Monday, 21 January 2019

After the excitement

We have had snowy days this week and so Ian has had a
lot of snow clearing to do
I suppose this last week was a bit of a reality check. I was employed and I had work to do. Procrastination was not a good habit to encourage and so for most of the week I had my head buried in academic papers, only coming up for air to take a break or make our evening meal. I made notes, contributed comments by email and generally did what most office bound people do, only I didn't leave my Latvian apartment. I did find out some interesting facts about our sewage systems that are not able to filter out the vast majority of pharmaceutical compounds. This surprised me. I knew there were issues with hormones and recreational drugs appearing in our waterways and seas but didn't realise so much were getting through the water treatment plants. So folks, don't flush unused drugs down the sewage system.

Jakobs and his mum, Mari, obviously playing at who has
the longest straw
On Friday we were expecting visitors to our farm and so I decided to take the day off and go with Ian. First we had to go and get chicken food and I got my haircut at the same time, well, not exactly at the same time. I know this is Latvia, but animal feed operations don't normally also do haircuts. It is just the hairdresser and the feed place were in the same village. I did think I would have time to go skiing before our visitors arrived, but due to a bit of miscommunication we ended up hanging around a bit waiting for someone to show up. Eventually an old guy turned up and so I had to manage with my very rudimentary Latvian to get the right feed stuffs we wanted. The lady who normally works there doesn't speak English either but she knows what we regularly order. Anyway it worked. At least I can manage the names of the grains and I know the difference between flour, kibbled wheat and whole grains in Latvian. I might not be able to hold a conversation but our chickens won't go hungry.
Brencis and Freddie. It all looks a bit too much for Brencis

Josefs with a snow moustache
Our visitors were people who had stopped by our place last year and Ian had gone down to chat with them. They came bearing many gifts, such as chocolate, an enormous pumpkin, apple juice, apples and chopped carrots and apples for the alpacas. They had obviously been doing their research and knew quite a bit about alpacas. They were also used to interacting with animals and were patient with them. Something we will probably do in the future is to sell animals, but that will be very hard for Ian - it will be like selling his children. However the lady was very sympathetic and we jokingly said that references would be needed. She mentioned they maybe interested in buying some in the future and were welcome to go and visit them to see their farm so we would know what they would be going to. At least that is reassuring for Ian.
Snow moustaches were obviously contagious as Aggie also
had one

Mr. P though was having a snow bath instead
Just after we arrived home I had a text from our neighbour upstairs, wondering if we were home and if she could come and chat. I had mentioned the week before that if she wanted to practice her English she would be very welcome. She is a bit concerned as her exams are looming and she doesn't feel comfortable enough speaking in English yet. We agreed for her come down when we had finished eating and spent the rest of the evening having some great conversations. We were able to reassure her that she is very clear and I am sure with a few more evenings like that, she will improve a lot. I also sent her away with a Dorling Kindersley book on Russia to practice her reading. Plenty of text but also lots of pictures.
Meanwhile some were just having a sunbathe. I'm still not
quite sure who is who here and I'm not at home to ask Ian.
Ian has been having a job trying to sort out the doors though
on the new alpaca houses as they are getting stuck as the
ice rises. 

The early start was not helped by the unexpected dumping
of snow we had had in the night and it is starting to get
quite deep, despite the melt we also had one day this week
Saturday was an early start. We were out on our land just after 7:30am letting the animals out and feeding the chickens. We had a two hour drive to see some folks who needed some help with trimming an alpaca's front teeth and removing its fighting teeth. The job itself didn't take very long and we spent the rest of the morning talking about alpacas and eating the spread that their mother had prepared. Much was homemade from the bread, the meat, mustard sauce, jam, hazelnut butter, and sunflower seed butter. At least we didn't need any more for lunch. Ian dropped me off at home so I could continue working on papers that I had also been reading in the car - well when the car was on roads that were not so bumpy.
Chanel glowing in the sunshine

Ian messing about with reflections
In the evening a friend came around to talk to us a bit more about a job offer for Ian. Ian needs to be earning a sufficient income to help us with our residence situation after Brexit, if that does go ahead and working at the nearby camp on organising a garden and fruit bushes was one way to do that. He earns some money from shearing, EU subsidies and the visitors to the land, but it is not quite enough and he needs to top up really to ensure he is above the minimum wage. We are not sure how it will work out and the hours will be flexible but at least we can see how it goes. It is obviously only part-time and not far from our own land. Summer can be quite hard physically and so of course that is a bit of a worry, but we can only try and do what we can, like any other farmer.
A short while ago these were frosted leaves
now they are icicles

Larry the Lada car, gradually disappearing under the snow
Sunday was back to the papers and marking students work for my other job I have. It wasn't just reading papers though, it was also helping in the writing process. We didn't finish the one off last week and we got an extension to get it done. The idea was that I would do the polishing off as the only native English speaker working on it. I was going through the bits I thought were finished when I got a phone call from my supervisor to tell me to slow down. Not often am I told that. I went and put the heating on, made our evening meal, cooked a summer fruit crumble from our freezer stash of berries and some blackcurrant muffins while I waited. We finished the editing just before 10pm. Some of the conversations we had while working on the paper in the google chat got a bit silly, but at least we got the work done. So the paper is now safely resubmitted and we wait and see what the reviewers have to say about it this time around.
The softened contours around the pond. At least it might
fill up with water when it all melts. That will be helpful and
get our year off to a good start. 

The support for our outdoor grapes.

Today's lunch. Not bad for Estonian fish and chips
Today I am in Tartu again. This time I didn't have to wake up extremely early, as a friend of ours - the same one who offered Ian a job, offered to drive me up. He doesn't work as much at this time of the year and so happy to take me. It was beautiful day for a drive and the sun was shining, the sky was blue and the fields were covered in a glistening blanket of snow. Quite breathtaking. We met my friend who I stay with at one of the local malls to have lunch together and have more of a chat about life. It was so nice to set off in daylight and arrive in daylight - not something I do often. My friend hosts a bible study once a week and so I joined in with that. A pleasant finish to a pleasant and relatively relaxing day. Well it was for me, not so sure about for my friend who did all the driving, but it was much appreciated anyway.

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