Monday, 10 April 2017

Transition time

I think this is a great shot that Ian took of a stork
visiting our land. I never cease to be amazed by
the storks. Not sure I would want too close, they
make quite a mess but they are still fabulous to
watch while they are around
It is that time of the year when we transition from being in the apartment to out in the caravan more, in fact Friday to Monday this last week. It has been relatively pleasant, a bit windy and sometimes cool, but it has been nice to be outside more. So lots of pictures and not so many words
They even visit the pond on a regular basis to catch frogs.
I hope they don't catch the fish though. We have seen the
fish in our top pond after the winter, but not this one but
they could be deep down hiding - hopefully
The storks eat the frogs but fortunately they don't eat the
frogspawn. It doesn't take long after the snow has gone for
the frogspawn to appear
A beautiful day today
Beds rotavated and some seedlings in under cover,
as well as other seeds such as cabbages and caulis.
The brassicas are always best under cover on our
land because they get attacked by flea beetles
otherwise, which puts lots of tiny holes in the
This week we have beds prepared for seeds and some planted up with cooler weather plants, we have areas smoothed out after wild boar activity (not recent fortunately, we seem to have escaped anything major for a while, so hopefully their numbers really have been reduced), weeding done, even the first washing on the line out on the land. It is early and we could get caught out by late frosts, but the sort of seeds I put in are more likely to suffer from dry weather, which could still come and so they are better getting off to a good start in the rain we will have over the next few days.

This is my first vegetable garden out on the land and
the soil is now quite dark for the most part as we have
added a lot of organic matter and wood chippings to
it. Some of it got a bit overgrown last year, but at
least it has had a good weeding to start the year.

Aggie was giving me a funny look because I was
laid on the grass to take this photo. She looks very
fuzzy but it was rather breezy
The biggest disadvantage with this time of year is the lengthening days, which is good on the one hand but does mean if I stay at the apartment and Ian goes out to the land he comes home very late to eat or we start eating separately - not something we are a fan of. Throughout our married life we have sat down to eat our evening meal at the table together and when our kids were at home we ate together with them too. That is one of the biggest reasons for making the transition to staying out in the caravan, the other is to save fuel of travelling backwards and forwards. When we are out there I only have to travel back twice a week, to get the washing done, take a shower, to pick up our milk delivery and do some shopping. Before anyone asks, daily showers are not only bad for the environment (think of all that hot water down the drain) but also bad for the skin's environment, a wash is quite good enough! Of course we do go into the village more often than that when we have forgotten something or need something from home, but our fuel consumption is a lot less even so.
Ian spent time re-modelling the scar around our well today.
He re-sculpted the bank to stop surface water flowing into
it, then rotavated the area around it 
He also scattered some grass seed on 
then raked it in
The inspector came to investigate. Which reminds me, the
inspector really did come to investigate today. A nice man
with a GPS came to assess our land for the EU payments,
he went away with a few photos of the alpacas too. 
The lambs are getting big as you can see, this one
is nearly as big as her mum now.
One thing I didn't mention last week was the trip back on the plane. I had the window seat and two blokes got on and sat next to me. They were this and that, which I absolutely hate, but then they ordered lemonade from the stewards and after the stewards had gone they started to top up their cups from a large bottle of vodka they had with them. Slowly over the course of the flight, they were getting louder and louder and at a few points in time even started singing. I wasn't really sure what to do and felt quite intimidated by their behaviour. I was saying a few prayers for sure. Just as we were starting the descent the one next to me had a nose bleed and asked his friend to get some tissues. I knew I had some in my bag so offered him some rather than let him bleed all over the place as it was quite a bad one. I also felt it might help to connect with him and help de-escalate what was happening. I think the nose bleed did that enough anyway, it seemed to calm them down a lot. It certainly isn't something I would like to have repeated again though.

A few signs of spring
Coltsfoot. This is usually the first flower of spring to appear
although there doesn't seem to be many of them this year

This fungus is so incredibly bright red and stands out
on the forest floor

The yearly carpet of wood anemones - I love them.
They appeared about the same time last year, but
earlier than years previous to that. In fact if you go
back a few years, sometimes our land was still under
snow and ice at this time.
Blackcurrants are budding too

Mint appearing from under the winter cover of spruce
branches - this helps to protect them from the harsh frosts


Welsh onions. I have all sorts of onions left to sprout in the
garden because they start to come push up leaves so early
in the year that we can be eating leaves almost as soon as
the stored onions are finished

The lovage is another early plant to push up after the winter

Oh yes! And ground elder, the scourge of the garden, but I'm not
so bothered these days since I found out it is perfectly edible at
this stage and gives a sort of parsley flavour to meals.
This is the Schisandra Chensis in the greenhouse. We
use this in salads, in teas and as a spice too. We
don't get that many of the supposedly amazing
berries that give so much energy, but we aren't worried
since we found out all the other uses for it.
So this was pretty much our week. There was a slight misunderstanding at one point. Ian asked for another replacement Stanley flask recently as the vacuum stopped working again, despite their 25 year guarantee - we think there was a problem with the lightweight ones that hopefully has been resolved with their new design, which is what they replaced it with. A nice lady came to give us the replacement since she is from the area, so she got her relative who speaks English to phone to arrange the drop off. No problem, it was someone we knew. The problem in Latvia though is that we know quite a few people who have names that are similar, so if we want to talk about someone we have to add a description too, unfortunately they don't add those descriptions to their phone calls, so while Ian was convinced it was the guy who had dug the well who was coming with his relative, it turned out to be another guy with the same name. Never mind, Ian got a new flask as the lady came to visit with her grandchildren the next day.


  1. Wow, planting outside already, I thought the soil was too cold. What seeds and seedlings have you planted?

    1. Normally it would be too cold, although if you see the way the weeds germinate at this time of year, it is not the case for all types of plants. The seeds and seedlings are mainly brassicas, which can be planted as early as March in the UK. They prefer the cooler season to get going and they are under fleece too. Being in a hilly area also helps as the ground has dried quite well after the snow and we haven't had a lot of rain or snow since the main bulk went.

      We have also put potatoes in but that was under beds of straw/alpaca manure. Alpaca manure can be put straight on the garden as it is not as rich as manure from other animals and so we just lay it on the ground and make raised beds that way. Worked a treat last year for potatoes and if it is forecast to be too cold when they start peeking through, we will just put another layer of strawy manure on the top


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