Monday, 10 October 2016

Forgetful? Who me?

I would love one of these! Somewhere to hide or somewhere
to store our harvest over winter. One day! Maybe!
How could I forget? Actually for me it is really easy. Oh yes! I'm Wonder woman at the moment, I wonder where I have left my keys, I wonder where I have left my handbag, I wonder where I left my scarf (applicable if you read my blog about my Austrian trip)- you name it and at some point in the week I will have put it down and forgotten exactly where it is. I think I'm spinning a few too many plates at the moment.

I was waiting so long at one of the ten sets of traffic lights
along this road that folks had enough time to have toilet breaks
Anyway what I forgot to mention was that I went to a meeting about Citizen Science on the Friday of the week before - in Cesis, Latvia. I met up with one of my colleagues from the Estonian University of Life Sciences too. I got to ask lots of questions and make some new acquaintances. I even got a tour of the environmental institute, which is very swish. It was one of those good networking meetings, but due to travelling I haven't got around to following up on them yet, but I will. It's on the list of things to do!

I also forgot to mention that while I was at the meeting Ian got a visit from a lady from Sheffield, who a visitor earlier on in the year told us about. We had been chatting about where we were from in the UK and she mentioned her aunty lived in Sheffield where we used to live. She said she would tell her about us and we should expect a visit when she comes to Latvia, which she did on a regular basis apparently. Sure enough, Ian got a phone call and a visit from the aunty with a few others. Unfortunately we still haven't got our shop built and had only just taken everything back because it is getting damp out in the greenhouse, otherwise they would have been tempted to buy something.

The view from my hotel window this week
One thing I know will end soon is the harvesting. The weather is definitely taking a turn and the days are getting short and chilly. We actually saw the sun in what feels like ages today. Unfortunately the wind is still strong. We do not get many windy days here in Latvia, so the sustained windy weather is a bit unusual. I was away again at the end of last week and so I spent as much time as possible beforehand harvesting and more time when I got back. The tomatoes are all just about collected now, although I noticed a few loitering in vines that have not been cut down. Ian finished off the amaranth in the greenhouse that I had started on. We collect the seed off that to make into flour, or just add to breads or cakes. I am working on it as a seed for main meals but not really got a good recipe for it yet. The seed is so light though it is hard to sift in the very breezy weather, I think we would lose the lot.

The walk to the seminars. We had our morning and afternoon
coffee in the manor house you can see
The mill pond
The raspberries are also continuing but I think they may finish soon as frosts are forecast. I also collected the last of the squashes so they don't get ruined in the frost. I had to pull up some tall bean plants as they had got blown over by the wind and I will work on the short beans over the coming week. The only other things left now are the apples, carrots, parsnips, jerusalem artichokes and some beets. I say only but the jerusalem artichokes are quite big beds. I shall harvest half and leave the rest until spring. I hope the expected frost tonight will not be too severe for the apples. A job for tomorrow no doubt.
A choice of which way to go

The mill pond looking the other way
As I mentioned I have been away again, this time up in Estonia in the far north of the country in Lahemaa National Park. It's a hard job specialising in rural issues, I mean you have to go to all these lovely places like alpine farms and national parks. Someone's got to do it though! So I make the best of it. I seem to be getting a reputation for asking lots of questions but I guess that's okay, at least I hope so. I am hoping again that some of the contacts might yield some results eventually. I did get to meet some others with interests in rural Lithuania. I have only met one other person from Lithuania in all the time I have been studying and so I don't really know what the similarities and differences are. I can hazard a guess at many of the similarities as they are often the same across all post-Soviet countries, but that's where my knowledge ends. It will be good to find out more and so I am booked on another course at the end of this month but based in Vilnius this time - somewhere I haven't been to yet.
Palmse Manor House

The cow farm we visited where we could feed the cows apples
They came running when they saw the farmer with a basket
I wasn't sure what to do about getting back from the National Park. I thought it would be best to try and find someone going back to Tartu and stay overnight with my friend there. Otherwise it would have meant staying overnight in the hotel and a higher cost for me. I was actually rather pleased to find that the costs, including accommodation, was covered for PhD students from our university. I was expecting to have to pay for the hotel and so was very happy when I found out I didn't have to. Anyway I happened to mention I was having trouble working out how to get back home, to a friend who lives in Tartu and she said, in jest I think, that she should come and fetch me. I in jest back, told her that there was still room on the agricultural tour I was booked on (at least that was the one I thought I was booked on, but apparently I hadn't, but that is another story). Next thing I know she had booked on and so we got to spend a lovely day touring farms in the National park.
A coastal meadow. I nearly got blown backwards walking down
to this point. Definitely blew the cobwebs away

An abandoned manor house
Meanwhile back on the ranch so to speak, Ian had a visit from a Riga school. The only person who could not speak English was the teacher, as is often the case these days. There was a designated translator, a student who had a relative in the UK. Ian set up the greenhouse to give the talk and had it all organised so that the students were inside this time, since he didn't want to freeze chatting to them outside like we have been doing. They seemed to enjoy the talk and were all engaged and asking questions. He showed them the usual about shearing but also demonstrated the combing and carding of the wool. The sooner our shop gets built the better though. So let's hope the wind dies down and the weather stays fine for a few weeks - that would be really helpful.
I love doors

A sheep farm next where we had lunch and yes lamb was on
the menu
Our young chickens continued to escape this week, although I noticed they are starting to struggle getting through the fence now they are getting bigger. Each day they were fastened up at an early hour so that Ian didn't have to continue chasing them about. They were out twice today but now we have them sorted. We swapped them for another of the arks. We planned to do some swapping about later but it wasn't fair on the three hens that never escaped to keep fastening them up early and so I cleaned out the sleeping quarters of one of the arks and did the switch. Now we know the youngsters will not be escaping but I do have to clip the wings of the older birds to make sure they do not now get out of the uncovered enclosure that they have been moved to.
A guardian dog keeping an eye on us and sitting between
us and the sheep. However the farmer was really worried
about a new invasive species to Estonia, the jackal. I was
quite shocked to hear of this but one farmer has lost a
hundred lambs already over a few nights. The lady telling
me said, wolves have rules, bears have rules but jackals do
not and that makes them very dangerous.

Native Estonian sheep of many colours

Felted pieces in natural colours

My friend feeding a horse. She is in her element

Fitting up the horse in its gear for fetching logs from the forest

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi