Monday, 16 October 2017

Been and gone!

Grey days but plenty of brightly coloured trees
Ian arrived back late on Wednesday night and I picked him up from the airport. The animals didn't give me any more issues, well not that I was aware of at the time, apart from noticing that one of our sheep was limping one day. It did rain a lot on the Tuesday so I made sure that Ian's wellies were in the car when I went to pick him up, our land is just so muddy it is unbelievable. The rain meant that there were lots of jobs to do on the Wednesday before I set off to pick Ian up, like emptying drain holes from alpaca houses and putting in fresh hay because they had been in all day chomping on hay and weeing a lot. I think we will have to tackle the drainage around the alpaca houses, as it is obviously a problem in these wet years.
A little light reading for Ian on his course

Our son is a bike mechanic and so keen to get his children
riding bikes. His daughter finally cracked the balance bike
this week
The next day we went for a walk around to see what I had been doing and to check on the animals. The sheep which had been limping the other day, fortunately seemed to have recovered but we then found out that one of the lambs was on the opposite side of the fence to the other sheep. We tried to get her back in through the gate and she nearly did a few times but in the end decided to try and jump the fence and bust an electric post in the process. Sigh! At least Ian had spare poles handy nearby for just such eventualities. We didn't have long before I had to set off for Riga though on the bus as I was attending a conference on Alternative Food Networks on the Friday and Saturday, which meant staying overnight in a hotel.
My son and daughter with some of their children

A serious face!
I managed to find a hotel, the Mosaic Hotel, in the centre of Riga that was quite cheap, relatively speaking. It was also clean, comfortable and above all, quiet. Well it was quiet from the point of view that there was no traffic noise that I could hear, but there was the steady drip of rain on metal windowsills. It also had tea and coffee facilities in a common room, which was a bonus. It was more of a hostel than hotel really, but that was fine with me. I actually prefer that for the extra food making facilities they have.
But he's not often so serious!

Our little school boy looking rather grown up
The conference was very good, as we were looking at issues related to the perceptions of post-Soviet countries. In the academic literature growing vegetables in the West is often viewed as an enjoyable hobby, or a reaction to consumerism etc. but then portrays it as a reaction to poverty in the post-Soviet countries. The same with sharing that produce, it is considered as altruism in the West and merely supplementing meagre incomes in post-Soviet countries. The reality is different. Gardening is a much loved activity with healthy food and taste being the main motivators. Sharing food and finding ways to get food from what is considered more natural sources are all important. In fact I think the post-Soviet countries are often ahead in this respect because they have not lost the knowledge of gardening and often maintain contacts with rural farms through friend and family networks and so can obtain food directly from farms much more easily.
Zipping along

Not to be outdone!

The waistcoats I made from old
denim jeans and lined with alpaca
fleece for warmth fitted - just. It's
a good job they have someone to
pass them onto
My presentation went down well, which was nice as I hadn't planned on doing one at first. I had a small survey of allotment gardening in Latvia but didn't think I had enough respondents to put something together until I chatted with the guy who had given me his set of questions for the survey that he had used in Czechia and Poland. He really encouraged me to go forward with what I had and I must admit as I analysed it more carefully for the presentation I realised what a wealth of information there was. What surprised me more than anything was the fact that people took the time to write more detailed comments after the general questions. They really wanted me to know how much they valued the growing and sharing of food. It was important to them and an act of kindness that they enjoyed. I also added some personal observations from living in Latvia and this was appreciated by the Latvians there. They told me it was nice for them to hear an outsider appreciate an important aspect of their culture.
I think Ian captured this shot beautifully. She's a lovely

The new - well new to us - spinning wheel
Ian came to pick me up after the conference as that meant I could stay until the end but also it meant that we could pick up a spinning wheel that someone was giving us. It belonged to her family but was not being used and so she offered it to us. Ian has been working on it today as it was another drizzly day. Although it has obviously some signs of age and woodworm (not active we think) he was able to get it running smoothly. He hasn't tried it with any fleece yet as it still needs a bit more cleaning and the metalwork needs polishing up, but we think it might still work well.
A little woodworm artwork

The youngest grandchild (for the moment) who I saw earlier in
the year when I went to help our daughter with her older two.
Apparently he's a smiler
We have had some nice days and yesterday was one of them. It was a kind of pottering about on the farm day and we were having a relaxed lunch when Ian got a phone call. One of our neighbours had got his car stuck, could we help. We went round in our car and tried and then managed to get our car stuck in the process. Ian had to walk back and get the tractor to first pull out our car and then the other car. It was a good job he had a long winch cable because it meant he could pull the other car out from a nice dry section. We came away with a bag of apples and two lots of Michaelmas Daisies, a purple variety and a wine pink variety. Now what was I saying about the joy of sharing? We were told we could go back and collect more apples if we wanted to because they wouldn't be able to get back soon to collect more. That's actually quite handy as we haven't had many apples on our own trees. We got to do our own sharing today, another neighbour came to borrow our chipper. Seems only fair!
Oh he is a mucky kid! It's hard to believe that Brencis is
our youngest alpaca as he is probably the biggest now.
Fortunately he is also the most docile and submissive of
them all. That is one reason he is so mucky as one of the
others managed to sit on him in the mud.

I love the colours of the autumn leaves. This is a grape leaf
Well to finish off with I thought I would share the news about the grandchildren. Two of them started school this year and one has got "star of the week" and the other one gone up a reading group; they are obviously settling in well. The other piece of news is that we are expecting grandchild number eight next year. So I hope to make a trip over to see the new one next year and that is on top of seeing grandchild number seven at Christmas time.
Our greenhouse gradually emptying


Edith Chenault said...

Congratulations! And I will be one to say that I am glad that the Estonians love gardening as much as they do. Since I live in an apartment, I can't have my own. But the Estonians are more than willing to share their produce.

Joanna said...

It is lovely how willing they are to share. I love the apples that are usually out wherever you go. Even apartment dwellers often have allotments somewhere though, maybe you could find one :)