Monday, 2 March 2015

Just an ordinary week

An eerie misty morning
I have been home now for over a week now, which is rather nice. It has been one of those weeks though when I have been really busy, but not really got much to write about because I have been mainly writing up transcripts from interviews and finishing off the paper using the recommendations from my American friend and supervisor after the Skype conversation last week. So lots to do but not the most stimulating of topics.

A very Christmasy look
Even though I had got the writing up to do I still had to go out to the land and help Ian. We needed to get the alpaca toe nails cut. Monday of last week was nice, but of course the day I could go out it rained. Instead of letting the alpacas out to get wet and then try cutting their toe nails we kept them in to work on, but they didn't like that. In the morning they just want to get out and about a bit and so they are a little more antsy. We mostly managed but had to give Turbjørn time to calm down before finishing his toe nails off, in fact we ended up putting the halter on him and tying him up to get the job done. He is a bit of wimp really. Aggie also kicked me in the leg, but fortunately she is not that strong and their feet are padded. She is a little monkey at times.

A rather damp looking alpaca
Herk still needs oil on his skin and so he had a double dose of messing around with. It is a good job he isn't like Turbjørn and although he would rather not, he will stand still to have work done on him. I have also made an alcohol rubbing medication for Aggie's feet to clean them up and that appears to be working. I daren't put oil on Aggie's feet, I think it would be a breeding ground for bacteria. It is funny trying to work out what natural remedies might be effective for our animals, it sort of combines my desire to be a vet when I was a kid, my degree in Pharmacology and my love of herbs. It makes me laugh to remember that my Nan asked why I hadn't done anything with my degree during my years as a stay-at-home mum.

She shouldn't be up there. What is it about our sheep and
Ian and I also did a presentation for a group of people who were mainly from a small village close by to where we live. Our topics were alpaca breeders, wild boar researcher and experimenters. For people who like to hear other people's stories, we seem to spend an inordinate amount of time talking about ourselves and what we are doing. The people were interested in the alpacas and we took along the shawl that I had made for Ian's mother and a couple of pieces of felting I have done recently. The lady who had organised the talk had brought along some spinning wheels. I am not sure where she had got them from, but they were a bit old and had loose joints. Some ladies had a go with them and even managed to spin a little of the alpaca wool I had taken.

Our rather damp looking barn, but no floods so far. I hope
that doesn't tempt fate.
It was with some trepidation that I talked about the wild boar research I had done. Most knew nothing about it, but there was one gentleman in the audience who I had interviewed and he was keen to know what my findings were. I explained what my research had shown and he disagreed with one point that I made and that was according to the literature hunters should not shoot wild boar mothers or rather the matriarchal head of the herds. The reason is because it affects the herd dynamics and can result in dispersal of the piglets to cause more widespread damage and they can even breed earlier when not in a stable family unit (sounds familiar). He was right to disagree with me on that point because his land is so damaged that he says there is no meaning to have animals there at all now. He even has deer problems too now and I wonder where they came from (said with heavy sarcasm as in all probability they came from the same place that encouraged the high wild boar population in the first place)? In that particular area so many wild boar need culling for the sake of the farmers and the ecosystem that there needs to be a 2/3rd reduction and so mothers would have to be included in that sort of cull. Before any animal activists get uptight about the subject, consideration needs to be taken of the other animals in the area and the impact that the wild boar is having on them, not to mention all the vegetation they are digging up and giving rare plants a hard time.

Puddle walk
We got to talk with some more friends across the pond in America. Skype is certainly a plus for us.  Our friends are planning on joining us again this year and it is good to be able to talk through about their plans and where they could possibly help us. Although we didn't have many ideas, at least we know how it would fit into their overall plans and that is helpful. We also got chance to Skype with our little granddaughter again during bath time this time.

Disappearing snow. Normally when this happens we are
glad to see the back of it, because it has been down so long.
In some ways we still are, especially Ian, but it is only just
heading into March. I would be happier about these scenes
if it was the end of March. It still feels a little early to be
heading into Spring here.
Our snow has been melting away this week, but there are still some places that are quite deep, as we found out when we went for a walk. Sometimes it was up to my knees and so I sank in the slush. Ian weighs about the same as me (embarrassing to admit that, but let's be honest), the difference is though that he wears much bigger boots than I do and that spreads his weight. So I would be walking along behind him in his footsteps and then suddenly the snow would give way. It wasn't as if this happened all the time either. One minute I would be walking behind him fine and the next I would be floundering around trying to keep my balance. Shall we say it was a good work out. The reason we took the route we did was to examine the wild boar damage at the top of our land. It is not bad and within a few metres of the forest and so we are not too bothered about it. There is more damage on a neighbours land that we can see but it is amongst the trees and so the wild boar must be more cautious this year. Good that suits us fine, wish we could say the same for the guy with the huge wild boar problem to the north of us.

Water flowing out of the overflow from our large pond

Slowly, slowly going - well apart from today when it was
melting much faster

The rather soggy girls paddock. You wouldn't think that
it would be so wet at the top of the hill
Earlier this year the electric market opened up in Latvia and presented us with a conundrum. I thought I would be brave and change our electricity provider to one providing green electric, since there was only one - not that I think growing endless hectares of maize is particularly green but it is greener than gas power and  green power is also generated by hydroelectric dams (a legacy of the Soviet era when they gave no thought for the environmental effects of dams in the drive to generate power). I wanted to send the right kinds of signals to the energy market, for what it's worth. It was brave from the point of view that I could do it in either Latvian or Russian, but not English unlike for our previous provider. Anyway I waited for the contract and heard nothing. I sent an email via the contact page of their website, still nothing until Saturday when I received a text to say their website was down and please send the readings via a different method. I replied via SMS as directed and it said - get lost! Well actually it didn't but said something like, "Not a valid response, contact the operator." I tried that and of course it was busy, or at least I think that was said. Next I had a flash of inspiration, try the website, after all it couldn't be down for that long. Bingo! I have an account and I can see what is happening. Well sort of two out of three were fine, the other not so. Still I managed to fill in the readings and all is well, as long as I actually get an email now with the bill details. It would have been nice to know something about the details on the website beforehand or see a contract.
The freeze thaw at the side of our greenhouse

A mini river from the area around our
horse box. Ian had to cut a channel to
let it drain away

More soggy paddocks but not as bad as the girl's one, despite
it being further down the hill. The slope at least allows it to
drain away


  1. I can certainly relate to the soggy paddocks. We hauled off the last of our pigs Wednesday (ahead of rain and snow on Thursday). Seemed safe enough, but I got stuck in the pasture, despite having 4 wheel drive. I had to get the tractor and pull the truck out. You can imagine what that did to the pasture.

    Some parts of the US are having wild boar problems too. I read, as you did, that it doesn't help to shoot the mothers (or any of them for that matter). The material I read said the only way to control them is to corral them. And that can be a challenge.

    1. I know exactly what that did to the pasture Bill, we have been there a few times ourselves. Our land has areas where water must percolate upwards from time to time in some fairly random places and needless to say, we have found a few of them when all four wheels of our 4x4 have suddenly been embedded in mud.

      I would be interested to see the material you read. I suspect that it is the difference between trying to eradicate an invasive species, since wild boar and feral domestic pigs are imports that have escaped in the US and trying to manage an over-abundant indigenous population as in the case here in Europe.

  2. ''breeding earlier when in an unstable family unit'' that and love your unsaid connections....your snow does look deep in places. Well done for not disappearing completely!!

    1. Glad you liked the analogy, it occurred to me as I wrote that down for the blog.

      It wasn't that deep really, to see deep snow we have to go back to 2010
      The next to last picture is a picnic table. That year, though we used snowshoes and could walk on the top of it :)


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