Catching Up and Forging Ahead   Leave a comment


It is lilac time in Latvia but not for much longer. We have left the blog for some weeks as we are so busy on the farm and we had a week of lambing in the middle of May.

In the last blog we talked about the chapel is nearing completion and we are still at that place. But one thing that happened even before the final work on the chapel is our farm sign.

This stands at the entrance to our farm near the road so we can be found. It was made for us by our neighbour Lauris.

Seen here on the left. We have since added flowers to it and it looks like this:

We have had many compliments on both the sign and the floral additions. As I was doing the photog. on the right a neighbour, Elmars stopped and gave it the thumbs up.

I mentioned lambing. We spent a week at the Christian camp/farm while Ian lambed and taught lambing. I played the shepherd’s wife keeping him going, nursing a poorly lamb and learning how to spot a ewe about to deliver.

This is Ian doing the central work of a shepherd, observing the sheep. This is something that must be done all year ’round not just when the ewes are ready to deliver. Now I am going to brag about my husband he really knows sheep and shepherding and though it has been 40+ years since he did it, it came back naturally. He is so lovely, gentle and caring with the sheep. Never rough just persistent when needed. My heart wells up as I watched Ian personify our Good Shepherd, they are both so faithful.

OK, here come the sheep pictures.

This is a NEW BORN lamb moments after birth. Mom begins the immediate work of bathing which also starts the bonding process.

"Hold still while I wash you up!"

On his feet and headed for the first meal

Mom is still washing but he has one thing on his mind–FOOD!!!! It is such fun to watch these little ones accomplish their necessary firsts; getting on their feet, getting to the teats and learning how to get milk from mom, meeting other lambs and oh so much more.

Follow me, says the shepherd

After a lamb is born in the field the shepherd needs to move mother and baby into the holding pen for bonding time  without the distraction of others. Also sometimes other ewes try to steal a new born lamb from its own mother. The moving of a ewe and lamb should be straight forward, you just pick up the lamb and the mother follows, right? Hehehehe, not always. One time when I was helping Ian move a ewe and her newborn our process was interrupted by an older lamb that got out through his pasture’s fence just as we were passing. The confused mother of the newborn thought the older lamb was hers and she went after it. Ian wasn’t fazed he just grabbed the older lamb in his free hand and the ewe calmly followed him as he carried both lambs.  Meanwhile the older lambs mother was having a baaaaaaaing fit as her baby was carried away. Mother and older lamb were soon reunited while the newborn and his mother were busy bonding. I was left wondering why it had to happen on my watch? lol.

In my earlier listing of my chores as a shepherd’s wife I mentioned nursing a poorly lamb. The day before we arrived at the camp/farm a set of twins were born in the cold rain, one twin was very small and didn’t look well. The next morning they discovered the lamb had a broken leg. Possibly, the mother was rejecting it and she stomped on him or she did it by accident. The lamb was managing to get up and nurse and though Ian wondered about bringing into the house to be  cared for and bottle fed he hesitated to orphan it as it was feeding some. Next day the lamb was worse so he decided we would take it in.

Shaun Boy (Bob)

We named him Shuan Boy, of course, though later we learned he had been named Bob. Ian had bandanged and re-bandaged his leg and we began feeding him with a bottle. His first day he did really well and drank with gusto. The second day it was a bit harder to get him to drink. I put on praise music to lift both our spirits a bit and I put him out in the sun to see if that would perk him up a bit. It did for a time but by the 3rd day of nursing he was failing. Ian put some sub q fluids into him but as I held him later that morning to help him feed I suddenly knew he wouldn’t make it. I put him in the sun again but when we came into the house from checking the pregnant ewes he had died. His pain and suffering had ended but it was a teary time. There will be other Shaun Boys and we hope with better results. The other guys commented that he lived 2 more days with the nursing than he would have otherwise.

On a lighter note, it was lovely to sit at the kitchen table and watch the lambs frolick about.

The Lamb Gang, otherwise known as "Trouble"

There was a gang of them that loved to chase each other or swarm around one of the ewes all trying to get a snack at the same time, while she frantickly booted them away with her nose. There is a small dung hill in their pasture and they would all run for it and then push each other off, looking like they were playing ‘King of the Hill.’ Some lambs stayed glued to their mother’s sides and were not so adventureous. Others would stray away and then cry loundly  when they realized they didn’t know where mom was. Then there are the mothers. A few were very solicitous of their lambs but many would just concentrate on munching their way across the pasture whether their little ones wanted to suckle or not. But when their udders began to be tight then they yelled like crazy for their lambs and often went quickly in search of them. I am certain there is a years worth of sermons and teaching from all I observed during lambing week. We saw a number of lambs born during our stay but to us the amusing thing happened on the Friday we left. That day, after we had gone, 14 lambs were born, more than any other day we were there. The others had said they prayed that all the lambs would be born while Ian was there, we laughed and told them we prayed the opposite, our prayers were answered. (smile face) The lamb numbers were very good this year with huge numbers of twins and several sets of triplets. Ian gets the credit because he advised they feed corn at certain times in the ewes cycle and this year provision was made to do that, though it is no guarantee. I know I am bragging on him again, but he does know his stuff.

Just prior to the lambing we moved all of our wood furniture, out of the flat in Ergli, down to the farm and into the barn. Our bed went to the camp/farm for us to use during lambing. It was so nice to sleep  in that bed for the week.  The day we went to the camp/farm we loaded up our soft furnishings, pictures, tv and one corner cabinent into our ‘still holding together’ trailer and parked it at the camp until the Friday we left, then we drove to our friends who had offererd us storage and unloaded our things into their dry and warm basement. It looks like everything will remain in storage until next year.

New house plans. We have them, on paper. That is the architect’s drawings are done and our application has been approved by the local government to build, thanks, in large part, to our friend Diks. We are still in process of getting bids. But the good news is our old timber house, is no more.

Windows the eyes of the house, she is souless

This is a rather sad picture with her windows gone and her welcoming porch. She had to go, too many timbers were rotten and her foundation was crumbling.

Rubble and a crumbling foundation is all that is left

On the right you can see all that is left today. A crew of 4 sometimes 5 neighbours did the work. We met more of our neighbours through this job and that was lovely. But best of all our ‘adopted grandson,’ Kaspars Relis is back visiting his aunt Janina who lives across the road from us. He helped to take the house down. Also we had more time to get to know another English speaking neighbour, Andris. The ‘un-builder’ in charge of the crew, Elmars came joyfully in each day greating us with a big smile, hardy handshake and “labrit”, good morning. Below is a picture of Elmars on the left, crew boss and Andris who speaks English very well.

Elmars and Andris

It went very well and I enjoyed watching them work. Now Ian has to break up the old shallow foundation and the good wood is saved for future out buildings while we have piles of wood to be cut up for firewood and piles of rot to be burned. We hope the wood (log) part of our new home can go up before winter, then the logs have to age and settle before it can be finished, next summer we can hopefully finish it. So another winter in the mobile home but we are assured the winter won’t be as bad. We are taking September into October to do futher winterizing on our ‘tin can’ home. The goals being to keep the water running all winter and insulate the underside to bring more warmth to our floors. We will probably place wrapped half ton bales of hay around the base to help insulate and prevent wind from blowing under the floors. We have the wiring for heated pipes and we will deffinately put plastic over all the windows. We learned some crucial lessons last winter.

So what of the land, animals and such? One house went down and another went up.

The newest house at Kalnozoli 1

This is our poly carbonate/aluminium green house that came in a flat box and Ian put it together with a few choice words at times. Made in China and purchased in Rezekne, Latvia it is great. Ian built the potting bench and put a bed for lettuces, tomatoes and other goodies down the left side. It is in a good spot close to the mobile home getting full sun all day.

Then after putting up the green house Ian made a raised bed for strawberry plants.

Waiting for Wimbledon

Both of these additions are handy for me to water and tend. Is this the extent of our garden this year, oh my, no. I don’t have pictures yet but Ian has planted potatoes and the plants are up, also in the same space at the end of the barn he planted carrots. Then on Saturday we planted red and white onions, 8 rows of sweet corn (flown in special from Oregon for short growing seasons) and spinach. This part of the garden is in the ‘front 40.’  We are going to be hoe, hoe, hoeing all summer.

So what about flowers. Well, sweet peas are in seed trays in the green house and we have planted almost a dozen roses near the chapel and some dalihas also near the chapel.

New Rose bed to the left of the chapel

Cross of flowers

Remember we planted all those bulbs last Autumn, in this cross-shaped bed. They didn’t come up so we put the red and white dahlias in their place. Hopefully, these will flourish and be beautiful all summer.

What about the chapel, still needing finish work done but nearly there.  My goal is to have it done in June, a letter box note to all the neighbours to tell them it is open 24/7 for prayer and then in September my prayer is to bring together the local Catholic priest, the Evangelical Lutheran Pastor and a Baptist missionary friend of ours from Ergli via Oregon to celebrate the opening of the chapel and dedicate it to God and the people of the area. Of course, cake and punch will be served!! Please pray that this dedication can go forward.

So what’s the latest here on the farm. Today we bought a mower for the tractor as Ian is anxious to get the first cutting of hay done. The mower that we got with our little work horse tractor was past repairing. We are hoping that our bailer will be brought down from Ergli this week and we are planning to put the bales on timber in the farm yard and cover with a large tarp we already have, waiting. I am hoping to get a few more projects and tidying done in the ‘tin can,’ before starting on the huge project of restacking and straightening the woodshed so Ian and helpers can refurbish said woodshed. Oh yes, and all the hoe, hoe, hoeing.

Sunset 30/05/20010 - Kalnozoli 1

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