Monday, 5 December 2016


Our old oak tree covered in snow and lit by the sun looks so
After a week of Narniaresque type weather with beautiful snow covered trees, it rained. The snow is still here but it looks rather drab and dreary now. Such a shame as it all looked rather festive, although it did keep Ian busy clearing paths with the snowblower. Of course there is still plenty of time for snow to return before winter has finished, but for now the dark days are back.
Chanel with a bit of festive frosting

A path made with the snowblower
This time of the year is one of beginnings and ends. It is the end of the milk season for one of our milk suppliers. We have two sources for our lovely, thick and creamy unpasteurised milk. One has milk all the year round, presumably by staggering her cows delivery dates and the other opts for time off in the winter. I can understand that, as milking animals is quite demanding. Our friend the goat farmer looks forward to the rest she gets at this time of the year as she prepares for her goats to start kidding.
Mr. P shows up much better against the snow

The ponds are frozen but our well was still filling up until
a few days ago
The lighter days with the snow has meant some of our hens have started laying again and they seem to have got over their autumn moult. When the cold weather really kicks in the number of eggs usually drops off but come February time they should be starting to lay more consistently. We are going to buy some eggs this next year to raise more stock. We have managed to breed out consistent egg laying out of them, but some of them are a decent size for meat birds, so not all bad.
Eyre or Floss as we usually call her has got a good long coat on
now. So long it is starting to get all matted again. She isn't so
patient as Sofie but she let Ian comb out a huge chunk of matted
fur with the new super duper combs that have rotating teeth.

Lady V checking out the weather before heading out ....
We have our first booking for next year, on the first of January from a Russian family. We subscribed to a site that advertises rural holidays and activities but also puts tours together for individuals and groups. It will be interesting to see what else comes of this. We really do need a shop building for our products rather than bring them backwards and forwards from home though.
... for a roll around in the snow. I mean! At her age too

Investigating the old jar of oil 
On the subject of buildings, we were discussing our wish list and besides a shop we would like a purpose built workshop. I would love to have a round building that looks out over the alpaca paddocks with an offshot kitchen. The shop would be next door to that and then a barn at the end nearest the greenhouse. We were thinking of putting the barn nearer the alpacas but I think it would be nicer for people to have the possibility of seeing the alpacas better whilst doing some felting and not just when Ian brings them on a walk or far away in the distance. We would need to find funding for this though and so will have to submit proper plans, which is not too much of a problem, but we have to get organised and although we are getting there, we are getting there slowly.
Sunbathing father (standing) and son (sitting down). Brencis
is getting huge, he looks like he might be bigger than his
father. Let's just hope he remains a laid back sort of guy like
his dad.

I thought of decorating this tree for
Christmas, but I think the snow did a
better job of it
Last year we made some wine from our grapes. It was not a stunning success and the wine was at best palatable, however, it does make some rather nice gluwein. Well we like it and since we have plenty of bottles of the red stuff, we have been having a cup of gluwein on a rather regular basis. If we haven't had gluwein, we have had a hot juice drink with similar spices. We have plenty of juice from all our berries to get through but we are not big juice drinkers. We go through phases. I would rather have a hot drink though and so this makes a good alternative.
It was nice to see the sun this week

A bit cold for using the outside loo these
I noticed that a friend of ours had what looked like a turkey one mealtime and I asked her where she got it from. It turned out to be a goose and she got it from a friend of hers. I thought that would make an interesting change for Christmas and asked if she could help us get one. She gave me a number for someone called Martinš. We know of someone with same name and it sounded like they were in the same direction and so wondered if it was the same person. The name was on the noticeboard in our caravan with the number, so Ian checked and no it was not the same Martinš. A few days later I asked Ian to phone to arrange for the goose for Christmas, because I wouldn't be home. Eventually he remembered to phone, but the person who answered was not Martinš and neither did they speak English as we expected. Whoops! Turns out Ian had phoned the number on the board, it may have been Martinš' number before but not now and it wasn't the one I asked him to ring. Finally he got the right number and the right Martinš and so we are definitely having goose for Christmas now.
I would think the chickens are grateful to be inside these days.
This was meant to be removed and put under cover

Blackcurrant bushes forming snow sculptures
I have been busy trying to process some apples that were a bit past their best and squashes that were not going to last long. We had run short of jars but after a sort out of various jars with small amounts of jam or chutney in them I managed to free some up, a friend gave us some more and after sorting out the boxes of empty jars I managed to find some the right size. Amazing what a little sorting out will do while procrastinating a writing project. So there is blackcurrant and apple jam, wild strawberry and apple jam, there is spiced squash and dried fruit marinating waiting to be turned into christmas puddings and some orange peel being turned into candied peel. There is also dried squash and dried spiced squash.
You can just about see the sign

Tree and snow art
Another reason for the sort out was that we need to free up freezer space for lamb. We cannot keep the male lamb as his mother was the best mother of all our ewes, she gave birth unaided and took good care of the lamb, hence his good size. The other two were rotten mothers, one didn't even attempt to feed her lambs and the other was not much better and her lambs didn't really thrive. We hope it is just inexperience and next year they should be better. I say next year, they are all pregnant again and we don't know when they are due. Whoops! If the lambs from this round survive then we will cull the ram, if they don't they have one last chance before the ram has to go.
I thought I might try to cover the Brussel Sprouts, they are about
pea size now

Aggie with her dusting of snow
Such is the farming life and trying to at least maintain some genetic integrity and not inbreeding them. Next year we plan on making a better shelter for the sheep at the top of the land for routine husbandry and hopefully what was the old alpaca house will be strengthened and repaired or replaced for winter quarters. We'll see what we actually manage. It is a problem when the alpacas are our focus but the sheep do a valuable job of providing us with mowing services on rough ground and provide us with some meat. The idea is also that the fleeces we get from them will help with making felted or knitted items. A little bit of sheep's wool helps alpaca fibres to felt or hold its shape.
A bit more obvious on Chanel and looks like that fungus that
kills bats. Fortunately this will not do any damage

Digging for Jerusalem artichokes
At least this week I managed to get some skiing done. Last winter season I managed to get my skis out only once in the whole season. I hope this year to get more opportunities than that. It is always with a bit of trepidation that I get back on my skis and I always practice out of sight, well mainly out of sight. Of course the bit where I started to wobble was in sight of the road, just as a car was going past. Despite the snow, the ground is not frozen and so I also managed to dig up another bucket load of Jerusalem artichokes, so the chickens will be happy and I brought some home for us to eat. There is not much else I can do on a winters day out on our land, Ian had made all the paths necessary.

A full bucket and deep snow. Good job I had ski trousers on
The lines across are my ski track, honest!


  1. Your posts are always so interesting!

    1. Aww thank you Gina. I must say I am enjoying your advent count down posts. Such lovely pictures and ideas.

  2. Just HAD to check in to see how you and the critters were holding up! Seems as though my life got far too busy lately. Perhaps I'll do some catching up now that it's the short end of the year!

    Wishing you and Ian a very Happy and warm Christmas!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. You must have been listening to a conversation of mine and telling some folks about the place where you were born as we drove past on our way to Riga.

      It has been pretty busy here too. So busy I forgot to post last Monday. I am in Sweden at the moment on a study trip and only get back on Christmas Eve.

      A very Merry Christmas to you and have a wonderful New Year


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