Monday, 19 September 2016

A slow process

Two small hay stores, each holding about 30 small hay bales
This week we have mainly been focussed on getting the harvest in. Ian has continued to bale hay and he managed to bale another 23 off the ski hill. The number of bales was just under half what we got in mid-summer from an area about three times bigger. Just shows how little grass there was after the drought in summer. We wouldn't have cut then but there were a lot of weed plants starting to flower and we didn't want them to set seed, but it is a good job we did. Little did we realise we would still be trying to get hay in two and a half months later. He also cut some grass around an area we call the lake, it often floods in spring and hasn't been dry enough to cut until now. The type of grass that grows there is not good for feed but good for bedding and dries quickly and that was a big bonus.

No the barn is not on fire, just the sun shining through.
Perhaps it was just a little dusty. 
Despite all the cutting and baling we still are not sure we have enough and so when a friend offered to sell us some we decided to buy some in. It was meant to arrive on Sunday, but unfortunately there was a problem with the tractor. It isn't a big issue as they are large bales and can stand being outside anyway. Not like our smaller and more manageable hay bales that will need covering when the rains come again. There was a set of bales that hadn't dried well and were put in the barn, so we have taken them out and put them in the new hay store where they will get more air circulation. We had to ditch a few of them though, unfortunately. We then put the dry bales from near the lake in the barn.
Heave ho! The things you do on the farm

Nibbling on the willow trees. The sheep had already nibbled
on these but the alpacas can get higher up. It makes the place
look more like a park. I think we have a bit to go before we
look like Capability Brown has designed it though.
We have an apple tree on our land that is probably the result of a bird or wild animal dropping seeds, as it is in a really random place for an apple tree. This year it was actually covered in apples, are are many apple trees this year. The taste and texture is unusual, it reminds me a bit of a pear but it is definitely an apple in shape. The skin had started to turn blotchy and so we decided to harvest them. I took a couple of buckets down with me, but quickly filled them and still couldn't reach many of the apples. Ian conveniently drove past in the tractor at this point and so he helped me out by using the front loader to lift me up so I could reach the apples, as you do!

We were a little concerned that the sheep had been nibbling
on this bush/tree, as we were not sure what it was. A few of
my friends though are quite good at identifying plants and so
I asked on facebook. We think it is some sort of viburnum
and so we think the sheep are safe with it. Some types are often
used as a hedging plant around fields of livestock anyway. 
The only problem with collecting lots of apples is that they may then need processing and these certainly did, so that meant one day back at the apartment sorting those out along with a batch of tomato sauce to be oven roasted in jars. The freezers are quite full, mainly with berries though, and so I am trying to jar up as much as possible or dehydrate food from this years harvest. Processing food though takes such a long time and probably the reason many people do not do it. However, when it comes to the winter, we then have a lot of food ready prepared for meals and we still have the advantage of knowing exactly where our food comes from.

Our eerie greenhouse one moonlit night
I have also been processing the amaranth and hemp seeds. The amaranth self-seeded in the greenhouse and is everywhere - I'm not a very tidy gardener. The advantage though is something will grow that we can eat and these have large heads of seeds. Actually the hemp plants this year were also self-seeded and since many of our sown seeds did not germinate well in the drought, the fact the hemp plants got a head start before the real dry season set in, meant they took over. Good job hemp seeds are really healthy and I have been looking at how the dried leaves are good in cooking and tea, so that is another source of nutrition over the winter. Both amaranth and hemp seeds can be used for making flour and added to breads whole for an added crunch, which will help with the variety in our diet.

Looks like an early morning scene but it is a long exposure
shot in the moonlight
Our very sweet grapes are just about all gone now and I think we must have eaten most of them ourselves. It was so tempting walking past to have a few. One of the other grapevines, a blue one, has taken time to ripen and has too many seeds in to be worth snacking on although they do taste nice now, so they were harvested this week for wine. I harvested about 2/3rds of them and then decided to see if some friends of ours, who make alcoholic drinks for sale, would like to try and see what they can make with them. We can then compare our different approaches. If their's works well then we thought that maybe we could extend the grapvine further. It will provide some shade and we or our friends can sell the exclusive little vintage. People who visit are often fascinated by the fact we have vines in our greenhouse anyway.

Cranes flying south for winter. They are noisy birds, which in
this case was a good job, otherwise I would have missed them.
Ian wired in another socket in our caravan so we have a separate socket for the heater and can still plug in my computer and phone - unfortunately a sign that winter's coming and it has definitely been getting a bit nippy in the caravan. I even covered up the peppers tonight with some garden fleece in the greenhouse. We have been having to put the animals away earlier and earlier and it is difficult to know what is the best way round to do things, put them away or eat first. Today I was digging up the potatoes out on the land (there is still a load to dig up at our other apartment plot) and I finished a bit late in the evening to start cooking. Fortunately Ian had already got the food under way, but by the time I had finished we had to rush to eat it so that we could put the animals away.
The leaves are just starting to turn in the moss covered oak tree
I think this lamb is starting to put weight on now she has had
the worming medication. She is also getting the hang of sheep
grain and moving with the rest of the herd. It makes moving
the sheep between plots a lot simpler now.
We found out this week we had miscalculated last week about the rate of filling of our well by a factor of ten. So the well was filling at about 100 litres a day, which was more respectable. This week though it was down to about 50 litres a day with a drop on a couple of days to about 25 litres. We reckoned that on a hot day we would need about 60 litres a day for our basic needs and for the animals to drink, so it will be interesting to find out how it does over the next summer. It possibly still needs a good flush through though to get the water flowing properly after being disturbed by the digging.

Mr. B and Mr. P are often fighting but we think they are just
playing, it doesn't seem to be very serious. Mr. P is hopefully
going to be a father for the first time next year. I wonder what
colour the cria (baby alpaca) will be?
Aggie has been acting very strange just lately. We wonder if she is being over sensitive about being pregnant. She will let me deal with her front legs when she needs some anti-mite spray, but she was very difficult to handle and get the medication on the back legs. Even Ian was having difficulty holding her. Not sure how she will be when it comes to toe nail cutting, we might have to pin her down. Ian decided to take her for a walk to see if they could make friends again. At first she was a bit antsy, but eventually she calmed down and they went for a nice long walk. He decided to take her up what used to be a ski hill in Soviet times, but this meant crossing the dirt road. He was crossing the road with her on a long leash when he realised that she had sat down and seemed very comfortable. We wonder if she wanted to roll in the sandy road. Not useful when sometimes cars and trucks go hurtling along there. Ian had to get his hands under her belly to get her moving. I somehow think she hasn't got a clue about traffic and why should she!
Turbjørn debating whether to eat the bark on the tree

We had a return visit from a lovely young couple who have now moved into the village for about six months while they train at the local technical college. He is learning about log house building and she is learning sewing and clothing construction. They would love to live in the countryside, but realise they need to do some planning and training to help them earn enough money to live on at the same time. It was great talking about life, faith and future dreams.

The song Liverpool Lullaby by Cilla Black comes to mind
when I see this photo, with the lyrics "Oh you are a
mucky kid"
So I think that is about it for this week. I have crossed a few things off my to-do list but there is still a few to go yet and a few that had better be done in the next day or two before we get some rain. There are times I wish it didn't take so long as it doesn't help when I also have some other jobs to do like writing papers and finishing off writing up lesson plans - at least it doesn't matter about them if it rains but digging potatoes does.

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