Monday, 20 April 2015


The sky tonight was amazing
So what about this week then? Well it has been quite different to the normal routine, I have even escaped the house from time to time and away from the computer. Unfortunately the dratted paper was returned with yet more modifications needed, but at least they are happier with it and I think it is mostly structural issues now, so that is progress. The other papers plod on, but I'm hopefully getting there with those too.
Our computer savvy cat, Sofie

Ian has built a mini fence around the blueberries to deter
the wild boar. It wouldn't stop them getting in but we hope
it would just encourage them to go around and not dig in
between the blueberry bushes
The infected eye certainly caused me some difficulties. It is not easy to get work done with one eye not working properly and I had to make some progress. Fortunately though with salty herbal washes I managed to avoid having to get antibiotics. The problem is that there are a few antibiotics I am allergic to and so the less I use them the better; otherwise when I really need them I am not going to find any that work that I don't react to. I did find out though that oat poultices are no good for me also. They did make a really nice soothing poultice for my eye, but then it made my skin itchy. I know I am allergic to nickel and that is in high quantities in oats. I can eat some oats, just not a huge quantity, so I have a mixed grain porridge in the morning and not just an oat porridge. I wouldn't mind, I'm not a particularly finicky sort of person, it is just some things do react and it annoys me no end. I am quite pleased though that none of the meetings I tried to arrange worked out, otherwise I would have had to cancel them all anyway.
The trenches are working to help drain
the land slowly

Our gifts from school. The handmade dandelion was
made by the deputy head. I have never seen one
like it before. I have been trying to work out how
the bit just below the pompom top was made. 
This week we went to do a presentation in an English class, as it was language week at the school we had previously been to just before Christmas. I was so pleased that my eye was not as bruised looking as it had been the day before - goodness only knows what anyone would have thought otherwise. We had a lovely time and the kids were all paying attention and asking questions at the end. For our troubles we were provided with lunch and the teacher who invited us managed to sort out a problem I had with getting permission to use some photos. I needed someone who could understand what I needed and could then translate that. I also needed that permission by the end of the following day and so it was a bit tight timing-wise.
The wood anemones are out now

My new veg patch and the two wheel tractor with its new
attachment. The veg patch is twice as big as last year and
the plan is that it will be even bigger the following year.
Eventually there will be four plots for rotation, with one
plot fallow with chickens in it to manure the ground.
The following day we went to the outskirts of Riga to get a new rotavator that goes on the two wheel tractor. The one we have is difficult to use at times, the belts that are needed for it are not easily available and it cuts out at certain angles on slopes. All in all it is not a good machine for us. It is fine if you want to work a small garden on the flat but not for the amount we have to do. Using our little big tractor (you would know what I mean if you saw it, bigger than a two wheel tractor but quite small as far as farm tractors go) we can plough large areas, but often we don't want to do a large area and sometimes we have to wait too long for the ground to dry out to use the big tractor. At the moment the ground is still too damp for the big tractor to be used much without risk of churning up the ground, but it has been dry enough for Ian to get out and play with his new toy. He is so pleased with it, as it is so much less work than the other rotavator. So now we have areas rotavated for the new veg garden and areas prepared for manuring and green manure seed to be sown. We will wait two weeks to allow weed seeds to germinate and then hoe or turn those in before planting the veg seeds or seedlings.
An old strawberry bed has been rotavated.
Saves a little back work
It is easier to follow the contours of the land now with this
rotavator and so hopefully the water will not run straight
off down the land when it pours
We took a circuitous route back from Riga so that we can call into a small factory to get some more work trousers for Ian. We have been so pleased with the trousers from that small unit because they last so long and they are not so expensive either. Ian prefers side pockets part way down the leg for putting his mobile in, as he hates putting things in pockets situated higher up and so the styling of them is just right too. He also bought a winter coats as his other one is disintegrating badly now, unfortunately he managed to put a small tear in it already when he caught the coat on the fence today. Heh ho! The joys of working the land. The grand total for three pairs of trousers and his winter jacket was €93, a true bargain in every sense of the word. A true bargain is when both customer and producer benefit and since we were dealing directly with the producers then there is no middleman or six to factor in. Even better they took up the trousers for free there and then. Saved me a job.
These are the plots so far that have been either ploughed or
rotavated on our crop field
As you see, we are still getting snow showers or in this case
hail and the ponds are still quite high
Saturday we had visitors to see the alpacas. One of my fellow students at Tartu had wanted to see our alpacas for quite a while, she would love some herself and finally she was close enough to pay a visit along with my supervisor who makes regular visits to see us, err I mean the alpacas.  I had also arranged to meet up with someone about a conference that I will be helping out at in June, she happened to be in our village over the weekend and we had been going to try and meet together for quite a while so this worked out perfectly. She also wanted to see the alpacas. So Saturday saw me walking up to the hotel to meet up with the lady from Riga, travelling out to our land, showing her around, then going back to our village and being dropped off at our apartment. I then waited a few minutes and our next guests arrived and I travelled back out to the land with them. We had lunch with the left overs from a meeting they had been at and then they took me back home. I made our evening meal in time for Ian to arrive home and then straight after that I went back out for a proper meeting with the lady from Riga. It felt quite weird going backwards and forwards all day. I haven't done that in a long time.
This was the spot the sheep have been on all winter. The top
of this pile is nice and dry but the bed of hay they have
been on was about 20cm deep at least and well and truly
compacted. Ian had to use the big tractor to move it to make
way for the veg bed. Should be nicely manured there, but
must remember not to plant carrots in that spot.

They enjoyed the new grass for the first few hours and then
they realised that there isn't actually that much grass. It is
mainly weeds in this section and we are likely to plough it
to reseed it, but just in case we don't get around to it, we hope
they might eat the weeds down first to stop them flowering
or at least delay it. The grass is still not high enough to risk
putting them anywhere where we know we get decent grass.
Don't worry though, they won't starve, they can still eat hay.
At least they get more chance to move around now though


  1. Sorry to hear about your eye. Hope it's ok now. Nothing worse than something stopping you from seeing properly

    1. It is much better now Ju. Not quite 100% but nearly.

  2. You're wise to try to follow the contours of the land that way. Wiser than me as I have never been able to figure that out. When we have a heavy rain on freshly tilled land the effects are disheartening to say the least. This year for the first time ever I called in the NRCS (National Resource Conservation Service) for advice and they're scheduled to be here in a couple of hours, hopefully with the expertise that will help me be a better steward.

    Good to see that you've made so much progress in land prep. It remains cold and wet here so we're still behind schedule. Which is fine of course. Nature isn't interested in my schedule.

  3. Oh I hear you on Nature's schedule. Mind you spring can always be beguiling and lull you into a false sense of security.

    I will be interested to know what your NRCS people suggest. I have been looking up the contour approach on google. The terms I searched on are keyline and berms mainly. That shows some aspects of the concept. We haven't gone to the full extent of making absolutely sure we are horizontal, just trying to break the flow


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