Words of love from a dear friend, on her blog.
Yes we are now feathering another nest. We have moved from Kalnozoli (Oak Hill) to Birch Street in a village near Bauska southeast of Riga.
It was a hard decision to make but it became clear that Ian could no longer do all the heavy lifting and carrying needed for bringing in the hay. He had a bad spell while doing that in July and we began to talk about how to make adjustments to our lives. Ian said he felt God had given him three good years of doing what he loved, sheep farming. He realized that to continue would put his health in danger and while we both still had some strength left we should move.
Initially, we thought to make the change next Spring, 2013. God seemed to have a different plan. We shared our concerns with our friends Roger and Val. They have been worried about us for some time and welcomed the idea of us moving near them. In fact everyone we shared with expressed the same worry and were glad we had made this decision.
As we looked for houses one seemed to stand out. We went to see it, a neighbor of Val and Roger is related to the owner and got the keys to show it to us. Though it was a bit untidy from the former renters we saw the potential and arranged to meet the owner on the first of September at the house. It turns out she is a sister in Christ and believed God sent us as an answer to prayer. What a loving Father to provide for all of us in this way. So Spring plans turned into Autumn plans and the move began.
God provided a large covered trailer for us, at no cost, by our dear friend, Levi. We managed in about ten days to get the bulk moved and with Roger and Val’s help we are in and close to being sorted. Much remains for fine tuning but we are happily liveable. I am going to swallow my ‘house proud’ self and show you pictures.
Stairs to 3 bedrooms and potential i/2 bath
- The breakfast nook (room for my fussy English friends) Those doors are to a grand shelved storage cupboard.
- Living room with Ian’s project on the IKEA coffee table and no new covers on the sofa and chair, yet.
- Ian looking out our kitchen window, the door at he end is our walk in storage cupboard. All small kitchen appliances are stored here, hurray!
I have not shown the bedrooms though I may do so in the next post. Our bedroom is large enough to do ballroom dancing in. even furnished. Haven’t done it yet but Ian is very good at the two step so may try it.
Our lives are different and we are once again waiting, listening and encouraging as we see where God might involve us here in the village. We have managed to change our address with immigration, register with a new doctor, connect very well with our new Internet provider, the electric company and hopefully soon find out how to get the readings and billing sorted with the water company Oh yes, and of course sort out the banks. A few more of those things yet to do. No desire to move again, please Lord. Next post I will talk about the work Ian has done outside.
On a final note you may wonder where our sheep have gone. We gave the bulk of our flock to a dear friend who is getting her own farm up and going. We will get some lambs for the freezer over the next two years in exchange. We are hoping for a rental of the farm leading to ownership by a young friend of ours with the farm. God is in control and we wait His movement. We have loaned our farm machinery to the same people with our sheep. We still have items to move from the farm but the bulk is done. That was a special time, sometimes hard but we learned much and were blessed. It is nice to have wood fired central heating and generous space around us plus the nearness of good friends. We hope you will continue to stay with us: Ian, Kathleen, Saulite and Lass on our new adventure including landscaping, village life and FISHING, in the nearby river.
We along with the earth exhale a collective sigh. We are warmer and rejoicing over the welcome placards of Spring.
A neighbor visits
The storks are back and daily visiting for meals. God has been doing watercolors and the fields are now much greener.
A gift from Andris and his mom, our neighbors down the road a bit.
We had a lovely Easter. Hope you did as well. By the way, the cake was delicious.
Church decoration Easter
We went to church at the Baptist Church in Madona and then out for a bit of lunch.
Of course with Spring comes the usual increase of work. Ground must be tilled and the continuing jobs of restoring and renewing the land, making it truly our home.
We moved the greenhouse to a more southern exposure and with that began to centralize our fruit bushes and trees. The required beds needed digging and then planting, so all hands to the pump, as they say.
Transplanted strawberry bed.
On the right you can see our transplanted strawberry bed. We will add another one later but we must move a large pile of logs first. Always something.
Rose bed gets a new fence
Of course some things need additions this year as we have energetic animals about. This bed next to the house needed protection as it was becoming a through street for dog and cat travel. It also received a gift from the sheep of a soil enriching nature. We are seeing spring bulbs poking through here so the feeding must have been helpful to them, too.
The bistro set is in place, let the outdoor season begin. In the future there will be flowers here both in the pots and on the table. We will eventually add a deck along the side and across the front but pennies are lacking this year. So we make pretty what we have and are thankful.
St. George's Day is honored
Today as I write this it is the 23rd of April, St. George’s Day. We fly the flag and promote conversations. We now have plans for three flag poles to be placed behind the rose garden near the chapel. There we will fly Latvian, English and American flags on the appropriate days. Probably the Latvian flag will fly constantly. Keeping up with their flag honoring days is quite a task as there are several. This new land remembers many sad days as well as good days. On July 4 the Latvian flag is flown to remember Latvia’s Holocaust and of course the American flag flies to remember her birthday. No English flag will fly that day, hmm wonder why?
Waiting for my master who left me behind, oh woe is me
Lass is growing, can you tell? She is a bit sad in this picture as Ian has gone off in the car and left her. There was no room as he was taking the neighbors into the village. Isn’t she pretty, though?
"You can't see me"
I see you now
"Don't you think this basket fits me well?"
She took comfort climbing into the kindling basket but she won’t be able to do that for very long as she continues to grow.
We have no sheep or turkey pictures today but we are happy to report we have 18 eggs from two turkey hens with more expected from the second hen. We are starting to clear the area for their yard and one fence post is ready as is the hole for it to be put up. If we get the pasture fencing up by the end of the week the sheep should make lovely pictures for the next blog.
The bum end of the deal
Okay a few sheep even lambs. So cute, I couldn’t resist.
I love my friend.
Lass is well on her way in the growth department.
"Am I grown up, yet?"
When we brought Lass home she weighed 3.83 kilos. That was the 26th of January. On the 25th of February at the vets she weighed 6.5 kilos. In the picture above Ian was weighing her to know how much worm medicine she should have. She is growing so quickly but still all puppy. She continues to grapple with the potty training but she is making great strides. Her intelligence is a marvel to observe. She is the observant one. She goes with Ian out to the farm yard and when he lets the sheep out, he keeps her on the outside. She doesn’t bark but goes around the perimeter fence watching the sheep, especially the lambs. Just a bit ago, she and Ian were in the farmyard. Ian was forking hay and moving it from one place to another. She was ‘helping’ by grabbing a mouth full and starting her own pile. She was joyfully racing around inside the yard, exploring every corner and just loving to be with the shepherd. She gives us such joy and the medicine is working.
"I only want to play."
The relationship between the two ‘girls’ is also progressing. Though if you ask Saulite, she probably would tilt her little pert nose and say ‘harrumph.’ They play inside and outside, “I dare you.” Saulite trots down the hallway and looks back at Lass, “Are you coming?” Lass takes off at a dead run for it and skids to a stop in front of Saulite then the cat bats at the dog and the dog runs away and the cat follows. Another version happened this morning. Saulite sashayed past Lass went only half way down the hall and looked back. Lass looked at her and plopped down by my feet, as if to say, “Not now, thank you.” Saulite waited patiently but Lass never moved. The cat sashayed back toward the living room, same result. One confused cat; one smug dog.
Lass has primary control of the house now except for our bedroom, this is Saulite’s territory. She sleeps with us and gets extra cuddling before the lights go out. Lass has her bed, toys and dishes in the kitchen with the help of homemade baby gates. Her original cardboard box bed is on its way out. She has grown so much.
Speaking of growing our sheep flock is up to 14.
We had three sets of twins and two singles. Sadly, we lost one of the twins you see here. He was laid on during the night. We tried to save him, I nursed him with a bottle by the wood stove but as I held him I asked the Good Shepherd that His will be done. A few hours later the lamb slipped quietly away. We are very thankful for our crop of lambs this year. We think we are done now; unless there is a late birth by a yearling. No nesting signs from our turkeys yet but it is still very early.
The weather. We have some.
February on Kalnozoli
This is a frosted scene. It is now starting to thaw and melt. We are seeing day time temperatures above freezing and even night time barely below freezing. We are not doing Spring dances yet for snow is still possible in April. We have had thaw and snow days one after the other for variety.
On a personal note this has been a mild winter with the weather but a hard winter on both of us. We are both acknowledging our aging processes and we don’t like it! If someone has a horse ranch on a lake in Arizona, Ian would like a job, ha ha. Yes, he is talented with horses as well as sheep, cows and pigs. The lake is for me, I dream of living in view of water. No mud puddles, please.
Of course we only go where God leads and for now this is the place, maybe for always. I am writing again and waiting to hear how He directs with that. Maybe soon we can be back inside the chapel. We have been attending church in Madona more frequently and helped welcome a Dutch team a few weeks ago. For several years a church in Holland has provided aid and help to give out that aid from the Madona Church. On the Monday they came we helped fill bags with needed food stuffs. Several hundred homes were contacted and love gifts gratefully received. Many visitors came to church the following Sunday. We are encouraged. There will be additional follow-up throughout the year.
Where God leads.
Not the three kings of Orient Are.
Saying “good bye” to our goat family. With the increase in the sheep flock we needed the space in their shed so we gave our goat family (including 2 pregnant females) to our friends, Santa and Kalle. Santa milks her goats and makes wonderful cheese. We hope she get two sets of twins out of these goats and that our billy gives her many, many more.
67 but who is counting?
This was the surprise I received on the 25th, one day BEFORE my birthday. Ian took Lass to the vets and came home with this apologizing that he couldn’t keep it until the next day for my actual birthday. I was so thrilled and other than put the flowers in water, touched nothing until the next day. One of the things that brings me great joy on this earth is cut flowers, especially roses.
The day following my birthday I received an orchid plant and then there was the special phone call from other dear friends. They had their Sunday Club sing “Happy Birthday” over the phone on the day. So many sent greetings via the Internet.
As a dear friend of mine says, “I am loved and I am well loved.”
January 26, 2012, Gotcha Day
You see two happy people with an answer to prayer, a Border Collie pup we named Lass. She is just a few days shy of eight weeks. She was born on December 1, 2011.
We found her through an advert in SS.LV, after a long search and the belief that there were no Border Collies in Latvia. She was born on a sheep farm near Cesis. Her dad came from Estonia and her mom from Denmark. Her father’s Great grandmother is a top champion. When the owner, Artis, chose the parent animals he wanted to be certain they came from farms so they would be easier to train for working with sheep. He has 400 in his flock and a very well laid out enterprise.
Lass was the only pup with tricolor markings and won Ian over as she laid on his lap. His first Border Collie, Shep, was a tricolor dog.
We were impressed with the parents dogs and the way they were treated by Artis. The pups were very well cared for and eager to make friends. Our little Lass was the second heaviest of the liter of 5 and if she grows into her paws will be on sturdy girl. She seems to be settling in but still misses her playmates. Saulite is not impressed but hopefully in time will decide that Lass is okay. Lass, for her part would really like to play with Saulite and cries when Saulite moves past her to go somewhere high that Lass can’t go. Last night Lass only cried once from her place in the living room and after I got up to comfort her she went right back to sleep. So far she is a good ‘baby.’ Potty training is the next hurdle but she seems quite intelligent and trainable. As Ian says, ‘she knows where to put it so it isn’t tread on.’
With that thought I will leave you with pictures Artis sent us to chronicle Lass’s early development.
Lass born 12/01/2011
Lass at one week
Lass at one month
Lass, on the go outdoorsLass, being loved
Lass in concentration, good quality
We will continue to show her progress as time moves along. We praise and thank God for her, she is bringing joy to our lives as we watch her explore and discover life.
First lamb 2012
The title of this blog comes from the hymn of the same name. Written by Horatio G. Spafford in 1873.
- When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
- Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
- My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
- For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
- But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
- And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
I affirm these words even though I have been in darkness for a while, now. I am reminded of Job when he said, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I put my hope in Him. . . ‘ (Job 13:15) There have been some troubles but nothing major. Our car had to be taken to Madona as it failed to start at the petrol station after Ian filled it with diesel. As I write he is on his way to Madona to pick it up with a bill of under 100 Lats. We have been in this vulnerable situation for almost five days. The isolation pressed in with all its darkness upon two aging foreigners looking at the grocery list that was to be filled, the day after the car was taken away. Did we starve, of course not! Did any of our animals go without food, never. Let me paint the picture from my broken perspective.
I am a person who gains energy from people interaction. Most of you know, we live very rurally without the local language. I was not trained to be a farmer’s wife but willingly choose to be where I am at this time. So why moan? Because it is my reality and the place Jesus meets me every day even when I do not embrace Him. This morning in our time of devotions Ian prayed from his heart acknowledging the need for ‘dreaded’ patience in the face of waning strength and faith. He reaffirmed that God is sovereign and good. He was walking by faith, not by sight. He encouraged me with his words and helped me realign my heart.
After this, while Ian was out on the tractor plowing the drive for the non present car, the phone rang and the garage said the car was ready. God heard our prayers and blessed our honesty. Praise the Lord of hosts. Am I all better now, no! Honestly, I am still struggling with the winter doldrums, disappointed in myself for not living what I really do believe, but remaining hopeful that at some point in my life on earth I can learn to live in faith not circumstances. Thankful for what I have, not focused on what I don’t have., it is a discipline I have yet to fully embrace. Okay, thanks for listening to the dark patch of my reality now onto farm news.
First born lamb outside in the snow with Mum and others, getting a breath of fresh air
Four lambs and counting. Two males and 2 females. The twins weighed in at 11 kilograms total weight and caused their Mum a bit of a do, but it all came right in the end. The shepherd had to intervene a bit and it was worrisome that first night if they and she would survive but the Great Shepherd said is is well and they did survive and are thriving.
The weather, you may ask? It is now winter in Latvia complete with real snow, not the dust and go variety but the real thing. Layer upon layer. It is snowing as I type on this Monday afternoon. Today it is a gentle snow but we have seen a few days of heavy snow, erasing all footprints, tire tracks and cleared drives.
Her majesty, Queen Saulite continues to venture out for short forays into the cold, white stuff.
"I will never get used to this blasted white stuff!"
She demands to be let out and when she has had enough she heads for the door.
"Thank you for leaving the door open for me, for once."
If the door is shut the clever girl jumps up and pulls the handle down, opening the door onto the porch room. Following that trick she bangs on the inside door until I open it, when she rushes to her food bowls to comfort herself before a lay down to warm up.
"I hope I will get some of this, it smells so good."
Here, Saulite keeps an eye on a Shepherd’s pie that Ian made for our supper. She really doesn’t fancy ‘human’ food but she did lick up the gravy from the EMPTY dish, we were out of wash up liquid, ha ha.
A very lovely lady, Janina, celebrating her 75 th birthday. ‘Nina’ is our neighbor, the Aunt of Inga, whose farm we bought. We have grown to love her and feel like we are family, too. It was such a privilege being invited to her birthday party.
Inga and me. Seperated only by language.
It is always so special to spend time with Inga. She works so hard at her job in the pensioners home and rarely gets time off. She was with Nina just overnight for the birthday celebration. Her mother and Nina’s husband were brother and sister, living across the road from each other with their families all through the Soviet times. Thankfully we had Kaspars, Inga’s oldest son, to translate for us. He also has been working so hard with no time off until this month. He came down, we went and got him from Lubana to help Nina as her son, Uldis has fractured his ankle complete with surgery, plates and pins. The boys, (Uldis is in his 40′s) including Artis, the younger son of Inga, would not pose for the picture. Ian remained the token male. Doesn’t look like he minded, does it?
Front row: Nina, me, 'Auntie' Back row: Inga, Valda,
Let me tell you about ‘Auntie’ and Valda. Auntie, is 80 and lives up the road from Nina and us. She has never married and is fluent in German. She used to sing for special occasions like weddings, funerals, birthdays and other party events. She mostly sings in German and we enjoyed several of her renditions on this day. She even led the group to serenade us as we left the party.
Valda is another of our neighbors and she with her son first met us when Ian was burning some field rubbish after we bought the farm. They came racing over thinking the forest behind our property was on fire. She and I are going to try to get together for English and Latvian lessons. She has a man friend, a Latvian, in Ireland whom she will visit this spring. She helped us go to the council and get set up with a bin for rubbish removal. Her son, Andris is at university in Riga studying to be an EMT. He has helped us with translation issues many times. We are blessed with many good neighbors.
Hay delievery from near neighbors
Through our neighbors Nina and Uldis we met new (t0 us) neighbors who had extra hay to sell and deliver. These are the same neighbors who gave Ian a ride to Madona today to get the car. He is now home safe and sound with the car and some groceries. Names have not been communicated so I can’t pass them along to you but we will get to that soon. This man also pulled our tractor out of our front ditch where Ian ended up in an icy slide through the snow. The lovely girl in the pink hat is the neighbor’s daughter who speaks English. God is good.
Holding the first born lamb of 2012 after his ears have been tagged.