Saturday, March 22, 2014

I have a dream....

.....said a man once..... 
His dream covered a large area, both geographical and political.
Mine is much more modest and focussed locally....

Yesterday I had a second, long talk with E. and it quickly turned out he was actually looking for someone to continue his business. He is nearing the retirement age and his fysical wellbeing leaves something to be desired.
He agreed on educating me on the business of growing plants, herbs and medicinal plants in this case, and showing me the ropes on beekeeping on a commercial basis. The goal is to get me ready to take over and continue! The agreement is there, the mutual will too, but we have to work out all the technical and legal issues still.
So the Trying Woodsman is going to become a Trying Nurseryman or even Farmer!

I allready have many plans, not just for the beginning, but also for the future. Bigger plans than growing herbs. Plans involving growing vegetables, holding poultry, even expanding to a second location here in the village. A location where a large greenhouse in disrepair, a barn in a similar state and a large open area, all owned by an other elderly couple with similar plantgrowing background/knowledge and similar fysical limitations, are involved.

Vegetables, herbs, bees, poultry..... Hell, I might even throw in some sheep and small game!
This all should be sufficient to support the vision I have; To create a situation where I can support myself, my family and the community with organic, healthy and locally grown food. All grown and bred on an all natural basis and in harmony with the ways nature intended. Because of all that I have to think on a bigger scale, just to get it commercially viable. This would provide us with an opportunity to live largely independently, when it comes to food, but also provide us with the means to generate an income or even provide the possibility to barter for other things we need, like meat, firewood or services.
Parttaking in a community, which is allready evolving towards a community with a focus on a local, and often ecologically friendly, foodbased economy, is another one of the motivations.

Tools are to be handoperated or have to be powered as much as possible without the use of petrochemicals, fertilisation is an all natural business and resources are to be based on natural and/or biodegradable foundations as much as possible. The no-petrochemical-principle will be like a red-thread-guideline through the entire operation. All of this would also include, of course, an absolute NO to gmo's, monocultures, pesticides or herbicides, unless they are in line with the previous thoughts.
I am even thinking about plans involving the WWOOF-organisation, but that's just an idea. First things firts...

I got carried away and started designing a companyname and -logo..... but with very basic and limited software like paint.

I love preplanning and daydreaming about this, but... hey, everything starts with a dream and an idea!

Now "all" I have to do, is learning the tools of the trade, get the people involved, some of which I have to meet for the first time still, to go along with it all, write a companyplan and maybe even a manifest, convince the bank that investing in my idea actually is a good idea and...and...and....and....

During this meeting it also turned out the Esbjörn is a hunter. He participates in the hunt for moose. He showed a lot of interest in me mentioning the upcoming natural tanning of the moosehide, currently residing in our freezer. He said that the hides were usually discarded after the hunt...... which might be a future source for hides, brains, maybe even tendons, (small) antlers and other "waste".

Talking about that with my wife later that evening made our brains run at topspeed, cooking up all kinds of ideas.
We probably need to attend markets to sell our grown products. Why not combine that with other things? Like selling the wool figures my wife makes? There allready is quite a demand for them as it is. Having bees mean having wax. That could be sold as is, used in products like ointments or candles.
Drying and selling excess herbs could be another possibility. Selling the worked hides, a possible winteractivity, maybe even some woodwork (the footoperated lathe, remember?) might open up other, growing markets too. Like the ever increasing middle age markets and L.A.R.P-gatherings....

The possibilities are vast and it is a good thing planning and dreaming do not cost anything, but a little energy.....
And all this diversity should keep us busy, spread risk (or increase it?) of failure in one area and avoid overexposure or loss of interest in another.

Am I or are we biting off more than we can chew?
I don't know. All I know is, is that we are more like jack of all trades instead of specialists. I love gardening and working with plants and we both love to do the things I mentioned. The plantgrowing business is seasonal and will take up most of the time between the beginning of april and the end of september, maybe october. That leaves us with 4 months in between with short days and long evenings to fill.
It remains to be seen how we will fare as businessfolks, but I know it will not be my strongest quality...
We have taken one huge step to fullfill one part of a twopart dream by moving to rural Sweden. I feel now is the time to make the second and complete the picture and become semi-independent, whilst giving something back to the world by providing people with good food and cutting down on the overall ecological footprint, making our world a little bit better.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The last day of winter!

This was supposed to be a great write up about the last day of winter with lots of outside pictures of frost and snow and white awesomeness, but......
That did not happen, allthough untill last night I was actually planning on it. But then, later that night and this morning all sorts of reasons and excuses stated to pop up not to go. One of those reasons is that it actually is my son's birthday today. He turns 13, so I am now officially the father of a teenager and officially and old nag.
But the real reason actually is that I want winter to be over. I do not want to frolic around in the snow anymore and I do not want the cold to last. I want it gone! Spring is all around us and we had a good deal of it last week, before Jack Frost launched his final offensive bombarding us with loads of snow and dropping temperatures. So no real reason to enjoy it any longer. Than why the last day of winter? Because today is the last day that temperatures will remain below freezing all day and we are expecting a load of snow... again. Up to 10cm of it. However it was not nearly as cold as predicted. The -16C was altered into a -9 to -10, but the thermometer never sank below -7.
But spring is forecast to be back by the weekend! And it looks like it will stay here after that.

Another reason is that due to the seasonal change I feel fatigued and a bit devoid of energy and vitality. Happens every year, but thankfully it is not nearly as bad as it used to be. I did not suffer from mental depressions or anything, but I still do feel it fysically. My batteries need more than just a few days of solar recharging. Yet I am also urgeing to get going again. I want to go out and work in the garden... actually more than I want to go out into the woods.

So spent the day doing some chores, looking at the birds and seeing more and more species returning. This week we could add the stare (Sturnus vulgaris) , the bofink (Fringilla coelebs) and we saw a small, brown bird of prey swooping through the garden and in between the trees. Judging by the description it could have been a stenfalk (Falco columbarius), but we can not confirm that.... yet.
The image to the left comes from and depicts the shape, size and colour quite good to the upper right.
During a brief and unexpectedly warm period yesterday afternoon, while sitting on out balcony, we heard the duvhök calling again and it received and answer from quite a distance away! I guess from the other side of the lake.

I hope that the returning sun and higher temperatures not only will boost my will to do gardenwork, but also provide me with power to shorten my very long projectlist. I made a "short" inventory of all the things I have been working on, planned and lying around. Having my mancave, a "place of my own", where everything gets dumped into, while passing it, does not really help to keep things organised and create a fun workingplace either. I myself am guilty of that too....

And to give this vaguely outdoorsrelated post at least a little significance I'll add a touch of gear and want to show you our latest acquisition; a set of steelstrikers!
Our blacksmithing friend Erik Vargtand at Svartkonst made them for us. It was a learning experience for him too, since these are his first. We gave him a picture of what we would like to have, but other than that we left it up to him. He came up with this design, which holds a little twist; a bottleopener at one end! He also personalised them by punching in my wife's and my name. It is a unique and matching set.
My wife won a 500kr cheque last year during an event, that's called Konstspaning, where local artists open their workplaces to the general public and show their work. With that cheque you could pay anyone of those artists and we chose to ask him. This way we could at least support a local artist and craftsman.
Tack Erik!!

So you might ask yourself ;"What the hell have you been doing??" So do I....
Well, I've been reading a lot. After I finished Jean. M. Auel's Earth's Children series in English the previous winter, I got myself the Swedish-version too. At least part 1-5 and that was good for 3300 pages of readingmaterial in a foreign language.... It does take it's time, but it does boost my knowledge and understanding of the language as well. There'll be a review on the series soon as well as on other books I have been sinking my teeth in..
I know I promissed that before, so I better keep it this time!

And it's still snowing.....

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spending time with my son in the woods

Today saw the converging of some circumstances that made it possible for me to spend some qualitytime with my son in the woods; the weather was good, he had a day off from school, the ladies of the family were of to work or school, so we could spend some time alone AND he actually felt like going.
So after the ladies left, we got our things and went... The sun was shining, birds were calling and it was just an overall great springday. We decided to take an appropriate route, called Svensvägen.

We found some really great and fresh badgertracks. First ones I've seen around here. Sven also had a first experience; drinking water straight from the source! We found this stream of meltwater; chrystalclear and stonecold!

During our hike we found the remains of an old kolarkoja (coaler's cabin). The fireplace still was in great shape. If we'd had cleared the chimney we could have used it right away. The ridge in front of the Sven is a remaining wallsection. A bit further into the woods we found a place which I believe to be the site of the kiln; flat, round and no vegetation.

At one point we came across a clearing and we noticed that as soon as the treeline was passed, there was snow remaining on the ground, which was quite remarkable, since the clearing was laying in sun. We walked onto that clearing, sat on some rocks and soaked in the sun..... We used the opportunity to have a little meal and I dropped one of the eggs we brought along. Yet that did survive its fall, due to the container it was being transported in; an empty, plastic spicecontainer. I used that trick a few years ago for the first time and now it came in handy! The raw egg was cracked a bit, but still in one piece and useable. The container bears the scar of the rocksedge it landed on.
While sitting there and just talking a bit, I spotted a large bird gliding through the air.... The buzzards are back!

After the break we moved on, scouting out new parts of the woods. I had left the map at home and since we did not know the terrain we kept to the tracks made by the woodcutters machines, both new and old. After a while we were getting hungry. We figured that the "nearby" viewpoint would be a good spot for lunch, but that still meant a good hours walk at least. It has a fireplace, plenty of wood and would be facing the sun, so more vitamin D to take on board.
We saw quite a bit of animalsigns today; moose tracks, droppings and feedingsigns. Even a very fresh track, having crossed a dirtroad after we had passed that place and we discovered the fresh imprints on our way back, heading toward the viewpoint.
As we were on our way, Sven discovered a sign I had not seen before. It showed a significant shortcut to the viewpoint. I allways thought that path belonged to someone else's driveway, but it turned out to be not. So we took that path. It should be a 400meter hike, instead of a 3km one. The terrain however was "slightly" more challenging, but all the more worth it!

As my son saw me...
When we reached the viewpoint, which had wood and a small hatchet present, we prepared lunch, boiled the eggs and made tea. Sven had brought his old German army messkit and I my Dutch army canteen. We took it easy for quite a while, sitting in the sun, relaxing, chatting and I learned him a few tricks, such as making a brush from a birchtwig and how to use it as a dishes brush, together with the ashes from the fire. He then made a brush for himself, pounding the twigend with the backside of the hatchet.
I had brought my binoculars and they came in handy. We looked at the terrain around and below us and watched first one, then two buzzards gliding through the air. I am sure one of them we had seen earlier.

After lunch we took the long way home. We were getting tired, especially Sven, since we did not just casually stroll through the woods, but kept a bit of a pace. He certainly is not used to this kind of exercise. But we both had enjoyed it and each other's company.....
Days like this make good memories!

Passing one of the many miningholes on our way home and we made it just before my oldest daughter came home from school. Good timing.. ;)

Some of today's afterthoughts;
Small boys get bigger real quick! Sven was wearing one of the Dutch army jackets I wore in service some 25 years ago! Whilst I was wearing the matching pants and noticed that these were starting to fall apart literally, the jackets are still going strong. So I can pass some of my own old military gear down to him. I somehow think that that is a bit special... He also loved the daypack, so that is his now as well.

Spending such a day with someone else is great fun. Sharing trouble is half the trouble, but sharing fun is double the fun.

I really like the canteen from Sven's German messkit. It is an aluminium one with a large bottleneck and an cap that has a wider screwthread which makes it easy to open and close. The water it contained tasted a lot better than the water from my plastic bottle, too.

My bag was loaded to heavy. I need to carry the waterbottle separately in order to reduce bulk and weight. Adding a wider shoulderpad is on the to-do-list too.

The belt was handy in winterconditions, but cumbersome in warmer weather, when you want to take off layers of clothing. I think I will transfer some "essentials" to the bag, but most of them can easily be left in the pouches, since I have doubles or can easily make or get them. I'll have to think that over.


And after having spent a good portion of my day with my son, I ended up spending a part of the afternoon with my oldets daughter.....helping her baking cupcakes..... The life of a dad can be full of surprises.....

And while I am at it, I want to show you something our red cat caught, and I saved, yesterday....
Me and the Mss were strolling though the garden, looking at all the signs of spring and watching him hunt and catch something. Something that did not look like the usual mouse or vole!

Pay attention to that look in its eyes!

Is it a beauty or what

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring is here!!

This morning we got the final confirmation by a passing flock of cranes over oue house; spring is here!!
And with them they brought the sun and warmth!
we had a very sunny day today and temperatures rose to above 10C.

The signs have been all around us and quite visible for a few weeks now.
We saw a woodpigeon on very rainy, cold and miserable thursday, februari 21st, male blackbirds a few days later, a couple of swans on the first day of marchand the last week we heard and saw geese.
The snowdrops started blooming on march 4th, followed by crosuses 2 days later. But in between, on februari 21st, Jack Frost flexed his muscles one last time by dumping a good 20cm of thick, heavy, wet snow on us, followed by a good thaw the next day and a strange sunset through the clouds, casting the world in a saturated, deep reddish pink light. very surreal!
And as an encore we were visited by a large group of sidensvansar (Bohemian waxwings or Bombycilla garrulus) You can actually hear the group moving!
The first day of gardeningwork is a fact too and so is the reminder that the body slips out of shape after a "winter" of inactivity.
Yesterday I also had the pleasure of meeting the couple that used to keep bees and grow herbs and medicinal plants on a commercial basis and it turned out that we do have quite a lot in common. It was quite a pleasant meeting and when we left, both my wife and I had the strange feeling that they had been probing and reaching out to see if there would be possibilities for a future cooperation in said fields. I also left with the assurance that I'd be welcome to come over and tag along and learn about it all, when the season starts in about 4 weeks.
All in all very interesting and exciting times!