Monday, 30 September 2019

Pine Marten

Sorry no photos of the pine marten, it
was nighttime. Will one of Ilvija do?
She is getting more and more
inquisitive. I don't think it will be long
before she is eating from the trays. She's
been very interested in everyone's tray
Just after I finished the blog last week Ian heard a noise. He has exceptional hearing -well, exceptional compared to mine. He went out to investigate. It seems there was a pine marten on top of the nesting box on the side of the barn that had been taken over by wasps. He was impressed with its climbing abilities and that seems to be characteristic of those creatures. The reason for it being up there was obviously it was partial to a little wasp snack and by the next morning the wasp nest had disappeared.
The wasps nest in the process of being
created. It got far more elaborate than
this before the pine marten destroyed
it. It saved Ian a job and he had been
wondering how he was going to remove it.

Michaelmas daises are blooming. This
was early one morning so the flash
went off.
Now the nesting box seems to be inhabited by hornets though. Not sure if they are just finishing off the job that the pine marten did or not, as they do eat wasps. At least it does seem to have cured the wasp problem. We are beginning to wonder if maybe it was the pine marten digging up the wasps or whether it was badgers or both. I also wonder if it was a pine marten responsible for removing another wasp nests on the side of the barn a few years ago, we thought it was birds. Maybe not! Interesting what goes on around here in the night.
The sun just coming up. I was surprised to note how far it
has moved since summer. 

Three rows of potatoes dug and one more to go
On Tuesday we drove to the airport and Ian flew to the UK. He's seeing the kids and grandkids first and then heading to an alpaca course. So now I'm in charge of all the animals as well as my usual jobs. There's been plenty to do. The weather was fine but the forecast for the weekend was for it to turn wet. I was worried about the potatoes still in the ground that they might get blighted, especially since we've already had some wet weather. First of all I went to the camp where we've been helping with the garden and with help from some others we dug up the carrots, beets and potatoes. The next day it was turn for our own potatoes. We had made a start but the majority still needed digging. I was quite surprised that I wasn't aching after 5 wheelbarrow loads of potatoes. I think walking backwards and forward to sort the animals out helped.
The soil is beautiful. Ian dumps alpaca
manure directly on the beds over the
winter and then I plant the potatoes
into them in spring. No digging. I just
used my hands to get the potatoes, so
no fork marks either. The soil is so
friable, it just falls away and easy to

Some potatoes got rather large

White potatoes in the foreground and
beans on the rack behind
On Saturday there was rain forecast for the afternoon. I continued digging potatoes and just dumping them in the greenhouse to dry off. Another 2 wheelbarrow loads. I also carted in beans still attached to their supports, chickpeas and dried out broad beans. All just propped up or dumped in the greenhouse - I planned to deal with them later. The main focus was to get everything inside. I also cleaned out the chickens, as well as the usual poo clearing for the alpacas, which has to be done every day. While I was doing all that I noticed a Lada Riva pull onto the land and sighed! Visitors! They were a lovely couple, the travelling hippy type. She was from Norway and he was Latvian. They are planning on moving to Spain to build a house and were first just introducing the newest addition to the family to his father later on that day.
Red potatoes and the beans shrouded in fleece straight from
the garden behind
The beans under cover in the garden before being taken into
the greenhouse.

Looks like Herk enjoyed seeing visitors
I enjoyed their visit even though the eldest daughter was scared of the alpacas. They took it in turns to stay with her while the other one met the alpacas. The little girl did say goodbye to the alpacas - from a distance sat on her dad's shoulders. It was safe up there! It put extra pressure on me tough to get the jobs done, so I missed morning coffee and snacked on some cracker things that someone had given us a while ago for lunch. I sat down to eat a meal and have a drink about 4pm, after another set of visitors had gone and I had finished cleaning out the chickens. These vistors were more interested in taking selfies with the alpacas than anything else and couldn't speak much English anyway.  The good news is I made it! Just in time! As I was eating the rain started. I was tired, not aching but glad it was over - apart from the fact that now everything needed to be sorted out in the greenhouse and I had some computer work to catch up on.
The same view on different days. A bright crisp morning

A foggy morning

A dull day. The change within just a week is amazing though.
The conifers are beginning to stand out now that the trees
behind are changing colour

I had my haircut too. It's a bit
shorter than normal but that is so
that I can go longer between hair
cuts. I have a lot of travelling to
Sunday I started catching up on work and in between in the breaks sorting out in the greenhouse. About lunchtime a guy turned up to see if he and his parents could see the alpacas. His mum, who lives locally, had been wanting to see them for a while but she doesn't speak English, He had been working in Denmark for 8 years and so his English was pretty good. His Mum was very inquisitive about the alpacas and he was amazed at how much there was to learn about them. I have obviously paid enough attention to what Ian says to be able to regurgitate some of the information. They must have been looking on our website because he knew we had knitted socks and was going to buy some but his Mum decided on buying a skein of Veronica's wool instead. They even had to go back into the village to get enough cash to buy it, but were quite happy to do so. Ian is going to have to get cracking with spinning some more, stocks are quite low now.
There are still mushrooms about.
This one I think is the dull cousin of the
Fly Argaric - the pretty red one with
white spots. This one is called the
panther cap. It's a bit old now.

With glove to give you an idea of
size. Not edible anyway or at
least I'm not eating it.

A rather nibbled tree. I hope it will
be okay
The lady commented on the fact the boys were eating the bark of the oak tree. She said that it is something that is eaten to cure diarrhoea. I explained they shouldn't be eating the bark anyway and had only just started. Today I sorted the fence out so that they can't go near the tree. Ian can sort it out when he gets back. There wasn't a huge amount of grass anyway and so they needed moving. She also asked why all our potatoes were in the light in the greenhouse - I think at this point her son was getting a little exasperated with all her questions and he laughed when I said it was because I had only dug them up yesterday and that was a job for today to bag them up. I think she thought I was just storing them in the greenhouse. Oh well!
The same tree in the morning with the sun rising behind it.
Looks like a burning bush with the contra trail behind

Morning coffee. At least I got a
morning coffee this morning.
Today I started steaming grapes for the juice. They are a bit squishy for eating because they got frosted, so I just popped them into the steamer and I'm in the process of draining the juice directly into a demijohn. Once it's full I shall then take it back to the apartment and add some yeast and see what happens. If it's no good it will make vinegar and if its not that palatable it will be made into a mulled wine. I will make it work one way or another. Nothing wasted in our house. Well I must be toddling along now, still some work to do.
These pansies are still going strong
despite neglect.

The gem sweetcorn has grown well.
I can't eat much and so will probably
dry these for popcorn for when Ian
gets back

I hope the rose bud opens before the
frosts due next week

Silly Silla sitting out in the rain again. Actually so
was Mari

The trees are definitely turning now

And the rain has left puddles

The forest floor is becoming more colourful

I think this is some viburnum

Looking out to the field from the forest

An edible mushroom but probably past its

Tomorrow's lunch? 

Vanessa and crew - a view from the forest

Veronica and her crew. 

This is the snooty look I often get
from Aggie

Yarrow still flowering.

Monday, 23 September 2019


A frosted thistle
It's cold! The rains stopped and the temperature plummeted. We had a mild frost last week but this morning we had a proper frost. It killed off the leaves on the grapevine and the uncovered tomato plants. I think even the beans that were under cover suffered. It was a lovely bright day today but oh when the sun went down it was chilly. It was a good job that our friend came to pick up our blue grapes a few days ago to make wine. I think I will have to sort out some ice-wine with the rest.
Frost accumulated on Ian's boots after a walk around the farm

It rained a lot this last week. The ponds are much fuller
now and the top pond is nearly full to overflowing. The
alpacas don't seem to have been that bothered though.
Sometimes a drop of rain and they go scurrying inside and
other times they don't even bother, they just carry on eating.
At least someone took shelter under a tree here.
Ian thinks he saw one of our bikes that I mentioned were stolen in last week's blog. If it was, it was someone very local who took it. It was tempting to walk off with it, but since it was a different colour,  due to a bad paint job and a different saddle we couldn't be 100% sure and it would have made us no better than whoever took ours. Every time I'm out and about now I'm looking at people's bikes to see if it is one of ours, which is kind of sad.
I don't think Freddie was under the tree in the rain though.
Although with such a sad face, you would think he should

I couldn't decide which photo of Freddie to use and so I used
both of them. I like the close up in the other one and the
contrast of his colour against the trees in this one.
At least it wasn't all sad this week. We had a visit from a friend who has been many times before and so we got to sit around and chat a bit. We had to eat our evening meal back at our apartment, as it was a tad too chilly to be sitting around talking. It worked out okay as she was staying in our apartment anyway. It felt odd dropping someone else off at the bus station though the next day as it is normally Ian dropping me off when I go on my travels.
Is Brencis singing in the rain?

Nope! The droopy mouth gives him away. He's been spitting
We decided to go out for a meal this week for Ian's birthday. His birthday was on Friday but since I had a Skype meeting on that day we decided to go out for lunch on the Thursday instead. As we are putting the animals away around 7pm it is easier for us to go out for lunch and then we have plenty of time to get back and plenty of time to eat. Most restaurants around here close at 8pm or maybe 9pm on the weekends and the one we went to was half an hour away and not the local one. It was a lovely meal with an interesting salad, which was beautifully arranged and plenty of colour. Besides the normal normal cucumber and tomatoes there were local berries. No I didn't take a photo.
What a hair do. 

Jakobs is no better. 
It is our son's birthday today, so happy birthday son! Ian will get to see him soon, so I am sure they will take the time to celebrate, although I think our son has lined up some jobs for Ian to do while he's there. It's funny to think he was once a little baby that I carried. I was thinking of that today when I went for an ultrasound. When a woman goes for an ultrasound when she is young it is often to check on a baby, but when you are my age it is to make sure that there is nothing more sinister there. I knew there wasn't. As I mentioned last week I've been feeling pretty good just lately and mainly over the menopausal wobbles. As I thought it was just a fibroid that I have known about for ages. Nothing to worry about and nothing to do. Perfect! That's what I like to hear.
But Ilvija wins the cutest wet hair do. I just love the curls

Ilvija's mother, Chanel, eating over the fence again
Of course being in Latvia did mean that the appointment itself wasn't so straightforward. My friend took the call from the hospital to book the appointment lats week and so I thought I just needed to turn up at the hospital. Apparently not! I think I should have had the usual note from the doctor anyway. When I got to the registration desk they were a bit bemused and told me there were no appointments for today. It was my turn to be bemused. I thought surely they should have my appointment on the records since they called me. Fortunately I still had the number on my phone and my friend rang to find out what the problem was. The people in the department then rang the registration desk. Problem solved! The lady at the registration desk even left the office to show me to the room. I'd been before but we had taken the long way round to get to it the last time obviously, much to our amusement.
Not amused at being caught

The boys playing twister again.
So we sat outside and waited. We even let a lady go in front of us as she had an earlier appointment but had to come back and she needed to catch a bus. No problem, we weren't in too much of a rush, even though we had been waiting a while already. We reminisced and talked about hospitally things. Ian has spent many an hour in a hospital, fortunately working most of the time and not in it for health reasons. Eventually I went in and the lady was lovely. She contacted her daughter at one stage to translate - as you do. Her daughter spoke good English because she is an English teacher. This might not be considered correct procedure in some places, patient confidentiality and all that, but at the end of the day it got the job done. I got to understand what was happening and that there was nothing to worry about so there will be no complaints from me. I just have to make sure that my GP gets the letter and the ultrasound scan. I texted my friend and said, "It's a boy! Hahaha not really."
Good for wearing down teeth, not so good for the tree though

George giving yoga lessons. Not sure I will be joining in
What a weird political week it has been, although weird seems the new normal. I've seen some things that have dismayed me and some things that have encouraged me. I have watched with interest the court case against the government about prorogation of the Parliament and wonder if this is going to be one of those let downs or another tale which requires suspension of disbelief. The rise of young people to defend the climate though, is the one that brings most hope to me. These children and young people are the future and they are rising up and declaring our political institutions are bankrupt. They are no longer fit for purpose as their own futures are at stake. We need a radical generation to take us into the future, ones prepared to get out and demand changes. We do well to listen to them instead of patronising them.
Here have you heard the latest?

No Aggie, you are supposed to prefer short grass

Mari shows where Jakobs gets his looks from

Short grass? Well I suppose it will save Ian time not having to
top the grass on a regular basis.

Yes it's getting cold. Jumpers and rain coat on

Not that the alpacas seem to mind. Mind you, there woolly
coats are growing well.

Please turn the lights down a bit, I have a headache or maybe
mmmmm sunshine at last. I think the latter really.

A frosty morning on the farm

Aggie looks happy to see the sun

The leaves on the trees are looking very autumnal