Monday, 5 March 2018

Could be better

Winter sunsets are often glorious
It has been one of those weeks. Nothing catastrophic happened, but it could have been better at times. Yes we had some cold windy weather, which wasn't pleasant but we didn't have much in the way of snow, even parts of the UK got it worse than we did, a real beast from the East as opposed to the poodle in the East for some. We have about the same 25cm of snow we had last week. It certainly wasn't melting much in the sun, it was too cold. This did mean the first issue we had was frozen heating pipes or at least on the way to being frozen. The wind was causing a north facing wall to cool the pipes to near freezing when we discovered it, when a radiator refused to warm up. That meant three days in a row up at our other apartment during the day to run the wood fired heating to defrost it. The first day was rather chilly, the second day was pleasant and by the third day the heat had been absorbed by the walls and the pipe unthawed. At least we escaped any burst pipes this time around. At the same time Ian also tried to fix a leak in water pipe. Let's just say the pipe is fixed, but now the new valve leaks. There were certain utterances about the quality of components that you get here and not being good enough - or at least that is my translation of the utterances. Being slightly deaf is wonderful at times.
Yes it was cold and no you shouldn't take
selfies in the cold. The phone does not like it
nor do your fingers. Hehe! So here I am with
about five layers under a fleece lined coat, a
thermal hat with my hood up ( a rare sight)
alpaca scarf and a thermal layer under ski pants.
It was just about bearable because the buildings
sheltered me from the wind
Ian had taken the precaution of ensuring the battery was
always topped up so it would start on cold mornings. The
short runs to and from our land, of course are not good on
the car. Unfortunately it was not enough
Just as we got the pipes sorted the car started acting up again. By then we were seeing highs of around -8C. As a friend pointed out, that feels very spring-like when temperatures have been dipping to the low -20s with one night down to -28C. But for some reason the increasing temperatures sets off our intermittent fault that we still haven't worked out the cause of. I say "we", what I really mean is Ian and various other folks that at least have some knowledge of cars, I merely nod knowingly and don't usually have a clue. I understand if it is explained to me, but I don't really tend to be very interested in the inner workings of a car, until it goes wrong on me of course. Anyway the car spluttered for a few days in the mornings, until one day it decided not to splutter into life at all. It would of course be a day when we were expecting a visit from someone.
You just have to scratch that itch. Alpaca yoga

It sparkles like a field of diamonds
Fortunately we have some very good friends around here and were able to call someone for a lift. It could have been possible to catch a bus, but we have to take out water and supplies for the day and carrying 25 litres of water all the way to the bus stop is not easy. Ian has been taking warm water out, as some animals prefer it - some prefer the snow! The car, however, is still sat outside our apartment and Ian has had a lift in on the the last few days from one of the neighbouring farmers who also lives in the village.
George trying out his new harness. So far, so good. This is the
start of halter training in preparation for taking them on walks.
Also life is simpler when they are halter trained

Freddie sporting his new harness too. He was so calm
Our visitor turned up as planned and we took him around our land to show him various oak trees that we were worried about. One of them was a reasonably mature oak, maybe about 80 years old, with a rapidly spreading fungal infection. He showed us several places of concern on the tree that suggested it was indeed starting to struggle. We will have the oak removed because it is likely to end up on the barn in the future, otherwise. He also noticed that fungus was starting to appear on another oak nearby.  The other one may have some other trees removed from around it and then we can see if it recovers - depending on what the fungus is though.
Mum and Auntie V looking on

The two unbalanced oak trees are in the centre of the
picture and yes I am out on a ski run. My third time this
year. I have only fallen over once too and that was
because this section was icier than the other side that had
filled with snow on my first run round.
Two oak trees on our land have lost large limbs at some stage but our visitor says they are still okay, but they will be topped to balance them up a bit and give the tree some stability. Also it should encourage some of the new growth from further down. Another oak tree will also be removed as it is fairly close to the road and is hollow. As we were going round our visitor explained how we should trim the small oaks to help them grow into balanced trees, which was really useful. He loved our large oak tree and said that it was protected since it was over 4.5m circumference. We thought they were protected above 5m but apparently that changed. Not that we would even consider cutting that majestic tree down and Ian is working on clearing around it to keep it healthy too.
Snowscapes are so amazing I think. The way they cover the
landscape and change it and smooth out the contours

Chanel licking the salt block. She has been enjoying the
warm water that Ian has brought in from home. Aggie
meanwhile, continues prefers to eat the snow.
Later on in the day we discovered another issue to deal with. Chanel is still struggling with her health and her skin was looking rather scabby. When I got up close to look though I found out it was actually worse than we thought and her fleece was falling off on her legs. Whilst the magic cream I make up had worked really well on the others, it was not having the desired effect on Chanel and so we have started on the big guns now and given her an injection of Ivermectin. In a few days time we will also give her Fiprinol - not something I like to do, but sometimes drastic measures are necessary.
Ice crystals

I still feel amazed to think that this is our
place, our land. It almost feels like a fairytale
This year is a special year for Latvia, it is 100 years since they first declared independence and it is also now our 10th year in Latvia. We arrived on the 4th March 2008. It seems appropriate that we went to the hotel this last week to meet up with a friend who we have been going to see for ages. Not quite a celebration but it is somewhere we used to frequent more often when we first arrived. Unfortunately our friend's husband had flu and so we didn't get to see him.
The alpacas are getting fluffier

The sheep are putting on a lot of fleece too
It is also Estonia's 100th year and the former President in celebration of their Independence Day likened Estonia to a wild strawberry - not well known but when you get to know them they are well worth the find. I can relate to that, both the fact that wild strawberries are quite amazing, so fragrant and Estonia is quite a precious jewel of a place and worth the find. I am pleased I have had the opportunity to get to know more about the place and some of its people. A friend of mine had posted the article and she asked me how I would describe a Latvian farm and my first response was like a garden tended with love and care, because a Latvian farm is more than just a farm (actually that is true of many farms if people would only stop and talk to the stewards of the land), it is a home where people are rooted into its fabric. It is why when a farmer loses his land, he loses a piece of his heart, his history, his work and maybe the work of generations before him.
Tellus in reflective mood. The colours are like those in the
renaissance pictures - not that you would see many alpacas
in renaissance pictures though 
Tellus practicing his ballet dance steps

The moon at sunrise
I am not sure if it is the winter sunshine, or just turning a corner in life somehow, but once again my thoughts are racing away. I feel less like thinking through treacle and more like trying to swim with a tide of thoughts that threaten to carry me away, or coming at me so fast I hardly have time to catch them and examine them. Fortunately somethings are coming together and starting to make more sense, which is good news for getting my papers written - well as long as I can keep myself focussed on those. I think part of the reason for unstopping whatever was plugging up my thought processes is getting back to the ideas that first sent me in the direction of doing research. I feel like I am beginning to tie my faith back into my discoveries about communities. Another aspect was meeting someone else whose faith guides her politics in our area. I met her last week for the first time and she inspired me and helped me to realise I'm not alone in my desire to see the best for the area.
There's a pond in there somewhere

Eyre in reflective mood. 
On a blog I follow by Martin Scott there is a section called "The Stages of Faith" which makes a lot of sense to me, especially as it is possible to go through more than one revolution of the stages, as we go deeper. It mentions hitting a wall, which seems appropriate at the moment as that is kind of what I was trying to describe last week. I'm not sure if the wall only appears at one point though, as the schematic suggests; I think there is a possibility of struggling through to the next phase due to hitting other walls too. A friend of mine on Facebook picked up on my comments last week about just coming out of a place of struggle. She asked some good questions and prayed for me too. What was fantastic is that she deliberately tried to avoid making suggestions but focussed on those questions, which is definitely helpful to me.

Freddie is quite a sweetie, and you can see a video of him on
our Facebook page here
Other events that have got me thinking is firstly I am in the process of applying for a job with a Christian charity. The application process also asks some good questions that take me back to my core and make me ask, "What is important to me in my walk with God?" Secondly was joining in a forum of Christians who are interested in making a difference politically. Whilst I do not want to be a politician, I do believe in engaging with the political process and encouraging the younger generation to do so too, so that has been a good for stimulating the old thought processes. At least these have been positive steps forward mentally, even if we could do without the other issues.

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