Monday, 13 July 2015


Electroman setting up another fence for the boys. This one
is not generally electrified though, although it can be if one
in particular keeps escaping. Generally if there is enough
grass they do not bother, so Ian should be safe from any
shocking events from this fence.
Imagine the scene! I am busy weeding the new vegetable garden and Ian is mowing around the raspberry bushes, when suddenly there is a yelp from Ian and he's last seen heading in a straight line to Riga, hanging on to the mower. Well seriously - no I can't be serious, in fact I laughed a lot - what actually happened is my dearly beloved, whilst manoeuvring the mower, backed into the electrified sheep fencing and his derriere (French just in case you are not sure) made good contact with the fencing that is currently pumping out 8000V due to the damp conditions we have had this week. The electric exited through his arms that were holding the metal handles of the mower and so to earth. What I saw was Ian dancing around alternately flapping his arms and tucking them under his armpits to try and reduce the pain. I assumed that he had just got too close the fence whilst mowing, what I hadn't realised that he had backed into it and when I found out I was in stitches laughing. Not very sympathetic at all.
We thought we were going to be in for quite a storm and
wondered if Ian was going to go one better than being in
contact with the electric fence and lawnmower as this time
he was out cutting grass with the two wheel tractor. Fortunately
the rain only slowly came and we had plenty of time to put things
away. It rained heavily, but not that bad. Not the gully washing
storm we were expecting anyway.

Sofie decided that I would make a nice place to rest while
I was doing the weeding.
The rest of the week was filled with jokes about Electroman and where he would have got to if the current had been any stronger - I hasten to add that I'm not the only one telling the jokes. The amount of merriment that filled the air after that incident lead me to conclude that maybe there was something in the rationale for ECT and every time Ian seemed remotely grumpy I would tell him, very sympathetically, to go and play with the electric fence. If anyone watched The Hulk when they were younger, you will probably have an inkling as to the way our minds were constructing stories around Electroman and the way he would change in an instant and the effect he would have. Well anything to lighten the mood around the never ending weeding we are doing at the moment. Crazy! Probably! But it helps.
We cannot say that Sofie and Eyre are best
friends yet, but they are beginning to tolerate
each other and even get quite close

The newest arrival
It was not the only shock of the week, the first one was the arrival of our newest Grandson at a whopping 8lb 15oz or 4.060kg. The largest baby I had was my middle child at 8lb 10oz (3.91kg) and I thought he was big enough. Our grandson arrived by c-section, since he was in no hurry to make his entry into the world, which also makes hims sound a lot like our son. Hope he is as chilled, so far he certainly seems to be. We had our first Skype conversation the day after he was born and he was suitably unimpressed with the whole thing and slept through it all. At least our daughter is fine, well after getting over the giggles about re-telling the tale of her father's escapade with the electric. It is not helpful to make anyone laugh after a c-section.
A close up from our flowery ski hill

A rainbow from this evenings shower
The warm spell broke this week and it has been a week of sunshine and showers and so plenty of opportunity for lots of sleepy time to make up for last week's activity. After a couple of days of feeling intensely tired, I think I'm pretty much over it now. There are still moments, but I think that is when I look at the amount of weeding still needing to be done. Fortunately at this time of year, the weed growth starts to slow down and I can actually clear a bed of weeds and it looks reasonable for longer than a day. The beetroot has germinated well, but the parsnips and carrots have not. We will have enough, but obviously the fresh carrot seed we are generating this year will be needed next year and we will have to buy in fresh supplies of parsnip seeds. They are notoriously bad for not germinating after a year. The packet of parsnip seed that I planted late on last year, worked really well. They are ahead of the other parsnips and were not bothered by weeds, as they outgrew them very quickly. We wonder how many other seeds we can do that with and certainly something we can experiment with when we generate our own seed. It is more of a risk when it is bought in seed as it can cost a lot if it doesn't work. We always thought it was far too cold to plant seed just before winter but it might actually be an advantage. Rather than rot the seed due to the damp and cool conditions, it might just sit there in hibernation.
The grapes are growing well

Our evening meal. Broad beans, peas, kale, Chenopodium
giganteum leaves, fat hen, garlic scapes in a cheese sauce
with pasta
The germination rate of the seed is not just due to the age of the seed but also the cool, dry spring we have had. The cabbages are loving it, but the carrots are always slow to germinate and worse if the weather is not good for them. We will still have enough to store over winter and this year we really could do with a root cellar. We were discussing this the other day and I suggested using an old shipping container and then piling up soil against it. We even decided on a spot to put it. It is an unsightly spot of soil from the barn building and weeds and so needs dealing with anyway, but there won't be enough soil. Instead we decided that we could put hay bales around it, they will rot away eventually, but gradually over time the soil level will build up, as we add more bales. So hopefully that is something we can organise soon, as Ian's mother's estate gets wrapped up. We are still waiting for the house sale to complete - it always takes ages in the UK, but at least some money will be coming through soon, as the pensions authority have said nothing is owed to them and all bills have now been paid.
I love the look of our green path with a
frothy pink edge of flowering grasses

The box of chocolates were were given and the
contents from a parcel Ian received today. These
came from our middle child and his family and
are a belated father's day present. Ian was quite
impressed with the detail of these ones.
We've had three groups of visitors this week. One is our neighbour who regularly visits but hadn't seen Brencis. She had organised for her brother to borrow our trailer so he could move house. The second group had emailed us a couple of weeks ago and organised to come. They brought carrots for the alpacas and a big box of chocolates for us. They were a group of about six adults and five children. The children, blessedly were pretty well behaved. We had kept the alpacas locked up that morning, since we knew they were coming and it was raining in the morning. Nothing worse than wet alpaca to touch. We have got a good system now, where we lock the chickens away, so the cockerels do not attack anyone. We always lock Snowdrop away separately with some food, whilst everyone looks at the other alpaca girls (and boy), that way she can't catch anyone with spit when they get caught in the crossfire. We always explain that she doesn't generally spit at people, unless they are trying to do something nasty to her, like me or the vet, but she does not like other alpacas coming near her and taking food. She is very possessive over food.
Brencis looking as cute as ever

Along with the toy alpacas were two cards that I pinned up
on his noticeboard. He is at home so little, it didn't seem
right to take them home and put them up there.
I think one of the reasons the children were good in this group, some were used to large animals as some of the group were beef cattle farmers. I was really interested to hear how the young man had always lived in Riga but used to visit his grandparents every summer in the countryside, as have many Latvians. He trained as a car mechanic at Riga technical university and then went to Switzerland to work for Saab. After doing that for a while he decided he had had enough and came back to Latvia and started farming in a small way, but gradually built up to the large farm he has today. My radar was up and working and I asked him if I could interview him sometime about his experience. I explained I was a researcher and looking at how people can be involved in development and his experience would be very valuable. So I have a phone number and will arrange to see him sometime soon.
Eyre asleep in a rather contorted fashion

8pm one evening and still very light
The third group of visitors came today. They are staying at our other apartment for a few days. We weren't expecting it to be free over summer, but our American friends who had been planning on coming decided that it wasn't right for them to come across at that time and so it was free after all. The young couple have a little boy about the same age as our oldest grandson, 2 1/2 years old. Poor little chap though has been through a lot and had chemo last year. Some of you on facebook may remember me asking for prayer for the little one. I haven't asked anything about it, they are on holiday after all, but he seems to be well enough at the moment. He loved our alpacas and they seemed to love him too. You should have seen the grin on his face when they let him touch them and when they kept nuzzling his hat. Apparently they will come back tomorrow and see them again - a big fan obviously. He also got to pick some of his own strawberries, looked at the chickens, the cats, the sheep and got to sit in the tractor. Again his little face lit up and he didn't want to get out of the tractor for ages, he just sat there with a big grin on his face.


  1. you have an adorable Grandson and an adorable are spoilt. Poor Ian...ouch!!

  2. Awww! Thank you. Spoilt indeed, I agree

  3. Congratulations on the latest addition to the family, Joanna! :)

  4. Congrats on the latest addition! And on the good food. :)
    We've been eating a lot of lambsquarters lately too (what you call fat hen). What a great time of year for fresh food.

    1. I agree as I tuck into my porridge this morning, complete with strawberries, blackcurrants and raspberries :)


I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi