Monday, 13 October 2014

I'm home honey!

Autumn colour
Yes! I have spent a whole week at home. Can you believe it? And the most exciting thing we have done this week is watch someone cutting alpaca teeth. Riveting heh! I can see you are on the edge of your seats. So what have we done all week? Well let's rewind a little. For a start the paper I have been trying to write for an academic journal was returned again and still requires "major modifications!" Sigh! I have done all the little tinkering about they asked for, but I still have to get my head around how to word the most important part. I won't bore you with the details, but it is hard trying to think of yet another way of phrasing the same material again, for the fourth re-write or is it the third? Something like that anyway. I think I'm getting there, but I have had other things to try and get my head around this week and they have taken priority - partly because I get paid to do that and not paid to do my doctoral studies.

Autumn raspberries
I have explained that I work for an online educational organisation and recently started tutoring the Sociology studies. There is only one student this year and bless him he was not up to speed in handing in any assignments. I was getting a little concerned and sent an email - nothing, sent another email to check if he had got it - nothing, sent an email off to my boss to see what he thought and he suggested copying in his mother. Oh that did reap benefits, two assignments no less, however, that then meant I had to mark the work. When preparing the lessons I hadn't got my brain into gear about how to mark the work and so that took me a little while to apportion the right number of marks to the piece of work that reflected the input required for the question. I also had to think about how to approach marking the work and what helpful comments I could put in. Tricky one really. I have been trained for higher education and not for 14-16 year olds, but the same principles apply. I have also had experience of teaching my own children at home but not in this subject. Still we all have to start somewhere and I know I will speed up as time goes by.

Part 1: This is a stockade that Ian built about three years
ago to store old hay, wood chippings and compost
The weather hasn't been brilliant this week, warmer but damp and dreary. One day it was forecast to rain for most of it and so Ian text me to see if we should go and visit a couple of friends of ours, who we hadn't seen in ages. They have a farm too and we just don't get much time to see each other in the summer months, there is too much to do, especially this year for Ian with the extra animals. The rain filled days though are a different matter, as the ground becomes soggier there just isn't the amount of work to do, apart from some winter preparations. Most of the harvesting has been done, there are only some winter brassicas, carrots and beetroots still left and they can stay in the ground until we either need them or until a hard frost is forecast. So nothing exciting to report, just sitting around drinking tea and chatting about this and that. Nice really. Nothing too academic.
This was the stockade this summer with the squash plant
taking advantage of the lovely compost
Gone! Ian has cleared up the area, as it was beginning to
look rather tatty and we would like the place to look
neater. The compost has gone down to the bottom end
of the new garden area, the wood chipping pile
temporarily moved ready for putting on the road way and
stones moved down to the forest edge.
I have also had the news that a Latvian student is willing to undertake the Latvian side of the study that I am trying to research (for any newcomers I am looking into how rural inhabitants can be included in development planning in the area where they live). That is a great relief and will make a good contrast to the Estonian research. I shall take a trip into Riga to have a chat and see where we take it from there. I was a little shocked though that the student in question does not do Skype and doesn't like the application. Not sure why that is, something to find out I suppose. For me Skype is such a boon and has meant I have been able to chat to all my children and grandchildren this last week. It was so funny seeing a picture of my grandson with an ipad on his knee whilst chatting to us, that his mum took with her phone. I still remember my own children pretending to talk to grandma and grandad on the phone and wonder how the two little ones will pretend to talk to us.

Our errant sheep back where they should be. Any remorse?
I doubt it. 
 The highlight of the week was a weekend of pottering. I pottered around the garden on the day when it was forecast not to rain and thankfully it didn't. I uncovered more of a strawberry bed that had got inundated with weeds and hoed paths to keep on top of the places I have already weeded. There was one point when I heard sheep. I looked out and couldn't see anything and thought it must have been my imagination playing tricks again, then I saw them run past the greenhouse. The only problem is that they were supposed to be about 300m away up the field and not running around the greenhouse. They must have got bored with their surroundings and came for a visit. Ian fetched some feed and off they all set back up to where they should have been. No drama or anything.
I'm partly adding this photo for a friend to see what we built
to trap our sheep in when we want to do anything with them
or when Ian wants to move them and he has to dismantle
their fence. It has proved fairly useful over the summer
Can you tell where the sheep have been? The grass is not
recovering so quick at this time of year

The strawberries are on the left of the picture in front of
the blackcurrant bushes and in the centre. Oh yes! We will
have two full rows this next year and I will work on another
for the end of the year.
I then pottered about the house and cleaned. The problem with communal heating is that they put it on when they should and not a day before, so no heating until October 15th (just realised that's only two days away) and even then it is always a debate if they will. It hasn't been that cold, but cold enough and damp enough to start stuff going mouldy. We had to bring the dehumidifier back from the other place where it was still drying out the apartment since the last flooding we had there. We have also been sinking under stuff here at home. Stuff that we are keeping just in case and I really feel the need either to sling it, or at least stash it better so we are not falling over it. I dread turning out like those folks who compulsively hoard. They don't tend to use their stuff though, just keep hoarding it, but we do use lots of stuff and need endless bottles to keep produce in, bottles for the home-made vinegar, bottles for jams, chutneys and dried foods. Then there are bags of fleece that needs processing and the time to process it. There was a child's car seat sat in the middle of the floor too and that will come in useful for when the little ones visit. As for the piles of papers on the desk! Well that's next week's pottering sorted. At least most of the windows have now been cleaned with bleach. I don't like using bleach but the mould was getting in and needs must.

The strip on the left has more blackcurrant bushes in and
we are trying some suckers from the five spice plant we
have in the greenhouse to see how it fares outside 
And that leads me onto today's riveting day. Teeth cutting! One of our alpacas needs her teeth cutting badly, but we have been struggling to get it done. On a visit to a camelid breeder we know, they told us that some of their animals needed theirs' doing. We got a text yesterday to say the vet was coming and if we wanted to watch then we could come over. An early start for us and we went across. In the end it was just as traumatic for them as for us. We are now seriously thinking of buying a tooth cutting implement that costs a lot of money and then Ian going to cut their animals' teeth too, as a way of recouping the costs of the machine. That and possibly learning how to shear the alpacas properly and he could have quite a viable business going. Well that's the theory, now all he has to do is go on a course and see where we go from there.


  1. teeth cutting? I'm sorry but that's made me come over all funny....

    1. Just sit down with a nice cup of tea Karen and you'll be fine. A nice cup of tea always works wonders


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