Monday, 23 January 2017

Nine years down the line

The snow is still on the ground, but it is currently supposed
to be a balmy 1C. Certainly a lot warmer than a couple of
weeks ago
My first blog was on the 18th January 2008, as I started the blog before setting off from sunny Colorado on our latest adventure. So nine years down the line and our situation is very different to then. It is hard to believe all the changes, some rather scary political changes and some very amazing personal ones. I would never have thought I would be studying towards a PhD and hopefully should finish that this year sometime. We would never have thought we would have a farm and attracting visitors, even in the middle of winter. We most certainly have never of thought of alpacas and I am not sure we would have even had more than a vague sense of what an alpaca is, pretty much like most of our visitors really. Neither would we have thought we would be running felting courses for international visitors. But here we are!
We've had ice rain

Which of course coated everything
So let's start off with Aggie. After the pretty devastating news last week that she could have osteosarcoma or bone cancer, we have been thrown a lifeline by the top camelid vet in the UK who says it looks like an infection after all. Ian sent her the x-rays after contacting the alpaca farm where he went on a shearing course and they suggested sending them to her. The vet also sent us some articles to look at (along with the recommendation for her alpaca health course) and we compared the pictures and there were distinct similarities. So it looks like we will be going down the antibiotic route, but hopefully the one she suggests which is given as an intramuscular injection every other day, if we can get that particular one here in Latvia that is.
Including the trees. Some branches have come down with
the weight of the ice, but not many

Aggie looking quite perky considering
Aggie doesn't like me again after the performance of trying irrigate her mouth the week before and she only took my offerings of the medicine on some feed very grudgingly this morning while Ian was on an errand, so she is going to really hate me after this, as I will have to go and help Ian by holding her. Up until now, giving her her medicine has actually been quite easy for Ian anyway, mainly because it has come on slices of apples and then on a few pellets of feed. Ian thinks she has actually been happier this week and not in as much pain, but her lump keeps growing, so we will see what happens next week.
But that worrying lump is still growing on her cheek

The ice rain has meant a hard, crisp, shiny layer on the ice
The errand Ian was on this morning was to sort out forestry forms that have to be filled in each year and the renewal of the certificate that allows him to legally cut down trees over 12cm in diameter. He doesn't cut down many of them because he is just gradually thinning out the forest to make it healthier and so we have wood for firewood, but the law's the law and we need the certificate. The certificate has to be renewed every three years. He was planning on going to get the form and then get some help from friends to fill in, before returning it. Instead the lady at the office helped him by filling in the forms and so he doesn't have to return and she even leant him a pair of glasses so he could fill in some of the details. At least that is a journey saved.
Mr.P modelling the latest fashion once again, his food!

Herkules, not to be outdone 
I've been pretty much tied up with my studies. I just about got the first draft of a paper together now and just need to go through this again to tidy it up before it goes through to my supervisor to look at. I also got an abstract off to a conference, which starts me on the track of putting my studies into context. I have been studying development in rural areas but there was still the nagging feeling of "that's nice, but what does it matter in resource scarce days?" After all, the numbers in rural communities are dwindling and this puts an increasing strain on resources for fewer and fewer people. I finally feel I have an answer to that and it is because without healthy rural communities, food production could suffer as young families stay away and do not return to farming. And this is indeed happening. Countries cannot rely on distant markets for their food all the time, it makes them vulnerable, they need a mix of near and some further away in case of local catastrophes, such as abnormal weather events. Well that is it in a nutshell anyway. There are of course other reasons but I hope it is a compelling one.
Herkules over a year ago was causing us
some worry about his skin and he needed
regular treatment to calm his skin down
and stop it crusting. Although not perfect
at least his fleece has grown back in most
places and no where near as crusty as it

Tellus demonstrating his winsome smile
I mentioned at the beginning that we never thought we would have a farm that attracted visitors and we had more visitors this weekend. For Ian it was a milestone as he sort of understood what was said even though the conversation was in Latvian. There was a bit of a mix up on time, he thought she said she would arrive about 2pm, but it turned out it was about two hours after she phoned. Still they were very happy and did lots of posing with the very well behaved and cooperative alpacas (if only they were like that every time, but animals are animals).
Enjoying the sunshine

So that's about it this week. Making sure Aggie gets her medication, kind of curtails much activity and I've been at home for a change and not gallivanting off. We did manage to get up to see our friends again and we were chatting about animals. They lost one recently who was a favourite and had a prolapsed uterus and so they were commiserating with Ian, who is obviously finding it harder as he is the one dealing with the animals.

Chanel just loves to roll in the snow. Here she is tapping the

Down she goes on the ground

Starting to roll

Onto her back

Over she goes



  1. Good to hear Aggie may be okay after all. Love Chanel rolling in the snow!

    1. We do hope so. I bet our vet will be glad to hear the news in the morning too. I sometimes think she feels the losses as much as we do and she tries so hard to find out more.

      Chanel is such a character


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