Monday, 29 August 2016

500th Post

Preparing our evening meal in the greenhouse kitchen. It has
been great to use this space at the front of the greenhouse this
year. Normally it is planted up with tomatoes but we decided
it was better to utilise the space for when we have groups and
the felting workshop. It was a good plan
A momentous occasion don't you think? Well I do! I am surprised I got this far, five hundred blog posts representing over eight years here in Latvia. As I mentioned last week it is hard to believe we are doing what we are doing now and wouldn't have envisaged life playing out in quite the way it has done over the years. Would we change anything? Not much! We love the life we are leading, even with its frustrations, but my one regret is not living closer to the grandchildren. Still won't be long before we get to see them again.
I went for a swim in our new pond. It was a nice warm day
so the water was not too cold, but I did find out that the distance
was just a tad short for a good swim. It needs more solid sides
when it is so short or I just end up muddying up the pond

One of the cut sections
So what's happened this week? It rained all night at the beginning of the week and I mean allllllll night - it was a bit noisy in the caravan. The ground that was nicely drying out was once again saturated and the beginnings of the well which was due to be dug out this week was once again very nearly a spring. Despite the soggy ground we decided that we had to go ahead with cutting for hay.
Hay stacked in the barn now under cover

Ian has been mowing the grass around the ponds and where
the well will be, otherwise by the time they come it will be
too long and get in the way.
There is such a difference between cutting hay in June and now. In June the days are very much longer in our northerly latitudes. The sun is often starting to peek up about 4am and doesn't go down until around 10pm, which means plenty of drying time and not much dew on the ground. This time of year is a different matter with much wetter mornings that don't dry out until mid-morning at the earliest. One day we woke to thick fog that meant the ground did not dry until early afternoon. Instead of at the most two days for hay to dry and only maybe needing to turn once, the grass was turned twice and took three days to dry and even then the bales were heavy.
A butterfly on our echinacea plants

Four fleeces all ready for next years
felting course. Lots of long locks, mainly
because they were so late being sheared
My friend and supervisor, who is the son of a sheep farmer came at the weekend and helped us with shearing the sheep, since they were dry enough to do that finally. He managed to do all four thankfully and Ian just trimmed toe nails. After a late lunch, he took off back to his summer home and we got on with collecting the bales of hay. We collected about half of them and stacked them, but Ian was tired because they were so heavy. We wondered about leaving them, as the forecast had been good, but he decided to check to see if they had changed their mind - sure enough they had. So we summoned up some energy and went and collected the rest of the bales, stacked them and collected up some loose hay that had taken too long to dry to be baled and put that in the boys alpaca house. It was a good job we did as we had quite a downpour in the late evening.
The Jerusalem artichokes are flowering too. The chickens will
be happy as they make great winter food for them

500kg each and now sat outside the girl's paddock. Hope it is
not too long before they get moved to their final resting place
During the week we had progress on the well. We had a delivery of four concrete rings for the construction. Unfortunately the driver managed to get his lorry stuck on the grass as he was trying to turn it around to back it up and drop the rings off. Each ring weighs a half a tonne and so you can imagine what that did to the ground. Ian felt bad enough with our little tractor as he was leaving tread marks in the soft ground everywhere, not something he likes to do because it is damaging to the soil. At one point we got pieces of waste wood and the guy jacked up the lorry on the lorry supports to get the wheels clear, they then put more wood underneath those. Ian then pulled it out with his little tractor. Good job the tractor is actually quite a powerful little machine.
A stack of waste wood and some deep tyre treads in the ground

All set up for the arrival of the group
During the escapade we noticed the guy who was due to dig the well had a bandaged finger that he was struggling with. He doesn't speak English and I think he decided it was too complicated to explain to me, so later on in the day his colleague turned up to tell us that the well digging itself was going to have to be postponed. It was probably a good job as we also had another coach group in at the weekend. Another 29 folks to show around; a group of kindergarten teachers and their families. Just about every group we have ever shown around are fascinated by our greenhouse, especially the grapes and there were a few folks who were taking pictures of friends with the grapes. We had one lady also explain that she had heard about our felting workshops and was determined to come to one next year. That's a great start and a great encouragement too for us.
Items for sale

Our own items for demonstration purposes or waiting to be
finished off
I mentioned last week the storks left and so Ian has had a lonely time cutting the hay. Normally he has a group of them who follow his tractor looking for frogs, mice, moles and the occasional corncrake. There were no storks or thankfully corncrakes either. All have left for their winter lodgings. I have heard the cranes around still and I was surprised as I thought they would have gone - they are noisy birds. Most of the swallows have gone too, hundreds of them turned up one day to say goodbye and then they were off. Ian did see a couple of them around today, but they might be sick ones or too young to go yet.
These chickens have a bit more outside space than the others,
but the little ones keep escaping. We have been gradually adding
to the reinforcements, but still they are getting out. One day
Ian found three of them sat on top of the gate and that is despite
the fact they have had one of their wings clipped to stop them
flying out.

The main culprits are the white one at the front and one of the
small grey ones, not sure from this photo which one. Our two
older chickens the brown one at the top and the black and white
speckled one on the right are still our best layers, despite their age.

My garden is getting a little wild with the squash plants allowed
to ramble where they will and the self-seeded hemp plants which
have grown incredibly tall this year. 

The girls have a long walk down to their field at the moment,
but they seem to be enjoying it, as they make the trip down
there quite often. 

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