Monday, 9 March 2015

It is finished - again!

Ooooh Good! The snow is going! 4th March
The academic paper I have been writing for absolutely ages on and off, has been submitted yet again. Not sure if the reaction will be better this time or not, but I don't think I will hear anything for about six weeks and so I shall just put it out of my mind until I hear back from them. It is nice not to have to think about it and it means I can concentrate on other work that demands my attention. I have now also completed the work for the online educational organisation I work for and so the first year's curriculum, including exam is finally written up and loaded onto the website. I even marked three lots of work sent in by one student who seems to save up his work to post to me at the worst possible time. Normally work should be returned in three days, instead I acknowledged I had it and said I would get onto it as soon as possible. I don't feel too bad about that when someone is not posting work back regularly. I also have interviews either booked or in the process of being booked, so I feel like there has been a lot of progress on many fronts. 
Oh no it's not! 5th March
Oh yes it is! 9th March In fact it has been quite tropical,
relatively speaking that is. 
I am really looking forward to the interviews, as it will be a change of scenery and I get to do them myself, as the ladies I will be interviewing can speak English quite well. These are people who have taken an initiative to bring development to their communities and so I shall be trying to find out what motivates them and how they have found it, their struggles and their highlights. Doing research is a great excuse to be a bit nosy really, but I hope in the process to be able to point to ways that others can follow or at least help to make sure these initiators are given the kind of support they need to do what they do best. Well that's the theory anyway.
Spring has sprung. This is the 5 spice plant in the greenhouse

The comfrey is peeking through
Ian has been doing a lot of thinking and planning just lately. He is trying to think about the best way of moving forward with keeping alpacas, It is no good me telling Ian what to do all the time, I can make suggestions (something I can be rather too good at), but at the end of the day, he is the one that has to do most of the work with the alpacas and on the land. I also have a lot to think about with my research and so it is nice to listen to his plans for a change. One of the decisions he made was to go on a shearing course and that has now all been organised and booked. He will also do an intensive husbandry course at the same time and then stay on to help them do the routine shearing. Staying on to help out means that he gets the shearing course for free and thus saving us some money and gets Ian some extra practice at the same time. He is also going to stay with one of my regular blog readers who came out to see us a few years ago, so that works out rather nicely.
Fresh onion leaves soon
And the Brussels Sprouts survived too, albeit a bit squashed
We lost one of our chickens this week, well not quite lost, she was caught by a falcon, possibly a peregrine falcon, but it dropped the chicken and so Ian managed to recover the carcass. It was a shame as she was a good layer and not that much meat on her. Still she made a tasty pot pie and soup. It might sound a bit harsh, but just burying her would be a waste and it was a clean kill, so not much of a risk to our health either. Of course that meant that today all outdoor chickens had to stay inside. No point in encouraging a falcon to think we will provide endless meals.
The hawthorn is budding too
Agnese coming to take a look as always
Ian has spent most of the week cutting down trees and taking Agnese for a walk. One day I shall have to get a video for you to see. The tree cutting is part of the ongoing thinning process we are doing to help the rest of the trees grow stronger, as well as provide us with fuel for next year. Taking Agnese for a walk is part of her training and Ian's training. Having never trained an alpaca before and only having books to learn from, he is taking it slowly and just seeing how she reacts. He says she even seems to be enjoying the walks, after all alpacas are fairly curious animals. There are alpaca farms where you can take an alpaca out for a walk and I think it would be fairly therapeutic, as they need a calm and steady manner to walk quietly with you. It is also good to know how to train an animal if we ever want to take an alpaca to a show. Halter training an animal means it might make it easier for Ian to deal with an animal if they are sick or need some treatment and I am not around to hold onto them.
Tree cutting. What you cannot see so well in this picture
is the orchard fence to the right. Ian was pleased that he has
managed to miss it, despite the rather close proximity to the
forest edge
Agnese's fleece. This is a bit different to the other fleeces.
It had us looking through on the difference between Suri
alpacas and Huacaya alpacas. Suris have long silky fleeces
and there is a hint of this in Agnese's fleece. Suri genetics
though are dominant and it is unlikely to be Suri from two
Huacaya parents, but I do need more information on that.
Someone asked fairly recently what people think about the situation between Latvia and Russia and to be honest I am not really sure. I haven't really had much opportunity to ask anyone. A quick chat with a friend today suggests it is not a current conversation, but could still be on people's minds. It has been on my mind a bit this week for a few reasons, firstly Ian mentioned an article which talked about pensioners who had had to move away due to fighting in the Ukraine. Some had loved ones on both sides of the buffer zone and one old man had had to move away during the Second World War and even spent time in Dachau and now at the age of 87 years old was torn away from his home again. He then had a dream where he let the animals free and then we packed up the car and horsebox and headed south. Lastly today Putin finally admitted to discussing taking back Crimea even before the little green men headed in.
Estelle's fleece - much fluffier and less stringy looking and
more like a traditional Huacaya fleece
Agnese's Mum is looking in much better shape this year
than last year. I guess she must feel far more settled
I am not sure what game Putin is playing at, but he certainly is playing a dangerous game and we do need to keep a wary eye on what is going on. Does this mean we are planning our escape? No not really. As I ponder what we would take if the whole situation was to blow up, it makes me realise how traumatised people must be as they have to make decisions on what to do with animals and their possessions. Which of our possessions are precious enough to fill a horse box with? What would be considered necessities? Pots, pans? Or furniture that once belonged to my grandparents? Books? What an awful dilemma so many folks in Ukraine have faced and are still facing and it is sad to say they are not the only ones.

Tellus' fleece is thickening up a lot just lately

Our not so favourite animals have been back, the wild boar.
They have not done a huge amount of damage, but it is getting
persistent and our neighbour has told her she has a hectare of
land that is full of very deep holes now. Not sure the African
Swine Fever has had much effect around here then.

Sofie with her very long winter coat exploring more and
more out of the greenhouse. She is also acting rather daft at
 times, charging around all over the place. That cat can
move fast! I suppose she must be sensing Spring around the


  1. Well done on getting your paper submitted. It's such a good feeling!

    1. Thank you Gina. It is indeed a good feeling

  2. Another milestone being reached! Will be good to know that all your hard work has paid off.

    1. Not the only milestone this week and I can't believe I forgot to mention the fact it has been seven years since we moved to Latvia. It is good to know though and I am really hoping I can tick that off my list now

  3. I know how good it feels to press that "send" button. Glad you can take a break from it now.

    Alpacas are such odd-looking creatures. To me they seem both exotic and irresistibly cute. They faces suggest individual personalities too. :)

    1. I'm mighty glad too Bill :)

      Their faces express much about their characters for sure. They are all so very different. Maybe I will have to introduce them all individually with a character description :D

  4. are you close to the border? It is a concern. He's a bit of a loose cannon...

    1. We are about 2 hours away from the border and it is a concern of sorts. It is the unpredictability of it that is the worse part I think. Just not sure what his game is.


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