Monday, 8 May 2017

So close!

You can tell we are heading into summer with where the sun
sets. So different to mid winter. This was also taken after
the light snow shower and after 9pm. Not a sky promising
good weather tomorrow.
I was going to tell you how the weather has got warmer and winter seems to have gone, but oh no! The temperature dropped again today with a bitterly cold northerly wind and it keeps trying to snow. Fortunately nothing serious (except as I am writing and big flakes start to come down), but it sure is not pleasant. Such a shame as I was out in the sunshine yesterday preparing more vegetable beds. At least I managed to weed and water the cabbages, Brussel sprouts, mizuna, beetroot and poppy seeds that have all sprouted under fleece. I also wrapped them up with some mulch too, so that will have helped in this cold wind. It will stop them from getting quite so hammered by the fleece as the fleece is just laid on top and is not over a framework. Ian also ploughed a small patch that we are going to plant up with buckwheat and squashes, which at least do not have to go in just yet anyway.
Sunrise on a cold and frosty morning at 5:37am - yes Ian was
up early
An early rise means the animals are allowed out early too
At least this week we have sorted out a few things. Firstly the debt we allegedly owed to what was the heating and water company and is now just the water company. It all goes back a loooooooong way, when they were not supplying adequate heat and we argued with them and then refused to pay for the heating part or rather lack of heating. As I mentioned the last week, the new director promised to have a look at it and we now have a reasonable reduction in the amount owed. I am not quibbling over the amount, as he did explain the difference in calculations and where I would not agree with how it was done, it is what it is, as a friend of ours would say.
We don't get out to this bit of the land very often. This is the
old ski hill with the rest of our land over the road on the left
hand side and one of our neighbour's to the right. 

Signs of spring! Really! Lesser Celandine I think
The other bit sorted was the application for farm payments. We have about 13 hectares total, but about 3 hectares is forest and some of the land has been taken over by trees and would not be allowed under the payments. We also decided not to add in another section that would have been complicated to put on the map, maybe another year, but not this one. We won't be retiring on the amount, that is for sure as it only amounts to about 5 hectares and EU farm payments in Latvia are some of the lowest in the EU, but at least it will pay for the summer diesel for the haymaking.
These little daffodils have hung in after being uprooted by
the wild boar. I expected a whole clump of them by now
An early morning visitor to the land. We also had the previous
owner out to the land today with his son. A nice surprise
One thing we didn't manage to sort out was getting an authorised receipt book. To collect money from visitors we are supposed to have an official receipt book that has a stamp on it from the tax office. For that we have to drive 45km just to get the stamp and for them to register the book, that you can buy in an ordinary bookstore, on their system. There is no way of doing this locally and I wonder how some people manage, although I can guess. Unfortunately we arrived on the wrong day. Not only do we have to drive all that way, we also can only go on a Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and we went on Wednesday of course, silly us! In this day and age, there should be a way of registering a book online or locally at least, such as at the local council offices. Anyway the lady at the tax office spoke very slowly after several requests to do so and then took us to the door to show us the days the tax office dealt with registering receipt books. At least that was clear now.
Our old oak tree with moss growing on a branch in the morning

Mr. P
Fortunately it wasn't the only thing we went to do, we also went to have a look at a builder's merchant we had been told about. It was in a small village near to the big town, in an out of the way place and not the sort of thing you would find by accident easily. Not exactly on a main road and yet the stock looked good. We ordered some more fencing and then returned on Saturday with the trailer to get the fencing and roofing panels for a new alpaca house and to replace the roof on the boys place. The boy's roof is deteriorating badly and so we are just replacing it with a metal one. At least it will last. The owner was quite a character. He didn't speak more than a few words of English but we managed and he just rattled away in Latvian.
And Mr. B looking very fluffy

How does she manage to do that when she is so pregnant?
She is due in a couple of weeks
I said last week that we had a cancellation for our felting course, but we are relieved that we have got another lady to fill the place. So we are back on track now. The pieces for that are starting to come together now. It was all decided on before Christmas, but of course we have to double check that everything is in order and transport booked. Our biggest worry at the moment is the weather. It has been so cold that shearing is later than anticipated. We had hoped to have that done at the beginning of the month, but it looks like it is going to be the end of the month instead and does not leave me much time to test the fleece samples before the course. We still have some fleece left from previous years so that will help at least. The wonderful thing about our greenhouse though, is that although it might feel like Christmas outside, at least inside it is nice and warm. The good news is that we also have a booking for all three days on the August course too.
Getting big. 

The girls enjoying the sunshine in the cool morning. They
did struggle a bit on the warmest day and sat inside then,
but on the cooler sunny days they sunbathe. I half expect a
worried passer by to call in and tell us our animals are sick,
but no, they really do like a sunabathe

A gorgeous day when spring felt like it had arrived, even the
trees were coming into leaf
Talking of the greenhouse, we have had an unwelcome visitor, another cat. I had a bowl of uncooked sourdough mix left out on the side in our greenhouse kitchen which it ate. Eeew! Hope it had a poorly tummy after that lot. We decided to block off the hole where it was getting in, which meant our cats were either in or out. If they wanted shelter they had to go down to the barn. The problem is that one of our cats worked out a way to get in. We had no idea where and one day we decided to find out as she was just on the outside. We rattled some food in a pot and sure enough she revealed how she was getting in - through a hole in the plastic. Not a good idea. Normally they go under the framework of the greenhouse, which is fine, but through the plastic is a definite no, no! Especially when a certain little cat is still getting on the roof from time to time and putting holes in the roof plastic.
Lady V is starting to show her age, we really hope she is
pregnant before retiring her. 
Doing some gardening
I have been continuing to work on an article for a journal and at least I am making progress, even if it meant printing out all the interviews on a ream of paper in small print to sort it out. At least it feels like I am getting some sort of structure worked out to categorise it and I might even be able to use the material for another paper that will be in progress later on. Even if I can only work on it for an hour before having to take a break and do some gardening. I saw today on Facebook that the National Geographic has an article on the customs and traditions of one of the places I am working on in Estonia along with its troubled history as a tribe divided by a modern day border (you can see the article here). It was funny to see the faces of people I have heard about through the interviews gathered by the students who have been helping me.  One annoying problem I have had this year is having funding turned down twice for a conference in July. It is only on every other year and it is a relatively important one too. I'm not happy. It will go in for a third attempt this next month, but I have to think about booking flights etc. to get there and there is still a risk I won't get the funding.
Savouring every blade

There is some grass there, honest! 
While I was getting on with the writing, Ian had the harder job of clearing out alpaca houses. He did the girl's alpaca house on is own but he had help for the boys'. The young lad who came to help us had cerebral palsy, which made helping a bit of a challenge but he was willing and between him and Ian they worked out a system to do the work. They also fixed the boys fence, as that is definitely a two person job. We will definitely be happy to have him back and help, but we will have to work on how that will be a good experience for him and manageable.
Having a chase

Ian re-baling hay
One really big issue we had was the hay for bedding. Ian decided to break open one of the hay bales we bought but it was hardly usable at all. They obviously had the same problem we had with bales that were baled in September and hadn't been dried properly due to the weather. Out of three big bales of hay he managed to put bedding down in the boys' alpaca houses and re-baled four bales into the more manageable small bales we normally use. He didn't want to use the hay in the girls' because of them being pregnant and due relatively soon. We usually layer the hay over time and only clear out twice a year. We would have expected to use one bale for both houses and they normally take three or four bales each, which means that 3/4 of the bales were lost to mould.
Blow dried hair

Someone found a cool place to sleep
One other important job was to get some sorting out done in our apartments, ready for summer visitors. It has meant doing some rearranging and now all Ian's tools are in one place and he brought out his shelving and fixed them up in the barn. He has also been doing some sorting out in the barn as so much stuff is piled in that it is difficult to get to it and so doesn't get used properly. It also needed a bit of rearranging to get the fridge in that lives in the barn in the summer months. It wasn't really needed until this week as the barn was quite cold enough for food and we had a big box to store it in.

I love the clouds on this breezy but sunny
The sheep were finally let on the grass this week too. Ian seems to spend a lot of the week moving fences at the moment because he cannot leave the alpacas on for long before they have eaten what is there and we were hesitant to let the sheep out as they eat twice as much. They needed grass though but you wouldn't think they appreciated this when they come to the gate in the evening and stand there baaing away for grain. Our chickens probably need grass too, but they are on lock down still due to the threat of avian flu- although we do notice quite a few people disregarding the rules, which to be honest is probably healthier for the chickens. It is a bit like cooping everyone up in an office during flu season when it would be healthier to get some fresh air and some good food. It is probably why the chickens are getting picky with what they eat. It has been cool enough to keep them in the greenhouse - just, but they are getting fresh food for health reasons.


  1. Lovely to catch up with all your news.

  2. Thanks for dropping by Gina :)

  3. We're having an unusually cold spell here too. For us that means temps in the 40's. But snow in May?? No thanks!

    1. Lol it was only a few flakes really and nothing settled :D It wasn't that long ago that there was snow about 2 hours north of us on June 17th. That wasn't pleasant. Hope it warms up for us both soon


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