Saturday, November 22, 2014

Shades of grey....

And as I am writing this it is snowing... First real snowflakes this season, but it does not remain... And Blogger is messing with me, doing the strangest thing with the text and images...

The weather is hopeless these days.... Grey, wet and just above freezing. We haven't seen the sun for nearly 3 weeks, but it feels much, much longer.... It is depressing, unmotivating and I haven't been out all this time. I more feel like curling up, closing my eyes and sleep it all away. Except for yesterday morning, when the mss. and I dragged ourselves out. We just had to! A short stroll became a 3,5 hour walk and by God it felt wonderful! We were suffering the consequences afterwards, but that was a small price to pay.
It did so much to lift the greyness from our minds and bodies. And it is always a surprise to see what you can find out there...

This little fellow was standing about 20cm tall and he has been there for quite some time, judging by the growth on his head...

All this wetness makes mud and mud makes a great underground for tracking... We found quite a lot of them, but there was one lakeside meadow, where the abundance was very clear. At least 4 different sized mooseprints.

We found fluffy seedpods..... and some unpleasant surprises...

Someone has been doing some home redecoration. We found a pile of garbage, a frame that had once held door or glaspanes, some wood leftover, paintbuckets and appearantly the owner had been busy burning a lot of it already, right next to the lake. There were wires with plastic remains on them, metal leftovers from machinery or lamps and the charred area was at least 2x3 meters... We could see the waste leaking into the lake; an oily residue slowly flowing into and onto the water... I can not help but becoming very angry with such a numbnut, to damn lazy to take his crap and drive over to the wastedisposalarea. We keep bumping into this sort of behaviour all the time; Carwrecks being dumped in the woods, waste being carelessly thrown into the landscape, industrial and livingareas looking like scrapmetaldumps, waste being burned in backyards and whole patches of forest not simply being cut, but being clear cut and destroyed. On one place many trees get cut down and are left to rot and on the next they cut down trees for industry or firewood. People simply do not seem to care very much for their land here....

Luckily for us there still are many things we can enjoy... There still is quite some wood left and this still holds many surprises..

Interesting scenery and see-throughs...

Still some once edible mushrooms.. of which we now know the location and that will come in handy next season..

You might also find some strange folk roaming the woods...

Mushrooms growing out of treestumps...

or trees playing hide & seek..

Again strange folk in the woods...
finding chaga...

A walk like this really clears the mind and we talked a few things over, rethinking our future prospects and seeing a little light at the horizon.
The weather isn't he only reason for feeling so.... grey.
We had changed our diet drastically, following the LCHF-principles, thus omitting all grains from it for instance. However economics drove us towards cheap food again... as in bread. We started eating that again and the impact was almost immediate. Overnight our physical wellbeing deteriorated. The pain in our joints is back, our digestivesystem is messed up, hemroids are back and the overall feeling of fatigue and unwellness too.
For us it has become painfully clear that grains are not healthy and that good food is not available to those with bad economics...

The mooseskin... well, that didn't work out.
I guess it had hung to long to start with, but when I put it in the bathtub to soak, the weather turned. We had tons of rain for a week straight and I actually did not feel to stand there in the pouring rain, scraping a hide, which I, deep down inside, already knew was not usable. After more than a week the weather turned, sending temperatures below 0, capsuling the hide in ice, fixing it firmly to the bathtub sides. After a few days the weather turned again and it started to thaw.... and rain again. By now I had lost heart and a constantly aching shoulder did nothing to alter that. I ended up dumping the hide in a far corner of our backyard...
Was it all for nothing?
No, I did learn quite a lot actually. One thing was that one needs to make sure one is prepared before starting on a job like this. Have your tools and workingarea in order before you kill and skin an animal and start on its hide withing 24 hrs of skinning.
Another thing was the painfully physical limitations I am facing these days. Scraping the hide was exactly the movement I should NOT make. I was constantly reminded of that until quite recently.
Do I give up on tanning hides? No. But I will need to scale down, starting with proper theoretical knowledge and much small hides. Hides I can work singlehandedly.
Removing the hide from the tub was another nasty surprise. Not just the smell... which was.... noteable, but the sheer weight of the damn thing! It felt like moving a grown body, dead weight and all! I guess 45-50kg of absolutely non-cooperating weight at least...

And now.... Now are we waiting for Jack Frost to finally drag his frozen ass over here and give us some proper weather... Something like we experienced on the final day of october, before the greyness moved in....

october 30th - the sun, here one day...

gone the next...

Monday, November 3, 2014

A German-Swedish alliance..... plus Swiss extras!

The construction of my German-Swedish rucksack was done in rough lines. Now came the adjustments, details and finetuning!
First I needed to make sure the rucksack would stay in place and not bounce about, slide down or otherwise show unwanted movement. This I tackled by adding a strap between the lower cornerattachmentpoints and tightened that. I then added a leather strap between the lower crossbar and the lower leg of the carryingstraps. Those are shaped like a "Y", hence the name Y-riemen or Y-straps. Same system as the Germans used in WW1 and WW2. Now the pack could no longer move from left to right or up and down. The leather strap makes sure the shoulderclasps remain on top of the topbar. 

Next issue was the wastebelt. 
Now that caused me some headaches... How to fix that? Previous attempts with the belts I had proved unsatisfactory. I was already eyeballing some German army webbingbelts that go with this system and all the while the answer was staring me right in the face. Literally!! My selfmade winterbelt with the Swiss ammopouches. At first I dismissed that idea, thinking I needed/wanted a belt with a quickrelease buckle. But then I started thinking :"why?".... Why would I need to buy something new.
Just because I wanted that quickrelease? Do I really need that? Answer was :"No, not really". So why not use what I already had? The pouches had D-rings at the back for just that purpose! But these turned out to be incompatible with the German hooks. I needed square hooks, no D's.... But didn't I salvage some of those square ones in the past? Lo and behold! I did; 3 of exactly the right size too! So I removed the original D-rings (needed a big set of calipers to cut them open. Tough as nails, I tell ya! Real Swiss quality!), bent the square ones open, slid them in place and closed them again. Snug fit!
And if I am not using those pouches I still have the original beltfastenings and they fit my belt as well. The belt's a bit narrow, but that doesn't matter too much I think.
Things were starting to come together now...
All I needed to do now was to testfit the pack and start to adjust the several belts and straps. Which incidentally is quite easy with the ingenius system the German developped. You can adjust the straps, while you are actually wearing the gear. By bending open the clasp you loosen the clasp from the strap and move it up and down as required. Bending it shut jams the strap in place.

<------  Testfitting it without the wastebelt.....

and with the wastebelt ------>

The black webbing bands rest on the shoulder blades and on top of the pelvis, making it quite comfortable to wear.
The backpouch remains free even with a loaded pack.

In the righthand picture I still needed to adjust the leather belt.....

  .... as you can see in the next picture. The sternumstrap is a simple strap fasted on the right side and is easily hooked onto the left side. Coincidentally that length is equal to the length down to the ammopouch eyelet, so when not in use I can hook it in place there.

Well, there you have it; a German rucksack with  Swedish frame, Dutch wrapping and Swiss pouches. For good measure I added the Norwegian shelter Skaukraft gave me when he visited me, fastened with Czech leather straps.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A German-Swedish alliance..... with a Dutch twist

Tale of an unlikely framed rucksack coming into being...

Ever since I first discovered Scandinavian framed backpacks or rucksacks (when is it what?) I was hooked by this system. It felt so comfortable carrying a backpack this way, even if it took some getting used to. However my favorite backpack is the German 1950's-one which does not have this feature. At least the one I own doesn't, but there are separate frames for this backpack. These socalled Bundeswehr Rucksacktragegestell are occasionally available online but at ridiculously high prices and then shippingcosts from Germany here are not even included!


Since then I have tried several Scandinavian framed backpacks, but they all came short in one way or another. The layout was cumbersome, the sidepockets too narrow or the frame not comfortable for my back. So I have been thinking about how to get a frame for my German backpack. I had this antique and unfixable backpack, but its frame proved to be too small and the same goes pretty much for every steeltube backpackframe I have.
I also had a couple of those incredibly cheap aluminiumframed nylonbackpacks you find in pretty much every secondhandstore around. And that's what they are to me; cheap, synthetic crap Haglöfs knock-offs from the seventies or eighties with immensly large frames. They reach from your butt up to the top of your head. Hardly ideal when moving though brush and undergrowth. It might be usefull, when travelling over open ground, keeping the sleepingpad from bumping into the back of your head, while stumbling over rocks and such. Can't think of any other use or advantage....
We were given those we had... A deep green one and a bright red one. The red one's frame was bent and twisted and the green one... Well, I never really bothered looking at it after I saw that some of the seams har torn open. Sewing it up properly would be a challenge, given the thin nylon fabric. That is untill I started cleaning up the area that was to become mine. The red one I took apart. The frame had a steel loop fastened onto it with hoseclamps and all that will go into the metalwaste container, the bag itself in the trash and I salvaged what fastenings I saw fit; some D-rings and straps. I did the same with the green one, but paid a little more attention to the frame this time.
And then it hit me! I had a *bling*-moment... Maybe... just maybe....
I started fiddling around with the frame and German backpack and within half an hour I had what looked to be a workable solution! I could carry the backpack on the frame and it was relatively comfortable! True, it was empty and it needed some adjusting and such, but still! I put in the German poncho, just to give some weight to the pack and it looked even more promising.
The main issues were metal clasps and fittings rattling against the frame and the front fastenings were too low placed, so the straps were fully extended and no longer adjustable. And the bare aluminium frame itself was far too visible as well. So there were some issues to solve; making the frame less visible and silent, plus adapting it so the pack fits.
I used some of the spareparts I salvaged earlier to add to the combination; a small strap with a hook as a sternumstrap, another strap to connect the lower cornerfasteners of the pack together, so the bottom end was fastened to the frame. Things really were looking good now!
Now all I needed was a wastebelt. I had the matching clasps and I tried attaching several belts. None worked however. The military belts I have are either too wide and thick or too narrow and thin. A leatherbelt would not do either, because they do not have the quick-release buckle. I might end up buying an original German one for this combo. That would fit and have a quickrelease....

A picture comparing the frame after shortening it. The top reaches just over my shoulders now.
The blue backpack is an example of those cheap ones I mentioned. It extends over my head! I bought that for my daughter for when she has a hike with the scouts. It'll hold all her stuff in several separate compartments, including a sleepingbag, is relatively lightweight (3kg) and was dirtcheap (15kr)                                                                  

But how to deal with the frame? Those long extension on top just had to go, so I took a saw and dealt with them fast and easy. The endcaps were reused.
Now the bare-metal-issue.... Paint would make it less visible, but would war off and not deal with the noise-issue. Covering the frame with something would.... Liquid rubber? No, not available, too expensive and not really within my way of thinking. Cloth maybe? But how? Sewing? That idea did not appeal; measuring, cutting, sewing.. It would take forever. Then my eye caught the basket with excess cloth. Stuff I spared from previous projects including pieces of camouflagefabric, mainly German flecktarn, but also US woodland and British DPM. Nah.... too military. But there was also a roll of olivedrab cloth. The one that was left after my heated wintertent-project. As I unrolled it I figured I could cut strips from it and wind that around the tubes. A dab of glue and start- and endpoints and maybe fixing it in place with acrylic laquer of some sort. That would be relatively fast, easy for sure and fix the issues of visibility and noise. The laquer would hold everything in place and provide protection from the elements!

So I went to work, grabbed the roll of cloth and figured I might as well tear strips from it instead of cutting it with scissors. Would be faster and probably just as "straight", maybe even better.
I tore 2 strips about 4cm wide and a good 70cm long and started dryfitting them, figuring out how and when to best wrap them around the tubes. Around the thicker outertubes this width worked well, but on the much thinner inner ones that did not work. I made some new ones about 1,5-2cm wide.
I wound the strips from bottom to top, so I would create a roofshingle kind of sequence which would shed water better once lacquered. I marked the frame with numbers, so that I knew in what order I'd have to work. First the lower thin ones, then the higher ones. Next would be the horizontal crossbars, then the vertical ones and last the bottom one. The latter one was wound with more overlap, since it would have to stand more wear and tear and might be worn down faster. I added a second layer on the top one between the outer and inner tubes, for the same reason. The buckles of the rucksack would rest there.
After this was done I coated the frame with clear mat lacquer from an old spraycan I had found. I actually would have preferred to use a tin and a brush to soak the cloth properly, but one has to work with what is available. I was not too impressed with the results though. It would shed water up to a certain point, but the cloth is not covered as I would have liked. So I'll have to redo that properly.

To be continued!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November, november.... A dark time...

Five o'clock in the afternoon and it's already pitchblack outside. We have been living in a dusky world all day as it was; cloudy, drizzly, dark... Lights in the house have been on all day and still will the days continue to shorten for 2 more months. It'll be new year then...
Kids are out for halloween, went trick or treating yesterday and the youngest one has a halloweenparty tonight. Our oldest daughter went to sing with my wife in the churchchoir. It is "the day of the dead" and here is Sweden people take that seriously, remembering and honouring all those loved ones that passed away and for me that too makes the absence of those I no longer have with me, dead or alive, extra felt, adding to that gloomy atmosphere.

But soon everything will change! Winter will be coming and with it, hopefully, frost and snow, which automatically means a brighter world.
And already the eyes are turned toward the other side of winter. A while ago a package arrived that will hopefully give a lot of satisfaction. It sure will give us a lot of work before that!
Red cabbage, green cabbage, onions, carrots, leeks, chard, endive, spinach, several species of beans, peas, and salades and a whole array of kitchenherbs. That's for starters.
Longer term planning is to have garlic, more fruits besides the berrybushes we already have, like 2 cherrytrees, maybe some nuts and more vegetables. 
Skaukraft and I were even planning on inoculating apples on a rowan-base coming spring. One of our neighbours here has delicious apples and we know that regrowing them from seeds will not necessarily give the same apples again. 
We also managed to get hold of a very cheap, but next to new rotary cultivator. Not exactly lowtech, enviromentally friendly, but it'll help keeping my physical health when working the soil. And it'll only be used once a year if everything works out well.
And with that comes one of my favorite gardeningjobs; planning!!! (and a bit of daydreaming, too)

For now I am enjoying my cave; building, tinkering or just sitting by myself thinking and daydreaming. One of the things I am working on, is my German backpack. I have been pondering about how to get a frame for that one and I think I have found a solution. It'll be shown here shortly, but I can tell you it'll be a little different...
I am also planning on doing a all-gear-review-post again soon, so that's in the works too.
And with any luck there'll be some more moosehide tanning to be done too, so plenty of things to keep me busy!
Plus of course I want to go out! An overnighter last week did not materialize since I was.... rather busy, but with any luck there'll be some woodstime second half of the week!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A place of my own - mancave 2.0

I finally have a place in the house I can call "my own". A place where I can sit and tinker, work, think and mess around.
Before the things gathered here were everywhere in the house; a "workbench" with cupboards in the hall, gear and stuff in the cellar and where ever I wanted to work I was either in the way or surrounded by chaos, often both. The same went for my wife and her hobby of wool- and feltworking.
I "claimed" this room for myself before, but it never really was mine anyway. A large freezer took up a lot of room and there was stuff dumped into the room all the time. Anything that needed to be gotten rid of fast, ended up in there and I did this too. We have been rearranging a lot around here lately, starting with my oldest daughter's room and that gave me the worktable and shelves above it. The shelves that are on the right were in store since summer in the shed, but got snowed under by other things. The shed was filled to the brim too and was just chaos as well.
Then we took care of our son's room and that cleared out some room in the shed too, since his desk was stored in there with much other stuff. The carpet is an old, woolen one, but was too damaged to lay in the house. So I took it. No problem, since I liked it anyway.
In the meantime we arranged for the small foodcellar to become storageroom for my wife's hobbymaterials and the large laundrycellar is to become a foodcellar instead. It is by far larger and much cooler than the previous one. To keep it cool we moved the laundrydryer into the cellar hall, so that one's a lot less cold in winter. Another bonus. All in all we were quite busy last week, during which the weather was pretty wild; a lot of wind and rain.
Some other advantages of all this rearranging is that I had to sort out all the things stored in there. Now the family campinggear is stored in the attic and all the things I do not need, use or have to much of are put together and will go on sale soon.
My room will get some of its warmth from the adjacent heaterroom, which will also fill my room with the faint smell of a woodfire. No complaints there either.
It feels good to take care of all the chaos around oneself. A messy head makes a messy living area and v.v.

What it looked like 2 years ago...
(I'll spare you what it looked like since then)
when coming in
to the left

to the right

And what it looks like now...

In the lefthand corner;
Bottom: winterclothes
first shelve: box w. leather and -working tools
Second shelve: toolbox with woodworkingtools
A felt hat, an apron and a strop next to that.
This corner remained largely unchanged.
Boots and shoepolishbox. Yes, I still polish my shoes...
Swiss backpack, kukri machete and axe

A closeup of the shelfcorner; a bit of eyecandy. Traditional and/or natural gear, tools and rawmaterials.
I also found a very old cane, made from a pinebranch! No ideas whose that was. Certainly not the previous house owner's.

One of my scalemodelling shelves. My stash of models on top, then some shelves with modelling- and military related books and binders. Then a shelf with older magazines, through which I like to browse every once in a while.
All my outdoor related books are still up in the livingroom, where they will stay.

And then there's my workingarea. I wonder how long it will look like this.... ;)
All the white boxes either hold a project I work at, are in the planningstage or hold spareparts.
The woven basket on the floor is actually a backpack, waiting to be fixed. Drawers on the right with paints and glues and gathering waste in the middle; paper in the box, plastic in the bag.