Monday, 19 January 2015

Grandma Oh Oh

Our granddaughter reading
the book
I mentioned last week that Ian's mother had an unusual name, but that is one given her at birth. I have acquired mine from my youngest granddaughter and it is Grandma Oh oh! For Christmas I put together a book called "My Grandad," it was a way of sharing what Ian does on the farm and there was also a little bit about me of course. There was a picture of me feeding the alpacas and one of me skiing. Every time my little granddaughter gets to that point in the book, she goes Oh Oh! And that is the story of how I acquired my name. My daughter finds it hilarious and so I think there is a degree of encouragement going on there. I am also known as Grandma Jo and GJ, short for Granny Jo to my other grandchildren.

The front cover of the book
Whilst on the subject of Grandma's and Ian's mother we are heading to the UK the first week of February, for the funeral. It would appear there has been a spike of deaths over Christmas and a refurbishment of a crematorium, creating a backlog of funerals, hence the long wait. I am sure that must be hard for the families, for us at the moment it all seems so distant. I know it will hit us more when we see the family.  At least we won't be paying over £500 just to fly Ryanair though, which would be horrendous, the flights were much cheaper in February, not much of a consolation really. There was one point this week when the reality of it hit Ian, it was when he switched off the alerts to remind him to ring his mother. He had the alerts, because it is too easy to get busy and suddenly time has passed. It did mean that although she was so far away, he was in regular contact. It is such a shame she was afraid of computers, I'm sure she would have enjoyed a Skype to Skype call with him, rather than just hearing his voice.

Herk up to his usual trick of hogging the alpaca house.
Not too bad when it is fine, but he does this even when
it is snowing hard, so Tellus stays in the outside shelter and
poor Turbjørn ends up out in the cold. Doesn't seem to
be doing him any harm though. He seems fit enough.
One of the reasons for not dashing over is the animals. We have managed to find someone to look after them for the time we are away, as I mentioned last week, but it is a difficult time of the year to leave them for long. The days are short and they need more than just hay in the colder days. We had to give Veronica some more injections as we suspected she was being bothered by mites again, but the course should be finished by next week. We know a few people who would be willing to help, but it is a hard time to ask. One neighbour, who is the closest, also sometimes has the most difficulty in getting out from her house if it snows, because she is up the hillside. Another neighbour to where we live works regular hours and it would be difficult to fit in letting the animals out and putting them away at the times they need to be dealt with. At least another neighbour is more flexible and should be able to work something out if it snows heavily, which we hope it won't. I must share one funny incident about our alpacas that happened recently though. It was one of those, "I wished we had a camera handy" moments. We went up to the alpaca house to feed them and there sat on the back of Estelle, was one of the chickens. Obviously the chicken had found a very nice cosy place to sit, I bet her toes were warm. We were surprised that Estelle didn't seem bothered at all.

This was actually taken on the 6th January, but it is
pretty and since I am not at home today, it is more difficult
to get photos that Ian has taken
It has been another of those weeks of "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!" and in between melting away, but not quite. Ian is not a fan of snow any more, he used to enjoy it, but now it just makes more work that he has to do because of the animals. More work, more clearing and it stops him getting into the forest to cut down trees for next winter's fuel and progressing on the clearing work that needs doing. Chances are now the snow will be hanging around, once past mid-January the temperatures usually plummet and the ground is cold, so we shall see.

Ian kitted up for the winter. I keep
thinking he looks like one of those
Bayeux tapestry soldiers in that hat
and neck warmer
Sometimes I think I make it sound like alpacas are a lot of work. In many ways they are not, they need water, hay and additional feeding in winter. It is better to clean their paddocks daily, but since they have a communal poo pile that is not a huge problem. It is just that you have to be there at strategic times of the day at this time of year. In summer they are hardly any bother at all. Then it is just a matter of let them out, they eat grass all day, clean their communal poo pile to stop it spreading, fresh bedding in their living quarters every now and again, put them away at night and jobs done. There is of course the moving of fences for fresh grass from time to time and shearing. They are the main jobs. Of course as we get more, it gets more complicated and we have to think or rather Ian has to think, how we can manage them best. Like when do we want babies? Some folks have them all year round, we don't. I think the main issue is being tied, it is not like just caring for the land, where a day a way won't hurt.

A puppet I made for our grandson
On a completely different topic I have to admit to a degree of disorderliness over Christmas presents and I only got around to posting them after Christmas. Incredibly some of the parcels only took four days to arrive, normally it is more like 10 days. Unfortunately Ian's mother's present wasn't one of them and so that didn't arrive until after she died. At least that wasn't as bad as the Christmas card she sent to us that was posted on the 16th December to us and arrived a few days later here than her parcel did. Having said that, we actually got two Christmas cards from her, as one arrived before Christmas. Not quite sure if Ian's mother had got confused, or the two daughter-in-laws both sorted out a card on her behalf, knowing she wasn't feeling well. It is the sort of thing that Ian's family would laugh about. They have quite a black sense of humour at times, but it is one way of coping with the bad times and sometimes not a bad way at all.

Our egg layers
Since it has been quite a varied week this week, the next topic is about development. Development in our area has not been particularly fast. There are bright pockets where people are working hard, but there are also real institutional barriers - to put it diplomatically. There is money available, but trying to get people together to access this money is a bit of a challenge, especially with those barriers. It was interesting therefore to be involved in the first meeting to do with the Leader programme. This has been run by the EU for many years and run quite successfully in many places. It is a way of getting local people to decide where money should be spent, it is also a way of getting local people to think of ways that would benefit many people, not just themselves, but as I said, people have to cooperate.

The setting sun
We were fortunate that there was someone there who could translate, there were actually a few people, but one was coopted - poor guy. I have heard a lot about this programme, but I had never seen it being set up in an area before and so it was quite fascinating to watch and take notes. We got talking to the ladies after the meeting, as a friend of ours had helped to organise the venue for it and the lady was working on getting farmers together to talk about their experiences - we are down to talk on February 26th about alpacas and tomatoes in particular, as my friend insisted we do that. I had to ask my friend what was so fascinating about the way we grew our tomatoes and apparently it is because we mulch them and don't water them as often as Latvians do. We also take all the leaves off at the first sign of blight. Didn't realise that was so fascinating.

Christmas lights in Tartu are still up, but the Christmas tree
is not. Lights tend to stay up longer in Estonia and in
Latvia, as it brightens the dark nights.
And last but not least, I had my yearly evaluation today. The evaluators didn't seem to have any problems with where I am in my studies. They shouldn't do, I have more than enough credit points. I need 60 by year four and I have just finished my second year and I have 65. I also have papers in progress and I need three by year four. That might be more of a problem, but hopefully by the end of the year, I shall have full papers published and not just the short papers so far. I did explain my approach, because I am working in a social science field and they are all natural sciences, at least my science background helps there. I think they were still a little bemused by my presentation, because it was bright, colourful and had pictures of art work and diagrams with pictures. All my creative embroidery artwork board prep and children's work coming into play there.
After! Courtesy of Google. They automatically created a panoramic shot


  1. Your new nickname is a cute one. :)
    I found "Grandpa" a little unsettling at first, but now I've warmed to it. In fact, I rather like it.
    Our Granddaughter calls Cherie "Mimi." I'm not sure where it came from, but it does help keep all the grandmothers straight.

    As for hogging the stalls, our goats do that to. The dominant goat will stand in the doorway, denying entrance to all the others, even if it's snowing or raining. It's maddening. But if I pull that goat out and lock her up somewhere, then then next most dominant goat will do the same thing. I have a friend who raises sheep. He became so frustrated by that behavior that he took down the shelter, telling them, "If all you can't stay dry, then none of you will!"

    1. I haven't found being called a Grandma unsettling, it is telling other people who don't know me very well, that I am a Grandma unsettling. I have grey hair and moving towards five grandchildren and I am sure that means many folks put at the very least another seven, if not ten years on me. I relaxed more recently when I started mixing with some older academics who have just graduated and that makes me feel better. In some cases the doctoral students were all around the same age as my children, which was disconcerting. By the way, I think Mimi is cute too.

      The strange thing is that Herk isn't really the dominant animal, Tellus is. Sometimes Tellus will back into the shed, it is very amusing to watch, to avoid any face to face confrontation. I think it is just that Herk is lazy and doesn't come out as much, so that if anyone wants to get back in, Herk is in the way. At this time of the year, we can't open the door any further in case of snow showers. Our sheep stop outside, but that is because they kept escaping from the place where there was shelter. They seem okay.


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