Monday, 25 May 2015

Good question!

Cranberries weeded, mulched and protected again
So what have I done this week? Good question! It is only as I sat down to write the blog I have gradually remembered what it is I have been doing. One of the things was that I have found a cranberry bed, that according to ancient texts existed by our pond under the lobster pot. Translated means, that the cranberry plants have got rather overgrown over the last year and were rather difficult to see, and the lobster pot is actually the protection that Ian made to protect them from the chickens, unfortunately it doesn't protect them from weeds. We live in our own little world at times!
One of our resident swallows

Extension is in progress
According to ancient texts has become a bit of a running joke between us, as we have been doing some sorting out. For instance according to ancient texts, i.e. this blog and over a year ago, we planted blackcurrant bushes just outside our orchard plot, but they disappeared in amongst the grass which was never mown. The grass has now been cut back and the blackcurrant bushes can now be seen. Likewise my badly overgrown herb bed looked more like a dandelion flower bed, but that also has been painstakingly cleared like an archeologist on an archeological dig and once again the marjoram, thyme, sage, chives, winter savoury, possibly tarragon (not convinced I found that), parsley, lavender, yarrow and lady's mantle have all been revealed. They have also been well mulched with wood chips to ensure that it is a long time before I have to do such a massive clear out again. Well that's the plan.
I found the grass! I love the contrasting colours

But the dandelions are giving them a rather sickly hue
I have also planted up another third of our allotment plot with beetroot, carrots, beans and fodder beet today. Our seeder has been such a blessing, along with the new rotatvator. Ian rotavated it a couple of weeks ago, so all I had to do was to take out the weeds that had been coming back, hoe it quickly and then plant seeds. I also laid a hay pathway down the middle so I don't squash the soil and it will gradually add bulk to the soil. Ian has also planted the amaranth and quinoa in the field and our new veg plot. The second planting was insurance against another water-logged year in the field. Especially since we have had to use two year old seed. Ian was rather excited to discover that using a compressor, that he has on permanent loan, he could clean the seed ready for planting. As long as he makes sure it is just a gentle waft of air and not a blast as he accidentally did at one point.
Notice the lack of dandelions in the middle here. This has
been called a Herk circle

This is Herk creating a Herk circle. He basically sits there
and eats around himself. 
The academic work has not been neglected either. A couple of days rain meant I had time to quickly reformat a short paper that needed some amendments for a conference and to begin working on the Sociology course for IGCSE for year 11s that needs to be finished by the beginning of September. Unfortunately the Masters thesis I was supposed to be marking didn't materialise in my inbox until the good weather set in. I was not a happy bunny. That will be completed by tomorrow since it is due to rain again.
We have too many dandelions. Good job the animals
actually eat them. We are not going to cut them, they
go to seed anyway. We will let the grass grow and shade
out the sun loving plants. Well that's the theory and in
places where we have done that, it seems to be the case. 

Ian would like you to note that he still has his winter coat
on, despite the sunshine
Yes we have had a lot of rain and it has been a tad chilly at times. Ian has been bemoaning the bad weather, but I said it is just as bad in Fort Collins, Colorado where we used to live. Colorado is renowned for its sunshine, but that seems to have deserted it just lately. Let's hope it is recharging the reservoirs since they usually rely on the winter snowpack to do that and that has been sadly lacking just lately. I think he got a bit spoilt in Colorado really. I wouldn't trade the lush greenness for the semi-arid dessert. A nice warm day, though cheered him up.
Sofie left Ian a little present to go with his tea

Sweet little me?
We have spent our first night of the year in the caravan this week as well. We will probably be spending more nights there when our alpaca mums give birth. We thought one of them was going to pop this week. She was distinctly uncomfortable but we are not sure if it was just wind or the baby moving around. There were lots of gurgling noises and she was standing up and sitting down a lot - usually a precursor to giving birth but now she has settled down. Although the rain hasn't been welcomed for Ian, the animals have appreciated it. We are still waiting for an essential piece of equipment to arrive before we can start on with shearing. It is a sailing boat pulley and something Ian found very useful to pin the animals down whilst on his shearing course. At least the tooth cutter arrived today.
Snowdrop looking particularly uncomfortable. Poor girl.
She has also been making the other alpacas miserable by
being very irritable

Tim has been behaving himself mostly this week. He has
been close to being on a plate for not going in at nights.
Sergeant Wilson our other cockerel has been stalking me
again and he went for Ian today. I am determined that he is
not going to win. He would be an ideal candidate for lunch,
if it wasn't for the fact he is one of the best cockerels ever
at keeping his ladies from wandering too far. I will see
what a little lesson in humility will do.

Ian has found another use for the two wheel tractor. A fleece
tumbler. The tumbler (or tombola as Ian has nicknamed it)
is attached to the wheel studs of the tractor and by lifting
the body of the tractor clear of the floor it can turn the
tumbler without turning the other wheel. It seems to be
working. On Youtube there was a demonstration of one that
used a leaf blower to aid the process, so Ian will have found
another use for the compressor. He always wanted a
compressor and said one would be very useful, so I guess
he could have been right. 
A friend posted a blog on embracing your past ghosts. Not because we should relish the pain, but sometimes by accepting what has gone on before and how it has changed us, means we can move on from the past. I have been thinking about that and wondering how that applies in my own life and how it applies in the life of others that I know. It makes me wonder what would happen here in Latvia too. Which ghosts need to be laid to rest? Which need to be embraced and accepted for what they are. How can I be a part of the process in myself, in others, in a nation? I have a feeling that might rumble on in my head for a while.
Bonus of lot's of pictures this week. I had from over 100 to
choose from. I love the drops of rain on this leaf

Our little chicks have moved out to join the bigger ones.
The big ones, of course are picking on them and I have
had a couple of discussions with the bigger one, which
we suspect is a cockerel. Thought I would start humility lessons

The strawberries are starting to flower

Asparagus ready for picking

Buckwheat growing. This seems like it popped up overnight

Kale! I err must have dropped some seed

Tackling the weed, errr I mean herb bed. Not my most
glamorous pose. 


  1. Hey Jo, it is amazing read about your farm adventures over there!! Thank you for sharing it!!

    1. Thank you Andréia, glad you are enjoying it.

  2. As you know by now we spent the night out on the porch last night. Enjoyed the cool night air, the beautiful clear sky and the sounds of coyotes, whipporwills and an owl (among other things). I assume "caravan" is your word for what we call "camper." Cherie wants one and we've been toying with the idea of taking a cross-country trip in one in a few years. Glad to see your gardens and fields so productive. It's going to be a great summer!

    1. I can imagine it is idyllic. I would love to do that, but it will be under a mosquito net for sure. I think caravan translates as trailer in American, this is the definition I found

      › UK (US trailer) a wheeled vehicle for living or travelling in, especially for holidays, that contains beds and cooking equipment and can be pulled by a car

      We would call a camper a motor home. This is a link to a picture of our caravan

  3. Love your hat! It looks like a cowboy hat so much I'm wondering if you got it in Colorado? I'm wondering about humility lessons for our pup. On second thought, she's just about perfect except for occasional exuberant barking. Not sure humility would be quite the lesson she would need.

    1. The hat is indeed was bought in Colorado, although it is actually an Australian hat

    2. I have wanted an Australian hat like that for a very long time. My godmother lived in Brisbane and sent one to my husband back around 1990. We took off on a trip one time and the dog sitter left the door to the garage open. We came home to a badly chewed gorgeous hat. We were both heartbroken! I should have known it was the Australian variety. I think they are far better looking than the typical cowboy type.

    3. It is better in the summer because it has a mesh around the main body of the hat instead of being totally enclosed. I get some ventilation to my head then :) but the mosquitoes sometimes take advantage :(


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