Monday, 10 January 2022

A really boring post!

Not much to do here! 

I had a brief Latvian lesson recently and I had to recall what I did over Christmas. Not a lot really. I then had to tell my teacher what I would be doing for New Year's Eve.... errr not a lot really. I'm being rather boring. We didn't plan on staying up as Ian had to be up early to see to the animals. I had some work to do between Christmas and New Year and so I didn't get the chance to do much sewing, which is what I planned, although I did finish off a pair of trousers. So all in all.... not a lot, apart from making a nice meal... but I forgot to make the Yorkshire puddings again. 

Lolly is now being halter-trained and doing
well. She was even outside for a walk today.
Well someone finds the process amusing.
Winter days are for hibernation but it doesn't
mean they are not glorious at times.

We are not into giving presents to each other these days. Too much hassle I guess and I hate the idea of buying something for myself just for Christmas. I could never see the point of that. We have what we need anyway. I did finally get a present to open though. My daughter ordered lots of lovely spices and some peaceful tea. It works too! The tea I mean. It seemed to stop my head from spinning from one subject to another to let me sleep well and through the night. I might be rather boring and not doing a lot outwardly, but in my head it's a different matter. Some of our grandkids struggle with paying attention and I realised that perhaps it was my fault. I'm not hyperactive, in the slightest but in my head - well that's another matter entirely. 

So bright and sparkly
The boys are in a sparkly shower too

Normally someone with ADD can struggle to concentrate at school, but I didn't. I was hyper-focussed and this probably had a bit to do with a hearing problem that meant I needed to sit at the front of a class. There is nothing like putting a super shy kid at the front to ensure their concentration. It was hard work though as there was no way I was going to embarrass myself by not knowing the answer. I have also come to realise that my brain works super hard to fill in gaps, so if I didn't hear everything, it was not too much of a problem - well normally. It has also trained my brain to fill in gaps, which is kind of useful for a researcher who specialises in being a generalist. It does mean I have to work pretty hard to stay on task though. Stubbornness helps there!

More trees with a golden glow
Lolly again, coming out to see Ian. Have you 
got food?

Another difference for me is that most kids with ADD find reading hard, but I could lose myself in a book. I could speed read and that gave me plenty of time to have another story going on in my head at the same time. I would read the words and my head would be somewhere else. There were times of course when I would read a paragraph and get to the end and realise my brain hadn't engaged with the text at all and I would have to read it again, but sometimes I could do the two things at once. Sometimes my brain was just filling in the scene and so I could really visualise what was going on in the story. There were some stories I could not read though because of that. Too scary!

Still being bottle fed. It's been a long journey.
I never tire of this view of our land. The same and
yet different every time.
And frosted trees are always beautiful

I think it also explains why I don't find travelling that bad, as it means I can just look out of the window and let my mind wander where it likes. I'm not having to constantly pull it back on track (fortunately not many of my travels meant I had to pay attention to the stops where I needed to get off). The downside to an ADD like brain is too many ideas and too many half finished projects. I finish what I have to, but that's sometimes about it. The thought of starting a project can also be a bit overwhelming as I have to clear the clutter, physically and in my head, to get going. Another technique I realised I employ is to challenge myself so I don't get bored. Once the boredom sets in, I lose interest, so if it's important then I have to find the challenge in what I'm doing. It helps though that I find so much to be super interesting or maybe that's a disadvantage. Not sure how many papers I have downloaded for reading later, or how often I get side tracked by one more really interesting line of enquiry. There's a whole world to explore and learn more rabbit trail, one more rabbit hole .... and where did the time go?

Same view, different day and different time
of the day.
Aggie in contemplative mood, while chomping
away on the hay.

One place where I do struggle is learning Latvian. I'm trying to slow down to notice the details, but my brain is trying to race ahead. It is coming along but oh so slowly. The problem with Latvian is that the endings give you a clue to the context. I'm pretty good at spotting the root of the words, but I have to slow down and sometimes squint at the screen to see the difference. There is not much difference between an "i" and an "ī" (a long "i"), a "l" and a "ļ" or a "n" and a "ņ", but those little characters can make a difference in meaning. You would want to make sure you get the difference right between kazas and kāzas, the first being goats and the second wedding. My Latvian teacher has been known to laugh a little occasionally at one or two of the mistakes I made. She doesn't laugh at me often and she's pretty gentle with me generally. 

Chanel in contemplative mood too. Ian is experimenting
with a different holding technique. It seems to be
working and she seems a bit calmer these days.
Now all we have to do is stop her from sitting
down so we can put cream on those dreadfully scaly
legs of hers.
Ilvija and Chanel are still close. We wonder
how this will work when Ilvija has a baby.

It took me a few attempts to write a sentence about our unwelcome little visitor to the house, that appears every morning about 10:15 or so - although not today. I've named it Ronald. Not quite sure why, as I am endeavouring to find ways to dispatch it. One morning I saw it three times, always going in one direction. Or was it three mice? I only ever see one. There is no point leaping up to see if I can somehow corner it as there are just too many places for it to disappear. It must be immune to the poison, as we do leave that in the apartment due to us being away. I don't like to use such stuff, but the thought of it eating it's way through the wiring and causing damage to our neighbour's property is enough for me to take proactive action and normally that's enough to sort the problem.

Chanel's multi-coloured fleece. Over the summer
we sprayed her with oil that had cloves and garlic
in. It seemed to help the skin and keep the mites
under control. The problem is that now the winter
is here, it seems to have not helped the fleece.
She has been dusted with potato starch to absorb the
oil, but also with turmeric, garlic and clove powder
to repel any mites. Gradually it is absorbing the oil
but also the sweat. Most of the alpacas are no
where near as sweaty as Chanel is. It might be
part of her problem with the mites.
Josefs has been eating the snow

I've tried setting traps but it is such a little thing it just says, "Thank you very much for the tasty.... Christmas cake, fat, crumbs" or whatever else I've used to try and get it to stay long enough to trigger the trap. I don't like using traps either as we have had to dispatch a mouse before now that was caught in a trap and wasn't killed instantly. I know there are supposedly humane traps, but is it any more humane to capture a mouse and dump it in the open countryside in a place it doesn't know in the middle of winter? It might sound humane to relocate an animal but they suffer stress through being introduced to a strange environment. Yes! I've read the studies on that too and their survival rate is not great. So the battle continues of one human vs a teeny, tiny little mouse. We might have to call in reinforcements, namely Rocket Ron and Ginger Tom. Not sure what they will make of being in the apartment for a day. We'll see!

Another sign that Lolly is growing up is that she
is eating from a tray. We are pleased as it means
she is getting the minerals and vitamins that alpacas
need. Karla will be getting hers from her mother
They remind me of teasels, but they are not. They are
bee balm covered in snow.

Yes more snowy pictures.

It has been a long process to get to the stage where
Ian can feed Turbjørn by hand. We've had Turbjørn
10 years in July of this year and he only started
eating from Ian's hand last year.

No problems with these two eating from anyone's
hands, although they are not happy about sharing 

Please Sir! Can I have some more?

Amanda is a cute alpaca. Hopefully she will have
another cute baby this year.

More snow!

Antonia eating the snow. 

Jakob's with his brown tash and swept back 

And we finish with George, Jakob's half brother
who always seems to have a smile for everyone.

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Oh, it's Tuesday!


Are you confused by the days of the week too? Most of us are at this time of the year. I had fully intended to blog again this week on Monday night, like I used to, and completely forgot. I spent the evening revising some Latvian and writing an email to my Latvian teacher instead. All of which takes time. It was nine o'clock at night before I remembered.

A sun pillar. Apparently it means
it's cold.
UFO? No! Sure looks eerie

Last week I worked up until Thursday. I managed to get all the proofreading done and an invoice sent off before the deadline, along with my regular work completed. The money made will come in handy as a deposit on the car that I mentioned about the other week. I won't be looking forward to finding a space to park it though. There are so many cars around at this time of the year, more than in the summer. On Christmas Eve one of our neighbours rang the doorbell and complained that our car was parked in front of our apartment and I never cleaned the road of snow. I was really confused. I thought it was something to do with the fact they now had a baby (which I hadn't realised) and maybe it was difficult to get the baby in and out on the opposite side of the road. 

Not sure that the lack of sow makes this look
any less weird. It looks more like the skeletal
remains of cabin than a hunting tower.

I was also confused because of being accused of never cleaning the snow. I certainly hadn't done it this winter due to working non-stop trying to get things done before the end of the year. I knew the neighbour upstairs always cleaned the road and he never complained. That day was the first time I had even seen the complaining neighbour's boyfriend actually cleaning any snow anyway. I did find out a few days later that the complaining neighbour's car is always left with a pile of snow around, because they had been quite awkward, so no one clears around their car. They don't actually clear the road, just enough to get themselves out and they were obviously disgruntled they had gone to all that effort and Ian had had the audacity to park in "their" spot because they had cleaned it. I did find out the neighbour upstairs is fine about cleaning the rest of the road as he likes to get out and do a bit of exercise. I helped him the other day as I wasn't working and he was very nice about it. He made sure I left the snow around the complaining neighbour's car though.

The snow has come and gone and come again
over the last week. The temperatures go up
to above freezing and rains and then drops and
snows. Still we did have a white Christmas, but
as a FB friend said, not quite sure if Bing really
knew what he was singing about when he sang, 
"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas".
Wintry scenes do have a striking beauty but it puts
stresses and strains on the the people and animals. 


I spent Friday decorating the Christmas tree, that Ian had helped me set up the night before, and preparing food. I can never decide if we have a celebration meal on Christmas Eve, like our Latvian neighbours would be doing, or Christmas Day. In the end, we kind of did both. On Thursday evening we went to our goat farmer friend and she gifted us four goat legs, some wonderful aged pepper goat's cheese and some goat milk soap. I decided to first pressure cook the goat legs to make sure they were tender and then slow roast them in the slow cooker (also it meant I could fit the legs in the slow cooker, which they wouldn't quite do when fresh). 

A field of diamonds
Looking towards the neighbours

I cooked some kale, cabbage and leeks in white sauce to go with the meat. Normally I just do leeks in white sauce but certain little pussy cats kept trying to use that area for a toilet earlier in the year. It nearly drove me potty driving them off, but they still managed to dig up most of my leeks, so I only had about three left for Christmas dinner. That is why I had to eke the leeks out by using the kale and cabbage. It worked nicely anyway. We also had roast parsnips which we sprinkled with the pepper cheese, mashed potatoes and stuffing balls. I meant to make Yorkshire puddings too and forgot and then I forgot again the following night when I slow cooked a ham that I had prepared. Oh well! Maybe New Year's Eve instead?

People often ask he how the alpacas do in the snow.
Well? As you can see! Not so bothered. Deep cold
can be an issue, but a nice sunny day and they'll 
be outside.... sunbathing!
Lolly is now adept at alpaca yoga.

The rest of the goat meat went either into a pie or in the freezer. Ian does like pies and it is a great way of making meat go much, much further. I put the rest of the veg in, added some onion and some dried mushrooms - which incidentally I found in a drawer that were leftover from the year before. I was worried we didn't have enough dried mushrooms this year, but apparently we have more than I thought. I only found them because I was looking for somewhere to put something away. I can't even remember what I was trying to tidy away in the excitement of finding a stash of stuff I had forgotten about. I'm not getting more forgetful, honest. I've always been forgetful about where I put stuff and constantly looking for things. I like things to have a place, I just never quite remember where all those places are. At least Ian has been enjoying the pie, as that's the nearest he gets to a Christmas present these days.

Investigating the snow.
Jakobs outside eating the snow

I had intended to do my usual Christmas trip out to see the alpacas, but there wasn't much point. It snowed quite heavily on Christmas Eve and so Ian spent Christmas day snowploughing the pathways and he did it again on Sunday, and again on Monday. Today is my second day out on the land this week though. Today Ian helped some neighbours collect a cow from the Daugavpils area, a trip of about 2 1/2 hours each direction. He wasn't be able to feed Lolly and do all the other jobs around the farm that need doing in the morning, so I'm standing in for him. 

Ian had spent quite a bit of time clearing the
paths on Christmas Day. Then it snowed!
You can just about see where he had been. The 
tracks are down the side so he doesn't trample
the path and make it more difficult to clear the 
proper path.
All cleared again. Although it almost looks the
same, I never get tired of seeing the snowy pictures.
Not sure Ian is as happy. He agrees it's beautiful 
but the extra tasks get old quickly.
Freddie eating the snow outside.

I was standing in for him on Wednesday of last week too. Ian was on his laptop first thing in the morning and after putting it down to get ready to go out, it switched itself off. When he tried to switch it back on, it only showed a grey screen. He managed to get hold of the computer technician and arranged to take it in. He had to come back to the apartment to pick me up first though so I could feed Lolly while he was away and put the animals away. I had a meeting that couldn't be rearranged and so I managed the first half hour, went to put the animals away and came back to my meeting. Again, it is good to have understanding colleagues. I think most people these days get the need to do something at home during online meetings, whether it is take kids to school, sort a child out or in my case, put animals away.

Accumulating against the greenhouse

Looking at the snow from inside the greenhouse.
Not sure how much will disappear over the
New Year weekend as it is forecast to warm up
for a few days before getting cold again.

I bet my Christmas tree is bigger
than your's! Mind you, this one
is a tad bit taller than the one we 
have inside the apartment.

He seemed to take a long time in Riga, but he said the traffic and roads were horrid. The roads were in a better state here in our rural municipality. Apparently the roads in Riga were not cleared and were full of slush, which is about the worst type to drive in, especially in heavy traffic. He also hit rush hour on the way back to compound the problem. At least the computer problem was fixable. They checked it over, gave it a clean and adjusted the connector to the battery. The battery connector was the problem and nothing more. So €25 and the diesel to get into Riga seemed cheap compared to the deposit on my car disappearing.

Looking towards the more pristine side of the
A rosie glow as the sunrises
Ian had to clear a path down to the barn.

More rosie glows

Normally an untidy spot but now covered in a 
blanket of snow.

A nice wide pathway so Ian can
drive on and get nearer to the
caravan in the greenhouse

The view from the boys paddock

You can see the pile of manure that Ian is building
on the left for planting our potatoes into in spring

The haystack. Hope that new cover

Outside our apartment. There is a road over there
in front of the bushes.