Monday, 31 August 2015

Still on the tourist trail

You can never have enough cute kitten pictures
We are still getting visitors to see the alpacas. Hopefully next year we will have as many people coming to see us for when we get organised and actually start activities like alpaca walks for which we will charge a fee. We are unlikely to charge an entrance fee, because most of the time people could stand on the road and see the alpacas anyway and we don't want to cause an accident, we would rather people come onto the land and talk with us. We could of course take donations and by next year we will be organised enough to have wool for sale or wool products. One of the visitors was very interested in the newly spun alpaca wool and took some away for a generous donation, which was encouraging. She also mentioned she would like to come back for more next spring.
A rather autumnal looking sunset, but really the leaves
aren't that brown yet, it is just the way the light is shining
on the trees

We processed the barley and the buckwheat this week. It
isn't much, especially after the wild boar got in, but it gives
us an idea of how the winnower works and how much grain
we can expect from an area of land. 
I now have to back track a little and mention our other visitors. Our neighbour paid us a visit again with her youngsters who are getting very used to the alpacas and the alpacas to them. They brought carrots for them to eat, which the girls enjoyed. The boys are just not interested in fresh vegetables at all, which is rather irritating. They also brought another of our younger neighbours with them as well and so we have another alpaca fan.
It still needs some work on it, but at least getting it to this
stage is good. We have animals who can deal with a bit of
straw anyway.

Unwelcome visitors. Meet the yellow
jacket metropolis. It is hard to see and
I wasn't getting any closer to take a
better photo, but that tunnel goes down
quite a way and is a huge paper nest.
Something has been digging at it
though. Big downside is it is next to
where we are starting to grow berries.
Yellow jackets are similar to wasps but
make nests underground, not a good
combination with berries.
The next group of visitors were from Sweden and were friends of our translator. He had asked a little while ago if they could come and of course we said "Yes." They are regular visitors to Latvia as they belong to a sister church to the one that our translator attends. They were a little surprised that I actually understood a little of what they were saying, which amused me. In Aberdeen there were quite a few from Scandinavian countries and so my brain had started picking out words from people's conversations. I actually find it quite tiring at conferences when there are many languages being spoken that I am vaguely familiar with, as my brain then tries to process what people are saying and I find it hard to switch off. Just a pity that ability doesn't actually translate into speaking them. Being in Denmark for the afternoon and hearing a lot of Danish also helped with triggering memories of the language and since Swedish is sometimes similar it helped with our visitors. I still envy our translators ability though, to speak many languages, as far as I can remember he speaks French, Swedish, German, Russian and of course Latvian.

Our supermoon picture
There weren't just Swedish people in the group, there was another Latvian besides our translator and for some reason he told Ian that his job was in drainage. After the Swedish visitors left he showed us a website where we could find out where all the drains were that had been put in on our land. It was fascinating as we knew there was land drainage (I think mainly from the Soviet era when the idea was to make the land submit to the dictates of the state) but we didn't know exactly where they were, apart from those we had already dug up in excavating ponds, ditches and our barn. It was important information that we need to know, because it explains many of the issues we have with drainage and wet areas on the land. It is fascinating who comes our way.

Tracey the tractor with fangs! Actually
it was just the sickle mower attachment
stood up against the front loader, but it
amused us.
The chap who worked in drainage used to live nearby and his mother still does and so the next day he came again - I did say anytime you are in the area do feel free to come and see us. He also came with his sister and brother-in-law. Apparently he had been telling them about his visit and our alpacas, since they are on holiday in the area they wanted to see them before they go. Embarrassingly we were actually just having a kip when they came, fortunately Ian had just woken up and then heard voices. It was funny to work out some connections of this group to people we already know, which I suppose is inevitable when they used to live in the same village. The mother we found out taught weaving to the lady who spun our wool and the sister works with the daughter of one of our neighbours in Luxembourg.

A rather ethereal picture of the supermoon this time
I actually ended up talking to the brother-in-law because I found out he was doing a PhD on local foods in Latvia and so we had some very similar research interests. I gave his wife my card, so she can send us photos of the mittens she wants to make and I hope he will get in touch so I can read about his research. Again it is absolutely amazing the people who are coming to see us. I look forward to seeing what other connections we make, especially as we have a rather large write up in the regional newspaper this week. No idea what it says yet, but we will find out soon enough.

Getting started on the stack
One of our neighbours helped to organise some wood for us, which I mentioned we had delivered last week. This week he came with a chap who has a mobile saw mill and for part of the week they have been busy cutting up the wood and Ian has been stacking it. It didn't look a huge amount of wood until it was stacked, but it looks like it should keep us going in small scale projects for quite a while, like new alpaca housing. It also helps Ian to visualise what can be done with the various sizes of wood. It's hard to picture how much you can get out of a decent sized tree, until you see the people working on one. As usual though, most of the wood is wet wood, which is fine for the kind of projects we have in mind, but not for a house. That would have to be cut and stacked for a while.
The mobile saw and its operator

Not finished yet, but covered in case of rain. If the rain
holds off, then there will be more tomorrow.
Winston Churchill once said, “When you find the work you love, you will never work again.” We have had a busy season this year with many visitors, which is good and many times we sit with our coffee or tea and thank God for what we have. One of the reasons for leaving the US when the Danish company Ian was working for sold the division to a US company, was the thought of working in a culture that says only ten days holiday (vacation) is good. At least in Europe it is around 20 days minimum. Nowadays we rarely take holidays, but to some extent most of our life is a holiday - at least at the moment it feels like that. Especially when we spend so much of our time living in the caravan, in fact this is Ian's first night home for a week. I only came back because we have a milk delivery twice a week at home. Today we were moving the sheep fence and I could smell one of the smells I really love, it comes from a patch of swampy ground where the cranberries grow. I have no idea what makes the smell, as I have never identified any plant that smells like it yet, but it is a smell that makes me breathe deep and it makes me feel incredibly happy - I wish I could bottle it and take it with me wherever I go and if I ever identify the origin of it, I will.

A final supermoon picture.
The only downside is our continual battle with mites on our animals. Veronica has a nasty looking blue splodge on her side, due to a spray that we have to put on her, as she keeps chewing at her fleece, we assume it is due to mites. What makes it worse is once there is a patch of raw skin the flies then get in and cause even more irritation. Fortunately they are not the ones that lay eggs, just they are persistent - they drive me mad and that's only because they buzz around my ears at times. We have to use a fly repellent, but it is the nasty DEET stuff, which I hate using, but needs must. Next week we will have to empty out the alpaca houses of all the bedding and steam the place again. Lovely job, any volunteers? Payment, a place to stay and food fresh from the garden to eat - we even have grapes and blackberries at the moment. If you want to, I can also show you the patch with the lovely fragrant smell and breathe deep.


  1. yes, Winston Churchill was right, find the work you love and you will never work again...that's me :)
    I am intigued by your Alpaca walks.....hmmm...and Alpaca theme park?

    1. Not sure about the alpaca theme park. I don't think the neighbours would approve of that, but a nice walk in a natural environment for a relaxing time? I think that would be fine. Just need to clear up the grounds a little more :)


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