Sunday, March 29, 2015

Input, input, input.....

Spring is here alright these days. All the snow and ice has gone from our piece of land, but only the top 2-3cm of soil have defrosted. Snow and ice still remains in dark corners and on the lakesurfaces.
Today I found tussilago in bloom, while buzzards were circling over my head, calling. And everything was basking in the sun. However spring is grey looking mostly so far. This early in the season there are plenty of backlashes and wile large parts of Sweden and Norway were covered in a thick blanket of snow again, we remained on the "warm" side of this and received a good dose of rain. And where warm and cold air mix, where rain falls onto ice... there often is fog or low hanging clouds... Dark, doomy, gloomy, miserable and wet.... And yet.... There is a certain mystical beauty in it too.

So with the conditions being as they are, I do what I often do best, besides being bored; I read.... A lot... On all sorts of things. My life right now, well not my life, but many of my spare hours, is being dominated by the gathering of information and the feeding of the brain a.k.a. reading books..... and the internet. And to make things more interesting I do that in four languages; Dutch, German, English and Swedish. Not simultaneously of course... The folks at the library must be going nuts with all the reservations I put out. Or at least think we are dry and dusty bookworms...
Like I mentioned earlier there has been a major shift in interest. The military history and scale modelling are all but history themselves and even the woodsman-thing has moved to the background a bit. That will never disappear, but now other things have moved to the front of the stage; growing food and keeping animals. Bees and chickens mostly.
There are many items and issues I want or need to know more about. Decisions to be made on what course to steer. Practical issues to deal with. This search has lead me to many interesting and eyeopening books, articles, philosophies and the like. Quite an interesting matter, really.

Apart from adapting my personal life to become less dependent on the several systems, I also want to integrate this lifestyle into a professional enterprise.
I envisage a farm/company that produces honest, decent food. Where animals and plants live as close as possible to their roots and in freedom, not being submitted to an onslaught of chemicals or poisons.
The farm also has to function as a unity, creating a complete circle of feeding, fertilizing and producing, ranging from the soil till ones plate.
I have knowledge about growing plants and I have an inner connection to it, too. Doing it on a larger scale will require adapting that knowledge. Keeping animals is new to me, but I am not burdened or weighted down by an education in or knowledge of that subject. Especially not the modern version! So my brain is not filled with all kinds of crap and I am free to absorb any knowledge that feels right to me.
The starting point will be sowing and pre growing vegetables and other edibles in a greenhouse in order to start sales early and give others a chance of growing their own food and then move on to growing them on open land, both for ourselves and for sales. Accompanied by bees and beekeeping, because let's face it, these are interdependent and so are we. The bees would pollinate, we'd get our own honey and above all it is just plain fun! The next move would be the incorporation of livestock; chickens, sheep and cows.

Printing a lot of the information I found on the net proved to be quite necessary. For one I have difficulties reading large volumes of text on a screen. Another thing is that I regularly browse through my bookcase and I like to have books or information close at hand for immediate use and reference should I need it.
Btw I found a great academic study by a Swedish lady, called Jenny Helsing, who studied and calculated how much vegetables ( a selection of the most common sorts) a family of 4 would need to live of in one year; in kg per vegetable, in square meters per vegetable, in labour etc... Very handy piece of reference. EDIT; here's her work as a pdf-file
And a lot on how to deal with certain weeds, companion planting schedules, rules, regulations etc....
And in order to make sure that I do not starve to death and not only my brain gets fed my better half had been making these typical Dutch goodies, called eierkoeken or eggcakes.

Biodynamic or just "plain" ecological/organic?
That is one of the things I am thinking about.
They have similarities and both have much, if not most, in common with what I/we want to do, with what we stand for.
- Would biodynamic or demeter be a good marketing tool? Would the general public, or those interested in decent food, understand what it stands for? Or would it label us to heavily, maybe even push us into a small niche of alternative thinkers? We know Rudolf Steiner's philosophies and anthroposophy in general. Our kids went to a Waldorf School back in Holland and we agree with a good deal of it. But certainly not all! A certain amount of it is based on belief or a bit far fetched. I've seen the, sometimes bordering on the religious/occult/sekt like, behaviour and visions with a good portion of those who follow his way.
If I understood correctly then demeter would require a complete circle within a location. Food, housing, fertilisation, growing... it all has be in tune with each other. That would mean a complete farm... Which would suit me fine, but would also create a steep learning curve.... and a considerable bundle of cash to pay for it all.
Going for this label would not only give us a label to go to the market with, but bind us to certain strict rules and regulations, of which earth, plant and animal benefit.... and of course there are expenses.
- Would ecological be a good marketing tool? There already is so much that uses this label and much of it is not ecological at all. At least not to my specifications. It is being over marketed, growing thin with the public, yet it is a known label.
Being able to use a known label for selling food as organic or ecological also has its rules and regulations and thus expenses. The learning curve would be less steep and I could go step by step. So for now I am leaning much more toward this approach.

Looking at all of this I will need help.... eventually.
That help will have a seasonal character. Hiring staff costs. A lot. So how can people help me, while at the same time I can do something for them in return?
WWOOF comes to mind. Exchanging physical help for free accommodations and stay and the exchange of knowledge and experience. Via via I also came across a site of an organization called "Transition", and this post specifically this changes everything so now what . I must say I like the idea a lot, so maybe that creates possibilities as well. I do not like to get hung up on a certain organisation or idea, so joining them probably will not happen, but the idea itself has merit. There is an international side to this organisation too, if you're interested.

And should all this never materialize..... At least I will have learned a lot, so nothing goes to waste. Neither time nor braincapacity ;-)

Well, I guess it is the best way to spend some of my hours until I can move on to the hands-on-bit. While I keep struggling with a cold that will neither break out or disappear and the change of season to top it of....

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Everything seems to be fine....

or is it?

After the initial panic and massive irritation due to my email issues everything seems to be working... still.
Yes, panic, because I am an absolute digital/hightech disaster. I don't understand it, I don't like it and I don't want to either. As long as everything works as it should I am fine, more or less. But as soon as trouble appears, I am lost.... Massive irritation because I do not see the point of someone creating trouble for others in these matters or any other for that matter. What's the point? Is it fun? Does it create a "positive" boost to an otherwise hopelessly inferior feeling soul? Some spammer who uses email accounts to "spread his message" totally oblivious to the fact that spamming causes nothing but annoyance??

All it did for me was to cause a lot of stress; annoyance, anger and tons of hassle and, I admit it, swearing behind the screen in order to try and get things fixed
By the way my virusscanner did detect something AFTER the incident and it was removed. So much for a firewallvirusdetectorexpensivebugrepellentthingy....
I did not delete the initial account. Had no idea how to and by the time I did, was really deterred by the amount of extra hassle AND personal information the deletion required. For a free emailaccount....

But we're still in the air.....

Sunday, March 22, 2015

My account has been hacked!

Apparently someone broke into my hotmailaccount.
This was the email linked to this blog.
Any and all emails anyone might get through; these are NOT mine.
I deleted that account.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Let there be light after dark

Everything's a mess. It continues to thaw by day and refreeze by night. The roads and tracks turn into ribbons and rivers of mud and water. The dog is shedding his wintercoat and the itch is driving him mad. He scratches himself ferociously leaving tufts of loose hair between his toes and nails, while an aura of flying hair and dust surrounds him at all times. Muddy boots in the hall, muddy pawprints in every other living area and the grinding sound of sand, wherever you go. Wintercoats and snowboots, rain- or thin jackets and rubber boots, mittens, gloves, knitted hats..... Chaos rules... The time is at hand to clean up, clear out the old and bring in the new...

And while our latest member of the family takes the most credit for the present mess, he also ensures our lives do not get boring otherwise.
How is one supposed to get mad at this??
He has been developing into this glad, happy, energetic, boisterous, not always equally obedient fellow, who has been developing a trait I never experienced in one of the dogs I had or dealt with; he talks... No really: He does. When spoken to or when he himself speaks, he doesn't bark or whine. He makes these noises more inside his mouth and throat that sounds a bit like mrawr wroowroowwrow (you're trying it now, aren't you?) and similar versions in varying and alternating intensity, volume and order. Depending on the occasion; food, go out for a walk, playtime... One can actually have a conversation with him! He answers you and it often is hilarious... Just not at 05:45 am next to the bed into one's ear. When laying down on the couch (I had to give in here due to group pressure) he also moans, groans and sighs like an old tired man. He even smiles at times! Rub or scratch him in a particular way and you'll see his eyes turning to slits and the corners of his mouth curling up. And then he has this special wry smile.... Really I sometimes swear he was a human in a previous life, having returned as a dog to get taught a lesson. But when I see him play with one (1!) bit of his dry food, I swear he was a cat somewhere down the line too! He sure is a one of a kind character!

The weather has been exceptionally good the period before the weekend, last week, week and a half. High temperatures, much sun. Typical that exactly at this weekend, with the aurora, eclipse and equinox, the weather turns winterly....
The high daytime temperatures, coupled with cold nights, makes that the ice on the lakes melts and refreezes, causing tremendous stresses within the ice and we can hear it! Even when indoors. The ice groans and moans all the time, often giving off booming sounds, but especially during the mornings, when the sun is warming up, the sounds become violent. It starts to crack, long drawn out cracks ending with a sharp snap, reverberating through the valley. Reminds us of lighting during a fierce summer thunderstorm played in slow mode.
The sun is illuminating spider threads as they waft through the air, loosely strung between the branches of trees and bushes, the light caught in the filaments, turning them into threads of gold. The open water of the lake shimmers and sparkles in a dazzling display of light and in the early morning ice crystals grow out of the ground reflecting the light of the rising sun like diamonds, before the warm rays turn them into water once more. On the other hand I am waiting for the warmth to clear the forest floor. The thaw and freeze cycle has transformed much of it into sheets of ice, often looking like glass, polished smooth and transparent. However in between the trees, pine and spruce mostly, the ground is free. At least the very top. Underneath the moss, leaves and twigs the ground is still rock hard. Yet these are places the sun does not reach, but they appear to be warmer than the areas the sun does reach....

The sun was also otherwise very active, creating the perfect conditions for magnificent displays of the northern light.... of which we saw practically none, because King Winter sent us a shroud of clouds, stubbornly trying to fight of the light, only revealing the light in the dead of night.

Still feast your eyes on some images of what it looked like in the immediate area. The following images are sent in by readers of Lucky bastards... or less sleepy ones...
Ornäs Borlänge
Varpan, Falun

Falu Gruvan, Falun
There was another equally or maybe even more stunning display of light and dark, a solar eclipse, but again that was not visible to us, for the same reason. But whatever King Winter throws at us, he can not stop the advance of the season of light...
The eclipse itself was, as said, not visible to us. The only thing we saw, was snow falling onto a slightly darkening, grey world with a faint orange tinge to it at the moment of the eclipse here. As I stood by the window, looking out, I saw a crow working its way around an apple I had thrown out earlier this morning. It opened its beak a bit, jabbed it into the apple and flew away with it. It actually flew away with one complete apple!
Another thing that was quite noticeable was the arrival of a large flock of returning birds; bofink (or common chaffinch) and bergfink (or brambling); one or two dozen of each. They were joined by not only blåmes and talgoxe (blue and great tits), but also by grönfink (greenfinches), gul sparv (yellowhammers), some domherre (bullfinch) and I even thought I saw grön siska (eurasian siskin) And they did make quite an audible display! At one point all these species were foraging on the ground with even one of the woodpeckers joining them. And when I took the camera and pointed it at them..... they all instantly vanished in a flurry of wingbeats.
This choir of birds became a lot less audible, as the darkening went on and as it did I felt the already present unease building up ever faster into a sense of tension. In my gut, my chest, my spine....Later on, when the sun reappeared the world had this strange, bright almost glorious feel to it... As if it had been renewed in a way.. liberated.... And I could breathe! Really bizarre.

And then there was this strange episode I told about in between the solar eclipse and the equinox of the 20th; Skogens andar

Vårdagjaämning.... The moment where day and night are of equal length... As of that moment the days will be longer than the nights.
There has been so much going on lately, we thought it appropriate to celebrate, commemorate that by having a little special something; the first fire in the garden. Too bad the weather wasn't playing along. On thursday evening the weather turned sharply, clouds sweeping in, temperatures dropping. The forecast for friday was cold, a thick blanket of clouds, windy and mild snowfall mixed with rain. The forecasters predicted everything right this time... except that there was more snow and as it turned out of a much dryer nature later in the night. So the planned celebration with a open fire and a homebrewed beer in the garden was held inside....
The next morning the sun turned the world into a dazzling wonderland with an intensity that is so much different than during winter. Much more intense, much fuller, much more blinding, sparkling. The cover of snow showed we have a very active fox in the immediate area still.
The world started dripping again very soon, adding yet more water to the already saturated ground.
And as winter is giving way to spring, the idiots of summer are beginning to return, invading the peacefulness, ripping apart the veil of quiet with motocross bikes and quads with bad or no mufflers.....

our world saturday morning 06:30 am
And later in the afternoon...

found this little guy next to the wood stack
Despite the ground still being frozen (so I'll have to wait a little longer to start doing some real gardening work), some things are already in progress.
I fixed and filled the woodstorage next to the backdoor. New pallets on the ground, new planks on the side, new fixing in the ceiling. The shoddy wood storage down in the garden we used last winter really wasn't adequate to say the least. So I started removing the wood from it and started tearing it down.
We should have started cleaning up big time; a whole bunch of scrap should've been collected today. the Mitsubishi "wreck", the old moosetub (the bathtub where the moosehide resided for a couple of weeks), the old gas powered grasscutter, 2 old bicycles... The fellow that should come by didn't... again. I hate it when people do that!

And what man doesn't clean up, nature eventually will....
This was earlier last week btw.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Skogens andar

or spirits of the forest....

Today was a very special day and one that I might remember for a long, long time.
As everybody knows today was the day that we both had a solar eclipse and a spring equinox. You might shrug your shoulders now, thinking "So?".... I'll get back to those events later on..

A strange string of events happened today, not taking into consideration the solar eclipse before and the equinox later that day:
It started when I was going for a walk with Rex. I was thinking out loud which way to take, when my wife suggested to take a certain route. As I was on my way Rex and I came at the crossing where both routes split up; right ahead and to the right the route I had had in mind and to the left the route my wife had suggested. Rex and I were pretty much heading for "my" route, when at the very last instant I called Rex back and swung onto the track my wife suggested.
No idea why, just did...
As we were walking up the track, feeling the light snow, that had been falling all morning, on my face I sunk into thought, contemplating and pondering over some of the issues I am working on/ struggling with lately. And for some reason I formulated very clearly what it is I want, how I want to do this and above all what my intentions and motivations were.... And then, in my mind, I very deliberately asked for guidance and help. After that I let it go....
Rex and I walked on and I noticed how well behaved and obedient he was today. Not like his usual self lately... up the track and at one point we came across a logger track going over a clearcut area. One we never used before. The track was crossed by a small stream of meltwater... And again, for some reason, I went up there... We hopped over the stream, crossed the open area and headed for the behind laying forest. As we entered it, I noticed the green and white patchwork under the trees. The snow had gathered on the exposed mossy surfaces, but the tree circles were still fresh green. I watched this kind of fairytale like display and took some pictures. Then I noticed that I was standing on a fork in the loggers track. One track swung right and one continued deeper into the forest. I chose the latter one to follow. Within 15 meters Rex took off! I am glad I learned how to read his body language, so I had just enough time to brace for the inevitable impact of him hitting the end of the line. I knew he had seen something, but I had not. So I hissed him back and reeled in the leash. He kept pulling, very much wanting to go up the track. So we did.... And I thought I heard
something thumping away. My heart skipped a beat and some 10 meters ahead my suspicion was confirmed; a moose. Big prints in the moss and snow. We moved on and I got wind of something... The moose had been so close that I could actually smell it! Its scent hung between the trees! We followed the tracks uphill for a while, until something told me to stop. And I did. Took another picture of the prints and veered off to the left, knowing there would be another, known to me, loggers track somewhere in that
direction. We found it after about 150 meter cross country. As we stepped onto that track, I turned around and said thanks. At that moment a shudder went down my spine..
We went home, my mind empty and Rex reverted t some of his more usual behaviour, yet still not bad and energetic as usual.

A squirrel's bistro.
There were pinecone scales on all three boulders.

The leftover fireplace of a coaler's cabin

Snowflakes caught in a spider's web...

Now you might think I really lost it, but consider this....
How big are the odds of all this happening, exactly on the day of both a solar eclipse AND a spring equinox, both markers of times of great change .... I do not believe in coincidences and even if I did, these are a few too many happening within a short timespan.
No, I really do believe, no I know I have been spoken to..... and I got my answers....

A nice article on solar eclipse on the equinox; a powerful catalyst for new beginnings/

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

An artists version of "the woodsman"...

I met Renée through the often mentioned blogs of Andrea hejlskov and Ben Hewitt and a form of internet friendship developed. Among many things Renée is an artist, who works with pastels and who likes depicting people with hats.
She was looking for inspiration and half jokingly I sent her some of mine, showing me....
And I was and am amazed with what she did with those!
Here's the original one;

And her first work she showed on february 26th

And today she showed the finished work...
I am in awe... blown away... She makes me look good!!
I am quite pleased and proud...

Merci beaucoup, Renée!

Seriously people.... if you live in the US of A, California and you want something like this... contact her here;

Thursday, March 12, 2015

... and it's freakin' me out!...

I am experiencing things that are so out of the ordinary (to me)....

Today I went back to the unemployment agency. Made an appointment there a while ago, just to see if they could help me out in any way. Maybe some tips or suggestions. Given my previous experiences with similar institutions, I did not have high hopes.
The guy helping me made a very rushed impression. As if he wanted to get it over and done with. He looked at my cv, coughed up a handful of jobs from their database (which I myself could've done too... at home!!) which might be interesting for me and handed them over. One of them has a 4 hour round trip commute time. Really?? 2 hours in the car driving there and then 2 hours back? Well, I could always stay over for a week or just move all together.... Move?? We moved to another country less then 4 years ago. We moved into our current home less than 2,5 years ago. I have a family which has just settled in... Move??? Just like that? How the hell do folks like him think?? Do they actually think?? Or is he just an example of how conditioned people like him have become? How programmed and fixed on paid jobs they are, that getting one, any one, at all costs must be the goal?
He treated me like any other unemployed person, coming for benefits; if you want money, do as you're told, apply for any job, no matter how useless it is, make sure you send in your reports on time every 2 weeks and get out..... Only I did not come for a handout or benefits.... And I really hate to be treated this way.
We saw another ad. this week asking for a singing waitress in possession of a car, who would be willing to work for sek100 per hour for 2 months during the summer season.... What?? That sounds like exploitation to me!
Or another one asking for people to work on a substitute basis. They had to have at least one other job  for 50%, but had to be available on very short notice for an average of 3 days a week. A 50% job means 20 hours a week. 3 working days means 24 hours. That would add up to more than 100%... And do they expect you to drop whatever you are working on, the moment they call you? Excuse me?How do you do that? What employer would accept that?
I guess people these days are wayyyyy to dependent on jobs and they will do anything to take anything. And employers are taking advantage of that in the most insolent way. That too is freakin' me out and really pissing me off.
No, we need to give people more independence and reinstall a sense of dignity. We need the to stop behaving like freakin' drug addicts, running from fix to fix... at all costs.

When I got home, I talked to my wife about it. The way I saw it I, or we, had 2 options; 1 go for a job, any job, grow a little food at home and stay with the programme or.... Give them all the middle finger, take a (medium huge) chance and try to get the homegrowing- and vegetableselling plans of the ground.... The latter would mean we'd be dependent on her getting a ((better) paid) job for the time being... whilst I toil away with the odd job, with planning, and hopefully preparing the area for next year. We agreed on the latter option. I also asked the kids what they wanted and they all agreed as well. Besides moving was absolutely no option... to none of us.

Luckily there is a whole lot of other things going on too.
Today wasn't the first time I drove out there. Did that too yesterday, only to find out I was a day early upon arrival. But lo and behold.... I didn't get pissed.... I called my wife and we even laughed about it! An 80km round trip.... for nothing... and we laughed.
So I got back into the car and took the scenic route home. It was nice and "warm" 8C, the backroads were empty and I enjoyed the drive home. I am usually not a big fan of driving... And on my way home I saw the first northern lapwing of this season, saw a squirrel with bright red paws, head and tail, but a dull grey body and came across the season's first buzzard... It sat on a powerline, looking roughed up and tired. Guess he had a long trip behind him. I stopped the car, got out and approached him. I could get close to about 25 meters and then he looked at me and lifted off. I could have sworn he heaved a tired sigh before doing so!!!

But that's not all. I don't know if spring is messing with me, but there is an overall feeling of positiveness over me. I meet the nicest people and all of a sudden my mum has come back into my life... Or it might be, because I spend at least an hour in the woods everyday with Rex... A general feeling that life is good, that things are alright or will be, that the ideas we have now are accomplishable and not mere vague hopes or dreams.
A major shift in the setting of the mind...
I even totally lost any interest in my previous military related hobbies; the books, biographies, battle accounts, hardware, modelling.... All of it. This stuff will be out on sales sites very soon...
When building models I used to be able to form a mindpicture of the soldiers fighting, clinging onto their weapons, hanging into the butt of a machinegun, shaking as their fired it, yelling, screaming, dying...... No more.. It is gone... When visiting a museum I could see the material on exhibit being used.... Now I could care less about a museum.
The interest has waned and wavered for quite a while now, but now it really is gone... and I have come to accept that.

This too feels like a fundamental shift in mindset.
And that too is freakin' me out!

Since I have very little experience with that.

And while on the subject...
I always loved the military life, which incidentally has  quite a few things in common with the outdoor way of life, I idolised those wearing a uniform a little.... Maybe not idolising, but holding in high regard. Knowing very well that war is an exceedingly nasty business. Maybe my views were hopelessly old fashioned and romantic.
These days I have come to see soldiers more in the light of being willless minions, often forced to do their political master's bidding. What I see in footage no more has honour and dignity. They get used and thrown away like dirty rags. Misguided, abused, lied to... They get conditioned (or maybe selected?) to commit atrocities and misconduct seems to be stimulated instead of being seriously discouraged.
Yet still.... when I see how veterans are treated, my own brother is one, I wonder..... Why? Why did they make these choices? Why did they do the things they did?

I got out before sustaining or causing injury or suffering, because I didn't like the job or prospects offered and I am very grateful to this day for making that choice. Despite that I always felt a strong connection. Felt....

To all those who did well or had an honest intention to do so....
I honour you.
US, UK, Dutch, Swedish, Israeli, Arab...
Christian, Muslim, Jew...

May you all find peace and see who or what the real enemy is...

A good deal of them have come to see what really is going on and have started to speak up.
I only wish more had done so, before they went into the grinder and I sure do hope many more will.

btw... the video gives me goosebumps and a lump in my throat and the music is just plain awesome... strong...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The teacher will appear....

when the student is ready...

Last week my wife and I were walking Rex, when at the end of our walk, we came across an old greenhouse, partially in disrepair. One side received new foil last autumn, but the rest..... needs a little extra work. We heard noise coming from the greenhouse, which probably meant that the owner was busy cutting and splitting wood. As we walked by I, for some reason, suggested we'd go over and meet the man, if only to introduce ourselves to him. He was not alone. One of the other villagers was with him and after our introduction we started chatting. Of course he wanted to know more about us, so we talked for a while, telling him who we were, what our plans for the future were etc.
Turns out he and his wife had been growing vegetables and flowers for decades on an ecological basis, even certified, that the land that lay behind the greenhouse was theirs too and that that too was ecologically certified. So I elaborated a bit more on our plans and I told him I thought it was a waste to let the older generations experience go to waste. He looked at me and quite casually mentioned he was planning on stopping using the greenhouse for woodcutting and generally lay it all down. He'd grown to old for it. I sensed he was more than just politely interested..... as was I, since what they did, is right up our alley. I think there is so much they could teach us.

The day after, as I was walking Rex again, I found myself walking towards the greenhouse again and decided to take a detour across the land... I saw its potential and I just could see sheep and cows grazing there... Turns out the barn that is there is perfectly suitable for keeping livestock... with appropriate interior and all...
Daydreaming and preplanning (fantasising) I walked on and there, right at the far end of the land, was something that stopped me dead in my tracks; a moose... a big one... in brought daylight... staring at me. You don't just run into a moose.. It shows itself to
Now those who have read me more often know that moose have a special place in my heart. It is my totem animal. I consider seeing one to be a good omen and it has happened a few times before that, whenever I was struggling with something, some decision, a moose would show itself to me.
And now the answer was staring me in the face.... literally! I could approach it quite closely, up to about 25 meters, before Rex could not contain himself any longer and started the pull on the leash and started barking. I hushed him down, but the moose trotted off, not alarmed or anything, for a dozen meters or so and stopped, turned at stared at me again. Rex lost it and now the moose disappeared between the trees, still unhurried and calm.
Rex still has much to learn.....

As we continued we came across a fox a little later on and Rex, once again, went ballistic. But he responded quite quickly, when I called him back. About half an hour later he was tested again. This time by a group of deer, 8 in total, standing between the trees, up wind from us. They hadn't yet caught sent of us, but had seen us. I quietly commanded rex to stay calm, to come back to me and he obeyed... Reluctantly, but still he did. I kept on telling him to remain calm and quiet and he was able to control himself, even when the herd bounded off, deeper into the woods. We have come quite a way already with him until now, but we are not there yet. He does obey a lot better then before, but still has days when he simply doesn't want to. The same goes for his pulling on the leash. But there is progress and we will continue to work on it, until he can go without the leash being strung like a snare and until he can look at wildlife, without going into hunt- or chase-mode.
Yet Rex has also become a teacher to me; he is teaching me patience, how to treat and work with larger animals, how to read and understand them. I too still have much to learn... Keeping my temper on "off-days" is one of them.

Two days later, again while roaming around with Rex, we found ourselves on that piece of land again. Apparently we both like it there....I did a bit more reconnaissance and found a little shack that I suspect to hold a pump. The electrical wiring and fuse box were sort of a give away. I also found a well next to the barn, so there is running water. The barn is in disrepair too, but appears dry on the inside...
As we walked on we eventually passed the house of the couple owning it all.... And right after I passed their driveway I stopped... and did something that is very, very unlike me. I walked up to the house, knocked on the door and when it opened I invited them both for coffee and cake to have a talk about ecological growing of plants. We chatted a little more and I basically told them what our plans were and how we looked upon things. I told them about having sheep and chickens too. Turns out they had sheep as well! And she used to make her own cheese! Ohh, there is so much knowledge there.... He again looked me in the eyes and said:"but I suppose finding land is an issue, isn't it." I can not help but feeling he knew damn well what I was thinking!!
They promised to get in touch with us as soon as he is done with the firewood for this year. Again he mentioned he wanted to call it quits after that.... We will talk some more about it all then...

I do not yet know exactly how large the areal is or even if the barn is their as well. Size is about 4 hectares or 10 acres. One side is almost perfectly flat and one side is hilly; growing crops and grazing...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


As in Snow, Water, Ice and Mud... Especially the latter is omnipresent.
We are having some serious thaw these past few days, despite the sun being totally absent. No, not entirely. It does show itself occasionally... And when it does, the magic of approaching spring is there, but mostly it was dark, grey, windy... an almost late november kind of weather, but with a different feel in the air. Different smell too. Even my youngest daughter noticed it after I asked her to stop and smell. She noticed the damp earth, warming up. That sweet, heavy, musty smell.
And everyday spring is advancing, pushing out the remnants of winter. Every day more and more swans fly overhead, constantly calling. Same goes for Canadian geese.
A good deal of plants have returned to life as well. We already see many fresh leaves of the forest strawberries and some ferns too. On higher, sunnier places grass has started forming new shoots and the snowdrops are blooming. The crocuses followed suit.
Many things are happening. Openings are being created all around us. Let's just hope we will fit into them....

Let the wind blow clean the skies...
and let the water wash away the troubles of winter...
Everything is being reborn...
As are we...

This stream is the very stream my son drank from last spring. It has opened up again, being only 30cm wide. It came rushing down on one side, disappeared beneath a sheet of ice still covering the forest"road" only to emerge completely silent on the other side...

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The nourishing homestead - Ben Hewitt

A while ago, whilst browsing the internet, I came across the blog of a person called Ben Hewitt. I do not know how, but ever since I keep following it.
Ben's a writer and he and his family have a homestead in Vermont, USA, where they are pretty much capable of taking care of themselves. They grow their own food, both plant and animal. Their kids don't go to school but are being homeschooled and I must admit that I am in awe of what they do, they way they do and above all why. They started from scratch about 17 years ago and have come a long way. To me practically all the way.
Not long after I started following Ben's blog, I scraped together some cash and bought one of his books, called Saved.
Through coïncedence (in which I do not believe) I came across Andrea's blog, since she is a follower of Ben's as well and through both blogs a small group developed that got into contact with one another. One of those people is Kristina, going by the name of Bee happee now and through her I was to receive Ben's latest book; the nourishing homestead, which I already regard as one of the more valuable and valued gifts I ever did receive. I read many a book on self sufficiency, homesteading, old crafts, bushcraft, nature living and what not. You get the idea. However Ben's book has become a landmark in my bookshelf. It made that much impact. Not necessarily because of it's contents, although these are of great value, but more because it marked the final push onto the path to homesteading we ourselves are about to follow.
I find it hard to describe the book.... It is basic, no nonsense, glad, appreciative, educational, thought provoking, humoristic, civilised, to the point, full of tips, anecdotes and above all love, well thought out and through, easily read, even for those whose native tongue is not English and, forgive me if I say it like this..... but for me so un-American!
I swept through it. Read it within a week. All 320 pages....
And will read it again.... and probably a third time too.... because I know I will see and learn new things every time.

A quick run down of the contents/chapters

1 The evolution of our homestead
2 Practice and philosophy
3 Homestead design and layout
4 Real food and deep nutrition
5 Soil and gardens
6 The nourished animal
7 Animal slaughter and processing
8 Infrastructure, skills & tools
9 Money and "stuff"
10 Children on the homestead
11 What the day holds

Basic story;
Ben Hewitt and his wife Penny, build up their home and homestead, literally starting from scratch in Vermont, USA and over the past 17 years have reached a point where they can feed themselves for up to 90%. They created a place where they grow their own food, keep livestock, cut their wood and do this with the utmost respect and love land and animal alike. They have 2 boys which they homeschool, meaning they do not attend a regular school but get taught by their parents and, apparently, by themselves too.

The great thing about this book is that it not only focuses on their own "little" world, but see this world as part of the bigger picture and he frequently addresses issues in that bigger picture that affect us all; pollution, depletion of resources, stupid and shortsighted policies, equally shortsighted, shortterm profitgoals, GMO's, greedy companies and their political minions, you name it... And in ways that make sense. Not the pompous academic way of sense, but the basic peasant wisdom way of sense. He knows what he is talking about, because he sees, does and feels it every single day.

All the while he adds his own experiences, anecdotes. little glimpses of their world, which prevents the whole thing from being too heavy, if his very palatable way of writing even would have made that possible. The man has wisdom far beyond his years....

The homeschooling thing; at first when I started reading Ben's blog I was kind of sceptical about the concept, but having read the book I have come to see that the boys have reached a level of knowledge and development that is wayyy beyond their years. Or should I say beyond the years we have come to allow kids to have these days? They drive truck and tractor, hunt, kill and prepare game, know the land and its riches and how to use and respect them etc. And still can read and write, do match and all the other things "normal" children do to, but without the imprisonment of school.

One thing that is missing in this book though is the hardships they must have endured at many points. I can not tell if this is deliberate or if these hardships simply have been pushed to the background, forgotten, erased from the memory by the positiveness that permeates every aspect of their lives Ben describes.

He is a strong advocate not of self sufficiency, but of interdependency, of community. Meaning we need each other to thrive. Small communities with folks that help each other, complete each other.

And as icing on the cake he provides you with loads of references you can use to dig deeper as he calls it.

If I had to chose one picture in the book that describes it, it'd be this one:

If you have any interest in homesteading, taking care of yourself or this world we live in and on.... Get this book! If ever I can recommend a book regarding the subjects mentioned....

Won't take my word for it?? Well, here are some of the reviews/comments on Amazon on the book; check it out...

Thank you Ben and those that assisted you for making this book!
And thank you Kristina for giving it to me!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A patent on nature???

Right now there is a legal battle going on between the Swiss based company Syngenta and a broad European farmer- and breeders alliance. Syngenta is trying to patent the genetic ability of red peppers to withstand white flies. The alliance says that that ability is a natural feat of the plant, not an invention. Actually Syngenta already owns that patent, but the alliance, some 28 organisations demand a withdrawel of that. patent.... Which incidentally means that Syngenta owns all pepperplants and -seeds with that natural resistence.
Here you can read about it in English
In december Monsanto tried something similar.... And companies like these will keep on trying until 1 corrupt of shortsighted judge agrees with them.... After that I am quite sure there'll be a storm of legal claims until even the plants are no longer free, but owned by Big Ag.

Just so you know....
Keep an open eye and keep on spreading the word...
Vigilance is an absolute must...

An image of a future homesteader???


A post dedicated to those feathered friends, both big and small...
During these trying times just before the freeing abundance of spring, keyed up... It is foggy right now and chilly. There is little else to do but watch birds around our house and what delightful displays even the most common of birds can show. As a standard a pair of binos is standing on the windowsill.
Birds are whizzing through the air, having dogfights, playing tag between the empty branches of the trees or coupling up, hopping from branch to branch, getting closer to each other. Green finch, bull finch, great and blue tit.....  I am always in awe, watching their flight, amazed at their agility, their swiftness, their speed and their very short time of reaction. As if the know beforehand what manoeuvre the leading bird is going to make.
Tuesday we heard the first birds of spring coming back; a couple of swans! The passed right over the house. I missed seeing them, the mrs. did, but their calls were unmistakable... And today we were treated to a great display of sound and sight. I heard the call of a black woodpecker close to the house. I grabbed the book with the bird sounds, went out and waited..... Then there was another call, equally close to the house. The woodpecker's mating call.... and I replayed one from the book....
Not mine, unfortunately; source
Silence.... I played it again, followed by a territorial call and the reply was instant!! Then I saw it move, it came closer. I called my wife and then I repeated the cycle again; mating call and territorial. Again an immediate reply... but from another direction!! I hit the mating call again twice and then there was movement between the trees.... A large, black shadow swooped down and flew along our house.... A few quick beats and a long glide. Closely followed by a second one! A pair of black woodpeckers!!  My wife and I watched them go, a smile on our faces...

I so desperately need a system camera with proper lense!!!

The slowly, but surely receding winter is making it ever more easy (less difficult) to access areas that were very hard to reach before and sometimes one find treasures in those more remote areas. The life and drama within a winter forest. The place where a large bird , probably a capercaillie or black grouse hen, has fallen victim to a predator, the location that suddenly reveals the presence of a large grouping of birds and sounds of others calling for mates or staking their claim on a territory. I think I might be paying this site a few more very early morning visits coming april.
Most spots of dropping had them scattered over a circular area of about 75cm in diameter and there were dozens all around, but one was neatly piled.... For me clearly capercaillie..

So many interesting and new smells!!!

We were also granted the privilege of seeing a moose up close for 2 days in a row on the same place. Big moose, quite brightly coloured around the belly..... But unfortunately rex was unable to contain and control himself, so the encounters were rather brief. Yet we could get pretty close; the first day around 50 meters, before the exposed moose trotted off and the second day up to 25. We saw it standing in the treeline next to the road and Rex' total inability to hold back and stand still made it move away. Yet it wheeled back after the initial contact, reemerging from the forest edge a little further away, before finally stomping away, again. Our boy still has much to learn.