Monday, 14 April 2014

I can't save everyone!

The lobster pot has been up all week and still we haven't
caught anything! Actually it is a contraption to keep the
hens off my cranberries.
My friend up in Tartu, who I stay with when I visit showed me a book with a cartoon dog in it (sorry I can't remember exactly which one it was). One of the cartoons stood out in particular though, it was of the dog out in the rain, he picks up a worm that is drowning and carries it gently to safety. He then looks around and sees another worm, then another and another, finally he howls, "I can't save you all." Outside the uni the following morning there were lots of dried up worms washed down off a bank and that phrase "I can't save you all" goes through my head again - funny how phrases are buzzing around my head once more. Anyway I thought about the work I am researching and how I long for my work to have a positive impact on communities, but I have to be realistic, I need to remember "I can't save them all." Not all of them need saving anyway and some certainly do not want some interfering foreigner telling them what to do, a point relayed to me by a friend this week, by someone who may indeed be disgruntled with my work a couple of years ago on the wild boar management and all the conflict around that. They didn't see the need to change the law on hunting, after all they weren't impacted by the severe effects of too many wild boar digging up their land. Oh well! You can't please everyone and besides, I'll leave the saving of mankind up to God, I think he will do a better job of it than I would.

One problem we had this year was the tarpaulin wasn't
adequate enough to keep the moisture off the hay bales.
Fortunately we have enough, but this is not good and
we are already planning on how to erect shelters for the
hay bales later on in the year.
It feels a bit weird this week to be writing this at home and not planning on going anywhere this week. I get to sort of chill. We are gearing up for Spring planting and I have been putting quite a few seeds in that I know will take a bit of frost yet need the moisture at this time of year to germinate. If they don't come there is still plenty of time to plant more, so I'm not too worried. So I have sowed rocket, beetroot, broad beans, carrots and peas outside along with some onion sets. I also sowed rocket, and radish inside the greenhouse. Some of the seeds are even starting to poke through from the first lot of seeds I planted inside the greenhouse. You'll have to wait until they are a little bit bigger though before you get to see them, not sure they would really show up on a photograph yet.
Spring is here - new frog spawn

Alicia taking advantage of a half finished alpaca house
to shelter in. You can also see the pine trees our alpaca
ladies have been eating. The brush on the right are ones
they have already chewed all the leaves off.
I have also helped Ian a bit this week. We fetched some OSB board for the roof of the alpaca house extension, named APH2b (Alpaca house 2b - because it is an extension of APH2). I helped Ian slide the sheets onto the roof and then acted as roof support to stop them sliding off while Ian screwed them down. It is a role I'm used to, not that we are always putting roofs on alpaca houses, but when Ian does construction jobs or repairs, I'm either gopher or prop. He managed to get a coat of bitumen on the roof and for it to dry a bit before it rained and today he finished off the panelling around the exterior, in between the showers that is. It still needs more bitumen putting on and a door handle on the new door, but apart from that it is usable. He is on a roll this week with getting things done, he even fixed the shower too, so that it doesn't pour with water once the inlet taps are switched on.

APH2 in use
Taken from the inside of the new extension
We decided on a new extension after Benedikts was born to Alicia at the end of January. Even though he didn't survive, it made us realise the importance of having somewhere to separate the mothers with babies and since two of our alpaca ladies are due at the end of May, Ian thought he had better get cracking with the job, now the ground has dried enough to be able to drive across it. We might also use it to separate off the cria when they are around 8 months old, so the mothers can concentrate on developing a new baby, as they will hopefully be pregnant again.

Ian reused some of the wood off the original APH2 and so
the extension is almost the same colour already. Here it is
in its almost completed state with full feeders. That hay at
least is nice and green and not black like the other stuff
I can spend quite a bit of time out on the land now we have electricity and a caravan, as I can work on my laptop. It means I can take a break and wander up to see what Ian is doing, or nip out and plant a few seeds. I am certainly feeling the benefit of the more relaxed schedule. I feel less overwhelmed this week and I guess that is partly because I am not travelling so much and partly because I have got quite a few jobs I needed to do out of the way. My supervisor was happy with the paper I finished off this week for an academic journal and even managed to get rid of over 1200 words to get down to 8000 without seriously affecting what I wanted to say, so I'm very happy too. No doubt I won't have heard the last of it though, as it has to go for peer review, which basically means that two experts in the field will get to look through it and make comments and I will then have to revise it again, but that's normal. It would be unusual not to have to make some changes.

A hard life for the wig on legs
I used to think that those who took their cats to those fancy places for them to have a haircut were silly, but then again, I never had long haired cats. It doesn't help that our long haired cats spend so much time out of doors, but their hair is getting seriously matted. I spent hours today, combing through one of them bit by bit to try and disentangle some of the hair. I had only spent quite a while, a few days ago getting her coat cleared and it is just as bad, if not worse again today. The problem is that even though they are quite small cats, their fur is about four inches long on average, which makes them look like wigs on legs. When Ian goes to see the vet, hopefully he will remember to ask what she recommends.

A double rainbow with our wandering chickens. They
have had their wandering curtailed a bit this week, as
Ian hasn't been letting them out until lunch time.
Surprisingly the number of eggs have been going up! 
I was a little sad this week as I had to dispatch another chick this week, although it could stand on one leg, the other leg was not getting better. I had made a little cage so that it could be with the others and sleep next to them, without getting knocked over in the hectic rush of chick life, but quite often there would be interlopers in the little cage. It took me ages to work out how the little darlings were getting in, but I saw one fly up onto the cage edge and squeeze under the wire that stops them escaping out of their box. There isn't much room but it managed. I managed to keep it separated after that, but the day I had to clean the box out, I put them all in a cardboard box with a towel over the top, so they would all settle down and not run around with the sick chick in there, but at the end when I took the towel off, the sick chick was huddled in a corner and not looking terribly happy and I realised that it wasn't fair to keep it alive after that. I tried! The other ten though are lovely and healthy looking. Some of them are looking distinctly speckled and one is looking jet black. Hopefully at least five of them are female and then we may have hatched them early enough to produce eggs over the winter or at least more most of it anyway.
You can't have rainbows without the rain

A close up of the rainbow taken with a
polarising filter. Ian found out today
that the rainbow is highly polarised
and if you turn the filter the wrong way
the rainbow disappears
My family have been having adventures too this week. My youngest finally managed to pass his driving test this week, second time around and ironic that he hasn't been able to get on with learning to drive because he was so busy learning how to design them. He has also had a successful interview and is doing some training this week to see if he is suitable for a place. It might not be his ideal job and not one connected with design, but at least it is a start. My mother, daughter and granddaughter have also been having adventures of avoiding cyclones. They had hoped to visit the barrier reef, but it was all cancelled shortly after they flew into Cairns. My daughter mentioned a cyclone was the problem but there was no mention of it on the BBC. I checked around and finally found some reference to it in the news and found out it was quite a big one, equivalent to a category 4 hurricane and heading for Cairns, where my family were staying. Fortunately my daughter managed to get them on one of the last planes out of the area and onto Brisbane. Fortunately for the people in the area the cyclone lost much of its power and so the damage wasn't as bad as it was feared. Currently mother, daughter and granddaughter are relaxing in Fiji - or at least that was the last I heard.


  1. I'm glad you're feeling more relaxed this week from all your travelling. You need it. You made me smile about the 'wig on legs'. Maybe you should try spraying on conditioner before combing through - it works on human hair. Well done Ian on APH2 and APH2b. What a handy man to have around!

    1. Thanks Mavis. You have given me an idea with the conditioner, but I wouldn't use that exactly as it would be awful for a cat, as they lick their coat, but maybe some oil might work. Ian is indeed a handy man to have around and I am pleased to say his construction skills are getting better and better.

  2. The cartoon book was tilted "Footrot Flats".
    Happy birthday!

    1. Oh yes! That was the one. Thanks for that Pene and thanks for the greetings. You are always welcome to pop down if you wanted to. Looks like the weather might be nice for it

  3. your rainbows are so beautiful and I loved to see the frog spawn. I haven't seen any of that since I was a child. I hope you have the most wonderful of birthdays and I am happy to hear that your family are safe...I was tempted by your barbecue offer but is seems the bus doesn't go that far....:(

    1. Aww shucks Karen, thought you might be popping round for some cake as well


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