Monday, 24 November 2014

Bath time!

Scary snow lady
Bath time! Yeah! You all wanted to know that didn't you? Yes we have had showers, but a bath is a treat. Bath time, of course, means that the radiators in our other apartment have finally been fixed and are working properly, ten months after they blew in the freezing cold weather at the end of January. There maybe a small leak, but only to be expected with the rather inadequate components often available here in Latvia. The radiators were fixed just in time too, as winter is now upon us and we will have to make regular trips up to the apartment to make sure it doesn't freeze. We have had our first snow fall of the year. Only about 5cm though, so not a huge amount, but enough for children to throw snowballs and make snowmen. The night we had a bath, the children from other apartments were playing outside and lighting up the snowman they had made, with a bright LED torch and according to Ian it looked rather eerie. The apartment we live in though has been rather cool at about 16C, which I don't mind as long as the costs for the heating reflects that. We will have to wait and see.
The view from our other apartment
Ian used the black geotextil type of fabric to let the hay
breathe but keep off the snow. He thought it will probably
last longer than the white garden fleece he used the last
time. It has lasted quite well, but hopefully this will be
Ian has been busy preparing for the winter and got the sticks in to mark the road. He was a bit worried that it might already be too frozen, but it wasn't and the sticks went in easy enough. The ground is pretty hard though where it has been compacted. He has also put up the cathedral windows over the greenhouse windows (you can see here what I mean) to stop snow from drifting into the greenhouse and the sheep pen has been moved into the winter sheep field, before that was frozen into the ground. The sheep haven't been moved into their winter quarters yet, as it is still early and the snow could well disappear - then again it might not! They have plenty of hay to eat though, so they won't go hungry, although they might try and convince someone they are with all the noise they make. The can hear the rattle of a tray no matter how quietly you try and fill them and they are a good few hundred metres away from the greenhouse where Ian prepares the trays.

Turbjørn enjoying the hay now the snow is on the ground
I mentioned last week that Agnese was being weaned from her Mum, to give Snowdrop a chance to put some weight on before the next baby is due - well hopefully she is due, but she still needs to put some weight on regardless. Agnese decided that she had had enough of just hay today and jumped the fence to get to her Mum. It is better to have more distance between them, but Snowdrop isn't that bothered and normally neither is Agnese, so normally it is fine, just occasionally she wants her Mum again. Agnese is obviously another alpaca that hasn't read the manual that they are not supposed to challenge fences, especially not by jumping them. I finally got the video of Agnese eating an apple this week, as well as the morning routine of letting the alpacas out - well the girls anyway. Take a look at Estelle who is on the far right of the video being let out the second door. She is not a morning alpaca and always is bleary first thing.
Here is a video of Agnese eating an apple, with Estelle getting in on the act

Tellus looking unperturbed
We tackled toe nail trimming again this week and it was less traumatic this time. I seem to be getting better at holding onto them and have discovered that if you stop them from dropping their head, they are less able to buck to get away. We managed all seven alpacas between the two of us, which I'm rather pleased with and that was without any toe nails coming into contact with my rear end. It was a little painful the last time. The only thing that got damaged were my over trousers that got a tear in them. Annoying but never mind, it will sew up. It is amazing how much their toe nails have grown in just over two months. We are wondering if that is an indication of the better condition they seem to be in this year and the amount of fleece they have on them. It would seem that they have settled down and probably adjusted to the local diet better this year.

The chicks are getting rather large now
The cats finally got their vaccinations too, only a month later than they should have, but we got kind of busy. The vet was happy enough with them, but she did say Sofie was kind of skinny. I am not sure she will ever have much on her. She charges around so much when she is feeling active, so there can't be much wrong with her. We also finally got around to moving chickens around. There have been nine in Ark 2 and they have got too big for that number in the ark for our liking. We are still well within regulations for the available space, but we like to give chickens more room to move around. They were also getting too mucky with that number in such a small space. We were waiting to make sure which were cockerels and which were not, partly because it was important that one of them was big enough to defend himself with a group of more mature hens. Anything less than a boss would not last five minutes with older ladies.

This old lady has been laying regularly too. The only one
in the chicken house that is. She is also the mother of
the ones that are laying in the Arks
We decided that this week they were big enough to fend for themselves and set about moving them in the evening. We put one cockerel in with four ladies in Ark 1 and put one cockerel in with the three chicks in Ark 3. The cockerel in Ark 1 had been a bit bossy in Ark 2 and as we suspected he has taken charge, but we have to wait and see if he will calm down with the ladies. It is a bit of a worry as the ladies had really come into lay again this week and we were regularly getting one or two eggs a day from them. One day we even had four, although we suspect one egg may have been hidden in the hay and not laid that particular day. There was one point we thought we were going to get 5 because one of the hens seemed to be in and out of the nesting box all day, but she must have been having us on. We think that the number of eggs will go down until they settle and so Ian will just have to monitor the situation. The chicks have been getting aggressive with each other, not because they lacked space, but must be the hormones starting to flow and so we hope the cockerel will actually calm them down a bit. We put him in early, because he seems to be a more mild mannered cockerel and didn't want the chicks to get too big and bossy before we put him in. He is also the biggest of the cockerels and so we hope a good one to breed from for meat birds. Oh this breeding lark gets a bit complicated as we try and breed robust hens for meat and for egg laying, without too much aggression.

The boys enjoying some good grass before the snow
I got told off this week by one of my son's, well more a mild rebuke. Last week I posted a picture of Ian's bike on a stand that allows him to use the bike in the house for exercise and not have to brave the weather outside or roads in poor condition. Anyway I called the stand a roller and it's not, it is a turbo trainer. So after me, must repeat, turbo trainer not rollers, turbo trainer not rollers. Have we all got that now? I suppose that's what comes of having a bike mechanic for a son, he should know his stuff. Just to prove it I noticed that the Bike Store, where he works, is now doing BikeFit to make sure that the bike fits perfectly, which is good when no one has the perfect body shape that is perfectly symmetrical.

The fleece is looking good and thick
I finally finished off writing up lessons for the Sociology course that I am tutoring, so that is one year's worth of lessons written, one more year to go. All I need to do now is to think of a short project that would be fun to do, or how to enthuse students to do one and then sort out some revision topics or again how to get the students to do it for themselves. Any suggestions gratefully received. It has been an interesting exercise as I have almost come at Sociology via the back door. I haven't graduated through the stages of school exams, college, university, research, I have sort of done all of that backwards. Most of the work for the course has been looking at different aspects of society from a gender perspective, a marxist perspective or an ethnic perspective with a bit of social class thrown in. It is fascinating that they have picked on these particular aspects when examining issues and how education, families etc. is viewed through those lenses. I have to assume those are the dominant thoughts within those fields, despite not really coming across the marxist perspective much in my readings, the ethnic and gender are quite important in development for sure.

Snowy fields and frozen ponds
Anyway the final thoughts for this week centre around a phrase that kept coming into my mind all week, "Remember me!" We have met quite a few folks along our journey and we all get busy and get on with other things, especially for me in the academic field. I could really do with a few contacts coming through though and so that phrase keeps coming to mind. I found it amusing therefore, when one email that came through this week had the first words "I haven't forgotten you." Immediately after that email came through, a brief foray into facebook and a friend had posted a song by Amy Grant "I will remember you." So I guess the promise is there and I haven't been forgotten, but I still have to wait for contacts to bear fruit into something that will carry us into the next phase of life, with me earning a living.

I couldn't quite believe this little chap, crawling across the snow


  1. How your farm animals have increased! To think that only 3 years ago you had no animals at all, not even the cats, when I visited! Loved seeing the videos.

    1. That's true Mavis! Only difficulty is nowadays is that it is harder to leave to take time off, especially now the days are getting colder.

  2. love the videos, especially the one of my dad opening the shed!! That poor caterpillar....I got shivers just watching it.

    1. Lol I guess Ian is still reminding you of your dad then!:D

      I felt sorry for the poor little guy too, but he was far from anywhere to hide. No idea where he had come from either

  3. I have no experience with alpacas, but I can see there are similarities to our goats. Goats require hoof trimming too. While it probably makes sense to use a stanchion, I just wrestle them in the field to do it. Few of them object, fortunately, since they've learned a treat will follow. A few of our goats will eat an apple, but most won't. They just look at it as if to say, what do you expect me to do with that thing? Hoping you stay as toasty warm as you'd like this winter.

    1. The alpacas are getting better at standing for toe nail trimming, but not sure they would let us get them while out in the field. We are wary of having them too tame and then having problems dealing with a 50kg (100lb) animal that is overly friendly. As for staying toasty, so far so good.

  4. Replies
    1. They do have rather large, lovely eyes and their coats are so soft. Pity they aren't more cuddly :)


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