Monday, 17 October 2016

Chillier days

Frosty morning
Winter reared its head this week with some distinctly frosty days. One night it was -6.7C in the greenhouse and last night it was -5C. Staying out in the caravan in these temperatures is starting to lose its appeal. We are still warm enough, as our quilt and two blankets help a lot. Menopause also has its benefits. The disadvantage is waiting for the caravan to warm up sufficiently to want to get up out of bed. At least the heater is within reaching distance and the caravan warms up quickly, since it is only a small space. Of course our electric use has gone up, but our travel costs, or Ian's travel costs are still low because he's not travelling backwards and forwards all the time. I am also out and about on the land rather than cooped up at home this way too. At some stage it just won't be worth staying out as the nights will be so long in a small space. I know! I keep saying that and we are still out here. 
These two are forever fighting it seems, but I think they would
miss each other if they were separated.
A picture of me last week, filling in for Little Red Riding
Hood. I used the alpaca scarf to good effect. It was really
warm and kept the cool winds at bay.
I spent the week in Latvia and at this time of the year, it can become a bit of a novelty. I have several trips planned all ready and one to arrange. I did go into Riga though and had a great day chatting with some lovely people. One was a connection for professional as well as personal reasons. Lovely chap who I've worked with briefly in the past and we both value each other's inputs on rural development. Good to thrash ideas about and would be great if we ever found a project we could both work on. I'm sure we could spark some good ideas between us
Aggie looking rotund and hopefully pregnant

Chanel glowing in the autumn sunshine. She really is the
colour of autumn too
The other meeting was meeting up with some with an aim to start putting together a programme for a felting holiday (details to be announced in the near future we hope). I am working on finding activities for day trips for people to experience more of Latvia, including Riga and a chance to be inspired by Latvian art and design. It is mainly aimed at those from abroad of course. We hope to arrange various types of felting courses, to suit different budgets, so we hope to make some more accessible to local people and some for people who would like to come for the experience of felting on an alpaca farm and visiting Latvia for the first time. All this planning will mean we can also put together holidays tailored towards individuals or groups. Quite exciting really and not the sort of thing we had thought of doing before, but if it works then great. 

Eyre warily eying the alpacas, as they do like to chase her
A friend who I met at the local camp last year and this year is helping me organise the Riga city tour aspect and she also introduced me to a lovely textile artist Ieva Prane. Ieva's work is very varied and it will be wonderful to include her on one or more of our felting courses. She is really open to sharing her work and what she does, which not all felters in Latvia are unfortunately. I also briefly met her husband Guntars and as I write this blog, Guntars' music is playing on the radio. He produced an album of Gregorian chants from ancient records he found in a library in Riga. Very peaceful! 

All ready for our visitors. At least it was nice and warm in the
I am surprised that we are still getting visitors turning up on our farm, particularly at weekends. I even sold my first felted product this week, but don't get too excited it was just a felt ball, at least it was a start.We had one group from the local regional rural consultancy bureau during the week and a family who stopped to take a look at the animals at the weekend. We even have another booking for the end of the month for a small group who will be in the area for two days. It makes me wonder if we can do something for Christmas but that would be a challenge to come up with something but could be fun. 
Felt balls
A range of shawls, socks, pendants and scarves for sale
The ones that got away. The amaranth in the greenhouse grew
some lovely big seed heads and we harvested lots of seed
but these ones were much smaller. Unfortunately the wind 
seems to have also taken all the seed with it. No doubt there 
will be Amaranth growing all over the garden next year, as 
well as hemp
We are still making slow headway in finishing the harvesting. I collected all the beans from the garden on the land and started the process of drying them. Those that dried on the vine look fine to plant next year, but those that hadn't got frosted and I think they are only good for the pot. It was a shame as I was hoping for more beans to grow next years crop. We have also been collecting apples. Some of course are frosted, but many seem to have survived the frosty mornings. We have now got quite a few crates stored in our cellar. We hope they will last into winter and if not they will be processed at a later date. At least the chickens are enjoying the bonanza.

Sofie sitting in her favourite place when we are trying to move
the chicken arks. As we carry them to their new position, she
tries to lick or rub up against Ian's face. Not easy to carry the
ark with two hands and fend off an affectionate cat.

The humungous potatoes with a teaspoon for comparison
As usual our garden got a bit overgrown but I managed to find some potatoes that must have grown from some potato peelings which were in the compost heap and they were absolutely huge. I know there are lots who say you should never put peelings in compost heaps, but we do and not really have many problems apart from random potato plants from time to time. Unfortunately these ones also had brown, hollow centres. This is due to the hot dry weather when they started growing, followed by the wet weather which stressed the poor things out. Unlike blight though it doesn't affect their taste thank goodness, just a little disappointing to find they are not as big as they look.  One advantage to the frosts is they make parsnips sweeter and so we have started digging these up for a distinctly wintery flavour in our meals. 
Shawls outside for pictures for the

This one was inspired by dandelions, not
that they look like dandelions, but that
was the inspiration
Mari looking out for Eyre, our little grey cat
The greenhouse tidy up has continued in preparation for putting the chickens and the caravan in for the winter. This has definitely been a slower process than usual. Normally it is cleared much sooner, I'm sure. Or maybe it just feels like that. Certainly last year they were inside much sooner and there were more frosty mornings than this year. The steady drift towards winter though means that the animals are getting through the grass quite quickly and need to be moved more often as the grass stops growing. Soon they will be just on the hay, but the longer they can stay on the grass the better. 
Mari chasing Eyre off

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