Monday, 3 March 2014

The things you learn!

Not a picture from today, but last week. Part of the
university I go to, the Estonian University of Life Sciences
or Eesti Maaülikool, which is not a direct translation
as I found out fairly recently
The things you learn at uni! Well this week I learnt that often bullets used by hunters contain lead and therefore processed meat from hunted animals can contain lead also. This is because a lead bullet sheds 30 - 50% of its weight as it enters the animal, which is not the same as other types of bullets and the metal is less harmful to humans anyway - if you eat the meat that is, not if you get in the way of one, in which case it doesn't really matter what metal it's made of. I have come to view that meat from hunting is sometimes more humane than the slaughterhouse meat and so I viewed the meat as more "green", but maybe I will have to ask what kind of bullets the hunters use first? The other problem with lead bullets is from those that do not end up on the hunters table, predators can eat the contaminated meat with lead accumulation leading to death and armies leave rather a lot of it all over their practice firing ranges in some rather pristine environments and that lead from the munitions can then leach into the water. Wow, a whole source of pollution I had never thought about. There are moves to encourage hunters and armies to switch to greener bullets, which sounds somehow wrong, but for me I think it makes a lot of sense, then again I am biased against wild boar roaming around on our land, digging up the fields and making it more difficult for us to feed our animals in the autumn months. (Link to a less academic take on the issue than the one I heard).
As you can see, today's weather was a little

Meanwhile back at home. Ian and the chipper, before!
Mind you, this little piece of information did not stop us accepting a leg from a wild boar piglet, cut from  a whole one that a friend of ours was given, and I am sure it will not diminish the pleasure of eating the meat when we get around to it, doing our bit to keep the wild boar population down to ecologically acceptable levels. We had to stick the leg of wild boar in the freezer, because I was going away and the joint was a little too large for Ian to eat on his own, despite that fact I'm sure he would have given it a good try, if he had been given the opportunity. I might just roast the joint with some oranges as that should reduce any lead absorption - if there is any that is. Serving it with a green leafy vegetable and a white sauce will also help - I had better stop there because it's making me feel hungry.
And after! I think a few more piles of branches were used,
it looks like rather a lot of chippings from one small pile 

Across the train tracks to that yellow and
blue square building is where the little
cafe is situated. You wouldn't think to look
at it, would you?
I was a little despairing of the mound of work I had to do for various things, such as a presentation, an academic paper, a project for Masters students and homework for courses and all needing attention fairly soon. Trying to decide what to do when was hard, but gradually I have been working through everything. It helped that I had to go back to Latvia on the Wednesday this week and managed to work well on the train. I even managed to work quite well on the buses on the way back up to Tartu too. It did help that the buses were not as crowded this week, and that little cafe in Cesis is such a godsend, being such a quiet place to work. It is funny that the young lady who works there, always says "Hello" in English now, when I walk in through the door. In fact I am so happy with the amount of work I have got done this week, there will be no working this evening and after writing this I shall be doing some knitting.

This sometimes feels like my second home -
Riga bus station
I said I travelled back to Latvia on Wednesday this last week, this is because I had a meeting in Riga. I got the chance to talk to a lovely lady from the British Council. It always amuses me that just because it says "British" does not mean it is staffed by British staff. The staff at the British Embassy are just as likely to be Latvian as British and so it is with the British Council. The British Council are all about developing cultural relations and educational opportunities between other countries and the UK, so the blurb goes and of course it promotes British material for use elsewhere. One of the projects I found out about was a game developed to help people learn more about participation in development, it is called "Future Cities Game." I was really encouraged to hear how the young lady had seen the opportunity for Latvia to learn something from the game and used the game well to help various cities, but also rural areas, around the country to encourage participation in development projects. People learnt how to work together on imaginary and real small scale projects, people from a variety of different sectors, so old folks, young folks, administrative staff, development workers and the ordinary man off the street, all learning how to talk to each other and work on a project together. She also spotted the problem of what happens when projects finish and organisations move on and yet there is still a need for the material and she tried successfully to encourage leaders who show promise to take it on and use it in the future. Those are definitely skills that are needed in this country and I am so pleased to hear of her success.
The new "road" Ian has created a
pathway for the tractor, so he can reach
a section of land without going on the
road or across the top of our oak hill

One of Ian's other jobs, keeping the bedding in the alpaca
houses and the chicken house clean. Plenty for the garden
next year then!
I created a trauma this week. I broke Ian's pal that has travelled with us through all our moves, or in his words, I "murdered a loyal, hard working companion" of his. He took it hard! In other words I broke his favourite cup, the one that we either bought or got given to celebrate the building of the school that our kids went to. I can't even remember what anniversary it was celebrating now, it may have been 90 or a 100 years, something like that, could have even been more. Anyway the damage is done and the cup is no more and I am in the doghouse. I'm sure he'll get over it though, cakes, pies, roast wild boar - something like that will work.

I was treated to a cream bun tonight. I didn't actually realise there was a reason for being treated to a cream bun, I'm sure I was told, but I didn't quite hear amongst the clatter. I now know it is a lenten tradition in Estonia. As you can see from the picture they look rather yummy and if you want to know how to make some yourself here's a link. Maybe that's what I should make for Ian when I get back? Then again, maybe not! Cardamon seeds and lingonberry jam - not got either of those in the store cupboard. One year we may have lingonberry, but the plant I have is not growing very fast. At least I think it is lingonberry!
It must be spring, the lads are fighting more. some serious
neck twisting going on there

Let's not mention the spitting

Who us? Sweet, innocent us? Do you like our green lipstick?
Herk is wearing a harness so that Ian can put eye drops in
his eye. It is better than it was, but still not right yet. 


  1. Thanks for the link to the Lenten Buns. I've copied and pasted the Classic Lenten Buns and the Chocolate Lenten Buns. They sound really yummy. I'll see how they turn out and let you know. I'll probably put my own filling in and not lingonberry jam - never heard of it.

  2. Can you post me some? :D You can get lingonberry jam in IKEA I think, as it is very Scandinavian. It is related to the British bilberry, but it's red. They are also known as cowberries

  3. once again I am on the side of your poor husband...breaking his possessions, tut, tut and did he get any cake??? I will have to go back and check....
    and yes...Lingonberry jam, IKEA (or any good store in Sweden!)

  4. He's got cake in the freezer, does that count?


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