Monday, 9 July 2018

Back to normality

The grapes are starting to change colour already. One day they
were green and next they nearly all started turning
Well I hope you weren't fooled by the title. Normality! What's that? It could be said, with a degree of certainty, that our life cannot be described as normal. However we did have about as normal a week as you can get around here, which means we didn't go far this week. I do of course exclude the flurry of activity one night in response to an urgent message.
Sofie asleep on the table. It's a hard life catching moles, mice
and birds

The swallows have hatched. I forgot to mention they had
returned and taken up residence in the nest that Ian rescued
from the beams that he replaced when he put up the new
roof on the alpaca house.
The evening began with the rather annoying bedtime routine of hunt the mosquito. Before anyone gets any ideas that means hunting those darned insects that invariably start buzzing around the minute the light goes out and start again just when you think you have conquered them all and close your eyes to finally fall asleep. This game had gone on rather late this particular night and finally we were able to relax and sleep when my son posted a message saying "urgent". So of course I had to message back to find out what was wrong.

Two of the chicken arks seen from the boys' paddock. The
light green patch in the background is the buckwheat growing
well and suppressing the weeds
He had mentioned earlier on in the day on Facebook that someone needed somewhere to stay in Oregon after crashing on a bike tour and I had messaged him to say I might know someone who was able to help. Typical that he is that busy he only got the message late on. So instead of going to sleep, I was on the computer to a friend and putting my son in contact - I left them to it and made sure my phone was on "do not disturb" so I wouldn't hear any of the replies. I was really pleased in the morning to find out that my friends were more than ready to help out, although as it turned out the guy was able to stay on after all where he was and didn't need the accommodation. It is nice to have friends ready to open their house and hearts to a stranger though.

Tellus doing a little alpaca yoga
Meanwhile while all this was going on Ian decided to check his emails. He shouldn't have done that, as there was a rather intriguing email from the breeder who sold us our first two groups of alpacas. He is finally, finally retiring. He has been winding down his herd for a couple of years now and still has a small herd left and he had emailed to ask if we would be interested in any of them at a good price. We did manage to get too sleep eventually, but the next day we were deep in conversation about the possibilities. We looked at the list that were left and looked at the challenges and changes we would have to make.

Veronica one of our original girls and the only one still around
not looking her usual elegant self, but still not bad for being
15 years old.
We have considered all sorts of schemes too. From offering space at our place for people who would love to own an alpaca but do not have space or time to do that, to taking the herd and working to sell on the animals or their offspring for the breeder, to taking just a couple of them ourselves and offering to take older ones as part of the deal. For the moment we have sent an email outlining our interest in two or three of the animals and offering to help re-home any should it be needed. At the very least it means that three sheep will be either going to new homes or our freezer as three sheep eat about the same amount of hay as 5 1/2 alpacas.

Brencis must have been rubbing against the salt block this
morning and the flies thought it made an excellent feast
As I have already mentioned in earlier blogs we sold an apartment this year and amalgamated our stuff into one smaller apartment. I have been doing this bit by bit, but it has been a bit of a challenge to say the least. Our felting tutor who stayed there in the smaller apartment had to cope with boxes of books and files in the living room. This week Ian got some shelves up so that we could make use of the only spare bit of wall in one very stuffed small room. This managed to take the majority of books and folders so that now there is only a couple of boxes to fit in and then that stage of the move will be complete. The files and books could still do with a sort out, but that can be a winter project and I'm happy that finally I can find my design files from an Embroidery course I did so I can refer to them again. It also means that the group who will be staying there later on this month have enough room to sleep in as the living room and bedroom will be accessible again.

Getting more and more organised
Those weren't the only shelves to go up this week. Ian has been busy assembling shelves down the side of his barn to take his stuff and things that were in the cellar at the old apartment. It is all beginning to look almost orderly. At least we now can get to stuff rather than clambering over things that are in the way. The only problem we have now is remembering where it all is. It does still look like a bit of a hoarder's paradise, although one I am determined to do something about eventually anyway,
I don't even have to climb over everything to get to the fridge
now either.

Aggie and her big bulge.
Our two pregnant females are now at the imminent stage. Aggie is doing the "I hate pregnancy" slouch as she did last year although we were worried that maybe she was starting with another tooth infection at one point. Hard to know when she is also heavily pregnant. Mari though is just plodding on looking rounder and rounder. Chanel who did not get pregnant last year has been mated with Mr. P again and we think she maybe pregnant. She was rather willing at first but on the last visit she was adamant that he was not coming anywhere near by spitting and kicking, which in alpaca speak could mean she is pregnant. Ian will take up Mr. P. in about a week to check.
Mari looking a little grubby after the drizzle

How she manages this at near term pregnancy is beyond me

Mr. P.
It is odd but the first time Chanel was mated, she got pregnant almost straight away. Last year she didn't take at all, so we are hoping that this time is like her first year when she got pregnant with Freddie. It could be that since she was still feeding Freddie last year that it was too much for her and that explains why she didn't take. It is very odd though that her mother and sister who are still in Estonia also didn't get pregnant last year. Anyway at least Freddie is growing into a very pleasant and inquisitive little chap. Ian has even managed to take him for a long walk and he coped very well with it all. His best mate George, however, is a law unto himself. He frequently just walks through the un-electrified wire fence, which we can't electrify until we get a new battery or new charger. He also is not quite so friendly and inquisitive. He does have the advantage though of the softest of fleeces.
At least Chanel is tucking into the grass and still putting
weight on. Her fleece has continued to improve too.


Ian taking Freddie for a walk


Best of friends. Freddie and George. Inseparable except when
George decides to just nip through the fence

Herk out on the field
Some of the other animals have been causing a little consternation this week. They seem to be taking it in turns. Chanel has been off her food - morning sickness maybe? Or just her usual faddyness? Tellus has had a swollen eye again. I used a home-made antiseptic on it in the evening and then before turning in for the night went foraging for various herbs to make an eye wash for the morning. It seems to have sorted the problem. but we think it is the flies that are causing the repeating problem. Ian also noticed that there was something red on Herk's leg and so I used the wash to clean what appears to be a very unusual swelling or growth. Unfortunately that didn't seem to do the trick nor is the magic cream that I often use and so we are going to have to call the vet out tomorrow.
The rather worrying lump is at the top of his front right leg 

A welcome drizzle this morning
The weather is still causing us consternation too. At least the cool nights are watering most of the plants with dew, but some like the squashes quickly flop in any warm summer winds we have been having. We had a morning of drizzle today but that was the sum total for the week. Not good when it has been so dry the rest of the summer. The only good points are that it is fairly easy to keep on top of the weeding since they are either not germinating, growing slowly or they are some of the few things edible that are growing well. Neither is the grass getting mowed so often as it is not growing fast enough to warrant it and if it is cut it shrivels up in the heat, so best just to let it grow slowly - at least that way it stays green.

The new leaves look startlingly red 
We've had visitors again this week. We had a return visit from a long-term friend of ours who regularly translates for us and he brought back the young lass who helped us out on the farm last year and her older brother. This year it is the turn of the older brother to come and help us to improve his English. He certainly proved useful today in putting books on the shelves, as he didn't need the steps like I did. Let's just say he is somewhat taller than I am, which doesn't take much really. We also had a couple visit with their son and niece. They were looking for activities to keep the children entertained whilst the niece's parents were at the song and dance festival, as were much of Latvia. They promise to return with his mother at a later date.

The dehumidifier is in the car, but that hasn't really sorted the
smell unfortunately. I added a deodoriser the other day, Ian
added bicarb today and the next line of attach is a carpet
shampoo. Milk spills are not ideal in a car.
So apart from delivering cement mixers and moving kitchen furniture for a friend, spilling two litres of milk in our car (fortunately not the borrowed car that I have been using) and getting on with some academic work again for an end of the month deadline, nothing much else has been happening. So a relatively normal week really!

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