Monday, 28 September 2015

Anarchic Grannies and Alpacas

Alatskivi Castle, Estonia is based on Balmoral Castle in
Scotland. I wasn't far from Balmoral Castle on my last
field trip with a conference. This was where we had our
conference dinner
Another mixed week, as you may have guessed from the title. I love the phrase anarchic grannies, what a wonderful picture it conjures up. It was a phrase used by a Finnish architect, Marco Casagrande, in the conference I attended to describe the Taiwanese grannies who grow food wherever they can and are often quite influential in challenging the status quo. It certainly turns the assumption on its head, that it is the young who change the status quo. It actually reminds me of the interviews one of my Masters students did, where he talked to one lady from a group of pensioners who had challenged the local authorities. The authorities kept voting out mayors in one particular village and the pensioners had had enough of this behaviour. They got together and petitioned the council to let the mayor stay and to let him get on with his job. I guess they have not got a lot to lose at that stage and so take it upon themselves to do something. Brilliant! So if you are feeling over-the-hill and past your usefulness, just remember the anarchic grannies of Taiwan.
All ready for dinner

Perigree moon taken from the alpaca paddock, Sorry no
pictures of alpacas, must take some more soon
As for alpacas! I'm home alone with them. I got back from the conference a day earlier than I had originally planned, also a different route than planned. Someone in their infinite wisdom decided it would be a good idea for the Latvian train to set off earlier than the arrival of the Estonian train that usually connects, due to the extended time taken because of rail track work. At least I found out that the buses do connect after that, as long as I cross over the border into Latvia, which fortunately is only a 20 minute walk and a route I normally do in reverse. At least it meant that Ian and I spent a whole day together, before I had to take him to the airport. He is with our daughter and her family so that he can help our son-in-law with some building work. Our youngest son travelled up to see him too and so he had a small birthday party with chocolate cake. He's also had fish and chips so I hear and therefore he's very happy.
The castle garden

The lake
The alpacas are sort of behaving themselves, at least at putting away time. I have no complaints about that aspect. However, Aggie has escaped twice already and I have to go up with the sledge hammer to hammer a post back in the ground tomorrow morning. I am just fortunate that none of the others decided to escape along with her. The boys had a bit of a ding dong this afternoon, with Tellus our male chasing the others around the field and paddock and trying to bite them. I am now wondering if he got a bit worked up due to Aggie being too close and perhaps he was showing off or demonstrating he's boss. No idea, because I hadn't noticed if Aggie was out at that point. I know occasionally our very mild mannered alpacas will start to fight, but fortunately not often. If they had carried on, I would have gone and sorted them out, but it only lasted about five minutes before calm resumed. The exercise probably did them some good.
The bridge over the lake

Near the train station on the way back from the conference
Wish I could say that Sergeant Wilson was behaving, in other words our free range cockerel. He has been stalking me occasionally and once he actually did go for me. So far I haven't had to strike back as such, as he has backed off as soon as I turned round to him. He's a bit of a coward really, but I could do without the sneak attacks. If he carries on like that he is going to be caught and put in a box to calm him down and to get the idea he is not boss.
Not the best place to sit I don't think. Ian was recharging
the batteries in the car. The water level had got a little too
low and so they weren't charging properly. All sorted now
It is a good job Eyre was not around when
this little fella was. She is getting so good at
catching mice and voles. This is taken
without a zoom, it let me get so close to take
a photo with my phone camera. It didn't seem
to be very afraid at all. It should have been,
if it wants to live much longer.
Eyre our kitten is also being a bit of a pain. She seems to get under my feet wherever I stand, which is not helpful when cooking. I had to put her away just so I don't stand on her. She also spent about 20 minutes trying to sit on my chest while I was trying to do some work and she wouldn't settle on my shoulders, where she would often sit. She was put away again. It sound bizarre to say we put her in the toilet because of course we do not mean that literally, we mean the little room of the caravan. Fortunately once in there she settles down and she never disturbs us at night.
The skies have been amazing just lately. This was the view
in one direction one morning, just after I had let the alpacas

The opposite direction was equally stunning
On the subject of being out in the caravan, it is starting to get cool these days and the temperature is rather low at nights. It is a good job caravans are quick to warm up and we adjust to the lower temperatures anyway. Hot flushes do help a little in that respect, since they have started up again. It means I don't really get that cold at nights. It would be quite nice and peaceful being out here, but I have got a bit of a cold which is making me muddle headed. I nearly forgot to close the barn tonight, but remembered in time and last night I forgot to put the chickens away in the arks - fortunately they are relatively safe due to the netting, at least from foxes and the like. The free range ones usually go away earlier before the alpacas as it is much easier to put away the alpacas without the chickens under feet. They also go away earlier because they have started wandering too close to the greenhouse in the evening.

The state of many of my brassicas. These are even in the
greenhouse! They are not safe even here. There were not
many insects around for so long, I think we got complacent
then suddenly the cabbage white caterpillars appeared and
stripped the leaves before we knew what had hit us.
Anyway, must finish there, I still have the washing up to do and I can't go to bed until that is done - oh the joys of being in a caravan. The table is the base for the bed and so it needs clearing before the bed is made up, hence I have to do the washing up first. It is also getting a little cool and so being under a duvet will be a much better.


  1. HI what a great idea, we also own alpacas and we never thought about using them for weddings, but I think we will now change that after reading this, what we offer at the moment is alpaca walking and alpaca trekking which is really popular, you can take a look here and book online also and of course if you are interested in hiring alpacas for you wedding give us a call

    1. Nice to hear from a fellow alpaca breeder. I know we have talked about alpacas for weddings but I didn't think I had mentioned it on this blog. Still it is an idea and of course if anyone in Latvia would like to hire one of our alpacas for their wedding day, we would have to see what we can do too. I'm glad to hear that the trekking works well and that is something we plan to do next year, only our walks will be shorter probably unless we organise a trip in conjunction with some of our neighbours.

  2. Being an anarchic Grandpa, I like that anarchic Grannies. :)
    A couple of days ago, before the rains resumed, I was admiring the beauty of the sky and telling myself that I must be careful to never start taking it for granted.

    1. It is such a great phrase I think. There are, of course, those who just want to settle down in their later years and then there are those who want to give a whole lot back and live a life of daring, or just fighting the injustices they see. I want to be in the latter two groups.

      Our skies are indeed beautiful at the moment, but our ponds are drying up, rather unusual for this time of year. Still I am sure we will be ruing the start of the rains soon enough, or even the snow

  3. Such gorgeous cloud shots. I'm sure you know my fascination for great clouds like that by now. I planted some winter veggies last year and it was the snails that turned them into lace here. I seem to have almost caught up! I enjoyed each and every post very much, but couldn't remember my password to sign on when I was on the iPad.

    1. Yes I do love your cloud pictures especially. Then again your photos are quite stunning anyway and I would encourage anyone reading this blog to head on over and take a look.

      You must have had quite a marathon session catching up. Glad you enjoyed the ride. Maybe you should try some copper wire around the veggies - should keep the critters away and I suppose you wouldn't have a huge amount of veg to protect.

    2. Thanks for the shout out, Joanna. You are too kind!

      I totally enjoyed my "marathon" session and it did save some of the worry about how the births were going to come out. Brencis is simply too, too cute!

      At one point we had raised beds for the veg and did use copper tape strapped around the outside. I think it worked quite well. Pity we can't move the beds to the current house, but I'll have to see about having one or two made up here and then use the copper again. It really does seem to work quite well. I had tried crushed oyster shells, but not all plants enjoy the more alkaline soil as a result.

    3. You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed the marathon and yes much easier on the nerves regarding births. So far we have only one due this next year, unless we buy some pregnant ones.


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