Monday, 2 July 2018

Summer?

The skies finally cleared this evening
The sun and the heat is beginning to feel a bit like a distant memory now. After the rain last week the skies have been pretty overcast and the weather cool, just not necessarily raining. We have had damp days with very fine drizzly showers and a lot of wind. This is not helpful when the plants are so parched. They need good drenching rains. At least today there was enough of the drenching rain for the garden but not enough to fill up the ponds by much. We will have to pump water from one pond to the other one outside our greenhouse, just so we can water the greenhouse plants. I am pleased we only have half the greenhouse planted up this year so that we could hold felting courses in the other half. I went into Riga this morning so that I could drive a friend's car back. It means we have an extra car over the summer, which should be helpful. The rain this morning at least meant there were no outside jobs to be getting on with.
The pump hose is above the water line now
The overflow pipe is now quite far from the water level

Ian outside our greenhouse
The wind has been playing havoc with the plastic on our greenhouse. It is getting to the stage where the plastic needs replacing and holes are beginning to appear due to the flapping about. Just about every day Ian has been up the ladder putting on some tape over more holes. It is a good job he managed to find some tape that actually sticks after having a frustrating time trying to find a tape that really did the job. Just because it says greenhouse tape does not mean it is up to the job.
A grass seed head

Enjoying the late evening sunshine
We had a late request for shearing up in the very north of Estonia near Tallinn. Our usual alpaca sitter is away and so we had to ask another friend if she could come and help. It's a good job we have more than one option to help out. The last occasion we were shearing that far north was fraught, this time it was more leisurely with time to sit and chat. We could only get up there for about mid-day so we stayed overnight as we knew we wouldn't finish very early and they had a very nice cabin for us to stay in. Shearing was still a little fraught though as we found a similar problem to the first time we were up there and that is the animals get a huge amount of grit in their fleeces due to the geology of the area. The problem is that this blunts the shears very quickly. Whereas Ian might get nine animals or more sheared with one comb by sharpening the combs between every three animals, with these it is more like three animals per comb, as they needed changing each animal. Still we managed and at least this time Ian has a portable grinder.
A sad day for Ian. He has put his old racing bike up high on the
wall, as he probably won't get the chance to use it anytime soon.
He used to use it on rollers in the apartment due to the lack of
routes he could take. It is only dirt road next to our farm and
not exactly suitable for a road bike.

Smack xxxx
On the way back we realised we closer than we thought to some alpaca breeders we hadn't visited in a while, so we phoned up. We expected them to be quite busy and not have time and so were surprised that they were open for a visit. We had a very good chat about shearing and got to see how their place has changed over time. They showed us their shearing table that they had built. It was very ingenious, but rather large for transporting. If we went down that route we would have to take the horse box with us and that would add to fuel costs, but maybe one day we will go down that route. We'll see.
The pests are making an appearance
But so are the good guys. 

My squashes are looking happier today thanks to the rain
and lack of wind. Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the
chicken of the woods, you will just have to take my word for
the size of it.
Despite the parched landscape there are still things to forage and some plants growing well. Ian picked some wild strawberries that I had spotted. If you have never eaten wild strawberries, you should give them a try, they are so different and very fragrant compared to the ordinary strawberries, although far more fiddly to pick. There was also a humungous chicken of the woods that has started to grow on our very old oak tree on the hill, which gave me 2.5kg of mushroom to freeze. It is a bit sad really as it means that the tree is dying, although it may last for many more years to come. The plants that are growing well in our garden are fat hen, which although a weed is an acceptable spinach substitute and turnips. I am actually quite surprised about the turnips, I thought they would not have done well at all, but some are a reasonable size and hopefully the slower ones will continue to swell. So our diet, whilst not that varied from day to day, it is changing from season to season.
The second sowing of buckwheat is doing well now too. We
just hope they outcompete the docks.

Sorting out the bags of fleece
With the cooler weather I have been trying to write another paper that has a due date by the end of the month and Ian has been doing some admin. It is nice for me that Ian is doing this now. I used to do all that sort of thing, but since I take regular trips away it is much easier if he will do at least his own admin related to the farm. We also took the opportunity to sort out fleeces, We have a backlog of older fleeces that need dealing with but first of all we needed to know what we had. We have set aside fleeces that will be used for feltmaking and hand spinning, then fleeces that we think will spin well using machines and so will be sent away and finally those that might be useful for making duvets. Well that's the plan.
The grapes in the greenhouse

Freddie is so inquisitive
We've had a few moments when we were sat in the greenhouse and looked up to see our girls not where they should be. Today Mari and Agnese were outside the paddock and somehow got through the fence. Not what we want our pregnant ladies to do. Ian calmly got a pot of food to entice them back in. Aggie as usual was very good and followed Ian straight through the gate, Mari was not quite so ready to be enticed back in. When I could see she was not in a compliant mood, I went up to help. It's not that I was being lazy but often it is easier for Ian to go up and get them back, only if they are not cooperating do I get involved. We got her in eventually anyway.
Perhaps too inquisitive at times

Chanel
Ian was not quite so calm about the first incident of the week though. We have started mating Chanel with Mr, P.. Chanel has really recovered well from her health problems and put weight on and her fleece is growing back nicely. Ian has the routine of taking Mr. P up to the girls' alpaca house first thing in the morning before letting them out for the day. The rest of the girls are put on one side while Mr. P. is mated with Chanel on the other side of the fence. We wait for heads to appear at the door, which means finished for the day, only on this particular day there were flashes of white on the side where there should have been no white alpacas. You should have seen Ian run. We were worried about Lady V. as we do not want her getting pregnant. Fortunately, true to form, she was having none of that sort of thing and was busy spitting him off when Ian got there.
Mr. P has been rather eager to go on his morning walks. There
is no stopping to eat the grass on his way across.

Would adding a picture of Brencis help do you think? 😀
I found out that this week that Facebook doesn't like me. If I post a message in Griezites Alpakas announcing an event, the figures are abysmal for the reach to other people according to the stats. We decided to try out an experiment. I posted an update about the next felting course we are running in August and there were only about 34 people reached. Ian re-posted it about two days later and it reached 196. Hmmph! Not helpful.

Turbjørn in contemplative mood
I have had a phrase niggling around in my brain all week and that is the old making space for the new. It seems a bit ironic with respect to the old oak tree that will one day have to make way for the new oak trees around it, but there is a time for everything. The old has to make way for the new one way or another and sometimes it is good for the older generation to clear the space to allow the newer generations the space to create their own way forward. I wonder what that will look like for me, or for us here. Will it change what we do or where we focus our energy? Are their things I am doing that is hindering the new generation? How do I create space for them? I don't know at the minute, but I will be looking out for opportunities to do what needs doing.

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