Monday, 7 March 2016

New life

From Kaziņas Bonijas siers which translated is
Bonijas Goats Cheese
We finally got to see our friends new goats this week and I forgot to take our camera. Fortunately she has a Facebook page, so you can hop over there and see some really cute videos of little goats jumping about (link here). Goat babies are exceptionally cute, but the climbing antics of one in particular did not make Ian feel like we ought to have any goats at all. One climbing alpaca and three nervy sheep that occasionally make some extraordinary leaps are enough for us to handle. Still it was fun to visit.
We've had some rather nice days. Today was not one of them.
Today the snow was melting and it was foggy. This picture
was taken yesterday (Sunday)

You did what? Argued! Well I never!
I told our friend we had had a humdinger of an argument last week and she was shocked, even more so when I explained that we had only had maybe around four such arguments in over 31 years of marriage. She couldn't believe we actually raised our voices to each other anyway. Like I said last week it isn't normally our style. We have been much better this week, we've still had our disagreements but not as bad. I even let Ian drive the car this week and be on his own out on the land. I will still go back and help with the hay shifting. He did tease me the other day and said he got the snowblower out, which he hadn't. He had got the tractor out though and used the spring tine tractor attachment to scratch the road as it was getting rather slick with ice. At least putting some grooves in before it set solid will help to prevent it acting like an ice rink for now. Why none of us had thought about that before, we don't know, although it is not the normal use for a ground preparing implement. That goes with other lessons learnt this winter of why we shouldn't put the hand brake on in the car when it gets down to the low minuses and why most people here leave the car in gear instead. Doh! We live and learn!
Kiss and make up! Hah!

Our boys have actually been arguing a bit this last week or so.
It is to do with the Spring. They are the same every year.
Don't feel too sorry for Peedo in the middle though, he is not
always on the end of it, sometimes he starts it. Nothing too
serious though.
We did joke that we wondered if our neighbours thought Ian might have lost his driver's licence when they saw me doing all the driving. You know how rumours can fly about. It is so rare that I drive the car these days and I have to say I was quite relieved to hand back the keys and get back to my own routine. I do enjoy being out on the land, but I also enjoy being able to set my own plan for the day at my own pace (I guess that has added to some of the friction over the past few weeks). Therefore today was spent writing messages, answering emails, reading for my studies and marking someone's homework for the Sociology course I tutor. I also downloaded some information for the Development Studies unit I will start to tutor in September. Not too bad for one day's work.
Looking artistocratic

Soaking up the sunshine. It's nice to see them outside for a
It was amusing to read some of the sections of the book for the new course. In one of the case studies I fundamentally disagree with their assessment of the outcomes from the development project. From my previous studies I know that hydroelectric projects are rarely good development projects for people or conservation and are often mired in controversy, so to say it had achieved certain millennium development goals (the standard set for development projects by the UN, that actually finished last year, but the new ones are still under development) seemed rather trite at best and downright untrue at worst. It will be interesting encouraging students' critical analysis of development projects and I would hope by the end they will be able to see that even if the World Bank is behind the project, it does not guarantee a good project. I am quite relishing the challenge.
Ian has been working with Chanel and halter training. She is
quite jumpy - literally. 

Slowly but surely and little by little, the former laboratorytechnician is helping her to become calmer and starting to
walk on 
command - but only in the alpaca house at the moment
It is now 13 years since we left the UK this last week and eight years since we arrived in Latvia. A lot has happened in that time. Three children have left home, we have gained a son-in-law and daughters-in and out of law and five grandchildren. We also mustn't forget the 10 alpacas, four sheep, upteen chickens, two cats and 13 hectares (33 acres) of land. A bit of a change for a stay at home Mum and a laboratory technician. Also in that time I have got a Masters degree and nearly finished a PhD. Ian has learnt to shear alpacas, cut their toe nails, trim teeth, learnt to card and spin the wool, learnt how to plough, dig ponds and a myriad of other land related tasks. It has been fun and amazing that we have been able to do so much.
While I was trying to take photos of Ian halter training
Chanel, Aggie was nuzzling my neck. She wouldn't talk to Ian
at first after his absence but she has now more often than not
switched allegiances back. I think here she was just being plain nosy

Someone else enjoying the sun
We have become so very comfortable in our lifestyle out here that we could not really ever envisage going back to live in the UK. The very thought of getting stuck in some traffic jam on the over busy roads sends shudders down our spines. Being determined not to go back was one of the reasons I decided not to ever vote in an election in the UK. How could I vote for something that did not affect me personally? Why should I make a decision that would affect someone else and that they would have to live with and I wouldn't? However, I registered to vote this last week and got the confirmation of registration today.
We couldn't work out why Veronica had straw on her back

We wondered if it was to encourage Brencis to be weaned.
I'm sure it isn't really, but he will be by the end of the week
or at least we hope to move him up to the boys place soon.

Plotting something? Or just having a natter? 
I will be voting in the EU referendum, because it could affect me personally and not only those back in the UK will have to live with the consequences, but so will I. Not just me but our neighbours too. The integrity of Europe is under threat from so many sources and the peace and stability of the last few decades is wavering (this article from by the Guardian is an interesting article and reflects our thoughts too). I feel that now more than ever there is a need to draw strength from each other in unity, but not the sort of artificial unity, but one that debates and grapples with the future issues in a meaningful and respectful way. Anyway, in short I shall be voting.
The first signs of Spring in our greenhouse.

This rather stylish looking carder is called the Ekelund and
designed by a former Volvo engineer. One day we may
get one.
I mentioned that Ian has learnt to spin and he cards the wool by hand at the moment. We realised this wouldn't be a long term solution and so we decided we needed to get a drum carder. There is a wonderful electric version, but a tad expensive for us at the moment at £2100 + vat - if anyone feels like investing in one for us, then we will gladly accept donations
In the absence of an emoticon, here is Aggie's thoughts on us
getting donations

A wide carder by Classic Carders
For the time being, we decided to opt for a hand carder. Not as fast but this wide drum carder means we can card the fleece for felting, spinning and to make fluffy linings for clothing at a reasonable speed and certainly faster than using hand carders. It also means that even if we were to go for an electric one at a later date, we can still use the hand carder for demonstration purposes and felting classes.
Our new cockerel from our friend at the goat farm. We didn't
think we should breed for egg layers from our cockerel that
has frost bitten feet, so we needed a new one. The comb on
this one is a bit of a mess and he has a few feathers missing
on his back after a run in with a male turkey. He didn't come
out of that very well and was separated. It has been amusing
watching him trying to exert his authority over the females.
He's not particularly aggressive, but just enough for the
females. We do have one particularly aggressive female
in there and she has been testing her boundaries by
nipping him on the back where he has lost his feathers. It
hurts, bless him, but he is standing up to her. She still tries
though and she circles around him trying to get to his back
 and he circles around to stop her - a bit like a dance.

Proof that Spring has sprung, well in the greenhouse anyway
Ordering it wasn't without issues though. For some reason the system didn't like Ian's card and it ended up getting blocked. Several days later and we managed to get it unblocked - I'm sure it would have been quicker to phone, but I preferred to use the internal bank's messaging system, rather than sit in some interminably long telephone queuing system, listening to some awful tinny music. Once the card was unblocked I was also able to order some felting needles and silk in preparation for felting scarves and little animals (making little animals from felt you understand, not felting little animals, which would be cruel). I just hope it all works well. Having never done dry felting before. I have also heard that the small felting machine that someone has given to us has set off on its journey. It has travelled down the country from Northumberland to Sheffield and should set off on the next leg of its journey sometime next week (I think that's the plan). I should have asked for transfer pictures to watch its progress.


Bill said...

I'm pleased to say that our outside air temp this week has been about what you have in your greenhouse. We're hoping that winter is gone for good now.

It is interesting to see how dissatisfied so much of the public is in the U.S. and the U.K. these days. We live in interesting times!

Joanna said...

Outside on the balcony in full sun, it is still only around 6C (43F) here but it is nice to see the sun anyway :)

We sure do live in interesting times and I sincerely hope the dissatisfaction leads to deep changes for the good of mankind and not reactionary and alarming chaos