Monday, 16 March 2015

I don't believe it!

I mentioned in the comments last week that I might
introduce some of the characters we have on our farm,
particularly the alpacas. So here we have Veronica, also
known as Lady V and that kind of gives you a clue to her
character. She is too proud and probably too old now, to run
around with the youngsters. She is our oldest alpaca at 12
years old. She is also the most cautious and makes the
most fuss when I go up to see them, as she knows it usually
means something needs doing and someone isn't going to
like it. She is also the one we most have to watch
for kicking with her hind legs when she doesn't like
something. She gave birth to a cria last year, but it didn't
survive unfortunately, but hopefully is pregnant again this
year. She seems to have a very good and most productive
fleece of all of them. We don't know how fine it is, but it
handles nicely.
I can't believe I managed to let one of the most significant milestones of the year go by without mentioning it here on my blog last week. It is seven years since we moved to Latvia. We did go out for a meal to celebrate but just forgot to mention here. It is important because for the last seven years we have lived on savings and those savings are not going to last another seven years and so we have to transition into a new phase, whatever that phase is. It is still not looking clear yet, but we are ever hopeful, or at least I am. Seven years is a nice biblical number and I am often reminded of the story of Joseph, where Joseph interpreted the dream of Pharaoh about the period of seven good years, followed by the seven poor years that ate up all the produce from the seven good years. The last seven years haven't been poor ones for us, we have enjoyed them immensely and there is not much we would have done differently. They did just about eat all the savings of the previous seven years though. So we will be sowing seeds for the future now, both literally and spiritually and see where the next year will take us.
The little scamp

Trying their best to eat what little grass there is. They are
probably eating more moss than anything else. This is
why they are still not let out of the paddock yet. Not until
the grass is growing strongly.
There were also other significant milestones last week that I forgot about; the swans have been returning, heralds that the migrants are returning. They were followed by the geese, although some of them seemed a little confused as to which direction they were flying in, as Ian saw a flock heading south, but I am glad to say that most of them seem to have got the right idea. On Friday of last week we also saw two cranes flying in, or rather we heard them first and then saw them fly over. They are noisy birds. We are still waiting for the storks yet though. There are still patches of snow around, but they are few and far between and the weeds are starting to race away, getting a head start before the grass in our pasture areas. Still ground elder and nettle soup before long I think.
The moss is greening up lovely

The manure heap has been moved to the next plot where
our garden will be extended to next year. Ian has dragged
the spring-tine through it to start to break up the soil
I had a minor embarrassment, which wouldn't have happened if we had managed to learn Latvian in these last seven years. I misunderstood an email from a company. I thought they wanted the meter reading from last year and thought they had inadvertently put in this year's dates. Apparently they were trying to tell me they only want a yearly reading and they will do that themselves and not be sent monthly readings like many of the companies do here. Part of the confusion came from the dates which roughly corresponded to the dates when I transferred the name of the account over to me and not our friend who we bought the apartment off all those years ago. I know! It was rather a long time to get around to it, but we got there in the end. Part of the problem was using google translate which asked for a conversion reading. Google is far from perfect for the Latvian language, but usually I get by. Anyway it is all sorted now.
This area has been cleared of old logs, rubbish, some hay
bales and the solar dryer. The spring-tine has been put
through this too
Space for coffee time, out on the hill
I think for nearly as long as we have been here, we have had issues with the heating company that supplies heating to our apartment block and if it isn't the heating company it is with some of our neighbours over the heating. The issues have been many and varied, from not turning on heating promptly due to unpaid bills from other householders to incorrect charges, from sending cold water through the pipes and charging astronomical bills to homes being too hot. It would be nice to have our own system that we can decide when it goes on and when it goes off and how hot it runs in between, but it doesn't look like that will be settled any time soon. We are still arguing with the company over how much we owe for heating. The only change is that we now email and I actually get responses back within days. That's a bit of a novelty. These are some of the reasons we would love to sell or rent out our flat, but with heating bills like that, it makes me wonder who would want to.

Geese heading north
A little church, just outside of Rugaji
 This week we took a trip out to Rugaji, somewhere closer to the Russian border. I didn't see Putin at all, while I was there, but we did meet a very nice lady who is trying to help her community by helping them to apply for project money mainly from the EU. She loves the place and loves to help and yet the family still are not able to stay together, as her husband does not live with them. He is off driving trucks in another country to make ends meet. So many families here live separate lives with husbands or wives off in different countries, sometimes even leaving children with grandparents while they try to earn a living. For some it is an opportunity too good to be missed, for some it is a chance to get away from communities or governments they don't like and for some it is purely because they have to. There is so much land and forest here and yet it is more likely that the only jobs available are ones with small salaries, the majority of the money heading out to Swedish or Danish companies, who run forestry companies or agricultural enterprises raising rapeseed crops. It is a pity they haven't brought the more cooperative management style with them here to keep more of the money in the area.

A farmstead opposite the church. Rather different to our
hilly area, but more typical of rural Latvian landscapes
Ghostly looking Tellus and Turbjørn in the fog. Tellus is
looking remarkably white now the snow has gone.
The rest of the week was fairly mundane. I started some cabbage and onion seeds off and they are now racing away. We continue to treat Aggie and Herk's skin problems. Aggie gets a wound cleaner solution on her feet to keep them free from infection and they are healing nicely. Herk looks awful again, but this process always takes a while to get the hard crusty skin to soften up and come off, meanwhile he looks dirty and grubby with raw looking skin in places - although it isn't as raw as it looks because he doesn't flinch in the slightest when applying the oily cream. The good thing is that it does mean that these two are unlikely to be picking up new mite infections as both applications have mite deterrent herbs in them. This time of the year is the worst for mite infections as the numbers start to increase in the warmer days. The rest of the time has been spent on catching up with some odd jobs that I needed to do now the academic paper is out of the way, like actually doing some reading for information's sake and not for a paper and cleaning the apartment. Now I am preparing for the next paper that needs to be written and have a time scale for that to be done and prepare a presentation for next month. I have to get cracking on those before the spring sowing season really ramps up, which is close now that Ian has started preparing the ground for a new extension to the vegetable garden out on the land.
Enjoying the sunshine
Herk sitting and ruminating
Something I was pondering about this week was where do we get some ideas from? Often when listening to UK radio or reading a British newspaper, someone comments that Britain is such a small country. Not sure where we get that idea. It is an island true, but it isn't that small. It ranks 22nd (out of 249) in the world for population and 2nd or 3rd in the EU depending on which figures you look at. So Brits are fairly numerous. It is also about 80th by size in the world and 8th within the EU, so not huge land-wise but not small either. It does mean that Britain packs more people into the land area though (we always said it was way too busy). So why does it still happen that journalists etc. trumpet how small Britain is? Do they not check their facts? It is fairly easy to do after all with a little search through Google. Now if we were talking about somewhere like Denmark for punching above it's weight, so to speak, then you have somewhere that is small population wise i.e. 111th in the world and small size wise i.e. 133rd  (unless you include Greenland that is also part of the Kingdom of Denmark, which I'm not going to). Wonder what other facts we accept as truth that aren't really true?
Hopefully this works, but here is a video of Ian taking Aggie for a walk


  1. Seven years already! And I think I've followed your journey for over 6 of those 7 years. How many changes there have been. Can't wait to see how things go in the next 7 years. Praying for wisdom to know which way to go and how to proceed. Bless you both richly. Loved the video btw.

    1. Thank you Mavis. Bless you too for all the encouragement over the years

  2. Congratulations on seven years, what a courageous move to have made. Wishing you the very best of luck for the next seven.

  3. Congrats on the seven year anniversary! Seven years ago I was till toiling away in my office, although we had begun the transition already. Like you we're starting to look further down the road now, wondering what the future holds.

    There is a Quaker saying I like that speaks to things like that: "Way will open."

    1. Thank you Bill. I do like that Quaker saying, speaks volumes to me at the moment :)


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