Monday, 28 November 2016

Goodbye! Hello!

Mari getting in the Christmas spirit and eating the Christmas
tree. Actually once the grass starts to go, Ian usually gives the
alpacas a Christmas tree to eat for the vitamins. They grow
like weeds on our land.
Winter returned. It is bitterly cold due to the northerly wind we have at the moment. We did see the sun today, but we didn't really feel the benefit. It didn't even warm the greenhouse through so much. The thermometer on the car said -4C or even -5C at times and that was during the middle of the day. Not too bad normally but I think the real feel was much colder. I think I'm also missing the 9kg of weight I lost this last year. The insulation was good for something. I think I might need to invest in some more thermals. I was able to manage before with layers before but this year I seem to be feeling the cold much more. It makes a change, cold didn't used to bother me so much. Must be my age. Heh ho!
Yes it has been wet too! They stayed out all day in it too, silly
birds. They are now tucked up in an ark in the greenhouse now
though. One of the groups of chickens we have started laying,
but then seemed to stop. We now think they were actually
eating the eggs. Anyway rather than feeding non-producing
hens over winter we have culled them and so made room
indoors for these ones. We know at least two of these are
laying on a regular basis. Another reason for moving them
indoors is that yesterday Ian heard a commotion from the chickens
and when he went outside he saw a fox rather too close to the
chickens. We know it would be back again and so it was important
not to give it the chance to take a chicken.

Ian had problems getting his camera to focus this day, because
it was so dark. I like the soft focus though of Aggie. She looks
so sweet here.
I have tried to get things done this week again, but everything seems to be taking too long. I was relieved that one paper for an academic journal I was supposed to finish for the 1st January has been put back to the 1st of March. Whilst I may have got something together by this time, it would not have been enough time for my co-author to go through it properly. I still aim to get it done by then so he has plenty of time though. Unfortunately I also got the news this week that my other paper had been rejected. The reviews were helpful and it isn't the end of the world because this is quite normal in the academic world, but it means back to the beginning again. I wouldn't mind so much but it took too long to get the response. It should have been six weeks but it was more like twelve, as they were waiting for the third review. The worst part is deciding, which academic journal to submit it to the next time around. Heh ho again!
She isn't always so sweet and here she is sending a warning
to Chanel to stay out of the way

Veronica also enjoying the Christmas tree
Just in case you think it is all bad news this week, there is some positive news. Ian had to go back to the doctor again to see if he still needs another operation. He had an operation in February but the doctor was not happy with the results in April. He wasn't sure that the technique he used had worked, although Ian in himself was feeling much better, especially now he doesn't have to look for a loo all the time when we are travelling. Anyway the outlook was improved this time around, although he still has an extra sac on his bladder. The final decision will be based on some blood and urine tests. If they come back okay then he can go back in a years time and just keep the situation monitored.
Ian's franken-scrubber. For those who have followed
the blog for a while, they will know what I mean by
"franken". Ian has cobbled together many an item
we use on our land. This scrubbing brush is affixed
to a hoe - we won't be doing much hoeing in the next
few months and so it is doing double duty to get the
well walls clean. It is still filling up quite a bit and is
looking a bit murky with silt. Hopefully this will help

Turbjørn winking
Our bath got fixed as well and so we had the first bath of the winter season. The fix looks a little industrial, but it works and that at the moment is what matters. We can sort out the appearance later when Ian is sure the fix has worked and won't start leaking again. Nearly every heating season seems to bring leaks of some description. Whether it is from our neighbours upstairs or our own fittings failing. They are just not fit for the job, which is extremely annoying. Having just read the most heart-rending tweet from Aleppo though, I think I will stick to just being extremely grateful we have running water of any kind.

Meanwhile his brother is looking all mysterious

Is it a shadow, or is it Mr. P? 
We also now have got ourselves sorted for uploading information online for our animals. It has taken a bit of time to get this sorted, but at least it is done now. It means we can just go to one of our friends' houses and sort out the details at their home, so we can be sure we are doing everything properly. At least in that respect it feels that little by little we are getting sorted.
Mr. P was difficult to photograph this week in the dim days.

Brencis being as daft as the chickens and staying out in the rain
Plans have also come together for a trip to a Swedish University. That has been about two years in the planning. Finally I now have the funding and the Professor hosting me has the time. I had a Skype call with him the other day to put together a programme for the week and it looks great, with plenty of different people to see who he thinks might be of interest. What was also lovely is I feel like I will be well looked after. He was concerned about the time of the year and the cold, would I be prepared? Of course I'm feeling the cold a bit more at the moment, but I do know how to go prepared, so not a problem. After 13 years of cold winters, it is not as much of a surprise as it once was and I take extra care when travelling to make sure I have enough layers, even if that means looking like Michellin man.
Everywhere was looking really wet, but now we have a thin
cover of snow again and the ground is beginning to freeze

Really wet! And those toe nails are getting ready for cutting
I had a great day travelling to see some of my favourite people in a little place called Kaldabruņa. They run an organisation called Ūdenszīmes, or water lily and I am always inspired by their work in developing the small village. They have such big hearts for the people around them and such creative ideas to take the village forward. I needed to interview them for some more information for the paper I am currently writing and once again they allowed me to come and ask questions. I have invited them to come to our village and talk to the people we know who have a heart to see our village develop, I am sure they will be very encouraging and helpful to them. Now we just have to pray the weather cooperates as January can bring lovely crisp days or be a nightmare of icy roads. I also came away with a small ornament they gave me for our Christmas tree and three wooden brooches for the felted scarves. The wood is taken from small branches with the bark taken off and polished, all very distinctive.
A bleak day. Today there was a hint of pink with the grey. It
reminded me of Botswana agate or pink abalone. Rather specific
you might think, but my parents sold gemstone jewellery for years
and I started off helping them at agricultural shows and then in the

It might have been grey but I still think the photos are
interesting. By the way they are Ian's photos not mine
Another plus this week is that I finally got started on making a felt scarf. There is a bit of a problem with felting the fleece from our Mr. P and to some extent with Chanel, their fleece maybe better for spinning, but we don't know yet until Ian gets going on that. At the moment he is concentrating on the superfine fleece of Brencis with the hope we get a scarf made for someone. Mari's fleece though has so much crimp in it that it does felt well. I used that as a base and that helped. I wet felted the main scarf and next I shall run it through the felting machine that someone gave me to see if that helps. I'm not happy with the design yet and need to work on it some more, but at least I have started, which is good. If I can get into the routine of making them, then that will help.
So wet that the ponds overflowed, the well filled at quite a rate
and our temporary lake is back 

At least Sofie wasn't struggling to find water to drink

Enjoying some sunbathing



  1. I get cold just reading about your weather. Here it's been getting down into the 20's and 30's at night (Fahrenheit) and we consider that to be very cold. So the photo of your alpacas "sunbathing" made me chuckle. :)

    But it'll be dreary, wet, cold and dark here too in a month or so.

    1. It has been another cold week again, but it hasn't been very dreary at all. That's the nice thing about snow, it brightens up the days


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