Monday, 27 July 2015

Done! Well some of it!

One bed of Amaranth found amongst
the weeds. Believe it or not there is
another on the right of this picture and
another four beds you cannot see.

It has been a week of a lot done and a lot not done, such is summer time. I managed to finish the paper I have been writing for ages. Hopefully this re-write satisfies everyone. We will see! I didn’t think I would be able to edit it down to the correct word count, but I amazingly managed it. I was very chuffed with myself for that.
Fortunately not all weeds are quite so
large. This was in our small greenhouse
that is more like a storage area and errrr
weed incubator.

Food mill and halters for the alpacas arrived from our good
friends in America. If only this package could talk, it would
be interesting to know why it was sent from Oregon to
Florida (diagonally opposite across the country) then up
north to New York? It took 12 days to leave the US and yet
we were give a delivery date of 6-10days. Oh the efficiency
of the US postal system, I guess. Fortunately after that it was
flown straight to Latvia and took a day to go through
customs before being delivered to our local post office.
Of course there has been much weeding and processing of berries, as usual for this time of the year. I got my new food mill that meant I could process a whole load of berries for the freezer. I decided not to do them all, but wait until later on in the year, when the weather is not so good and process the berries first by steaming to get juice and then through the food mill for jam or berry sauces and that means I can just sling them in the freezer with leaves, stems the lot. I think we have just about finished the strawberry harvest though now - so sad when that happens. We had been really enjoying the strawberries on our porridge for breakfast.
Blackcurrants ripe for picking

The barley is ripening
The season seems to have turned here and it has a definite feel of late summer now. The weeds are slowing down in growth (thank goodness) the leaves on the dandelions and strawberries are going red or mottled and the leaves on the trees are the dull green of the end of the season. Birds are also starting to congregate in preparation for migrating soon – it may still be a few weeks away yet, but the signs are there.
The first cabbage of the season. The cool weather has
favoured the brassicas this year and our cabbages are
looking quite good. We are not necessarily great
cabbage growers usually. Mind you, the snails were
out in force tonight and I had to pick quite a few off and
squish them underfoot.

We are not sure if we should be worried about the
appearance of these bugs on our redcurrants or not. Not
really sure what they are.
We are still getting summer visitors too, which is rather nice. This week the chap who wanted us to meet his German friend the other week and who Ian keeps meeting at the car technical place, came with his wife and young son. They stayed for quite a while chatting. Ian showed the wife around, since she had never been before and I got into a conversation with the chap about hunting. It is funny that I can explain the Latvian system to a Latvian, as I know more about the topic. Still not every Latvian is acquainted with the laws of their land on the topic – they don’t need to be in general and I did spend quite a while studying the ins and outs of hunting in Latvia. We are enjoying it when many visitors come, they bring chocolate - always welcome in our place and we had only just eaten up the last one from a previous group.
These bugs, however are a very welcome sight - ladybird

Oats all behind an electric fence.
Talking of hunting, our hunter told us he had shot a wild boar on our land the other day. We are pleased as we are starting to have more serious trouble with them and we had to put an electric fence around the oats to try and prevent more damage. Unfortunately the electric energiser we have available to use is not that powerful, but it might make them think twice – it made our kitten think twice when she came into contact with it. A learning experience for any farm cat!
Rather close to the barley field but an area the boars do
dig regularly next to the trees. Apparently boar are not
so fond of barley - probably due to the stiff hairs that
stick out of the head of the barley ears.

You won't see a sight like this very often. It has been nice
and warm but not too hot this week and so a chance to wear
a t-shirt and not a long, sleeved top to keep the sun off.
The reason we knew the hunter had shot an animal was because we had been to our local festival and they were having a grilling competition and he told us that on the menu was the wild boar that he shot at our place. We really wanted to organise taking our alpacas to the festival and show the fleece to people but yet again we didn’t get organised in time, not easy when we need translators for it. Maybe next year (that sounds like the gardeners’ refrain when something doesn’t work)
We have seen more bees this week, which is good news

Eyre, our kitten, obviously under-whelmed by Le Tour!
Our kitten has also been learning other lessons this week. Firstly she has been getting quite good at catching insects, unfortunately she tends to bring them into the caravan to play with, which is not what we really want. Neither was Ian impressed with the dead stinky mouse she brought in and even less impressed with the live one. We are not sure if Sofie, our older cat, had caught the mouse earlier and was trying to train our little one, or whether our little one had actually caught it herself. Either way, Ian made sure she caught it again and then evicted her from the caravan with the mouse in her mouth. She caused us a bit of consternation, just before we are about to leave the land tonight as she went missing Ian looked all over for her. Just as we were about to give up, she turned up.
Venturing out. She often accompanies us on our walks now
but gets very panicky if she cannot see us and we have to
whistle or talk to her so she can find us when we are going
through the long grass.

There are lots of flowers blooming in our meadows at this
time of year in the areas we haven't already cut
Our other visitors this week were friends of our goat farming friend and she brought her friends around to see what we were doing. It was great to hear their ideas on the things we are doing and they asked lots of questions of the sort that you know they know a lot about the topic. They have also used a seed processor before and loved the fact we had one. They reckon that ours is over a hundred years old. We were also told that the old Russian tractors use belts like the processor one and so we should be able to replace it without a problem. They told us there was a screen missing and what it would do and explained that the movable sieves underneath could do with some repair, which we thought might be the case. Other than that it was fine. At least we feel a little more confident that we know what it does and how it should work. We thought we had worked it out, but it is nice to know that from someone who has really used them. It was also nice to get an email from the people who had donated it to us where they mentioned that they think the seed processor is in good hands.
The hemp is growing well

To let more light in when we are
checking over the animals in the
evening, Ian made the back door into
a half door. It helps, but we could still
do with more light in. 
We have been trying to do some planning this week. Sometimes we get so busy we don’t really take time to think ahead, which is not so good. Ian put all my planned trips away into his diary and so he should now know when I am likely not to be around. Basically every month I am away somewhere now until November. Our daughter also asked if Ian would go over to their place to help her husband work on their new house and so that means Ian will be away for part of the time too, leaving me home alone with the animals.
We didn't have much in the way of seed for the sweetcorn and
didn't want to risk it outside anyway - heavenly food for boar
- so we planted it in the greenhouse, which it seems to be enjoying

Cooking the chicken out on our land
means using our halogen oven in the
greenhouse. It was too warm to have it
cooking in the caravan. We call our
halogen oven "Robbie." can't remember
Part of our plans included dispatching three cockerels, since they are not really needed. One was making itself a nuisance by pestering our other free-range cockerel. One was favouring one particular hen and her feathers were coming off on her back, so hopefully she will recover. The other cockerel didn’t have a nice temperament and so we had no wish to keep him any longer. We had the bad tempered one for our evening meal, he was chewy but tasty. The others will definitely be put in the slow cooker.
Are we worried? These are the chicks and not for dispatch-
well not yet anyway. Some will be when we are sure which
are cockerels and which are not.

The grapes are beginning to turn too
Other plans for the future included prioritising new fences for pastures and fields, digging for water, and sorting out a container for winter storage. We started to put a list together of what needed doing when and who we needed to talk to about the plan if needed - or in other words, I got out a paper and pen and wrote it down. It’s a start. We also chatted about all the requirements for a happy and long marriage. Since we have been married for over 30 years, we feel we have some experience in the matter. We decided that deliberate mis-communication, selective deafness, repeated story-telling repeated and of course all that has to be washed down with a liberal dose of humour, otherwise all of that will end in tears. Well it did help the planning to go down a little bit better, or there would have been many a cross word I think.

Brencis is growing up fast. His mum, who
is sat behind him, must be giving him some
good stuff.


  1. I have some dispatching work to do here too. A friend bought 8 sex link pullets from the local feed store only to discover that they weren't allowed to keep them where he lives. So he gave them to us. At least five of them turned out to be roosters (cockerels)! Added to the 2 we already had, that's way too many. Our poor hens will be very relieved when those roosters find their way from the chickenyard to the crock pot!

    1. You would think our hens would have been grateful too, but judging by the number of eggs we got this week, I'm not so sure they were. With blue skies today, I would hope they will get their act together and appreciate the peace and quiet.

      I find it amazing that he came home with 5 out of 8 males when the pullets were sex-linked, or does the difference only show later on?


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