Monday, 6 March 2017

All booked up!

Having a snooze in the caravan
Well not quite booked up, but we are heading that way. Our Latvian Alpaca Adventure holiday is all booked up, we got the last booking this last week. We are both relieved and excited that this bit is sorted now. It was a bit scary organising such a trip and we are so pleased that Heather Potten is alongside us, as she has been on quite a few of these holidays and organised workshops in her own studio. We deliberately kept the number small so that there is plenty of time for more personal tuition.

Ian sanded the signs down and varnished them ready for the
new season
We are also getting quite booked up with our apartments too over the summer. We have our own apartment that we live in and then a spare one - long story! but very useful when people visit. During the summer though we mainly live in a caravan on our land and so it gives us the opportunity to be able to let more people stay. At this stage we have one or both apartments booked up from mid-May until near the end of August. This will help a little with our finances too. Don't let that stop you if you still fancy paying us a visit, there is still room, just!

Ian should have taken pictures yesterday when the grass was
appearing, because now it looks like the artic tundra again
Our days are also getting booked up as we have now finalised our next felting workshops with our dear friend Galina Blazejewska returning to see us again. We have only just started tentatively advertising this and already we have some interest. We had such great fun last year with Galina and she tutors with such passion and energy. She also enjoyed the relaxed time spent on our farm with the alpacas, as did her friend who accompanied her. She is looking forward to doing some experimenting too, so that should be a lot of fun as we find out more and more about how alpaca works.
Aggie always blinks for the flash, but you can see she is
standing very upright and that is because I'm about and
she is wondering what medicines/injections I have in store.
I always wanted to be a vet when I was a kid, but I didn't
plan on just being unpopular with animals because of
administering medication.

The start of quite a bit of drifting
I started on doing some experimental pieces from three alpaca fleeces this last week. Two were from a friend of ours up in Estonia and one was our old lady (Veronica). I had a theory that the crimp (waviness) of the fleece plays an important part on whether the fleece felts well or not. It maybe back to the drawing board on that theory, as Veronica's fleece wasn't too bad at felting but doesn't have a lot of crimp, a black fleece was okay and definitely better than our black alpaca and a brown one with crimp was terrible to felt - it fell apart. It seems like some alpaca fleeces are just much slippier than others and somehow we have to find out how to tell them apart visually or at least by feel. At the end of the day though it might have to be that each animal has to have a test sample done on their fleece each year and that might be the only way we find out.
At least Chanel forgives me for the toe nail cutting fairly
recently. She just spits when we are doing something like
that, obviously gets it out of her system.

Inside the shed on his own
Our little lamb is giving us a bit of cause for concern again, he seems to be breathing rather fast. He has been on antibiotics again. For someone who does not agree with administering them until it is an absolute necessity, we have been dosing up some of our animals on rather too frequent a basis just lately. Still when they are necessary that is different and he definitely seemed to be struggling to breathe and not running around like the other two lambs.

An interesting ice sculpture? Or just the water bucket
turned out with last years leaves on the bottom
We also got our lambs registered online and we had to give them names. We got a bit silly on that, as we really could not understand why we would have to do that and wondered what on earth people do when they have many animals, apparently it is along the lines of P1, P2 or whatever letter they have in use on that year. Anyway our ram got nicknamed Lamb chop, to remind him of the fate he has avoided (unless he misbehaves), one female as Black Nose because she has..... as you may have guessed a black nose and the other Curly, because her fleece is slightly curlier than the other ones. I do wonder if the folks at the database centre will ever read these and if they do what they will make of the names.

One of the culprits we think
We nearly had spring this last week as the snow began to disappear, only for the grass to then get covered again. It is a bit blustery as well today and the wind is vicious. I think I prefer the -15C on a cold, crisp, sunny day. Egg production is up in response to the longer days, but our hens have decided that eating them is fun. Not good and a bad habit to break. Still we get more than we need and will have to contact our neighbour before long to see if she wants to buy our excess from us again. We will work on getting new broods for this next year and weed out the egg eating culprits over the year. Chicken casserole anyone?

These ones have improved though and seemed to have
stopped eating the eggs, thank goodness as they are pretty
good layers at the moment

Ian communing with Brencis
Ian has been taking the alpacas for a walk again. One day the bus was going past and Ian saw the driver wildly pointing at Ian walking the alpacas to an old lady in the bus, Ian wasn't sure if there was anyone else in the bus or not. He has also waved at Ian before. We shouldn't have any problems then if people want to take a bus ride to us. Ian also ventured to take Aggie and Chanel for a walk. He was worried about Aggie's lump but it doesn't seem to be bothering her and she was more than happy to go. Ian took her out for a long walk as she was stopping to eat the dandelion leaves and pine tree and he thought it would do her good. He also took Chanel, who is a little more jumpy than the others. He got spat at a few times but on the whole she did okay, but he only took her out into the paddock and let her lead the way. Hopefully she will get used to it and continue to settle down.

I planted early seeds of beans and peas the other week, but
nothing has germinated yet
There was also the great toe nail cutting adventure - or at least it feels like that every time we think about it. This has to be done every few months. The animals are getting easier to work with, although I still ache a bit the following day. Some are more compliant than others, but even Turbjørn who is normally very difficult wasn't too bad. He got away a couple of times but was easier to catch than he used to be. Our cats also got their worming tablets. Their diet of wild meat, aka mice, shrews and voles means they often end up with worms. Last time we tried we wrapped Sofie up in a towel like a little mummy and it worked for the first time ever. Unfortunately we weren't quite so successful this time around, but at least she got the majority of the tablet - eventually anyway. Eyre must be taking lessons as she is getting more difficult too. Akk! It was never this difficult with cats we had previously. Why don't they make tablets the cats like? At least cheaply enough.

Mr. P. looking rather shocked that I'm about or taking
I finally got the article I was writing ready and sent off to be reviewed by the organisers of the particular issue that I hope it will get published in. This will be a special issue, which means that it is a collection of similar themed papers. I got it to the organisers on the day of the deadline with my supervisor making last minute suggestions in the airport on his way home from a meeting. I am not a fan of working to a deadline like that. I would have preferred to have finished it back in January. Oh well! That's the life of an academic I understand.

Brencis peering in through the door
I took a few days off after that to try and get some sewing done. I am trying to make some presents for my grandchildren and have really enjoyed working on the pieces. I can''t tell you what they are just yet, as they are not finished and I am going to have to take them with me to finish them off. I hope that the pieces will help me work out a pattern that will work for using up the older or waste fleeces and using recycled material. I decided I could do with some tailor dummies for different sizes from small children to adults - not much of an ask there then! I think I will have to sell a few items first though.

Looking down into the sheep paddock from the boys
alpaca paddock
And to finish off with, a slight change of plan. Plan A was to go into Riga on the bus to a hotel to catch my early flight to the UK in the morning. Plan B was for Ian to take me to the hotel and I get a taxi in the morning to save me having to catch a bus with a large suitcase across Riga at rush hour. We are now on Plan C. Ian has brought me to the hotel but the snow was so bad on the unlit roads it was hard to see the edge so he's staying the night with me and taking me to the airport in the morning.  He won't be up much earlier than normal anyway, since he's an early riser sometimes. The hotel is cheap but it's okay and I am pleased though that I didn't have to try and find it in the snow in the dark. It's a bit of a trek off the main road along a very, very rutted track. And we thought our road out in the sticks was bad!


  1. Arrg, I hate it when hens start eating eggs. The worst of it is that they bad ones teach the others. Good luck putting an end to it. In my experience those white leghorns are the worst about it.

    1. That's what we have been finding too unfortunately. We will see what we can do and report back


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