Monday, 25 May 2020

Spring has sprung

Wild bird cherry. It seems to always go cold
when this blooms.
Most of the trees are now in leaf or at least well on their way, the apples and more plums are starting to bloom and the tomatoes have been planted in the new greenhouse. Ian cut the plastic for the windows in the new greenhouse and they've even been used, in fact one day we had all the doors wide open. That could be because we haven't had any snow this week, just hail and frosts, but heh! This is Latvia. I had to laugh at the comment made by one of my colleagues that it has been the longest spring she has ever known, as it has lasted since December. The weather hasn't been that cold for these northern climes over winter, so spring has felt like it's dragged on rather a long time.

Tomatoes in.
An early morning walk down to the office on a
beautiful day (by the way, only joking, it is our
outside loo)

Moving the caravan out
The warmer weather has meant we have finally got the caravan out of the old greenhouse. It was a bit more of an issue this time as we encountered a problem we had never had to face before - the ground has been levelled outside the greenhouse so now there is a big drop on one side. Whoops! The caravan had to come out and then turn without taking out a doorpost. Fortunately it was Ian driving the tractor to pull the caravan out and not me, not sure I would have been able to do it. I directed though. I can do that! It is nice to see the the alpacas and the fields of dandelions from our caravan again.
The steep drop is to the right in this picture, so just made
it. The ground here is still a bit soft but the rain today
flattened it down. Ian also had to sort out the grass nearer
the door as we were getting a puddle there where we never
used to get a puddle.


Brencis strolling up the hill
We have been discussing when we will open our alpaca farm to visitors again, as we are still getting enquiries. It will have to be strictly by appointment this time and we are trying to think about what is needed when visitors arrive. We may still hang off though until after my PhD defence at the end of June. In preparation, Ian has made a stand for an old sink we took out of the caravan. People will then have somewhere to wash their hands that we can move around to a convenient place. Here in Latvia people can gather in groups of up to 25 now, as long as they maintain the 2m rule. There was only two new cases yesterday and so far 22 people have died from Covid19. So for now the disease seems under control, and there are still no cases in our region, although creeping nearer to us.
The new sink area

Herkules continues to improve. He's really sticking up for
himself again.

I mentioned I had a haircut last week and
so here it is. I'm also wearing my granny's
cardi. It's lasted well. I dug it out of the
wardrobe fairly recently and it's lovely and
warm. No wonder she used to wear cardis like
this all the time. 
Most of my time this last week has just been working on projects on the computer, whilst Ian has been toddling around the place getting things done and avoiding the showers of rain. My boss did mention that I would need to have a rest afterwards and I look forward to a bit of downtime, whatever that is. I guess it will be pottering around the garden, maybe in July. I will need to work more flexibly in the next few weeks as alpacas need shearing, not just ours but others too. The odd hot day is okay but heat and they will start to suffer very quickly. All adds to the fun.
Bird cherry is a lovely tree when it is in flower
and has an overpoweringly sweet smell.
Unfortunately it is poisonous to livestock and
so the alpacas will not be going near it and
we won't be making it into a flowering hedge.
In the forest it tends to be weak and end up
flopping about the place.

Our grapes are growing

Our greenhouse that will be turned more into a workshop
space now. Still not quite sure how we are going to organise
it yet. Ideas anyone?

I find these black troughs are ideal for putting seedlings in.
The box warms up during the day and they are easy to cover
at night. The boards are to rest a chair on to stop the cat
sleeping on the fleece.

The beans are growing well and will need to go out soon.

Those are meant to be paths! As you can see the weeds are
growing well too. The potatoes are just starting to peep through

Freddie is such a sweetie.

George is such a character. He's been making his way through
the fences again. 

We have dandelions and the bees are loving it.

Lots of dandelions.

The swallows are starting to nest in the girls alpaca house.
We are always pleased to see them.

Spot the poo pile.

Valeria has taken to having footbaths in
the water trough. She even tried to sit in
it but now the water is filthy.

This is Silla and she is actually sitting inside today. Normally
she will sit outside in the wind, the rain and even the snow.

Now the dandelions are starting to turn.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Here we are again!

Antonia rocking the mud socks
Another two weeks and how much is done? At least jobs are getting ticked off. Slowly, but they are getting ticked off. It's also been a couple of weeks of weather. You know! Those times when you don't know from one day to the next what the weather will bring.
Mr. Stork out for an morning walk

Soaking up the sun by the barn
The greenhouse got finished in the small window of time when it was reasonably warm and not too windy. There were one or two hairy moments when the wind picked up a bit as we were sliding the acrylic over the greenhouse and wondered if it was going to flip up and break or whether it would just curl over like it was supposed to and slide down the other side. Fortunately it slid over. Ian has also put some sealant on the exposed holes before it persisted it down with rain and handles on the doors. So, now it is already to plant up with tomatoes, both my own and some more from a friend of ours. I'm looking forward to seeing these new varieties as they are quite different apparently.
Aggie also in zen mode soaking up the sunshine

Taking the sunbathing to another level. 
I got a haircut this week. Ordinarily not a remarkable event but in these strange times it is a privilege of living in a Covid19 free area. I had to sign a form and put my phone number on for tracing purposes in case a customer gets sick I suppose. I also had to say that I hadn't got any symptoms, been abroad recently or supposed to be self-isolating. My hairdresser knows all of that information anyway as we are Facebook friends and she won't cut hair if she doesn't know someone. Safe for both of us that way.
Ilvija also enjoying a sunbathe

Peedo, however, looks like it's all a bit too much for him. I
don't think the plague of little annoying/biting flies helped.
Fortunately they have now gone.
We are also in a region of Europe with limited numbers of cases and those are just about under control, so now we are free to travel to Estonia or Lithuania, just in time for shearing. Now we just need the weather to warm up a bit. At least the snow has gone but the wind is chilly and we've had a few hailstorms, wind and rain, so not exactly pleasant weather. We did get some more alpacas sheared locally but still not sheared ours yet and I think they are happy enough about that, until the sun comes out and they get a bit warm.
I think Lady V has had enough too.

And after the sunshine? Snow!
I finally managed to get the last of the potatoes planted - in between the showers that is. I took them out a bucket at a time so I could quickly get back into the greenhouse if it started to rain. I've also planted lots of bean seeds because beans are easy to freeze and last well. There will also be plenty to dry. In the old greenhouse I have pots of tomatoes and peppers that are growing well waiting to go in the new greenhouse. There are cabbages, Brussel sprouts, Chinese cabbage, chard and more beans that are waiting to go outside.  Cucumbers, squash plants and nasturtiums are just starting poke through now and I have planted lots of other seeds at the weekend. I hope it warms up by the time they are ready to go out.
The walk down to the "office" first thing in the
morning was a little chilly
Quite weird with the green poking through

And the spring flowers

Pastel colours

The snow went and we then had rain and hail and rain and
sunshine and rain and sunshine and hail and....
One of the most important jobs at the moment was completed last week. I have handed in my thesis for my doctorate. So one more step completed. Well it nearly was. Apparently the board weren't so happy with my summary and I had to do that over the weekend. A friend of mine who does my editing has been an absolute star for stepping in and helping me get it all finished.
Ilvija looking a little damp and very like a Suri alpaca

She even seems the right kind of shape for a Suri.
My project work is still plodding on, rather too slowly but it is getting there, which is a bit worrying when we need results very soon. I'm sure it will be finished on time, just! The problem with all this online work from our very rural location does mean that we are very reliant on our phones for the internet. The week before my birthday my phone started to cut out rather alarmingly for very little reason. 50% battery! Cut out! Phone call from someone! Cut out! I got to the stage of leaving it plugged in if I was doing anything important. I decided to get a new one, well a reconditioned one. I had planned on getting a Fairphone, but I couldn't wait the three weeks for a new one.
The three amigos looking a little damp. On the day we were
coming back from shearing at someone else's place, I got out
to undo the rope that blocks our entrance and Ian then drove off
without me, or nearly did. He get half way up the bank and
sheepishly rolled back. He'd been so busy looking at our alpacas
that he forgot about me until he saw me in the mirror. Hmmph!

Despite the rain, I think Herkules is looking a bit happier
these days. He's standing up to the other boys again and he's
able to get up without help from Ian. Such a relief.
This last week it was Ian's turn. He tried to get a video off his phone onto the computer and the phone went really weird and then started locking up. There is no time to be able to get it fixed and he's had it about 4-5 years, so kind of only to be expected. That is one of the reasons I wanted a Fairphone because they are repairable to a point of course. Still a reconditioned one is better than wasting resources on a brand new one for me, but Ian needs a robust one so got a new CAT phone.
George heading for a good scratch

A beautiful evening

An old tree

The boys enjoyed their week amongst the trees, apart from
when the flies were also out

It did mean they could have a good scratch though

Someone's not happy

Chanel also having a good scratch

The other girls coming in from their forested patch


Vibrant colours against a dark sky

The wet alpaca house looks quite surreal