Monday, 25 April 2016

To do lists

On Sofie's to-do-list is sleep. Actually she does do a very
good job of keeping the vole and mice population in check
and away from our animal feed. Here she is sleeping on the job
An eclectic week as usual with a long list of to dos that described the variety. Two presentations to prepare with online groups from varying countries, reading for courses, writing of papers, advertising for our summer felting workshop, gardening jobs, car technical and so on. There were nights I have to confess to feeling pretty tired, but I at least felt I was getting somewhere as I worked down the lists. I wish I didn't have to do the courses now, but they are useful and just at the right time in other ways.

A damp looking alpaca. We are not quite sure what happened
the other day, but Tellus got out from the electric fence and
since then the boys have been a bit on edge. They wouldn't
even go in one night
Advertising for our farm and felting workshop was a top priority to sort out. Some parts required translation and when I got the translation through I had to add the translation to the poster I had designed, which required some jiggling around of the set out. Felt in Latvian is a longer word and so I had to move pictures to fit it in. Most of it worked the same though. I have also sorted out business cards for Ian and if all goes to plan we should have those and some posters in Latvian ready tomorrow.

Mr. P. having a bad hair day
Both the courses I have been doing recently required online presentations to be prepared. It is quite a challenge when people come from different circumstances with different access to the internet and different works schedules. In the end I set up a Facebook group for both of them  just so we can discuss the things we need to do without having to stick to trying to arrange Skype calls that not all of us can make at the same time. It did amuse me that I would do that as the oldest one in the group, but then perhaps the younger members would have suggested something different to do the same thing. The main thing is that we got there in the end and the presentations, worked well enough.

How could anyone resist a picture of an alpaca when they are
as cute as Mari? It is a good job she is cute though, she is
proving a bit of a handful for eating through fences, which
does not do the fence much good. That and her mountain
goat impressions inside the alpaca house when she wants
some hay. She has a sweet temperament though
Friday was my birthday and we had a day off, well kind of. Ian got a day away from the alpacas and I got a day away from academic work. Just to celebrate we went to the big town to take the car for its technical. We were a little surprised that it actually passed and so the work we know will need doing on it is not so urgent that it has to be done immediately and can be fitted in with our schedule better. The prices though for technicals and road tax (which has to be paid at the same time) have gone up with quite a jump over the last 8 years.

Any suggestions for a caption for this picture of Chanel?
We also had a meeting with a lady at the museum in the town, she was acting as translator for an older lady who wanted to book a trip to our farm. We wanted to meet to make sure about the arrangements. The older lady who was doing the booking was a very lively lady who gave me a handful of forsythia, a very spring-like gift. She didn't even know it was my birthday. She loved the pictures of our alpacas that Ian showed her on the computer and she had with her the article from the newspaper that featured us last year. We now have a booking for 54 seniors to visit in May. If they are all as lively as she is we will have a busy old time keeping up with them.

Hopefully Lady V is enjoying her year off from being pregnant
We rounded off the day with a late lunch at our local hotel and then got ready to spend time out in the caravan. We are slowly getting more organised for this and although the mornings have been on the cool side, even though the caravan is still in the greenhouse, we have slept well. Ian is often disturbed by our neighbours who are early risers when we are in the apartment - not that they are particularly noisy it is just he hears them moving around. I don't, but then I am as deaf as a doorpost really. It does mean though that we get up later out in the caravan, but still early enough to let the alpacas out at a reasonable time and I don't think we would get to sleep in much later with the cockerel in an ark right outside the caravan.

but is Estelle pregnant? We are still not sure, some days she
looks like she is and some days she doesn't
Since we are out on the land so much now, it means that when it is dry I can get out and do some gardening. I can plan my day around the rather too frequent showers. If it is due to rain in the afternoon, I will do some gardening in the morning and then reading or writing in the afternoon and even into the evening, if need be. If it is dry all day (not many of those just lately) I can do my reading and writing interspersed with a bit of time off in the garden. The chickens are loving the buckets of weeds though and I hope that their eggs will be turning bright orange with all the greenery. At least I have now planted up the broad beans outside, along with sorting out the Jerusalem artichoke bed. I have extended it as we plan to have quite a few beds of those so the chickens can eat them over the winter. We didn't have enough of them to give them on a very regular basis. The alpacas can have them from time to time too. Actually so can we.
Aggie is changing and is now at the stage where she is ready
for mating. Our first alpaca to be born on the land, now
possibly ready for having babies of her own
Ian of course has been doing much more land work than I have. He has moved a wood pile that was in the way for fencing off the next section of garden where we will be planting vegetables. Once that was moved he could then shift the manure heap around with the tractor to make some raised beds. The manure is well rotted - at least most of it is anyway and that means we can plant into it and not have to do a lot of digging and rotavating. We left some rows for rotatvating because the cabbages and such like will not like being planted into the manure even if it is well rotted. We will mulch them with hay to add bulk to the soil. It is nice to see how our orchard plot is beginning to turn from a sandy colour to black from the amount of chippings, hay and compost that we have added over the years.

One of Ian's jobs. Moving the manure into heaps with the
tractor. Now they are in place he can fence the garden areas.
The beds that were made last week weren't straight and so the
first job was to straighten then up and then put the remaining
manure in the second plot. Eventually we will have four plots
that we can rotate so the sheep are not on the same plot
each winter and the chickens move from plot to plot too.
In between moving fences, showing visitors around, fixing the car, piling up wood and rotavating the field ready for planting, Ian has also been carding wool. At least it is something he can do when it rains. The drum carder is doing a nice job of cleaning the wool of the vegetable debris that our alpacas love to accumulate by rolling around in the hay and is a lot faster than hand carding of course. It needs at least two passes through the carder to get a relatively clean product and possibly three to really get it clean, but since it is relative quick to do, that isn't a problem. As I said Ian has also been showing visitors around and every weekend we have had a group or family turn up. It will be much nicer though on a warm day, it got rather chilly when we were chatting to our last group of visitors and one little girl decided that it was too cold and went and sat in the car. Her mum was fascinated though with the alpacas. I guess we must print out the brochures for the workshop so they can take one. We are not getting them professionally printed because they are too expensive just for the workshop, we will get them printed for general purposes though.

Rotavated fields in the background. She will need moving soon
but the grass is only growing slowly in the cooler weather 
this week
A friend of mine has been the source of a good few contacts, more recently via Facebook. I got chatting with one chap about development and we realised that our interests and thoughts were on the same wavelength. On my birthday we had a Skype conversation where we chatted about encouraging people to get involved and how problematic that can be, both getting people involved and then sometimes expecting too much from people who have lives to live. We both found it very encouraging from a professional point of view. It was funny though to hear how he felt I was the only academic doing the kind of work I do in the whole of Latvia. Scary thought too.

Green grass! Yum!
Just to finish off with something that caught my attention on the BBC, a Greek granny hosting several Syrian refugees on a meagre budget. I often see posts where the Prime Minister of Hungary is talking about Europe being a Christian country and therefore should not accept refugees but I feel that the Greek granny displays more of what Jesus meant when he said in Matthew 25:37-40

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
The bible encourages us to care for the sick, the orphan and the alien amongst us. Aliens means not the same as us. There are no excuses for not caring for people in need and fear of the one who might cause us harm is no excuse for ignoring the plight of the rest. The Greek granny and others like her who reach out to the refugees and offer hope are my heroes.


  1. Wow! Your alpaca business is really taking off. Hope you get loads for your felting event. You always amaze me with all the work you and Ian manage to get through. Always good to read your updates.

    1. I hope it does take off Mavis, we need it too. There are a lot of things that are finally coming together, which is great.

      It used to be that we seemed to do a lot of things because we weren't working in a 9-5 job, but at the moment there are barely enough hours in the day. We will get there though and settle into a better rhythm

  2. Things seem to be going really well.I love the alpacas.Do you see yourselves staying here for the rest of your lives or is retirement back in the UK on the cards.It must be difficult now you have grandchildren to get the balance right.

    1. Glad you like the alpacas. We do see ourselves as staying and we hope as the grandchildren get older they might like to come out and visit for the summers and maybe even the winter holidays. Our biggest worry at the moment is the issue of Brexit. If that happens we have to seriously consider what to do next, it could cause all sorts of difficulties for us.


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