Monday, 18 June 2018

Oh so dry!

The road that runs along our land is a bit rough again. It was
graded after the rain, but now it is dry it is like a washboard
I know last week's title for the blog was "Oh Sweet Rain!" Well it was nice while it lasted but it sure was not enough to make much of an impression on the land and the vegetation. We have had no rain since then either. Certain trees and shrubs are beginning to show signs of a severe lack of water. Where the vegetation has not been cut, it is still hanging on in there - just! But where the grass is cut, then the ground is looking distinctly parched and brown patches are appearing in what should be green grassy areas.
There have been lots of interesting wee beasties
and I'm not entirely sure what they are, as they are
not ones I have seen before or rather noticed before.
I'm trying to make sure I take pictures so that I can
check to see if they are friend or foe.

About the only moisture we saw this week was the dew on
the ground due to one particularly cool night
As I mentioned last year, we are chronic weather watchers these days and we can often be seen checking the weather forecast, but it is so demoralising. There will be a forecast for a good dousing of rain for about a week ahead and as the day draws nearer, the amount of rain forecast gets less and less and less until there is nothing. We have seen some quite dark clouds, but no rain on our land. On the radar we have seen rain to the north of us, rain to the south of us, rain to the east of us and rain to the west of us - but none for us. Even so, it is still dry over much of the region and the regional head office has asked the government to declare a drought. We have about a days worth of water in our well for our day to day use and will soon have to bring it in from our apartment for our animals. It definitely makes us careful in our usage.
These are friends, these are dock leaf
beetles and are currently making lacy
dock leaves that will weaken them.

This is a bag I started ages ago, but the front flap went all
wrong and ended up way too big. With Heather's help I have
been modifying it. It is still a work in progress but it's getting
Heather our current resident felting tutor returned from showing our Latvian Alpaca Adventure guest around Riga on the Wednesday. Since then she and I have been doing some more felting - or rather Heather has been doing some serious felting and working on some interesting pieces and I have been pottering around finishing off bits here and there.  Heather has been putting together a themed collection of pieces and the more we work with alpaca fibres the more we realise that alpaca is definitely not like working with merino wool. There is a lot of serendipity about it, which has caused some consternation from time to time. Just when we think we have the measure of the fibres they do something unexpected. This has meant some re-working of pieces to get a result we are happy with. It has also meant some fascinating pieces too - but you will have to wait for our photo shoot to be completed to see a glimpse of most of them.
This shows the bit of the flap that I cut off and it will now
become a pocket, that I shall sew on. That is the next bit to do

This is the finished shawl I was making last week using
George's fleece. It is a cobweb felt, so is super light with
lacy holes in it. The collar is doubled over and sewn so that it strengthens it.
We have been really careful throughout the process though to try and use as little water as possible and Heather often took the articles back to the apartment to rinse out after the hard work had been done on the pieces. We hope that we don't have the same issues when it comes to the next workshop, otherwise we are going to have to bring in water.
Sewn collar detail

Cute curly pieces

Ian with tractor and trailer to collect the bales
As well as felting, Ian and I have been getting the hay in. Ian does the cutting and baling with the tractor and then I help him with the collecting and stacking. At least I did this year, last year I managed to book on a conference at the end of July, which ended up coinciding with baling time. I'm pleased I didn't manage that this time around, boy would I have been in trouble. We haven't finished of course, but we are hanging back on cutting the rest and waiting for some rain to help the grass to grow. We don't want to risk killing all the grass if it doesn't rain. At least we have nearly enough hay now for the whole year, as we still have a reasonable amount leftover from last year.
Heather gave me a rose last year
and I wasn't sure if it had died or not
over the winter. It came back from
the root and so isn't quite the same
but it is still purple and has a lovely
smell, so I'm quite happy with that.

Dew in the morning on a spider's web. I love the colours
The lack of rain does make it difficult for moving electric fences for the animals. The other week Ian managed to snap an electric post because it was set like concrete into the ground. He did manage to move the fence for the girls though, so they can eat the grass under the trees that still looks lush, in reality though it is actually quite sparse. We are just hoping the grass lasts until the rains - when they come. At least we noticed the buckwheat that Ian planted has sprouted. I think the bit of moisture from the rain last week and a good dew one morning seems to have helped. If the forecast holds for rain, we will plant up another area of buckwheat. The idea is that it will outcompete the docks that have taken over those areas. That's the plan anyway.
Another wee beastie. Very unusual

Sitting on the fence.
We made some progress this week on some admin to do with the sale of our apartment. This was our registered address and so we needed to transfer it to our other apartment. We went into the big town and found the right office. Despite it being the immigration office, however, there was no one there who was fluent in English. We managed though, with the help of a friend via mobile phone and my little bit of Latvian and the admin lady's little bit of English. At least it is all official now, that we live at our apartment that we still own - although we don't because we spend more time out on the land than we do at the apartment, but this hasn't got an official registered dwelling yet!
Also sitting on the fence.

Not a photo of Sofie but Eyre, our grumpy looking cat. She
is not quite so good as Sofie at catching things, but she
managed a lizard today, which I would rather she didn't, as
they are good to have around.
We have had some laughs this week. Over the course of a couple of days the front of our greenhouse became like mole city motorway, with soil pushed up between food bins and all along the entrance. It was making getting the chicks out a bit of a challenge. We were eating our evening meal one night when Heather spotted one of our cats with something in its mouth. Sofie was obviously feeling left out and had decided to bring her own meal - yup! Mr, or Mrs Mole. It was not exactly what we call fine dining and not much appreciated and so I had to shoo Sofie away to eat the poor beast in peace. At least we don't have a mole problem any more.

My lupins are looking good

Grass on a dewy morning

Samples to test the feltability of the boys fleeces. George
felts very well and Frederiks is okay but requires more work.

The chicks are getting big now

This started out as a felted cuff but it made
a handy holder for the herbal teas I have been
making. Here is a mint tea

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