Monday, 14 July 2014

Baling at last!

Half our ski hill, cleared of hay
It has been a bit of struggle to get motivated this week, we are both tired, but we didn't have a choice. The weather held off and we got half the ski hill, turned and baled within 32 hours. Not that we worked for 32 hours but the drying time was very short due to the hot sun and a good drying wind. It is not good to leave it out in the sun for longer than necessary, otherwise it just cooks. We only finished the baling at 10pm and we ate rather late, with Ian watering the greenhouse while I cooked a real greasy café meal of fried pork and egg with fried potatoes. We needed it, even if we were eating at eleven at night. We didn't do the whole ski hill, although we possibly could have, as the weather forecast was variable for the Thursday and we didn't want to risk rain while baling. I think this issue of will it or won't it rain has been as tiring as the actual work. Just in case you are wondering, the reason we call it a ski hill is that in the Soviet times, that is what it was. There are still the odd electric light slowly disintegrating in places.
Stacking the hay bales this year has been really hard. The
grass is not as tall this year and there is not as much stringy
stuff to bind the bales tight and so they are soft and squashy.
Well that's the theory we are working on. This stack was
stacked three times and still we had to add some support.
We have also ensured that the stack has a point on it this
time and not level. No place for water to rest and leak in.
It also has a sacrificial layer of hay on the outside.
We would like it to be thicker and so may add to it as we
get some more bedding type hay cut. How we will get it to stop on will be the next challenge.
Ian has also cleared a space in the barn to add some bales
but it might mean that some stuff doesn't get stored in the
barn over winter. We already need a second barn.
Our neighbour took a look at what we had cut and thought it didn't seem like a lot of bales this year and so she offered us another field to cut, as she doesn't use it. It is twice as big as our ski hill with a good flat section. Some of it is steep with a lot of weeds in it, but there is still a lot of grass in there. It is looking like a race against time though as some of the grass is beginning to turn and so less and less nutritious as days go by, fortunately it also has a lot of clover and vetch in, which is still green, and even so it is still useful for bedding which we really need. She even offered us her barn to store some bales in, which will be very helpful. We are wondering about coming to an agreement about the field, for future use, as there are weeds that are coming across into our field. If we can manage the two fields together, there will be enough to cut and enough to let our field go fallow in places for a year too, which will do it better in the long run. Now all we need is another good week of weather and we will be set to go, only the weather is proving as unpredictable as last week too. So the will it, won't it rain, hassle continues.
An infestation of daises, but they do look pretty
The swallow is sitting on eggs in the alpaca house, at least
some birds don't think it is autumn yet.
Egg production has started to go back up after the dismal showing with the lack of sunshine the other week, but I swear that some of our chickens think it is autumn already. In their little minds eye, we've had the summer then there was all that rain and low light levels and so we must be in autumn now! Right? No wonder as the early part of July has been the coldest in meteorological records here in Latvia.
Our first tomatoes of the year. They were sharp and tangy.
We also had our first broad beans. Last nights meal was
pasta with goats cheese, rocket, spinach, mizuna, lettuce
peas, broad beans, tomatoes and strawberries. In other words,
whatever I could find to throw in a salad.
Yesterday the rain rolled in again and this is a picture of
the thunderstorm we had. It made putting the animals
away quite exciting.
I'm trying to think what I've done all week. I know that I tried to write a blog post for a farming website after a request and found that harder than I thought it would be. I keep falling into the same trap of trying to cram too much information in, when really folks won't be interested in all the details. I know I have done some emergency gardening - the sort that attempts to rediscover there are plants in there somewhere and not just weeds. At least I have managed to keep on top of our orchard plot, but I think that is a combination of two things, firstly having a bed of wood chippings and secondly the weeds haven't been so fast to grow this year. Seeds I have planted nearly two months ago are only just germinating in some cases. It is quite weird to see bean plants that germinated shortly after planting and are reasonable sized plants and others still coming through. We have pictures from the previous year
of squashes growing  and this year the plants are barely hanging on in there and only just beginning to flower. Not sure if we will get any at the moment.
Oh yes! We now have the internet out on the land. It means
Ian can now watch the rain on the radar and satellite pictures.
He found the best signal was achieved by putting the dongle
into a plastic margarine tub on top of what used to be a pipe
for the aerial. The tub has also been covered in duct tape.
Not quite sure what we do in a thunderstorm though. The dongle
reception was a bit hit and miss in the caravan itself. When it
worked with the wind in the right direction, it was great, but
otherwise it kept dropping the signal. The good news is that the
signal is good at the height of the hill where we plan to build
a house - when it gets built that is.
Two of the three chicks. Their feathers are starting
to grow quite fast now. They seem to be cream
coloured and so does that mean they are from
one of the brown hens or are they really big bird's
our white hen? The brown hens are far too small
to have such large eggs though, surely!  
I have also planted more peas, they will at least take the cooler weather at the end of the year and maybe we will get a second crop. If not the plants will be eaten by the sheep or the chickens.Other jobs included following the tractor round picking up the stuff that wasn't turned or reducing piles where it had got too thick for the baler. I also followed the baler round to turn bales on the steep sections and picking up large amounts of grass that had been missed. I've stacked hay and fed the troops, well Ian and our helper. Yes we actually had help this year. Our neighbour's daughter who offered the field was translating for her Mum and when we told her we were stacking hay the next day, she said she was free to help. She was certainly a good worker and wouldn't accept any payment either. Payment enough was avoiding having to do the weeding for her Mum I think. I also slept for an hour and a half on Sunday afternoon. That all looks a lot written down, but it has kind of passed in a blur and gone over far too fast. It also helps that I don't have a regular job to do, nor do we have a television, although we can waste hours on the internet - all in the name of research you understand.


  1. I smiled at the aerial -- couldn't help calling it a 'Franken-aerial'. Glad you managed to get some bailing done and hopefully the weather is kind for you to finish it. Trust the house meeting was worth it!

    1. I had forgotten about the Franken-creations, thanks for the reminder Mavis.

      Shall we say the house meeting was one of the regular ones, nothing of importance gets sorted!

  2. fingers crossed here that it stays dry for you. It has been glorious here most of the past couple of weeks, a little rain today though but we can't complain. There's not much call for bailing in Blackburn!

  3. You do have a lot going on! How fun to experience all that. I'm living in the city now because of work but I do miss rural life. It's still in me, I still remember the smells and yes, the work and sweat.

    1. Sure do at the moment. Would like a little more space or more motivation to actually get things done at times. I don't envy your city life, I do like the quiet of the countryside. Thanks for dropping by


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