Monday, 5 May 2014

Lost and found

The long lost wheel support
 A long, long, long time ago Ian lost a wheel support for his hay turner. It is probably nearly two years ago since he lost it, even though we had four of us scouring the land on the day it was lost,  and so we never expected to see it again. Ian fashioned a support for the turner out of wood, but that didn't last and it has been propped up when not in use on various large logs ever since, not ideal. It was still usable, just not as stable when not on the tractor. Last week he was going over the land with the tractor, ironing out lumps in the ground from pig and mole damage, when he found it, nestled in amongst a group of trees. He's not exactly sure how it got there, but at least he has it back now. This week Ian was bemoaning the fact a nail had come out of the door on the alpaca house, he wanted a really powerful magnet so he could make sure he found it, before one of the alpacas found it in their feet. Ian is fastidious when it comes to things lying around and makes sure that string is picked up, nails accounted for etc. so that none of the animals comes to any harm from those sorts of items. He was just saying how it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack when he looked down on the floor and there it was. Great relief all round. My example though, smacks of a senior moment. I went into the barn looking for the garden sieve that Ian had made. I looked high and low and was just at the point when I was going to give up and go and get Ian to search for it when I spotted it, right in front of me or "hidden in plain sight," as we sometimes say.
Our cats taking refuge from the snow in
the greenhouse. As you can see they have
not been sheared, like I threatened. Apparently
it just comes back thicker than ever and we
don't want that. I am slowly working my
way through the coats, but it sometimes feels
like painting the forth bridge, you no sooner
get to one end and you have to start again
That is four and half trailer loads of manure from the alpaca
houses, built up over winter using the deep bed system and
rotting hay that Ian removed from bales. It took us about six
hours to move it all, but all done and dusted in one day.
Good job I made a stew in a cast iron pot and put it in a hay
box and under a duvet to keep warm. At least it was cooked
and ready to eat when we finished it.
We have been rather busy this week as you would expect at this time of year. The ground had dried out after the winter melt of the frozen ground, in fact it had dried out too much and so I was worried about planting seeds, especially after last years drought. It was that dry that there have even been yellow alerts for forest fires. At least it allowed us to get on with ground preparation and Ian rotavated the gardens, or at least he rotavated one and part of the other one before the belt got too loose and the rotavator stopped working. He finished the other garden off by ploughing it with the two wheeled tractor. Even though we haven't had rain for about two weeks there was some forecast and so I made a push to get some more seeds in. We now have three beds of carrots, two of sweetcorn, and three of fodder beet. All done in about two hours thanks to my seed planter and that included raking out the beds - it is so much easier than the back breaking work of planting by hand when there is a lot to do. That wasn't all that was prepared, as Ian has been working on getting the field ploughed with the big tractor and he even got one section planted up with spring barley to replace the winter one that succumbed due to lack of snow cover or due to being the wrong type of seed. Just in case it was spring sown barley and not winter, then we have used some more of the seed we have and will see what grows. Wouldn't be so bad if it had a label on it.
The land is ploughed up to the forest edge now, or rather
the ditch in front of the forest edge. The patch on the right
has now been planted up with the barley
The vie from our living room this morning
I also planted up smaller sections in our orchard garden, so more carrots of different varieties, more rocket, mizuna, parsnips, hamburg parsley, and goodness knows what else - thank goodness I did at least write it down (Ian will be pleased, my record for loosing track of what I plant is not too good). I even got some strawberries, lemon balm, marjoram and sage dug out to plant elsewhere, some of which have gone in the orchard plot and the rest heeled in waiting for their permanent place. Only one problem with all this planting was that the rain that we were expecting today turned out to be snow. Not much has settled although we have had some heavy snow showers. It is a little worrying, but fortunately I deliberately planted the sweetcorn quite deep and don't expect it to be germinating just yet. Hopefully with the warmer weather forecast for next week then they won't have come to any harm. Most stuff I planted will take a little frost though and so I'm not too worried about them.
The view on the land this morning
In between the snow showers was a much fresher scene
than of late. At least the grass has greened up, or maybe
it was just the dust that has been washed off
I haven't just been busy in the garden of course, as I still have studying to do. I am trying my best to work through loads of paper for a review article I need to write. I could write it now with the amount of papers I have read through already, but I want to make a thorough job of it and so it will save me time later when it comes to writing up my thesis, just it is proving to be slow going with plenty of interruptions for gardening and writing up a proposal for another paper. I was really pleased with proposal when my supervisor thought it was "rather attractively composed." I like that! At least it means I must be getting something right.
But snow showers continued for much of the day. 
Perhaps not a good time to try transplanting tomatoes. Here
Ian has set up water in black boxes to warm up during the
day to give off heat to the plants at night. We also use a
double layer of fleece. During the day, the temperatures are
very acceptable, but the night time ones are worrying
I forgot to update you on my youngest son's interview a couple of weeks ago. He was successful in the interview and they sent him for a couple of days training before sending him off on his own to do some cold calling in businesses to try and sell telecommunications. He absolutely hated the job though, one morning of cold calling and he called it a day. I'm proud that he gave it a go, but it is not a job I could do and to have cold called 60 companies in one morning with no success is demoralising for anyone. He also went for another interview, but doesn't think that was successful, he would probably have heard by now. So the poor guy is still looking for work and plodding on, but at least he keeps trying. That must count for something at least!
Hope the grapes don't suffer. There seems to be plenty of
them coming through
Chickens enjoying the sunshine and doing a good job of
denuding the ground of any vegetation. Good preparation
for the garden extension for next year.
There have been many moments when I have asked "Where oh Lord are you leading?" It seems all so vague at times and I am not sure where the things we are doing is taking us too. I had one of those Duh! revelations though, when chatting about the conference in Tallinn I went to last week to Ian and talking about the heart of the European Landscape Convention, which I had been hearing more about. The words "European Landscape Convention" sounds rather stuffy and formal and yet another layer of bureaucracy, but at its heart is human rights and landscapes. It suddenly dawned on me, isn't that part of the heart of God? The dignity of people and linked to the land
“‘Message of God, the Master: On the day I scrub you clean from all your filthy living, I’ll also make your cities livable. The ruins will be rebuilt. The neglected land will be worked again, no longer overgrown with weeds and thistles, worthless in the eyes of passersby. People will exclaim, “Why, this weed patch has been turned into a Garden of Eden! And the ruined cities, smashed into oblivion, are now thriving!” The nations around you that are still in existence will realize that I, God, rebuild ruins and replant empty waste places. I, God, said so, and I’ll do it." (Ezekiel 36:33-36)
So we are looking for the empty waste places to be replanted and through that revealing the heart of God for people. May sound presumptuous, but we believe in a God who wants the best for all mankind and who gave us a wonderful planet to care for, with an amazing variety of life. That's worth working towards I think.

Update on Alicia. She is still hanging on in there, but we are reconciled to maybe having her put down this week, unless she shows a miraculous recovery. She is not getting better and in fact is getting more unsteady on her feet. We have to think of the health of the rest of the herd and this won't be helping. So difficult decisions to make.


karen said...

I feel for your son, my son struggled to find work....a graduate with a First. At least he has a job but his talents are wasted working in a warehouse. I fear we may waste the best talent from a whole generation....thinking of Alicia.

Joanna said...

It is sad Karen and yes a great waste in our rush for what? Thanks for your thoughts for Alicia, she is still hanging on in there at the moment