Monday, 25 June 2012

And the answer is......

Okay time to reveal the answers to last week's competition. No one got the right answers but they sure made me giggle. So here is the completed construction no 1

Any the wiser? Does this help?

Probably not! The phone on my camera is not very good for close up shots, but that is a picture of two dead horseflies. The idea is that the horseflies are attracted to solid blocks of colour and they then fly around the solid blocks of colour. It is annoying to say the least to hear a horsefly sizing you up as it buzzes around making circles around you, well that is what it tries to do with the black fabric but it can't see the clear plastic and so bashes into it and stunned falls into the water to which is added some washing up liquid so it can't float on the top. We can't say it works very effectively yet as there are not that many horse flies around at the moment, so it has probably caught three of the six that have been buzzing around. So a cautious result on that one. Ian can't claim to have thought up the idea, it was something he had gleaned from the internet and kind of based on this link amongst others. Before I reveal construction no 2 from last week's competition, I will mention another cunning plan to thwart the biting insects, another lifted from the internet by moi! So here is the link and below are the pictures of my interpretation of them. One is made from an old oil bottle and the other from an old plastic vinegar bottle.

First the tops of the bottles are cut off and then inverted into the bottle a yeast, sugar, water mixture is added to the bottom of the bottle which releases C02 which attracts the mosquitoes, they fly into the bottle through the inverted top which acts like a funnel and either drown in the sugar solution or get disorientated and can't fly out. It works too but Ian reckons we need about five in the area of the barn to make an impact on the numbers and so as bottles become available they get converted into mosquito traps.

Now for construction number 2 from last week. Here is the finished article

Note the black wire mesh, the plastic cover and the net over the openings.

Here is the article in use! Have you worked it out yet? It's a solar dryer for our fruit and vegetables. Now all we need is a bit more sun, it worked quite nicely for the first day and then it has rained ever since. Even on a cloudy day though it does still get respectable temperatures, but it could do with just a little more heat then it will be brilliant and it will save us some electricity in the summer. The rails are for trays which still have to be constructed but at least it can get working on herbs hung in bunches.

Hoppy's house
Eleven more of our chicks moved out of the house and out onto the land this week. They are turning out to be a varied and beautiful flock of birds, from creamy coloured ones, to buff coloured ones, ones with barred markings and some which are more spotty. A motley crew indeed. Ian had to continue with the constructing this week though as he had to make a house for Hoppy and Hoppy's housemates. It is now almost completed . Hoppy is not going to be able to make it up the ramp of the bigger arks on one leg and so Ian has constructed a house that is nearer to the ground for Hoppy and housemates. The picture on the left is from a few days ago, it still needs a proper roof but it rained today rather heavily and in frequent bursts and so Ian wasn't able to collect a sheet of OSB to finish it off. The chicks need to be moved out of the house and so it has a temporary fix until it is dry enough to collect and they will move out tomorrow.

Ian putting the chicks into their new
Forgot to mention that I officially got my results last week for my Masters dissertation unit and I got a distinction. One thing is absolutely certain is that I could not have got that kind of result if people had not been so helpful and open and gave up their valuable time to talk to me and and for the people who helped me by translating the more local interviews. Collaboration to get results does not come easily in Latvia and a lack of trust is a big issue and so I feel very privileged to have been entrusted with so much information. All I can hope is that my work has helped make some difference, no matter how small. Even the chance to be an encouragement to some folks who were getting disillusioned in their fight to get a fair say in what happens with wild boar management was reason enough to do the work.

Our broiler chickens are getting quite big now and have
definitely put on a lot of weight this week. I guess now
they have their all feathers they can concentrate on
getting bigger
I was disappointed to miss an encounter Ian had last week, especially since I had spent a whole year studying wild boar management here in Latvia. Someone came to offer a hunting contract and was willing to pay for the privilege and suggested that we cancel our new contact with the other hunting organisation. He was rather upset that we weren't for sale and I don't think he could understand that money doesn't always talk. This encounter has a whiff of something not being quite right and so Ian requested a meeting with our hunting organisation for an explanation of the politics behind this. We are still waiting for that meeting but there was a small detail of a rather large Latvian celebration over the weekend that got in the way and so we are not too surprised.

No idea what the flower is but it sure is vivid
We didn't celebrate Ligo this year, which is widely celebrated here in Latvia with barbecues, bonfires, singing and dancing and depending on whose company you are in, it might also include a lot of drinking of beer and eating lots of cheese until the sun comes up. To be honest we are pleased we didn't get an invite this year as we were so tired, we could barely stay awake during the day, never mind into the small hours of the night. What with planting and weeding for me and constructing and mowing for Ian, it has been a long week. We have just about completed all planting now as there are only two trays of plants left to put in the garden. I am hoping the neighbours don't look too closely at some of the plants I planted as they might think I'm planting weeds. Quinoa has a remarkable similarity to the rather abundant weed fat hen and the only way I can tell them apart is because I know what was in my tray ie I can't tell the difference really either. Maybe the stem looks different but the leaves, well! They look exactly the same. I have a feeling that they will only look different when they grow to 6ft tall and the seed heads change to all colours of the rainbow - if they get that far of course.

Fence posts all ready for driving into the ground
Other jobs we have got done include getting the posts in for the alpacas and as soon as I have finished this blog I am going to pay the deposit on the alpacas, yes we have moved a step nearer to getting them. Exciting heh! Other exciting news - well it is for us, the strawberry season has now begun and they taste wonderful.


  1. wow....pest control too. Is there no end to your talents. Many, many congratulations on your distinction, I take my hat off to you and as for not being invited to the party...their loss. I'm not a party person either so it may have been torture for me too.

  2. You have to be multi-talented to run a farm and we are only in training. Makes you realise how many skills a farmer needs, or used to need before resorting to instant solutions like chemicals they use on the big farms.

    Thanks for the congratulations, but as for the party we enjoyed last years Ligo but then again it was just a few of us chatting into the night and we enjoy that a lot.

  3. Congratulations all round! A lot of work both on your dissertation and on Ian's creativity have proved well worth it.

  4. well, congratulations on the distinction. and congratulations on getting ppl to talk to you - sign of trust, great honour. blessed are the peacemakers. will you be publishing a pamphlet version of your findings for local sale ?

    looks great fun all the building things and making gadgets and up-cycling stuff. hoppy really has had special treatment. is he for the pot ? we're all looking forward to the alpacas. xx

  5. Congrats on your distinction! How you fitted it all in beats me!

  6. And the secret is Ju, not having a full time job. At least the small job I do have fits around my timetable

  7. Hi Joanna
    Knew the one about catching your flies, that is through inside info though, as regards the solar one do you actually have a few small solar panels fitted in the unit. You are both an inspiration in all that you are and I am praying for a release in resource for you to carry on your studies Joanna, let's seee what father does. Love Geoff.

  8. No there are no solar panels in the unit. It relies on the sun to heat the black painted wire mesh and the black insulated lining material to heat the air. The hot air then flows up through the back section where there are herbs drying at the moment and then out through the top.

    Thanks for praying we really appreciate that

  9. Somehow managed to miss posting your comment Liz sorry. I think I got a bit busy. Thanks first of all for the congratulations and in answer to your questions. Not sure if I can produce a local pamphlet but I have sent the link to the full version to the authorities.

    I don't think Hoppy is for the pot, too special for that.


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