Monday, 25 July 2016

Back in the old routine

A misty start to the morning
We were back into a more ordinary routine this week. We mainly did ordinary chores around our land. Our regular routine is to get up when we get up, anywhere between 5:30am to the latest 7:45am, but normally around 6:30am. It all depends on how tired we are and how well we sleep in the caravan. It can be a little noisy when it rains overnight, but usually we sleep pretty well, as it is so quiet despite having two cockerels, however they are far enough away to not bother us.

Our kitchen in the greenhouse
I pack away the bedding and Ian gets the breakfast out, which we now have in the greenhouse, since we put the second-hand kitchen in there. It is nice to have our breakfast in a bright and roomy place. I've never had such a big kitchen-dining room. Even better is that spillages on the floor don't matter as it is just the floor of the greenhouse with a scattering of straw to soak up anything. I had better not get to used to that. The downside is we can't leave food in there, because it gets too hot during the day and mice could get into it, or the cats. They do like bread, even when in plastic bags.
Our new animal feed preparation area is in the
corner. This was taken on our workshop by a
friend. No idea what I was trying to do, reminds
me of Tommy Cooper.

Marie on the floor at the back got into a pickle this week. She
must have been trying to get away from the male and ended up
head first with legs dangling in the feed section at the back.
Ian was a little panicky when he saw her and thought she must
have hurt herself quite badly, but no, she was just stuck. To
while away the time, she was tucking into the hay quite
contendedly. At least Ian managed to get her out okay
The daily routine this week has been for Ian to take the boys up to see the girls. A routine that does not need much encouragement and I feed the chickens. This got a little more complicated this week as we put the chicks in with a group of older hens. We were going to give them their own ark, but that meant culling some chickens that hadn't been producing, only of course they started producing again and the other chickens stopped laying. It seems like they have the idea the cooler weather means autumn, after our early and hot spring/summer. They got a reprieve, but we still intend on culling the cockerel because he seems to get in a flap too easily and we wonder if part of the reason for the low egg production is stressed out hens due to his panic calls.

Chicks of a different sort in the girls alpaca house. This is the
first brood of swallows to be raised in that building. They
are so funny with their big mouths and punk hair dos
The older hens have been a bit mean to the little chicks, but the little ones can escape under the ark, where the big ones cannot reach, so it isn't too bad for them. I also push a tray of food under there so that the little ones can eat in some sort of peace. One of the older chickens is particularly mean, but the little ones congregate around my legs when I am around and so I fend off the older one while they eat a bit. It was hard trying to get them all in at night though, but tonight I found a good system of getting the big ones away first and then opening up the side of the ark where we check for eggs and putting the tray in for the little ones in there. Since they congregate around me, they soon found the tray and all hopped in as good as gold - these are certainly the best chicks we've had for doing what we want them to do.

Morning fog hovering at tree line
After those morning chores comes coffee. We don't drink coffee that much, although our consumption has increased after our trip to Estonia earlier on in the year, but the morning cup is a must these days the rest of the day is usually tea. We often sit and chat about what we plan to do during the day, or is it I give instructions to Ian! Most often though we are putting the world to right before our regular daily chores of gardening, cleaning out the animals, moving fencing, or whatever other jobs are needed to keep all in shape.

The sheep behind the alpaca house and paddock area
Our visitors this week have been a motley crew. There have been our friends who wanted to learn more English and they helped us cutting alpaca toe-nails, well the husband helped with that and the children and their mother watched. It was so much easier with an extra pair of hands again, especially one used to larger animals, even Turbjørn couldn't get away, despite trying. The little ones did help at one stage when one of our alpacas looked like she might try and escape out the half door, by standing in front of the door and chatting to her.

The bought in food for our felting workshop last week from
the local hotel
Our next group of visitors were quite a surprise. We are not sure if we have met one of them before or not, but if we have they were young at the time. What was for sure is we know many of the people they know from the camps we used to do when we first started coming to Latvia. In fact they were off to do join a camp at the place we used to visit after their trip to our area. Small world, as they say. It was funny though reeling off names that we knew and they knew, even folks who used to go to the same church that we did back in England - all connected through camps in Latvia. It was really exciting to hear their plans to come and attend the local technical school in our village and use that to earn money in the countryside and run a farm - this is so much on my heart to see and one of the reasons for my research to see how that can be encouraged.

Dessert - rather nice
One set of visitors were more returnees, who had visited in May. The lady had suggested to her mother that since they were going past our place they should call in and see the alpacas, to which her mother replied "what's an alpaca?" Well she knows now and she thought they were lovely. Our next set of visitors were also enamoured with them. They hadn't intended to visit us but were wondering through our woods looking for mushrooms, as Latvians do. Private property is different here and something we have to just accept, which is fine. After all in the bible it talks about gleaning and not harvesting everything so we should not consider our mushrooms as just for us. It's hard sometimes when we haven't had time to look and someone else has got their first though. Unfortunately they came with a dog, which we are not happy about, especially a dog without a lead. It was not an aggressive dog, but we did insist it be kept away from the alpacas, for the alpacas' safety and the dog's. Alpacas have been known to stamp foxes to death if there is a big enough herd, so we cannot guarantee a dog's safety if they feel threatened. Fortunately the visitors were okay with that and they still got to meet the alpacas.

Lunchtime on the felting workshop
Not so ordinary or routine this week as a visit to the doctor's. A couple of weeks ago and again about a month before that, I managed to get a hernia. I have had one before about 20 years ago and so knew what to do and sorted it out myself without resorting to a hospital visit. However, with two occurrences in a short space of time I accepted that I should at least consult with the medics as to what I should do. I arranged for a friend to take me to the local family doctor, which we did on Friday. She got me into see a surgeon today (Monday), as she thought there was something wrong.

Looks like Lady V has found something amusing, she usually
has a Queen Victoria look "not amused!"
Today took a bit of organising, as the only person available was male and not comfortable about the examination, but we managed okay. The only problem is that the surgeon could not find anything wrong and said I shouldn't do such hard work and wear a belt to protect from hernias. Hmmmph! Not impressed really. It was not as if I was doing anything particularly strenuous the second time, just must have moved wrong. The first time was perhaps strenuous, as it was during the time we were shearing, but right near the end, after helping with the shearing of over 60 of them without a problem. Since the surgeon doesn't seem that bothered and I am not particularly wanting to have to go through surgery, I am going to try and see about strengthening muscles around my abdomen and hope that sorts it out. It could be that my stomach muscles are too loose after losing about 9-10kg over the last eight months. Hopefully I can avoid seeing the surgeon again in an emergency situation.

A cloudy sunset
I am not the only one getting articles published just lately, Ian now has an article in "Alpaca World" where he talks about our experience of having alpacas in Latvia. He thought they might shorten the article but they haven't or not noticeably so anyway. He enjoyed the experience and it will be interesting to see if anything comes of it in the future.

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