Monday, 31 July 2017

Haymaking time!

Always start with the cutest alpaca photo :)
Oh gosh! Time flies again and I will have to write a blog covering two weeks in two parts, so here is the first instalment. In someways there is not a lot of variation in the first week, just lots of work to do in the garden, haymaking and preparing to go away. The obsessive weather watching continued and eventually we had some dry weather and to our amazement the grass on the ski hill had survived the downpours and was decent enough to bale. There was even a reasonable amount of it too.
Dinner time

Some sunshine at last! Hmmm! That feels good
Last year it was so dry and we had to cut early as the grass was turning, but we only got 50 bales off half the ski hill, then the weather turned and we couldn't cut any more until about September. This hay was not good and we ended up with many mouldy bales and only just about had enough to keep us going for the feed for the alpacas. There was barely enough bedding to cover the floor and that was too damp to soak up much, so the alpaca houses got wet through. Not pleasant. This year we had to bale the hay on a looser setting so we did not break the baler again and so that meant they are not as tightly packed as in previous years, but we still got 145 bales, so rather more hay than last year.
Scratching! Those pesky insects

Making the most of an unstrung bale that needed dumping
Not only did we manage to get 145 bales from the half ski hill, we managed to cut the hay from the rest of the hill. I used the two wheel tractor while Ian used our regular tractor. I cut as much as possible but one section was so steep and bumpy that I couldn't manage to keep going. My hands ached for a week afterwards. Ian finished it off after he finished with the big tractor. A friend of ours came and helped me to load half the hay bales in the horse box and then load them into our alpaca house, while Ian continued turning and cutting more hay.
A rather large annoying insect. Poor Mr. P. and Chanel seem
to attract them

Hello! Is it me your looking for?
While we were sitting around having lunch on the Saturday with our friends, one of them made a comment about the fact I was setting off on Sunday. I had been convinced I was going on the Monday, well I was ....kind of! I was flying by plane on the Monday at an unearthly hour and I needed to organise a hotel for the night before so I could get some sleep rather than none. I sure was not in travel mode. This meant a lot of sorting out and organising in between collecting hay and gardening. I managed to book a hotel near the airport, sort out my luggage for the week, organise a lift to the airport with the folks who had been in our apartment for over a month and were heading back into Riga at about the same time and make sure Ian had enough food in for the rest of the week, as he was going to end up with finishing off the haymaking on his own. So that was my Saturday!
Also enjoying one of the unstrung bales

A plump alpaca. Brencis showing what happens when there
is plenty of good grass and some visitors where he knows
there will be food for him, because he is such a "friendly"
The day before the conference on the Sunday, I helped Ian shift the remaining bales then collected strawberries as I didn't want them to go to waste. I put them onto dry while Ian started baling up more hay. Once I had finished the strawberries I got into the field to start putting the hay bales into batches to make collecting them later easier for Ian. At 6:40pm I left the field, quickly scrubbed up, changed, fed the chickens and wrote out a receipt for the folks who had been borrowing our flat. I was ready for just after 7pm when they came to collect me. Ian carried on baling until 10pm that night. I explained this a lot at the conference to highlight why a rural sociology conference should not be held in July. August was bad enough two years ago, but July is ridiculous.
I think Herkules looks so happy in this photo

This grass is sure chewy
Monday I had to transition into academic mode, as I met up with a group from Latvia who were travelling to the same conference. I happened to be sitting next to one of them on the plane, which was good as we had not booked our seats together. It gave me a chance to have a good talk about different topics, including if there was ever any opening in the department I could be interested. It was also nice to travel in a group, rather than on my own and we had a drink together in Warsaw, Poland where we had a stopover while we waited for our flight to Krakow.

Poor Aggie, still pregnant and missing all the fun due to
staying in the shade with all her fleece on
I also hitched a lift into the city in their taxi, which saved some money and hassle of trying to work out how to get there. However, I was supposed to be only 10 minute walk away from their hotel to my hotsel, but my phone sat nav decided to take me to another hostel owned by the same group that was a further 10 minutes and so ended up with a bit of a long walk to find the right hostel Fortunately the trip was pleasant along the river and through a park. I finally arrived rather hot and sticky though. I decided not to meet up for lunch but just grabbed some food nearby and then met up with them in the evening for the start of the conference - and that is why I didn't manage to write the blog last week. I did manage to find a little coffee shop near to the venue with a really nice relaxing ambience so that helped.

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