Monday, 1 June 2015

Playing the waiting game

Posing in my wellies
It was my daughter's birthday this week and in a Skype conversation, she mentioned she was rather fed up with what she could eat for breakfast, so I managed to find something suitable online and sent her a breakfast hamper - actually hamper is too posh for a cardboard box, but it does sound nicer. Thank goodness for the internet that makes that kind of gift possible these days.

Agnese at one year old
It was also Agnese's birthday this week, unfortunately Ian goes out to our land before the shops opens and so no cream cake for her - not that she would have appreciated it, but Ian would have. Despite the appearance of the stork on the ladies’ alpaca house, we still do not have any new arrivals yet, well not of the four-legged variety. We have new arrivals in terms of seedlings, which have finally started poking through the soil. The soil must just have been too cold, because within a few days of warm sunshine and some rather heavy downpours, we now have different sorts of plants popping their heads up, here, there and everywhere. Some are welcome and some are definitely not so welcome.
The stork on the ladies' alpaca house but still no little
arrivals. Maybe just scouting out the area

Storks are magnificent birds though, when they fly

Well the raindrops do look pretty hanging off the oak leaves
The weather forecast at the beginning of the week was not good, more rain and some which was predicted to be quite heavy and prolonged, so Ian got on with cleaning out ditches, adding more ditches where needed etc in preparation. He also ensured that there were bales of hay nearer to the animals and made a cover for our periscope, aka mobile internet (if you have no idea what I am on about, you will have to take a look at the picture) to stop it raining in down the pole. On the day though, the rain was nowhere near as persistent over us. To the East and to the West it was though, so I feel sorry for the farmers in those areas. The next day after that was colder and wetter than predicted and Ian was feeling pretty fed up of not being able to get on with work – although it didn’t stop him getting on with digging the beds in the greenhouse. We are way behind on that work, with tomatoes only just going in today.

The periscope, aka mobile internet. The gadget is inside the
margarine tub, which is covered in gaffa tape. The cover
Ian made for the hole is from a cup from an old broken thermos
flask. The bad news is, that is just another excuse not to throw
anything away, the good news is, it works

Sunflowers coming through
There are some short beans in there

Orchard plot, finally tidy
As I mentioned the rain did dry up though and we have had a few days of some quite sunny weather, hence the seedlings coming through. I managed to get the orchard vegetable plot tidied up at last, which was a relief. I have even started work on the new plot, which is showing a lot of grass growth, rather than much in the way of seedlings. They are there, just the grass is more visible. I have spent a lot of time outside rather than on the computer, which has made a nice change. I just wish weeding was not quite such slow work. I also planted up the climbing beans and made a nice wigwam terrace, as Ian calls it. I had asked for bean poles over the winter, but I think they ended up in the shredder and so Ian had to cut me some new ones. It is nice we have a patch of thin tall young trees that needs thinning out. I would have got them myself, but I’m useless with a machete or more likely lethal.

Climbing beans planted and construction for them to
climb up
I got the beans planted in and cossetted with some hay to keep them from drying out or being buffeted by the weather – it is a good job I did. Just as I was finishing off the structure for them to climb up, some very black clouds rolled in and we had the first thunderstorm of the year. It was a good test for those ditches, but I was not so thrilled about the hail. My poor beans! Fortunately the hay mulch protected them, as did the construction. Unfortunately the construction itself got a bit of a battering in the wind and a third of it had to be set straight again after the storm. With the clearer skies, I went back to sowing peas, since the ground was nice and moist, but I just got started on that and more black clouds rolled in. Talk about speed sowing. I got them in and got into the caravan, just as the next thunderstorm started – fortunately not as ferocious as the last one. It was a bit frustrating, because if it was just a rain storm, I would have worked in the greenhouse, but since it was a thunderstorm, I would rather be in a tin can than a plastic/wood construction.
A very obvious baby bulge there on the right. 

It does look like a lawn with stripes
Whilst I was planting beans and finishing off the construction, Ian was mowing the lawn – okay not quite a lawn, but from a distance it now looks like a lawn. The cow parsley was starting to come into flower and the dandelions were heading into making seeds, so rather than let that happen, he cut everything on a high setting. The alpacas are not fond of long grass and so Ian will often cut the grass before putting them on it about a week or so later, so cutting the field does not matter to them, especially when it is on the high setting as there is still plenty of grass to eat. The cow parsley is a biannual and so hopefully by cutting it back, it should be greatly reduced in a year or two. It would be simpler with a weed killer of some sort I’m sure, but since we don’t like using those, we do the best we can to manage the weeds. Cow parsley and ground elder which we have been battling for a few years now are not favourites of the animals and so we are trying to ensure they are definitely reduced. I think it has been working, slowly. Dandelions, whilst not great in a field, as they have a habit of taking over, are at least nutritious for animals and they will eat them – especially once the grass is getting low.

The flail mower that Ian has been using to cut the lawn. A
normally very trusty machine but seems to be suffering today
and as I write this, Ian is in the barn trying to service it.
The service book is out

Greening up quite nicely - well if you like grass too

Big bird having a rest, before the fox had a go at her
We did manage to get to see some friends of ours this week – the ones with the goats. Her goat business is doing really well, which means they haven’t got a lot of time to see us and we have been so busy with the start of the season, we haven’t had the chance to see them either. Unfortunately our visit coincided with a visit from Mr or Mrs. Fox and so one of our good egg layers went missing, whilst we were away. A couple of days later there was a commotion and our cockerel was strutting up and down the field sounding the alarm, with a very muddy looking big bird following him gingerly out. We didn’t realise it at the time, but we think the fox had a go at her too. Ian managed to get hold of her to check if she was okay the next day and found she had a nasty gash on her back, so we cleaned it up and set her in a box for a quiet day, away from the cockerels.
At least the amaranth has germinated quite quickly
And the hemp is getting away well too

The tooth-a-matic for cutting alpaca teeth that arrived last
week. Yes that is an angle grinder with attachment
I haven’t had all week away from academia; there has been time to finish off a short paper for a conference in August, as well as finishing off marking the Masters thesis, that I was doing last week. I found out that one of my Masters students got an A for their Masters, which I am very pleased about. I thought he might, it was well written and so I am pleased someone else thought the same and it gives me more confidence in my own ability to mark work. Still not sure how the other student has gone, but I think hers not due for another week or two yet and since hers will be written in Latvian, I will not have the opportunity to read it apart from a summary, which is usually in English. In addition to all that I have worked on Sociology lessons and worked on THE paper (the one I have been doing for soooooo long). I may have cracked the problem there at last, with some help from a friend who happens to be a Sociology tutor. The answer for that might have been hiding in plain sight. I'm also signed in for the Latvian Rural Communities Parliament, which happens this week as well as a development forum that is running some parallel sessions that I was invited to join. So this next week will be a bit different again.

The critical tenplate that makes the operation so much
easier - apparently!


  1. What a busy time of year for you Joanna!

    1. It is Gina, but it is also nice to be doing something more physical and outdoors now

  2. What a varied life you have. No two weeks the same! Hope next week goes ok for you.

    1. It seems like that. I am sure this next week is going to look very different again

  3. I can see that life is busy for you and Ian these days. Part of living in synch with the seasons I suppose. Nature is busy too these days. :)

    Every year I aim to try growing pole beans and every year I don't do it. This year is no exception. I've begun planting beans and they're all bush beans. This summer my back will be wishing I'd used trellises.

    1. Nature is indeed busy :)

      I sympathise with the bush beans. We only grow those for drying and not really for green beans. I'm glad we do it that way around

  4. Can we call you a member of parliament?!

    1. I am sure the guy in charge of organising the Parliament would find that amusing. Unfortunately I didn't spend all my time there and missed the part about developing a resolution. That would make a bad MP :D

  5. What a great shot of the flying stork!

    1. It is a good shot I think! Ian certainly got a lucky shot I think


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