Monday, 6 August 2018

A Gentle Day

Josefs and Jakobs charging around. A little different to last
week when we were so worried about Josefs. We are not
feeding him at all now, so Aggie's milk must be good stuff
Well it was kind of a gentle day, if you discount the group of 15, 5 adults and 10 children who joined us today. Before they came we had to spend some time trying to get the greenhouse in some sort of order after our felting course at the weekend. We only managed half our lunch before they turned up, but thanks to our friend who stayed on after the felting course it was packed away from our marauding cats, while we greeted the visitors.
Josefs feeding from Aggie

Our regular evening visitor
The group today were mainly Russian speaking children on an an upmarket sports camp with extra activities. They were superbly organised and even had people turn up beforehand to make sure everything was in order. They also made sure the children were listening, which was really nice. At one point they let one of the youngsters do the translating because he wanted to have a go. He did quite well. We took them on the usual tour and then all the children had a go at making a felt ball from the alpaca wool. Sometimes groups can be a bit of a nightmare to handle, especially when they keep trying to feed the little cria (alpaca babies) - who are not up to eating the grain and really do not interact much with people yet, but this group weren't too bad at all. To be honest, Josefs seems to be a very inquisitive kind of alpaca anyway, so he maybe okay. We are still wary of over socialising male cria with humans though to prevent problems in the future.
Josefs and Jakobs have bonded well together. We had a surprise
message via Facebook asking if we would ever think of
selling Josefs

Our visitors even brought flowers
We've had other visitors as well. There was a group who were a mix of our apartment neighbours, their children and their grandchildren. The children speak very good English as one works as a translator in Luxembourg and the other works in Sweden. The couple from Luxembourg were some of the first visitors we had to see our alpacas, shortly after we got them over six years ago (link here). It was nice to be able to show them the changes we have made over the years. Slowly but surely we are getting more organised. We still have a long way to go though.

Listening to Galina talking about dyeing in the shade
of the barn (Photo by Edith Chenault)
It has been quite an international week really, as our visitors have been Latvian (of course), French, Swedish, an American living in Estonia, Belarusian and Polish . The last few were the participants and tutor on the dyeing and felting course that we held over the weekend. We didn't have as many participants as we would like, but it didn't stop us enjoying ourselves. It was Galina's, the tutor, third visit and she always loves coming as she likes the atmosphere at our workshops on the farm. Even though it was hot we were able to sit in the cool shade of the barn to eat and watch the cria racing around. It is always good to see her friend who she brings with her too.
Picking leaves  (Photo by Edith Chenault)

Our wonderful helper modelling some
flowers made during the weekend course
Her friend helped us sort through some wool to remove the vegetable matter, as well as helping Galina collect leaves for the dyeing process. If an extra pair of hands were needed, she was there. Even though we couldn't communicate directly as she only spoke Russian, that didn't matter so much. She understood what was needed and helped. She has certainly been a big blessing to us and we are pleased that she also enjoys coming to visit us, as this is her second visit.
Preparing the table for the laying out of the silk and leaves
 (Photo by Edith Chenault)

Leaves on silk
 (Photo by Edith Chenault)
People have been popping in all week really. Another group made a return visit after two years to see what had changed over the time. This was mainly a group of young men and women in their twenties or early thirties. One guy with a hipster beard turned up with his wife and two children and finally two ladies who were looking to see if we were suitable as a visit for schoolchildren later on in the year. One lady remembered me from a meeting a few years ago - I thought she looked familiar but I have met so many people in very different circumstances I forget where or who people are, especially if they are in a different context when I meet them again. I do wonder if the rating on the Latvian news site has anything to do with the upsurge of visitors. Although I think August does tend to be a more popular month.
Laying on the dye cloths
 (Photo by Edith Chenault)

Dyed t-shirt
 (Photo by Edith Chenault)
We still haven't had much rain, although we did get a much needed shower yesterday that at least freshened the garden. I was rather despondent at one point though as I could just see my garden dying. Plants that had hung on in through the heat were really beginning to struggle and wilt, the caterpillars were having a field day eating anything remotely cabbagey and what the caterpillars didn't eat the woolly aphids were starting on. I have been tied up with preparing food for the participants and so the garden has been quite neglected as usual. Normally though, the plants are fending for themselves amongst the weeds, this time even the weeds are sometimes giving up. I had planned quite a few salad type plants to be growing during the course and although I have managed to produce some different types of salads, particularly pickled cucumbers, there hasn't been much in the way of salad leaves. Many lettuces just didn't bother to germinate and the early crops were a bit strong. The potatoes though! Oh my gosh! They are huge already - well at least those that have grown where they shouldn't have. We will see what the main crops look like later on in the year.
The great reveal. Dyed silk
 (Photo by Edith Chenault)

Hanging on my line in the forest
 (Photo by Edith Chenault)

There was five reasonable sized carp in there. Now relocated
Another issue we've had is the ponds have almost disappeared and we got quite worried about the fish in the small pond. Ian caught them and relocated them to one of our other ponds that at least still has a reasonable amount of water in. We laughed though at finally using the net for actually catching fish. We usually use it to catch escaped chickens and had to do that one day this week. One of the chickens had managed to dig its way out underneath the fence.
Ian was showing one of our visitors the
poo sample under the microscope, as
you do
 (Photo by Edith Chenault)

Sewing silk pieces together
It has been a bit of a busy week for Ian too. besides relocating fish, helping where necessary on the course, he has also been baling hay, having to move it by himself and attending to an emergency call out. We had a call from our neighbour's daughter to ask if Ian could take them to a repair place for their new milking machine. As you can imagine it was necessary to get it done as fast as possible so the cows could be milked that evening. Glad to say it was all done in time and we got our milk the next morning too.

When an alpaca comes for tea
 (Photo by Edith Chenault)

It got a tad hot. A heatwave is not helpful

Rolling outside in the shade of the greenhouse is much better

Always helpful

Hanging quilts for some shade and t-shirts drying in the

Sewing felted flowers

Rolling felt

Nuno felted jacket with dyed silk made from leaves from our land

Mittens made with merino wool and Aggie's fleece

Eco-printed silk scarf on my new display
stand that Ian made from hazel with some
home-made bread that I made.

Taking photos of the photographer taking a photo.

Group photo with Brencis

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