Monday, 3 December 2012

It is finished - no really this time!

Winter arrived! Again!
It is a bit scary really, I wrote last week asking if those who are of the praying type if they would pray for our cable to arrive and it did! In fact the very next morning it arrived. Not a moment too soon either, because as Ian was putting the tractor away after finishing putting the cable in the trench, it began to snow. Talk about cutting it fine. We now have winter back for a second time and the forecast is for it to stay cold. The type of snow we have had has led to some problems with our electric back home, probably due to ice encased electric cables, or snow getting into some vulnerable part of the electric supply and at one point we were off for 40 mins. The snow was mixed with a bit of freezing rain and some trees are looking pretty precarious across some roads and hanging over power lines, not good.
Ice encased washing line on our balcony. The kale and
brussel sprouts were also ready frozen in the same way

The alpacas were not in a rush to come out
Wish I could say that I have definitely finished with my proposal for doing a PhD and it has been accepted, but I can't. I made the amendments no problem and sent it back off, but there was still a query about the vagueness of one of my answers. I responded by explaining that I didn't feel able to make the amendment any clearer as it all depended what my research shows up and what doorways were open to me to pursue. Basically I will undertake some case studies, but how I carry them out, with whom, how I choose them etc. all depends on who will work with me, what I feel is needed and what methods are available or whether I even have to develop a new method to work within the culture of Latvia. I won't know until I set off on the journey. Well that's was my answer and I'm sticking to it, but whether I have to write that into the proposal or not I don't know yet. At least I do know that the actual proposal is still moving in a positive direction and so I'm quite happy with that.

The little egg on the right was our first egg, the large egg
on the left was for comparison.
Our chicken has also been reading my blog too, it crowed three times the next morning but it still took a couple of days to work out which one it was for sure and in fact we have two crowers now. Our confidence in identifying the gender of chickens, however, took a bit of a knock this week. As I mentioned we sent one of our male chickens to another farm, thankfully we have been informed that he has now settled in and crowing. We removed the other cockerel that was also in that ark as it seemed to be a bit of a bully as well as a bit of a late developer compared with some of other cockerels. One chicken we thought we might keep was put into the cockerel-less ark and was promptly well and truly hen-pecked, so we decided to pull him out and put in another cockerel and within five minutes he had his ladies all sorted and under control (no comments fellas), at the same time as adding the cockerel we also introduced one of the chickens we are not sure about, so we can wait and see which way it develops. So if you are still with me, we now had three apparent cockerels that were surplus to requirement, the cowardly one, a speckled one that seemed to be a developing a bit slower and the one from the ark that was a bit of a bully. We dispatched them and took them home to deal with and you can imagine our surprise on cleaning out the innards of one of the chickens to pull out what looked like eggs, lots of them, all at different stages!!!!!!! It wasn't a cockerel at all, it was a bossy female with a very red comb and red wattles!!!!!! To make matters worse, we found an egg the next day and none of the other chickens has laid one since - does that mean we dispatched the only laying female we had? Our one line of defence is that even seasoned hen keepers get it wrong from time to time, at least so far we have only made one mistake.

O.K. Corral! The boards are to stop the alpacas from
damaging the plastic
Our greenhouse now looks like a scene from the O.K. Corral, as we prepare for the worst part of winter when temperatures drop so low that we need the alpacas in with the chickens to stay warm, we can also hopefully by then lay on a bit of heat with a heater if necessary. Ian has also been reducing the places where snow tends to get in through some of the gaps around the windows and doors, not a problem normally but this year it is. Ian being the master at cobbling things together utilised some material from a now defunct gazebo, with the result that it looks like we have arched windows in our greenhouse. Very funny as we said the greenhouse looked a bit like a cathedral when it was being built. Now all we need is to build a steeple and it will look the part and get the neighbours worried.
A bit different from earlier on in the year with tomatoes,
cucumbers, melons and peppers
Our cathedral windows

Franken-draught excluder

Trying to stop water freezing. Hopefully with
polystyrene and straw on top of the bucket
it will not be ice by the morning
Winter wasn't the only thing to strike with a vengeance here this week, overnight the wild boar wreaked havoc on our land. The question is though, are the wild boar likely to succumb first to a possible classical swine fever outbreak or to the hunters gun? Three farms around 200km away have reported infections and two wild boar have also been found with the disease. Classical swine fever severely reduced the wild boar populations throughout Europe in the 1990s and I believe there are one or two farmers around who wouldn't be too upset if it happened again. The irony is that too high a population of wild boar is a recipe for infection and so more likely to spread to our area eventually and cause a big problem in the local population. At least scenes like these below would be rarer if wild boar numbers were lower. These pictures are taken from different sites around our land and are all the result of one nights work of probably a family of pigs.
Close to our alpaca paddock

Also close to our alpaca paddock

All the dark ground is turned over and shows the pathway
they made through our land

This is a close up of the right of the picture above

Moving further up

And round the top of the land, this is where the deepest
damage was done

A close up of the large holes they dug from the picture above


  1. Awful damage done by the boar. Were they looking for roots?
    Love the cathedral windows! It must be a first!

  2. Roots and grubs are what they are looking for. You have to admire them for their sense of smell which detects these things.

    They do look rather stylish don't they :oD

  3. I hope the dispatched chicken was NOT the one that was laying. I hope also that you can get the wild boar situation sorted soon - preferably by having a hog roast!

  4. Unfortunately I suspect it was as we haven't had any more eggs since. Oh well! Hopefully the others will get their act together soon.

    Hmmm! Hog roast! Sounds good to me


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