Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Back!

Presents! A bunch of flowers from one of my neighbours
from her garden, with the promise to give me some bulbs
for next year. A box of chocolate from one of our visitors
Sorry once again the blog is late, but visitors come first, especially visitors who will be away for a long time and who we may not get to see again until next year. Our friends Steve and Natalija, who organise Camp in a box, came with their two boys. The boys were super excited as they got to ride in our big red truck and got to see our tractor. In fact they got to ride in the tractor too and their little faces were an absolute picture, one of them beaming away, and the other so serious and taking everything in, but both thrilled to bits. It was good to show our friends around to see what we are doing on the land, as they know it well and they loved the changes we have made along the way.

The stockade built by Ian to hold our wood chippings,
compost, manure and straw into neat and tidy piles
It has been a bit of a people week this week. Some weeks we don't get to see many people, apart from in passing, as we get on with the things we need to do and so it has been good to spend time with folks just chatting. Our friends who own a farm needed to get out for a couple of hours and so they visited one evening and I have to confess to frantically rushing around tidying up before they arrived. In summer our stuff tends to get dumped at the door and so not much putting away gets done at all, as we slump in the evenings. How many other folks need the incentive of guests coming to get going on putting things away that maybe should have been put away earlier? Hope it's not just us. It was great to relax though and pass time laughing at the stories of the antics of their goats and their evil ways with the flower garden. It is a fact that goats and flowers do not mix well and goats being intelligent animals can run rings around owners, or even rings around the house to avoid the owners so they can eat some more flowers.

I think these are damselflies, rather than dragonflies. They
make me laugh though how one of them seems to be
standing on the head of the other.
On Friday I needed to see the district architect to sort out some plans and one of my neighbours came with me with her two children. Unfortunately there was someone already in and so we had to sit down for a lengthy wait, which the oldest, who is only around three years old, found rather tiresome and wanted to run around. To help I decided to introduce him to some English nursery rhymes and songs which he thought were highly amusing, especially "Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream" complete with actions. I think he enjoyed the songs rather than just finding my singing highly amusing. I spent quite a few years as a childminder, playgroup organiser and freelance children's worker specialising in younger children and craft and so those years were obviously well spent learning how to entertain a bored, fidgety, little one. I still find it amazing to think it was only just over a month ago when this particular youngster wouldn't even talk to me because I couldn't speak Latvian, but now he is quite happy to tell me what something is called in Latvian - might have myself a little teacher there!

Okay you have to look hard at this one but in the middle
is a baby newt. There are lots of them in our top pond
Our other people day was in response to an impromptu invitation whilst on the way to the bakery, when our friend stopped her car and invited us to visit her property in the countryside. We din't actually make it to the bakery (which reminds me we really need to pay a visit soon as it has been so long since we last went, I mean all of a perhaps a week ago) instead we went back home to change into clothing appropriate for visiting a property in the middle of a forest - i.e. insect proof! The road to her property was lined with hunting towers and you could almost imagine that they were sentry posts guarding the entrance to some grand house. Well at the end of the road was not a grand house, but a rather nice summer house, just right for a growing family to have the freedom to run around and the parents to grow lots of veg. It might seem that we move in exalted circles, when I say we went to visit someone at their summer house, but here in Latvia it is quite normal. When communism fell many people inherited homes in the countryside that belonged to them or their ancestors as property was returned to previous owners. Some were sold at cheap prices to those who hadn't got an ancestral home and some were kept for summer holidays. Often they have no electric and they can be rather run down affairs but many of our neighbours have some kind of property somewhere further out in the countryside. I love meeting folks though and hearing their dreams and plans, as they show us around, it is wonderful to hear hope living in people's hearts.

Reality check! This is damage done by pigs rooting. To
give you an idea of perspective the grass here is around
my head height of 5ft (1.52m)
We have to dream some dreams soon, as we think about where we go on our land, but sometimes those dreams take a bit of a reality check when we see the damage done by the wild boar. They are back, and boy are they back, with a vengeance in some areas. There are areas that have been recently turned over that measure around 3m2 (32sqft) and not just one area, several areas. This wasn't the gentle rooting for dandelion roots like we sometimes get which leaves small holes about 10x10cm (4x4in) , these are humungous holes that mean we have land that is uneven and difficult to cut or work with once damaged. Wouldn't be so bad if they would stick to the same areas, but they don't and we have no idea what damage they may have done in the forests yet. I really hope they haven't damaged the chanterelle mushroom area again, as that only just recovered enough for us to pick some last year. We are also battling other pests this month, as the wild parsnip puts up their rather pretty heads again, in fact one grew to well over head height. Wild parsnip is not nice though, despite its pretty looks, as it is similar to giant hogweed in the fact it can cause burns when skin, which has been in contact with the juice, is exposed to the sun. I think I have seen a possible source of where the plants are blowing in from but not sure if the owner will deal with it or not, hopefully we can persuade them it isn't good. At least this week I did get to see the evidence myself that corncrakes do exist, not on our land though, but on the road and the stupid thing nearly committed suicide under the wheels of our car - maybe that is why they are rare!

More damage, and these are just a couple of examples
there were many more of similar sizes. 
I mentioned last week that we had been to a meeting to pray for the outgoing President of Latvia, President Zatlers. This week was the final week of his term and the new President was sworn in. Zatlers announced this week that he is seeking to set up a new party with new faces, not tainted with the alleged corruption of the oligarchs. One party led by one of the oligarchs has actually disbanded because its reputation has become so tainted. It will be interesting to see what happens to the politicians from that party, will they leave politics entirely? Will they seek to join another and will they be accepted? First we have to see what Latvians say about the current Saeima or Parliament and whether it should be dissolved after the Saeima voted to protect one of their members from investigations by the corruption bureau. Do the Latvians think that politicians should be protected from anti-corruption investigations? I would sincerely hope there is a very decisive vote in the referendum on July 23rd. Just in case you missed it, the referendum was called by President Zatlers the week after the vote by the Saeima and it cost him a chance of re-election for a second term.

This little chap, a chaffinch, and his mates have been
frequenting the greenhouse. Not sure if this is a blessing
in getting rid of the numerous insects that we have in
there of the biting kind, or whether it will actually be a
problem in the case of the grapes when they ripen! Might
have to get some nets for over windows and doors
One issue that was raised this week, that I found particularly interesting on the internet, was the issue of fair pay, "Should employers pay enough for their workers to live off?" Employers often say that if they paid higher wages they would be uncompetitive, but I don't see many of them trying to live off what they pay their workers. I have thought for a long time that it is not fair for the state to end up subsidising employers so they can pay abysmal wages. How long are we prepared to put up with employers saying that they can't afford to pay more and then leaving it to tax payers to fund the difference? Mind you it doesn't help when people keep looking for a "bargain", is it really a bargain if people are not paid enough?

5 comments:

ju-north said...

Interesting times in Latvia! You may not be politicians but you are certainly stirring things up!

Mavis said...

I like the stockades built by Ian - they look good.

Also don't worry about tidying up for people coming to visit - I do exactly the same. I think - I'll put that away later, anyway nobody's going to see it!

Wow, what damage done by the wild boar. I hope they don't do too much damage. I keep thinking of hog roasts!

Joanna said...

I like that Ju, stirring things up :o), hope it turns out well though.

Glad it's not just me Mavis. They did do a lot of damage the other day but in an area that hasn't been tackled really so not too bad but I keep dreaming of hog roasts too

karen said...

you have had a busy time but lovely that the little boys had so much fun. My nephews would love that too....I may send them over!!

Joanna said...

A little boys dream I think, we will have to do special holidays :o)