Saturday, 3 December 2011

Who's been eating my poridge?

What! Who Me? Yes you!
The cat, that's who! Our youngest one, Bella, to be more precise. I had just read about how to get creamier porridge by first soaking the oats before cooking and that is what I had been doing. No one explained that leaving it out on the kitchen table whilst soaking was not a good idea did they? Oh no! Ian found Bella busily tucking into the milk and she drank quite a bit of it before she was found. As good feline owners we never give our moggies milk, not good for them so they say. Well our Bella proved them wrong on two accounts, one is she thought it was very good and it didn't have any dire consequences on her digestive system either, thank goodness. She is still not getting milk though.

Tasty looking?
Talking of food, have you seen the BBC article on eating grubs? Well it set me thinking, what about the cockchafer bugs we were pulling out of our composted straw pile earlier on this year? Were they edible? And the answer is ......... yes! I think I was rather hoping they weren't. I mean the thought of throwing away good protein is not what I like to think we do, but we were. Does it make me want to try them? No! Not at the moment anyway, but just in case you do, here is a link, to some tasty recipes. Enjoy! And if you fancy a try and can't find any, I'm sure we could oblige with some specimens for you.

This was taken on 28th November

This was taken today 5th December. It is a pond that never
filled up for most of the year. Whenever it rained it quickly
drained away. Here Ian has added a couple of barrel loads
of clay and silt well mixed with water to try and silt up the
holes. Hopefully that will help us to keep our pond next year

The dreich weather continued this week and our land is getting wetter and wetter, it is also getting more and more damaged by wild boar and worryingly some of the damage was close to our electric fence around the orchard and vegetable garden and also close to our young blueberry bushes. Not good news at all! Our neighbours, however are seeing less damage this year, which is good for them, just wish they weren't migrating over to us. I wonder what will happen when we have alpacas though? Will the presence of the strange animals keep the boar away? Will the electric fence keep them off? Or will the presence of the lynx finally sort the boar out, since that seems to have possibly made a reappearance? Having said that, will the lynx try and catch our alpacas? I wonder if the answer will be in the humongous book we got this week called "The Complete Alpaca Book." It certainly looks very complete and is rather thick, covering everything from the history and predator problems to health and nutrition and more. It is going to take us all winter to read it I think, at least it is something to do whilst we have this rather dreich weather.

It looks quite bright on this picture, but it wasn't really.
It was 10:30am in the morning and I still needed the
lights on.
As for other snippets of information, I won a book and I am now awaiting the delivery of it all the way from Estonia - not too far then! Hopefully I shall be able to discover some Estonian recipes that will expand the range of things to do with vegetables that can be grown locally. I also finally got the results from my presentation for my course. For some reason the email system had swallowed my post, as the tutor did send it in my direction much earlier. At least when I got the results, I was very encouraged with the comments, now I just have to write up my thesis to a good enough standard - the hard part. At least the basis for the proposal was sound anyway. Another snippet actually should have been in last week's blog. I had one of those, "you're not from round here" type moments. At the beginning of the month I got a bill for our water at the other apartment, we are not there that much to really use a whole load of water, and so we only get a bill every now and again. This time the bill seemed to have doubled, when I thought it should have gone down to nil. I took the bill and complained, "not right" I said in Latvian, only to be told that actually the bill meant I had overpaid and I didn't actually owe anything at all. Whoops! Embarrassing really! Should have checked all the words before I went.

Recycled welly (rubber boot). This will keep the water out
of the locks and hopefully stop them from freezing.
Ian has been tootling along this week despite the weather, he has braved the elements on many a day, but he also took some time off to do some "real" work, i.e. work that he got paid for. He went back into Riga to play his consultancy role, at one of the hospitals. (No he's not a doctor! A well qualified lab technician for those new to the blog). Tired him out poor dear, came home and went to sleep! Strange isn't it! He can spend all day out in the fields, or logging trees and he's fine, maybe a little sleep in the evening, a few hours consulting and he's fast asleep by the afternoon. It is not as if the commute is particularly difficult either, compared to what he used to do. It is an hour and a half on mainly empty roads, until he gets close to the hospital, whereas he used to spend an hour commuting into Sheffield with extremely clogged roads at the end of it, requiring an early start to ensure getting a space to park. By the way the "real" is inverted commas, not because I class it as his real job, just in many people's eyes that would be considered his real job, and the rest of the time is not - no money in it. Well not yet anyway but there is a great deal of satisfaction.

While in Riga, Ian also picked up a UPS - uninterruptible power supply unit. The idea is that if our power supply fails then we can keep the pump running on our wood fired oven for 24 hours, hopefully enough time to keep it going until the electric comes back on and not explode our oven in the process due to over heating. What happens if the electric goes off for longer is a problem we will have to think about later. At least we have an emergency back up system for now.

Nine people were sat around this table earlier.
You can just see the Alpaca book on the end
of the table - I said it was thick.
This week we were invited out to eat, but first we had to listen to 2 six minute sermons, which were recorded for a visiting pastor's course. His deadline was due before he got back to the US and so as some of the few native English speakers in the area we were dragged in to help. Dragged in very willingly I may add, after all, it was a fair exchange - 12 minutes of sermons for a roast dinner. Sounded like a fair deal to me. We also invited some other friends over for a meal at our place later on in the week. A group of us have gelled together quite nicely and have similar interests in farming, so we can learn a lot from them and we can throw in some discoveries that we have made along the way usually from the internet. We have a bit of an advantage, as lot of information on the internet on current methods and not so current methods is in English, so we can forward our research results to them to see what they think. We also just enjoy each others company, and each others cooking it is fair to say. As it was our turn to cook, we decided to eat up at our other apartment as we had a table and room enough for nine people there, unfortunately not all the equipment and place settings for nine people were, and so there was a bit of toing and froing in the process of putting the meal together. Still it worked in the end and it was very tasty, especially the cake that one of our guests brought with them. We decided not to eat the turkey that night as that was still fresh, it is now sitting in our freezer waiting for a more convenient time to cook it, or a few more friends to invite around.

So much fun and just an old camera
There have been a few interesting articles on the internet this week. The first was a TED talk done by a guy, Chuck Collins, who admitted to being from the 1%, or at least his family are. If you haven't discovered TED talks yet then check them out, there are some amusing ones, some mundane ones and some very informative ones. This guy who is from the 1% was explaining why those who earn a lot, and even those who don't make so much but make their money from companies that they may have worked very hard to build up, should still pay their taxes and not baulk at it. He explains that all those companies have benefitted from either their own education or the education of their workers through the state system. He believes that we should be building a society that funds education that fosters the entrepreneurial spirit, that nurtures the dreams and beauty. He also believes in funding libraries that support that learning, along with other services that enable rather hold back businesses and that all requires money and usually from the state. He certainly builds a convincing case.

Old hat and oh yes there's that camera
again. Cool tourist
As someone who has studied the development field for the last three years I was very interested in the comment of a leading figure in the field Erik Solheim, Norway's development minister

"The lender should bear responsibility as well as the debtor when a loan goes bad........ – something that may be applicable to countries closer to home in the current eurozone crisis."

Does this mean there are plans to sort out the debts of Latvia and Greece to see what is illegitimate debt? That would send the markets into a panic and yet in many ways is only right. Some debt was taken on and shouldn't be, but some debt was taken on and should never have been lent in the first place - so who has the moral responsibility in these situations? Who will sort out the mess? And who will lead the way?

An old box, a bit of time, a bit of paint and an old cot toy.
Voila! A car for a little boy and hours of fun in the making
and in the playing
My final trawl through the internet found a report that has been published in the UK that suggests that parents think their children will be worse off than they are. Isn't it about time that we started selling the idea that just because our children may have to live their lives with less resources means they will be worse off? They will be so much better off if they discover the delights of growing their own food, even if it is a few herbs on a balcony than be force-fed dreadful food that currently passes for the norm these days. They will be much better off if they discover that community is important, especially when it works together - we need to rediscover the delights of the equivalent of barn raising in today's communities, the coming together of the community to help someone out with a basic need, knowing that come the time they need help that others will rally around them. They will be much better off when they rediscover the delights of playing outside rather than sitting on their playstations for hours on end. Food, friends and family are far more important in this world than having the latest gadgets or the coolest clothes. Someone you can turn to when times are tough are far more important than having hundreds of friends on facebook because it makes you look popular. Our children could be far richer in their lives than we have been in ours if they discover what is really important in life. So if you are now stuck what to give your child that will show them how rich they can be on so little, have a peek at these suggestions from this link from a geek dad no less. 


Mavis said...

Love the photo of the Bella - such innocence - NOT!

What a great idea about the purple wellie lock cover. You could start a new business idea in funky gadget covers.

I totally agree with you on the issue of our children's future. Where did this idea come from about having to leave them an inheritance? And when did it start? We never had any inheritance and we did ok so I'm sure our future generations will learn as we did that if you can't afford it, you don't buy it; you make do and mend etc etc. I'm sure I sound like an old moaner but I honestly believe that it won't do them any harm at all. It will make them more appreciative and tolerant people.

You mention barn raising. Did you see the programme about Living with the Amish. It showed just that and we can learn a lot from them.

Joanna said...

Bella never looks innocent, unlike the little monkey down below who looked so sweet, despite the antics he used to get up to.

Wondered what you meant about the purple welly cover as it was a black one. Must have been the lighting but it would have looked very funky in one of those new welly type styles. Hmmm! Just need to find a source of wellies needing recycling now.

I don't watch tv and not sure I can get many programmes if I did. A lot of the BBC content is blocked for us in Latvia and just never tried any of the others.

karen said...

you are sooooo innovative!!! You should patent that welly lock! I think I will pass on the grubs thanks and I hope you get better food back here in England.

Joanna said...

Have to say we were inspired by our neighbours who usually use old tyres over their locks and after problems with frozen locks last year, we don't want a repeat performance. Ian thought that the wellies would be easier to sabotage and one of his wellies had split right through and the gaffa tape wasn't holding :oD

Not sure if we will get better food back in Bighty, we get quite a range here that we wouldn't normally eat. Last night's was goat ribs