especially with the alpacas in there.
Alicia being inquisitive with the one of the chickens
The sheep's turn
From time to time I comment on other blogs and occasionally someone will respond to the comment and post something on my blog. This week has been particularly encouraging, as I have a new blog follower and what is amazing is that she has some fascinating insights into the area we live in , as some of her family lived close by for a number of years. It has really brought home to me though how complicated family relationships can be in Latvia, even more complicated than I already knew to be the case. You have to imagine the turmoil of rival nations fighting each other across the Latvian landscape and different sides taking different members of the family as they found them, brother could end up fighting against brother. Some families were forced into exile in Siberia and some families were torn apart when trying to escape the Soviet advance. As you can guess you have a recipe for a nation in trauma. Whilst it maybe time to move on, as one Latvian commented to me fairly recently, sometimes these things need to be looked at, to come out into the open. Not hidden away to be brooded upon and in the process affecting the future generations. Other European countries, also need to understand the repercussions of these actions, especially as it makes sense of the lack of trust in the nation. Trust doesn't just happen, it has to be worked on and is too easily broken. At least it adds more to the picture of Latvian history on a personal level that I hadn't thought about. Bit by bit I get more of the jigsaw, as I listen and read.

Another piece of felt I have made, with some knitting yarn
that opens up to a net texture felted into it. Any ideas for
uses? It is about 20cm squarish
Piece number two. This has different fabrics felted into it.
Some have sequins on. There is also some woollen
knitting yarn and some yarn that looks a bit like a shiny
ladder. I think I should have photographed the constituent
parts too
A final thing to finish on, that is rather amusing and cannot go without mention (otherwise I will never hear the last of it from dearly beloved). One of my neighbours came ringing on the doorbell yesterday, I couldn't quite understand what she was telling me, but it involved people and trousers. I had to phone a friend to find out what she was trying to say, as she was quite determined I know what she was going on about. Turns out I had left some washing on the line, not only just left it on the line, but it had been there a month. I had wondered where my trousers were and we should have guessed the washing was ours, as the other piece I had left on the line was a bright orange polo shirt which could only be Ian's. I guess that proves it has been rather a busy month and I haven't been around much in the light.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi