Monday, 27 November 2017

Principles

Finally a bright sunny day
On our farm we try to apply certain principles such as, being kind to the land, to grow our own food with the minimum of external inputs and not using chemicals. We are not perfect and our roadway shows it is not always possible to be kind to the land, especially in wet weather. We just try to minimise our impact in thoughtful ways when it is unavoidable. These principles are also echoed in permaculture where the idea is to view the land and the life attached to it as a whole, one to take care of and enhance as much as possible for the sake of the future. The principles outlined below are taken from the Permaculture Principles site and I like the part where it talks about adopting the ethics to help us to transition from being dependent consumers to responsible producers, which is what we are trying to do, little by little.
The downsides of wet weather and animals. Mind you, this
would have been a lot worse with cows

A picture from the girl's paddock with the long winter
shadows. 
What is permaculture?
Permaculture is a creative design process based on whole-systems thinking informed by ethics and design principles. 
This approach guides us to mimic the patterns and relationships we can find in nature and can be applied to all aspects of human habitation, from agriculture to ecological building, from appropriate technology to education and even economics. 
I see the moles are working hard aerating the land. Hard to
be grateful sometimes though because if the humps are not
flattened then the soil gets into the hay
By adopting the ethics and applying these principles in our daily life we can make the transition from being dependent consumers to becoming responsible producers. This journey builds skills and resilience at home and in our local communities that will help us prepare for an uncertain future with less available energy. 
The techniques and strategies used to apply these principles vary widely depending on the location, climatic conditions and resources that are available. The methods may differ, but the foundations to this wholistic approach remain constant. By learning these principles you can acquire valuable thinking tools that help you become more resilient in an era of change.
The road that runs past our land until they graded it later

Prepping a new feeder for the sheep. The old one is in pieces
in the background
I think these kinds of ethics fit with God's idea of how we should work the land that he gave us. So in our efforts to try and work with our land and not against it we arranged to see some people connected to a permaculture organisation here in Latvia (link). We would love to join them on their workshops but we are usually busy on our own farm at the same time that they hold their workshops. Mind you it was nice to be able to just sit and chat in relative peace, which is probably not possible on a workshop day with all the other folks milling around. We especially went to see their grey water system to see how it works. A grey water system takes all the household water, except the toilet. We don't need one so much at the moment as we just throw the washing up water over the grass and let the grassland do its work. One day though we may need to find a different system and so it is nice to know how to go about dealing with water from a house that leads to clean water in the end. We also sat around drinking tea and eating Latvian garlic bread snacks whilst discussing life in general, I'm hoping they found it as relaxing as we did.
Ian has been fettling again. He has made an
Idle Irene, or is it a Slothful Susan, no it's a
Lazy Kate (front left). It is for plying wool,
he has also made a bobbin winder or rather
shortened something he had made before to fit
the purpose.
Ian does all our spinning and here he is winding
the wool he spun to make a skein for washing. 

Veronica just having a natter with Chanel

Back to her prim and proper self now

Did I mention that Ian had just brought in some fresh hay?
So of course on a nice bright day, the girls spent all day
inside eating
I have been doing a lot of writing just lately and even got started on my PhD thesis proper so it is nice to have a day off every now and again. Mind you my days off involve things like, digging carrots, parsnips and beetroot, cleaning out chickens, sorting out vegetable beds to put manure on over winter, cutting back the asparagus and putting them and the herbs to bed for the winter with a nice cozy spruce coat. Of course I had to go and cut a few weed spruce trees down for the purpose. Keeps me out of mischief anyway. If we had a house out on our land, I would probably do more of that during the day like I do in the summer, but now I spend more time at our apartment. Sigh! One day!
Sofie asleep on a bag of chicken food. Obviously keeping it
safe from the mice, which is a good job because Eyre keeps
bringing them in
The leeks obviously enjoyed the wet summer we had this year

George in contemplative mood
As I mentioned last week in an attempt to try and move to living out on the land more we are continuing to sort out our apartment that we live in, so it is ready to sell next year. The current project is sorting out our dump room. I have disassembled all the IKEA shelving now that has travelled around the world with us and we took those up to our other apartment. I also cleared out the other dump room in that apartment so that we can put all the shelving into one room and then I have to re-stack everything in there. I also said last week that I dread turning into one of those hoarders who keep so much stuff you cannot move and at the moment it kind of looks like that.
One of the spring lambs. Not so little any more
Cabbages are finally hearting up, at least the leaves are still
edible anyway

Texel greens. We had these a couple of sprigs of broccoli,
the cabbage, and some Brussel Sprout leaves for a leafy
stir fry this week.

Still some colour around from the Viburnum berries
It didn't help that we didn't manage to reassemble the shelving. Ian made some new shelves to add to the ones we already have, but somehow we didn't manage to get them sitting square on the uprights. We had spent the first part of the morning cleaning the chimney ready for the new heating season (it starts later in that apartment as we only really heat it to stop the pipes freezing for now) and so by the time we got around to sorting out the shelves it was getting late and we were hungry. We got one set sorted, but gave up with the other and left it for another rainy day. It looks like we will get a chance later on in the week as the forecast is still not looking good. I thought we did well though, the weather has not been the sort to encourage a positive, happy atmosphere and yet we didn't fall out at all.
The deer made a return visit
A Michaelmas Daisy still hanging on in there

Brencis is turning into a fine young chap. 
Facebook is one of those things that does consume too much time, but it also provides us with plenty of opportunities too. One was getting to know the folks at the permaculture organisation and setting up the meeting this week. Another one is getting to know new people and this week I have been connected with more alpaca owners, who we will hope to see next year. They live too far away to go and see them and be able to get back to put our own animals away, so we need longer days before embarking on that trip.
They are supposed to be white!
I erected this stone monument so that I wouldn't lose the stones
and get into trouble when Ian cut the grass. They are still there

A nice photo of Mr. P. He is hard to photograph at times
I also had an interesting discussion about rural Latvia and education this week on Facebook, with someone I haven't chatted to before. I like to hear other's perspectives and test out my own theories. It sharpens my own thinking for a start and keeps me looking for alternatives to the way things work in Latvia now. It was out of that discussion that we found out about a couple who have recently moved to Latvia to start farming relatively near to us, one is Latvian and the other English. I made contact and so hopefully they will come over to see us and our alpacas weather permitting, so we are looking forward to that.
The pond freezing over again
I love the rays of sunshine shining through the forest

The sunset after a very dreary day. A big difference to summer
when the sun sets much further to the right and I don't have
to practically hang out of the window to take a picture. At
least I didn't drop my phone as I was worried that I would
So on these wet dreary days besides writing I have also been trying to sort out arrangements for going to another conference, this time on the bioeconomy. There is a drive by the EU to build the bioeconomy and increase sustainability in the process. Of course this affects rural areas and so it will be interesting to see where they are going with this. I am particularly interested to see where their focus is and how they build up the rural areas to take advantage of these initiatives. It usually only benefits incomers who have an understanding of business and doesn't always address the issues of rural infrastructure to make sure it can continue. Too many initiatives start and then fizzle out and I am keen that this does not happen this time around, so sorry Mr, Ambassador I cannot make it to the British Embassy event again this year, maybe another time.
These amazing creations do not appear every year, but
fascinating when they do. They are called Frost flowers




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