Monday, 6 April 2015

Sunshine and snow showers!

Melting snow, yet again! But it does look pretty
We've had another of those weeks with a dusting of snow, then melting and just when we thought we had seen the back of it, it snowed again. Saturday was a lovely day, not sunny, but warm enough to get in the garden and dig over a bed. It was lovely to work the soil, as it was noticeable that the edges that had not had much treatment were sandier and not as rich looking as the middle of the bed. It shows the straw bedding, the wood mulch and alpaca poo are all working wonders to make lovely rich vegetable beds. Since the beds are not frozen and the forecast was only for rain over the coming week, I thought I would plant our onions. The rain would help them swell and they wouldn't come to much harm in the cool nights. It was nice enough to take my coat and hat off as I worked. I got the onions in and went to see Ian to see if he was ready for a cuppa. As we sat and chatted in the caravan I noticed what looked like big fluffy flakes of snow falling. Sure enough the ground was white again. Seems like I was just in time then.

Planting onions
This old lady is still a good egg layer. She was born in
June 2012 and still produces eggs most days
Just take a close look at that fleece! Agnese has been rolling
around in the hay again. She is absolutely covered.
Goodness only knows how we are going to get that out
While I was working on preparing the onion bed Ian had some visitors and he was stood chatting to them for about half an hour. Of course Miss Observant me, never saw them, although he could see me. He didn't want to shout, because he would have scared Agnese who he had on a lead and besides the chances of me not hearing him were high. He would have phoned, but of course I forgot my phone that day too. The people had been walking down the road and saw the alpacas and had stopped to look. Our alpacas noticed the people and so Ian who was walking Agnese at the time went to have a look to see what the alpacas were so interested in. He invited them over to meet the alpacas and stood chatting to them, since there were younger members of the group who spoke reasonable English. If there is one thing that Ian loves to do, is to share his enthusiasm with other people and that was something the group definitely picked up on. He thinks they were some more of our neighbours, it seems the alpacas are proving quite a draw.
If you look closely, you will see the evidence of a certain
alpaca and her tendency to stick her head through the
fence and eat the grass on the other side. That is despite
the small holes in the fence, specifically to stop them doing

Whistle! Whistle! Goes Lady V as we often call her, as
she sneaks away. At least that is what it sort of looks like

Who me? Innocent me?
I said it was wet! We have our temporary lake back again
The rest of the week has been a bit wet and so Ian has had to get yet another new pair of wellies. The wellies don't seem to be lasting very long at all no matter how much he spends on them. It is a near constant moan in our house when shoes or wellies go and he has to get a new pair. He just got a cheap pair from the local shop for the time being and they are not the steel-capped ones he usually gets. In fact they seem a bit soft, but maybe that's a good thing, who knows. The wet weather also means he has been doing some of the early season wet weather jobs like servicing the two-wheel tractor and the chipper. In between the showers he has been removing stones from the fields in readiness for a new rotavator he has ordered for the two-wheel tractor. The other one only really needs a new belt, but finding them has been impossible. It also cuts out on a slope if it is facing the wrong way, which is not useful on our hills. At least it means just taking one machine when we go to work our apartment allotment and not two. It should also be more robust than the other one and adjustable. Ian has also been taking lots of photos, since there is more time in the day to get things done and not enough jobs because it is still too early to get much done.
Did I tell you it had been wet? The road
is now like tram tracks
The evidence of the tractor using our land for a short cut
Ian's alpaca visitors weren't the only neighbours that he hadn't met before that he had some interaction with this week, only the next encounter was not quite so pleasant. We have noticed that one of our neighbours has been going up and down our ski hill in their tractor from time to time. This is not something we wish to encourage, because it will damage the hay and we do not want ruts running up the middle of our best hay field. Ian noticed fresh tracks on the road and went back to get his camera, he took some photos and then went back to work on a frame for our grapes. As he worked he heard a tractor, so ran to the top of the hill to see the tractor coming down the hill with a trailer, so Ian ran to get the car keys and the camera and drove quickly to block his access at the bottom of the road. He got out of the car and asked if the driver if spoke English and he said "No!" So Ian beckoned him out of the tractor and showed him the tracks and said "Nē, labi" (not good) and then showed him where he would let him come on and off our land. A compromise anyway. He didn't seem particularly upset and they even shook hands on it. Hopefully he understands and hopefully he stops using our land as an access point.
The new grape arbour
I love the contrast of the bright green against the logs
We are a bit worried about some other neighbours too. We have some new neighbours at our other apartment and I had noticed they have a husky which the young woman took out for walks. Yesterday I saw the husky on the loose with another dog I haven't seen before and they spent the whole time digging in someone's compost heap. It seemed to be also encouraging other dogs to join in, as there was a little dog that I often see and it was black from digging, something I have never seen it do before. I somehow think that explains the big holes that have recently appeared in the flower bed outside our apartment. I am quite annoyed because I had only just got Ian to bring some wood chip mulch for it to keep the weeds down and it was looking neat and tidy. If dogs are just going to dig big holes in it, I am not going to put the effort in to put some more plants in that I intended to do this year. It also does not fill me with hope for later on in the year with the allotment. The reason for keeping that on is because we have the wild boar digging up our land and don't want to risk all of our produce being eaten by them. Somehow I will have to convey my concerns to the house manager, that will be fun! Not!
A nice moody shot of our comparatively highly strung alpaca.
This is Turbjørn. He is lovely really, just rather nervous.
He is also very curious, just not curious enough to come
right up. He still only eats out of a bowl, even for Ian. He
certainly won't eat out of your hand. He also has a way of letting
Ian know when he wants something like a drink. He will come
up close to Ian with a look on his face as if he wants to
tell hims something. He is also the alpaca we deal with first
if we need to give injections, because otherwise he gets too
panicky to handle. 
The gooseberry bushes are sprouting
Had a little excitement this week on top of meeting neighbours. Oh we live the high life. I thought we were going to get our new bin. I mentioned previously that I thought we had organised a new collection for out on our land and cancelled the one at the apartment. I wasn't 100% sure, but all the signs were good. I didn't receive a bill for the next three months for collection at the apartment, so that must mean they got the cancellation and understood it. The next good sign was getting a contract, that was signed and sent off. The only thing is I had a nagging feeling I should have put a friend's phone number down for contact details or at least mention it was only if someone could speak English and sure enough this week, I had a phone call from the company and the guy did not speak English. At least I understood who it was who was speaking. I got my friend to ring him back, but they decided that we were too far out of Ergli for that particular run and they decided that they will deliver the bin next week instead. Nearly there then!

More signs of spring
I said it had been wet! This is the drainage pool from the barn

The start of a hedge. These are maples
that we transplanted a couple of years
ago. We are also going to put in hazel.
The hedge will be to deter the wild boar
from digging around our blueberries
Much of the rest of the week has been the usual current routine for me of writing a second paper. I have written about the writing process before by using a quote from Winston Churchill, that talks of the process turning from a lover to a monster. I am not sure that I could say that I start off that enthusiastically, but this current piece is worse. I think it is because I have only just finished one paper and this one has to be completed fairly rapidly that it feels more like a monster already, with each sentence being wrenched from my brain. In the process of writing the idea of trying to get the egg residue removed from a frying pan with glued on egg becomes a source of intense interest  - not that I enjoy cleaning glued on egg remains but anything becomes more interesting than sitting at the computer trying to conjure up the perfect sentence. And yet in a macabre sort of way, the process has its points of elation when a sentence or paragraph finally comes together and makes sense. I have also noticed that after the slow dragging out of each sentence there comes a point where desperation leads me to almost throw in various quotes and random sentences, hoping that something will stick and somehow come together in some coherent form and amazingly this is the most productive point of the process. Then comes the long and slow editing. From what I understand, I am not unique in this process.
The newts are appearing again too

Babbling pond overflows

Let me out! I'm sure I see green grass

New silver birch seedlings. At least I think that's what they are


Robert Julian Braxton said...

whew! (here from over at Practicing Resurrection blog where I sometimes write comments)

Joanna said...

Welcome to a glimpse of Latvia then, from the perspective of a Brit :)

Diane said...

Oh wellies!! A regular conversation amongst us dog walkers too.

Joanna said...

They are definitely some of the important things in life

Bill said...

Why is it that the pastured animals can't seem to resist the grass on the other side of the fence? We have a few goats who have been guilty of that. With their horns it's a riskier proposition for them. They stick their head through a hole in the fence, but then can't get it back out. I've found goats who've been stuck that way for a while, making them easy prey for coyotes. Fortunately we've been able to rescue those who it has happened to.

Joanna said...

Oooh! Sounds nasty. Glad you were there before the coyotes.