Monday, 27 June 2016

Don't Panic!

A green and pleasant land
Last Monday we took a trip to the airport to collect some friends of ours who are going to be staying with us for two months. We decided to put them in our apartment, especially since we are not even there most of the time at the moment and then they have access to all the kitchen equipment, fridge and washing machine. It also means that our other apartment is still free for guests to come. Our friends have been willing helpers and proved a useful extra pair of hands at this busy time of the year. They have prepared herbs for the solar drier, shifted wood out of our barn, barrels out of our old alpaca house, strimmed grass and cooked meals.
The lambs are growing up fast

Half the ski hill cut, so about a hectare
The forecast was good for haymaking this last week but not quite long enough to do our whole ski hill and so we only cut half as we have for the last two years. Unfortunately the amount of grass was greatly reduced due to the lack of rain we have had up until now. Some people are waiting to cut around here to see if their grass will grow more, but we decided we couldn't wait because sometimes those windows of time can be few and far between, even if it has been a dry year so far and a lot of the plants we didn't want to take over were rapidly going to seed. At least we may get another cut later on in the year if we need to, especially now we have had some good rainfall over night and into this morning.
This one always looks like he has eye liner

Mr. B with his muddy knees after last night's rain
The last two years we have used our neighbours barn to store our hay and that has been such a blessing but this year she said we won't be able to. She has been increasing the number of cows she keeps and so needs the space. It was a bit tight last year too. Unfortunately we hadn't got around to checking earlier - it was something we kept meaning to do and she only told us last week when we went to collect some of the older hay. Now we are desperately trying to think how we can store it all. As I mentioned our friends helped to move out wood from our large barn and the barrels out of our alpaca house, that way we can store a certain amount in those places, but we really don't know how much yet until we stack it in there. For now they are in the tractor trailer under a tarp, in a horse box and under plastic outside while they cool off after baling. Tomorrow we will start stacking them and see how far we get..
We finally have a post knocker, for knocking in posts for
fencing. This was made by a friend of ours and he brought it
over because he doesn't need it right now and he will make
himself another one when he needs it. Now Ian can get on
with doing some fence repairs around the boys paddock

So here is the tractor trailer I was clambering over to fix the
tarp on. There are about 54 bales in these two and we only
needed to make one trip with these and another with the small
trailer. Normally for the hectare there are at least two runs
if not more
Ian was doing some baling and we were expecting rain so I had to put the tarp over the tractor trailer, which involved quite a bit of climbing. It amused me to be doing that at my age. I'm glad I'm still able to and I am pretty sure losing weight recently has helped. I certainly feel I can bound up the stairs a bit quicker these days and I definitely can bend over much easier to do all the weeding that needs doing. It makes me realise how much fat I was carrying internally around my middle. Today though I was back on the computer finishing off written work, which was fine as we finally got the saturating rain we so desperately needed.
We watched with a certain amount of bemusement as this
little lady stalked a stork. We wondered at what stage would
she realise that a stork is way beyond her capacity to catch?
It was also a bit worrying to think she might also go after our hens 
A close up of our oak tree. We measured it recently to see if
it would be classed as a protected tree, but it was about half
a metre short around its circumference at only 4.5m
We have been staying out in the caravan for quite a while and go back to have showers and do our washing during the week when we go to collect milk. The problem is that it has been so hot and with doing the baling it can be dusty work and so we really needed a good shower but didn't want to go home. We ended up having to use the pond water and watering can for a makeshift shower instead. All I can say is thank goodness it was too late in the day for visitors. We could do with a shower area but trying to work out a place for that will be more tricky than where to put the loo, aka the office, due to the problems of mosquitoes and horse flies. It would be good to find somewhere though that we can use the sun to heat the water up during the day. A challenge for another day, until then, the pond and the watering can will have to suffice.
Some swallows can't quite decide where to nest in the girl's
alpaca house

These three have certainly got the hang of this visiting lark.
As soon as anyone appears now they are ready for some food.
It is one of the reasons they usually get apples or carrots and
not grain. 
It was a holiday week for Latvians and many stayed up to celebrate their midsummer festival, Ligo. We didn't, we needed sleep to get the baling done. It has been so hot and difficult to sleep at times, which is unusual for Ligo, normally it is quite cool or even rains but this year was a great time to celebrate. The holiday week though has meant we have had quite a few visitors and we have found out that word has been going around our village about our alpacas and it has become known as a place to visit. Two groups mentioned that friends or people they know have told them about us. One group stayed for a very long time and were very interested in what we were doing generally and not just with the alpacas. One lady who visited was an Australian married to a Latvian and so language wasn't a problem there and all the rest of the groups had at least one person who could speak very good English, so we haven't had any issues communicating.
The landscape completely changes again when we start cutting.
We got a reasonable amount of hay from here because it is
wetter than on the ski hill so that at least increases the amount we
have collected but we have a long way to go yet.

Veronica usually looks very regal and so we call her Lady V,
but here she is looking rather cute
It's been quite a week for many of us. So many of my friends seem to be in a state of shock. Some are happy with the result from the UK referendum, but since I know many outside the country there is a sense of vulnerability and concern over what comes next. It isn't just a feeling of what comes next personally, although that is a worry in itself, there is also the sense of what next? What chain of events could this precipitate? Will it really have positive effects on the UK economy? I rather doubt that but who knows. Will it have a contagion outside of the country across Europe?
Mari always looks cute though. We found out that she has some
of the finest fleece of our herd, apart from Brencis who is
younger anyway. 

Agnese in deep thought about Brexit. Will we have to find
new homes for us all.
If the arguments for Brexit were just about the unwieldily and bureaucratic EU and the changes that need to happen, I would have totally understood, because that is in some ways what I am working for in my research. So often though it was about taking sovereignty back, which to be honest I don't understand in this global world. It was about immigration, which is not affected that much by the EU. Yes there is freedom of movement and that is why I'm in Latvia, so it works both ways. What was even more bewildering was seeing the look of shock on the supposed victors' faces, the leaders of the Brexit campaign, as if they had no idea what was going to happen next. It would appear that no one wants the poisoned chalice of enacting Article 50, the mechanism for countries to exit the EU. Such shocking disarray.
At least our apple trees in our orchard on the land are finally
starting to produce. We haven't had much more than about
two apples

I was given these scented stocks last year by a friend and they
remind me of my Grandad's allotment from childhood
These past few weeks have seemed like one thing after another and so it was hard not to be down at times and sometimes it is the smallest of things that annoy us. One of the first things our friends from America needed to do was get some cash out of the cash machine. We pulled up to the spot in our village and one of them got out, but when he got back in the car he said the cash machine is not there. We were rather stunned, as we had only used it the week before, so of course I got out to see if he had missed it or something, as if he was likely to miss a cash machine he had used before - daft really, but sure enough there was just a blank wall. It was already plastered up and painted as if there had never been a cash machine there before. Apparently we weren't the only ones to stare in disbelief at the wall and one of our friends spent an amusing time watching the confused look on people's faces. Fortunately they haven't completely removed our cash machine services to the village, but what they have done is put it in a shop that is not open 24/7, so we have to remember to have cash outside shop hours - something I will definitely have to remember if I ever catch the early bus.
I think the rain was too late for some of our blackberry bushes

The new pond is gradually filling up

The buckwheat seems to be recovering a bit but very weedy

And as for my vegetable plot! We have a nice crop of
self-seeded hemp 


  1. We call that thing a t-post driver and mine was one of the wisest investments I've ever made. I also bought the jack-like tool that pulls them out of the ground. Also an important tool to own!

    I'm an optimist (as I think you are) and I welcome change in the world, as I think it leads to progress. But the rate of change these days seems so fast that I wonder if it might be overwhelming and frightening people, causing them to want to pull back into more familiar, localized and psychologically comfortable places. We're seeing that reflected in American populism these days too. A pity I think, but perhaps understandable. I've been thinking about it a lot and haven't been able to come to an understanding of it. Since I see the world improving at an accelerating pace, I don't understand the desire to put on the brakes. It must be that others are seeing the change and coming to different conclusions about it. Just some random thoughts this morning. All the best to you and your visitors. :)

    1. In the UK part of the reason for pulling back is the cry of rage against the establishment. Many are beginning to realise this cry went to the wrong people as can be seen by the responses of those on the supposed winning side, with gloating (inevitable), plenty of back stabbing and with no one any idea of what to do next.

      Although many have gained over the last few decades the inequality has increased and for some there have been precious few gains and certainly not in security of jobs. Hardworking miners on decent pay are now in areas where the primary employment seems to be shop work stacking shelves - not exactly a job to instil self-esteem. Similar stories can be found in many areas that were once centres of heavy industry. Addressing that sense of inequity is absolutely necessary to begin to ease the changing circumstances for people. I guess to get change going you have to sell the dream of what life can be first, then people have some sort of a map to understand where they are going


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