Monday, 13 January 2014

Lost and found

The roadway is getting a little chewed
up now. At least this week the forecast
is for a freeze and so that will help
I think we lost our sense of humour this week, somewhere in the mud with the dreach weather we've been having and the nasty emails going between neighbours. I can just do without it at the moment. I have had extra things to do with my course, that I should have anticipated, but didn't. For instance I have an evaluation to do, as it is a year since I started the course, but what I hadn't realised is that this is not a cosy chat with my supervisors, but a meeting with a board and a presentation - all to be done by the end of the month. Okay if I had actually sat down and read through all the steps of doing a PhD on the university site, I would have realised that, but just like most people, I haven't. So there is that to do, on top of the reading I still need to wade through and some prep work for a course in the beginning of February, where I shall be learning how to make pretty maps using computer software.
Dreach! A Scottish word for dark, damp gloomy days

Water has been pouring into APH1 (Alpaca house one) and
so Ian has put plastic under the roof, so he can stop it from
raining in on the boys. It is angled to drain out of the house
through the funnel you can see on the right hand side of the
Learning to do maps, reminds me of some of the decisions I made when I was younger. I had to choose between Geography and History at school and I chose History. I did prefer history and I was good at the subject, but there was one more element in the decision - I didn't want to do a subject that my Mum taught. My Mum was a supply teacher at one point and I didn't really want the risk of being in a geography class with my Mum, it was bad enough the one class that I did have where my Mum filled in for another teacher, but that was Chemistry and she just supervised that class, as the teacher had set us some work. Some children don't mind. That particular chemistry class was taught by the father of one of my classmates and he didn't seem to mind. Not sure why I didn't want my Mum to teach me, but it is ironic that I am now learning some of those things that are more akin to geography than history, although there is some of that too in the subject I am researching.
To drain the water away from the inside of the alpaca house

This is one of the hats I knitted. I knitted the one below
first and thought it was a bit too small and so that will
be a present for a young one later. I knitted this one
bigger and went to wash it and was horrified to see it
expand a lot and was now too big. Fortunately it is alpaca
wool, not ours though, and so it felted relatively easily
and so I felted it down to the right size. Worked nicely
as you can see. 
As you can tell I am feeling a bit inundated really, but rather than spend more and more time working, I realise I need to take time off and relax, otherwise I will get less and less done in the long run. I need time to think and mull things over. I enjoyed just pottering about at our other apartment yesterday. I could have got some sewing done, something I find relaxing, but hadn't taken my sewing machine lead up and it was a while before I found a decent pair of scissors amongst all the boxes of stuff I have. I packed most of my stuff into boxes when we had a family staying at the apartment. I realise that I really need to do something about our organisation, I have sewing stuff in two places and rarely do I have the right things in the right place - not helpful! I wasn't always so disorganised, I could be and can be quite organised. I must get more organised again though and then I will be more productive. I find that what happens is discipline slips and then the organisation slips and then I end up running rings around myself and that has to stop.
Thought this looked cute with a little pompom on
for a little one

All three ponds are full to overflowing
I'm writing this blog early because a series of things have fallen into place, which is wonderful when I feel under pressure. I sent off a chance email this last week, wondering if someone had some contacts that might be useful for me for starting my field study and he did. Not only did he have some contacts, he had a meeting with them today (Monday) and I was welcome to join him and his colleague. He even offered to come and collect me, as I was kind of en-route, which was really appreciated. I decided not to take up the offer when another series of things started to fall into place too. A friend of mine offered me their car and suggested a young man we both know would make a good translator and he was able to rearrange his work shifts to go. This all means I can now combine the meeting with some interviews in a nearby village, which is good as it is a couple of hours drive away. This should all get me off to a good start with my research, as I can test the type of questions I want to ask, to see how understandable they are and if they spark the kinds of answers I need.
Not just dripping either, but quite a flow

Estelle, our inquisitive youngster
Ian has been working with the animals to get them used to him handling them and yesterday he even managed to hug Estelle. She is a lovely, inquisitive alpaca though and has a very sweet nature, which is good if we have visitors. Gradually during feed time, Ian has been tickling them under the chin, particularly Tellus and Estelle, as they are the ones we might need to move around to show or in Tellus case as a stud male. He has worked up to stroking them down their necks and feeling more pressure each time. It's taking time, but hopefully it will pay off in the long run. It is always nice if the animals will actually come up and interact with people. Although we may have to work on that a bit, it is at least a start. Ian has been keeping the animals penned up just lately though. One of the reasons is that alpacas do not have lanolin like sheep to shed water, being animals designed for high desert and not lowland wetlands and so with the prolonged rain, they are getting wet. This not always a problem, but we are due to some drastic drops in temperatures and we want them to dry out before that happens. They will cope with the cold well enough, but not if they are wet, especially our old girl Alicia and we want to take extra care of our pregnant girls too.
Mud, mud, mud! This is the entrance to the girls paddock.
Even though this whole area is on the top of a hill, we
will have to look at drainage later on in the year, to stop a
repeat of the mudbath
Even my cranberries are underwater
We took a trip to a sheep farm nearby and stopped for cup of tea. Thankfully they don't speak much English and it forced us to use some Latvian. Our conversation was rather short, but at least it was a start and they were very kind enough to talk slowly for us and repeat things until we understood. That is what we really need. The reason for our visit was to pick up a whole lamb - of the meat variety and not a live one. Even though it was very fresh, we have to butcher it straight away as we just haven't got somewhere to leave it to hang. Did I say butcher? I should really say we hacked the lamb and you probably wouldn't recognise any of the joints from the butchers. Still it is in pieces that are manageable for us and the not so good pieces are minced and the slightly better pieces are cut up into chunks and we have some things that could be recognised, maybe, as roasting joints. I did slip a bit with the knife at one point, but we won't go into detail, just to say all digits and limbs of ours are still in tact.

Ian made some modifications to his Franken-shit stopper
(yes that is what he named it, and I didn't tell you last week)
These prongs are to help rake up the hay, after he has
cleared the poo up. Apparently the pegs were handmade
on the pole lathe or treadle lathe.
I did say we found our sense of humour, our cup of tea with our neighbours and a bit of bonding over the butchering process helped. It also helped to see our grandchildren on Skype and in a video clip on facebook. It also helps that life is just is too much without a laugh and there is no point in hanging onto bad moods. We maybe still have to work somethings through, but a sense of humour does make things a little smoother to get there.


  1. whew, your effort outgoings sound like picnicking in the himalayas. great views but goodness me you're having to work for it. xx

  2. i meant to say achievements

  3. Right now I feel like it Liz, but I'm sure it will be worth it in the long run

  4. your life seems like a whirlwind to me and I think your amazing quite frankly. I only live in one place and can never find what I need for my sewing, I spend so much time hunting things...and as a little add on.....I chose History too!!

  5. It hasn't all been a whirlwind, we used to have a lot of spare time, but only because we didn't go to lots of other activities, or have a job during the last nearly six years. Now though I don't feel like I have a lot of time. I'm sure it will get better as I adapt and gain experience and confidence


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