Monday, 1 August 2016

It's good for the garden

The new pond is nearly full now
They say the rain is good for the garden, but I think we've had enough now. Our ponds have begun to fill and in fact some are near to overflowing. Of course to defy the theory of gravity, the lowest pond still has a way to go to fill, but it is still steadily filling up after Ian blocked the outlet drain and dug up the drainage pipes. I know they laid the pipes to drain the swampy fields but we want the water to remain on our land and not drain away, especially important since the dry weather we had earlier on this year. I guess we won't be swimming in it though as there seem to be quite a few leeches in it.
Clay land drainage pipes from the bottom of our pond

A cat's perspective on the important things in life, like sleep
A six week drought makes you realise the importance of water. At least since then we and the animals have had plenty of rainwater to drink and not had to fetch it in from our apartment. As we normally have tea, then it is not a problem of how clean it is exactly because the water is boiled, but even so the lack of pollution around here means it is clean enough to drink cold and it doesn't have the chalk or chlorine in it. Having said that, Ian is not sure he likes the taste of the chalkless water - funny how you get used to certain tastes.
We've had cauliflowers this year. Normally we just don't seem
to be able to grow them, but this year we have managed. This
one was the first and showing a little bit of having been shared
with snails but not too bad. It was enough for a meal of cauliflower
in herb sauce for the two of us.

There's nothing like having a few grapes
whilst cooking. I can heartily recommend
having a grape vine in the kitchen
(probably won't be saying that when the
leaves start dropping) 
The rain today was pretty heavy, but fortunately not as heavy as they had been forecasting. We still had rain from 9am to 3pm though and not just the drizzly rain like we remember from summers in the UK but persistent, heavy, Latvian rain (and if you have been to Latvia, you will know what I mean, only not just in a summer shower sort of way). I am sure most farmers around here will now be praying for the rain to stop, even though they were probably praying for the rain to start about six weeks ago.
Ian's new toy, a grinder for the cutters for
his shears for the animals. He has already
saved €130 by sharpening all his cutters
and combs, as well as saving the three hours
of travel getting them done.

There has only been enough dry weather to make silage, which is bagged up while still moist. The hay though has to be dry and the weather has not been good enough, for long enough to do that and several farmers around here have cut hay and it is now just lying in the field soaking - it won't be good stuff for their animals to eat and may just be okay as bedding if it doesn't rot in the meantime. Oh the joys of farming. We are just grateful that we probably have enough feed hay for winter since we cut early, but we still need more to make sure we have enough for bedding for the animals.
A rather large grasshopper

This beetle had some rather wonderful electric blue, iridescent
colours on its body, particularly underneath
The weather hasn't been all bad, for the whole week, we have had hot dry days too, just not enough of them. On one day though Ian and I went to my supervisor's summer home about 3/4 of an hour north of us. Well normally it is 3/4 hour, but this time it was over an hour due to 5 (or was it 6) sets of traffic lights on the way there. It was a dreadful piece of road and they are removing tarmac in some places and relaying the base of the road, but they always have to work in several places at once, hence all the traffic lights.
A rainbow at sunset, an unusual sight and a very eerie colour

A chorus of hungry baby swallows. We didn't realise until
today that there are five of them
The reason for our travels was to help with some landscaping after wild boar had got in and over a period of three nights turned over the ground between currant bushes and around their sauna. Ian first cut the grass to see what he was doing and I and my supervisor cleared that, then Ian rotavated the land. It was pretty impressive to see the after effects of using the two wheel tractor and the various implements and it looked much better than the very uneven land before he started work. We were surprised how well the rotavator handled the steep but uneven ground. On another good day when Ian hasn't so much to do (hahaha) he will finish the job off, providing of course it isn't a run of good days with enough time to cut the hay and bale it.
This is the largest of our lambs and he is very photogenic.
He also has a sore bum and we finally managed to corner
him to put some spray on it to help it heal and some more
spray to keep the flies away, so he now has a blue bum. The
ram also has a sore on his head, as does another of the sheep.
The flies are dreadful to them, but at least they have now
all had spray on that needed it.

A rather soggy Mari
Other than the more mundane jobs of looking after animals and gardens this week we have made a brief appearance at our local village festival. I had heard there was a pizza van that cooked the pizza on a wood burning stove, it is hard to believe that they had a brick built oven in a caravan, but they did and very nicely it cooked the pizza too. They can only cook one at a time and for some reason I didn't quite catch, they could only do a plain tomato and cheese pizza. If we wanted anything more complicated we would have had to wait until about two hours later. We couldn't wait that long as we needed to be back to feed animals.
The echinacea in my garden is now flowering

Mari looking a little drier but only just. This is from the
morning dew though and not the rain
We weren't sure if people would call in on our farm whilst in the area for the festivities and didn't want too many folks just wandering around whilst we weren't there, so we didn't get to see much of the festival. In the end most people were occupied with the various activities in the village itself and the only visitors we had were our neighbour's daughter and her new Estonian boyfriend. We love the way she always brings her friends around to show them our farm - we must be getting something right and she is always encouraging about what we are doing. So instead of a busy weekend with visitors we had a quiet weekend, but that was okay too, as I managed to get a shawl made from our alpaca wool (no pictures it is soaking to clean it).
Not all rain! Chanel's colouring really shines in the sun

Another eerie sunset photo
I did get to one other event and that was to see medical herbs all arranged in the basement of the old hospital. I went with someone who had some knowledge of the herbs in Latvian and I knew just about all of them in English and knew what type of uses they had too, so I was quite pleased with myself. There were one or two herbs I knew but I didn't know I could grow them in Latvia and so I am determined to find a source of them, especially my favourite plant, Southernwood which has the most wonderful smell. There were one or two herbs that were used for different medical uses than the ones I know, so always amazing to learn something new about herbs.
The boys are on an eating spurt - do they sense the changing seasons?

The right was just right to take a photo of Mr. P. It is hard to
photograph a black alpaca

The pied wagtail on watch


  1. Your black alpaca is so cute!

  2. If we are to have any cauliflower this year, it is still about 2-3 months away. I've started some seed. We'll see.
    Wouldn't it be nice if we could just dial up the precise amount of rain we need, and timing of it?

    1. I might start some more seed off too, but I think it won't survive the frosts at that time, but you never know if we have a mild winter :D

      As for rain, yes indeed it would be lovely if we could dial the right amount. Just watching a band of rain rolling in as I write

  3. Do you remember the Southernwood (lads love)outside Stonythwaite?

    1. I do indeed and always remember the wonderful smell of it. That was one reason for having some bushes in our Derbyshire home.


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