Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Winter reading II - the theme of the lone wolf

Actually meant for the cold season with a cup of hot cocoa next to a crackling fireplace, but equally enjoyable during summer, in a hammock, under the clear sky with a longdrink and buzzing mosquitos.... I had this one in my "to publish"-list and now that I am forced "to take a day off" ( a damn cold according to me. Release of build up tensions says the mrs.) I figured I might finish it and hit the publish button....

Here's another group of books I enjoyed. The theme "lone wolf" is appropriate, since these books deal mostly with the one man alone in the wilderness-subject.
It is mainly about men leaving behind society and living by themselves miles away from the modern world. I got these book when I myself was dreaming about that; leaving it all behind, moving to the woods and being there alone, by myself. I really enjoyed these books and I have read most of them more than once. However I have to admit that I could not do what they did; indeed living alone for extended periods of time. I am after all to much of a social animal. I need folks around.
Many in the outdoor/bushcraft-community idolise those men and especially Dick Proenneke seems to be a rolemodel for just such a life, where as people like Mike Tomkies are hardly mentioned. These people are seen as great men, independent, totally free and able to take care of themselves.
Whatever these men (and occasional woman) did, for whatever reasons they left society and went living by themselves, they all have similarities in their stories. The main thing, apart from (re)building a cabin on their own for their own, is indeed a still strong connection and/or dependence to that society. A lifeline. They still depend on others for support, supplies, sustenance. So no, they are not completely independent. Far from. Another thing is the inability or unwillingness to submit to society's rules, expectations and pressures. They chose to leave that behind and flourished, despite hardships, but they did not make it entirely on their own. Typically the Yukon pops up regularly.... or similar places in the northern hemisphere. I can fully understand why.
Be that as it may, I truly enjoyed all of these books, devoured and reread them.... apart from Thoreau's book. But I think that is because English is not my native language, although I do think I master it quite well. I will not elaborate too much on the contents as I do not want to spoil the fun, but all I can say is that each book was worth every penny/cent I spent on them! Even if my sidetable is filled with books of a different nature these days....
Anyway, here they are... in random order... (by the way I plucked the images from the net. Didn't feel like fiddling around with cellphone, camera and what not... Just took a shortcut here)

The good life, up the Yukon without a paddle - Dorian Amos
paperback, pocket 191 pages
The tale of a couple, Dorian and Bridget, leaving a relative comfy/secure life in Britain and exchanging that for a new start in the Yukon, Alaska, without really (or actually) knowing what they were getting into. They suffer from the shock of reality, face the grim brutality of winter's nature in the Yukon, struggle through hardships (real ones!) and come out triumphant, often living apart for prolonged periods of time, yet sharing their love and warmth with and for each other and becoming parents in the meantime...
The book is basically divided in sections; the first section being the dream.- and planningfase, told in a more general fashion, followed by the actual move, part 2 is in a diary fashion, part 3 is a sort of doubleview window, with each of them giving their view on events side by side, followed by the final section, being Bridget sharing her story in short.
I so absolutely loved this book! I envisaged this being me and my wife, relating to many things and knowing how (or imagining) we might be dealing with the circumstances they faced. They had the great fortune, as did we, to be able to share it all with each other and growing closer because of it.
I can not wait until I can finally get my hands on their second book. Through this book I really got the feeling that these are real people, genuine.... The sequel is very high on my wantlist.
Get this book! You will not regret it!!

Walden or the life in the woods - Henry David Thoreau
paperback, pocket 216 pages
Another book greatly admired by the previously mentioned community, but I must admit I failed to understand why. I had serious difficulty understanding what the man had written. I simply failed to not just understand the language he used, but because of that also much of the meaning of what he wrote.
What I did (think) I understood, is that he claims that our lives today have become too cluttered, too complicated and that he strongly urges the reader to simplify. Reconnect with the essentials, the basics for we as a species need that to live and to thrive. Well, that is as actual today as it was back then. The book dates from 1854. Also his love for the woods is quite apparent, even to me.
I never finished the book, despite several tries. I just can't get through it....

Call of the wild - Guy Grieve
paperback, 383 pages
Guy Grieve, an office employee, hating his job, covered in debt, decides he's had enough.
He decides to leave behind his wife and family to try and live a year in, again Yukon, Alaska. He needs to do this for himself....
Amazon puts it like this
"Trapped in a job he hated and up to his neck in debt, Guy Grieve's life was going nowhere. But, with a stroke of luck, his dream of escaping it all to live in remote Alaska suddenly came true. Miles from the nearest human being and armed with only the most basic equipment, Guy built a log cabin from scratch and began carving a life for himself through fishing, hunting, and diligently avoiding bears. Packed with adventure, humor, and insight, this is the gripping story of an ordinary man learning the ways of the wild."
While I can fully understand this need and the way he hates the life he leads, I could not help but from the core of my being not agreeing with him for leaving his family behind in the good, old UK while he would be off, throwing himself against nature and himself in one of the most inhospitable areas in the north. He not only put himself at risk, but also the locals, who agreed to help him, despite the odds. He goes in poorly prepared, but he makes it. 
Yet I also must admit that I got caught by his determination, his resourcefulness, his resilience and his general view of and on life. It truly is an adventure of a lifetime and a life changing one at that. I did get caught by the way the story is told and by the many turns it makes. It never is a dull read.

A last wildplace - Mike Tomkies
paperback, 250 pages
Here's one of my all time favorites. My copy arrived in a well read fashion and I do understand why. The state of the book has become even more well read. ;)
I love it. Here's a single man, travelling the world, leaving the world of celebrity, settling in isolated places before finally settling on a lochshore in Scotland to immerse himself in nature, photograph it and write about it. No glamour, no false pretense. Down to earth, humble even, yet the love for what he does shows through in all he sees and writes about. You do not need pictures to see what he did. 
One of my favorite passages is where Mike sits down in the forest and describes it as a cathedral; large, imposing and serene, but than discovers it actually is a theatre with many scenes and actors. The way he does that really is capturing the imagination and I was there with him. I loved the way he describes his battles in his boat on a roaring loch, his treks, alone and later with his shepperd Moobly, through the hills and mountains and how the seasons change the land.
I can not wait to get my hands on some of his other titles, just to see if these are as good as this one.

One man's wilderness, an Alaskan odyssey - Dick Proenneke
paperback, 224 pages
Now here it is; THE soloawayfromsocietyoutdoorexperience by THE man.
And I can understand why it is so heralded and talked about. Here is a man, who after his early retirement leaves modern, western civilisation behind and build himself a logcabin far out into the northern wilderness and to go and live there by himself. He goes in, alone, with his bare hands and a pile of tools and raw materials and builds himself a home. I must say I am impressed by the man's accomplishments, both during the building proces, but also by his life afterwards there.
The whole story is being told without and bravoure or boasting and I really liked the sober tone. This tone however does not bring down any of the achievements, encounters or adventures he had and tells about. It is written with the same simple purity as the land which is described. No posh glitter, but fresh mountain air.
Dick has a keen eye for detail and is able to tell his story in such a fashion that it never gets dull, heavy or otherwise unpleasant. I found it hard to put the book down and I read it within a week the first time.
This one is another absolute keeper for me and another one I really recommend.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Some days just do not work out alright.

Today I would have really liked it to be a nice, relaxed day of celebration.
My wife is trying out a stand-in job in taking care of a handicapped person and she had had her first 12-hour nightshift in years last night. While she was asleep I got a phonecall telling me I have a fulltime summerjob; 40 hours a week, may to september. In order to enjoy this good news and to let my wife sleep in peace, I took Rex for a long walk in the woods. Some woodstime.... It has been way too long....
Unfortunately this did not work out quite as well as I had hoped. Rex was in a mood...... that did not contribute to a smooth cooperation and interaction between man and dog. He has been like this for a while now, but since a week..... charging at the cats, actively hindering them from seeking our companionship, disobedient, restless, chewing on things and hard to hold back. Playing with him almost instantly becomes violent and when he spots another animal..... He is walked 4 times a day with 1 time being more than an hour, but it is never enough.

Today was little different. In some respects he was worse. More and more Rex is showing a combination of 2 characteristics that I do not like to see in a dog simultaneously; very energetic and with a strong mind of his own. I like a lively and playful dog and I do not mind a dog having a mind of his own, but when his master calls he has to stop what he's doing and obey. Preferably at the first command. maybe at the second, but shouting for 4-5 times at a dog before he even responds and then decides if he is going to obey.... Not good. A dog walking his master; not good. When he gets told to not do or stop doing something, you see him glare at you...... and then quickly do it anyway. And you know he knows he's not supposed to do it. Lately I am seriously wondering if he is the right dog for this family. For me. Yet mostly he really wants to be friends, to be good. It just doesn't always work out that way.
The view for much of the walk
It might all be, because of his fase in life; a teenage dog. So for now I will shorten the leash so to speak and be more strict with him and see where this is going. But I do not like the fact that I have to be so firm, almost oppressive in order to get him to do even the simplest of tasks, simply because he just doesn't want to. One of those tasks is to go easy... He just will not go slow, especially on the long leash, no matter how often you slow him down or correct him. He merely turns his head.... and is off again, dragging you along. I have to keep my eyes fixed on the ground, just to see where I put down my feet, so I miss all the details, like a large buzzard sitting on a perch in plain sight, no 15 meters away from me. I noticed him when he took off as Rex came storming along the path. It doesn't really make it any easier to see wildlife, when you constantly have to bark commands at your dog either.
And that was when following the paths. In between the trees he not just pulled, but did that in all directions, nearly slamming me into trees or making me fight for balance on the rocky surface. He acted like a frickin' ADHD dog on a sugar- and caffeine rush!
The walk in the woods was anything but a leisurely, relaxing stroll and, despite a saying that you can not remain angry for long in the woods, but 2,5 hours later I came out pretty irritated (steaming is a better word) and we went home. I kept Rex short this time and he knew he blew it.
Yet, on the few occasions he managed to stand still, when I told him too and I could take some pictures or look briefly at an object of my interest.

Youngsters cheating in order to be bigger sooner.
A hefty burl with an odd shape

No words.....

The buckled area where root becomes tree
A cave of green

The grandeur of the forest as I like to see it!
Feast your eyes on it, as it will be gone soon.
They have begun to cut down the area...

Shortly after we came home I heard a familiar noise coming up the road; a pair of bitching and bickering girls coming home from school.... Great.
I had hoped to bring the good news as a surprise to the family over a nice dinner, but a) the surprise got ruined and b) a major ingredient for the dinner I wanted to make had run out, so I had to improvise and cook up something completely different. Still good, but now what I had in mind...

The dog is snoring in the couch now, the wife off to work again. The kids are off to bed and I am left here rethinking the day...... I think I'll have a beer.....

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Blisters, splinters and dirty fingernails

The body aches, the hands are sore, the fingers damaged and painful.... but it feels so good, because that means work is being done again! No more sitting around idle, but actually being busy fysically. Body tired, mind revived, soul satisfied....
Spring is here and it makes it hard to sit still, creates restlessness, urges mind and body to become active, productive, doing... Labour strengthens the flabby muscles, blood pumping through the veins, washes away the numbness of a hibernative state of mind.....

Lately I busied myself constructing an extra wood storage from the wood I got. The uneven ground proved to quite a bit of a challenge, because the whole contraption is standing on its own. No attachments to the housewall in order to avoid moisture transfers into the walls, which then might freeze up and fastening it into the ground was a no go too, because that would require a huge drill or dynamite. Nothing but rocks and stones..... But after a few days of measuring, sawing and constructing we had quite a nice extra storage right next to the house. It holds about 4,5m3 and all I have to do, is to open the basement window next to it and toss the wood into the receiving container and from there right into the heater. Saves a lot of carrying in winter over slippery surfaces. In fact the total amount of firewood in the container in the basement, the new storage and the storage next to the backdoor should at least see us through 4 very cold months. Again this whole thing did cost me nothing more than screws and nails I got from a local thrift shop; all in all 75 SEK. The roofing felt (those tar rolls) I found under the stairs to the frontdoor. They had been lying there for years, covered in leaves. Too bad it was not enough of one colour, but that doesn't matter. It was just enough as it was. We have different plans for that surface anyway. We want it to blend in, so it'll get covered with moss and grass and hopefully flowers will establish themselves there some day too.

Of course I didn't do it all by myself....
I had help!!
Last tuesday was a planting day.
The day before we went and got the fruit trees I ordered; 2 cherry and 2 plumb trees. They turned out to be quite a bit taller than I had expected! I thought they'd be about 1,5 m high, but the cherries were at least a meter higher and the plums reached a good 2 meters too. That's a good start!
From my father in law I got 6 more blackberry bushes, another josta and 3 red gooseberry bushes. So all in all a good deal of digging had to be done. A good way to give the high quality spade I got for my birthday a run for its money. Got to take care though. I am notorious for breaking shovel handles...
Digging out the bushes was no issue at all, but digging the planting holes at our place...... was quite a different matter all together! Stones, rocks and firmly compacted clay undersoil made digging 4 plantholes an all-afternoon enterprise. Crowbar and spade work..... yet clawing around in the soil literally made me re-earth... if you know what I mean.
The otherwise pretty useless, as in foodproduction wise, piece of garden is being enriched by all those berrybushes and with any luck I will be inoculating half a dozen existing rowan saplings with another, local species of plumb and apple.

Our little patch of earth is getting pretty crowded with birds these days. A fieldfare has chosen our garden as his territory, many of the usual suspects have teamed up with a mate and we even still have a couple of bullfinches. They usually disappear when spring arrives. And spring most certainly is here with sunny days and high temperatures. And as if to officially confirm that a pair of wagtails made their appearance with a little aerial display.
During a break we were sitting on the balcony and enjoyed a cup of the last bit of Dutch coffee. We saw the sun shimmer on the surface of the lake, whilst listening to the calls of loons, gulls, woodpeckers and countless other birds. We listen to the buzzing of bumblebees and witness a gull chase a hawk through the sky....
On days like these, life is good...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Building a Warré beehive

My hives are ready and are put in place! I hope to be able to attract some appropriate tenants for permanent occupation soon.

I mentioned my sources for the build previously, but for good measure; Warré buildingplans

The process in itself is very straight forward as I almost literally followed the plans. I only had to adjust the measurements to the size of the wood I used. Some planks were not quite 21cm wide, but close and the thickness is not 2cm, but 2,5cm. That means extra insulation in winter and extra bulk, when the hive is empty. The lifting handles were cut with a slope on top, so water can run off.
I constructed 6 boxed and carved a slit 1x1cm along the top of the short walls. Here's where the topbars will rest. I then put the topbars in place, using a 12mm thick piece of wood as a template. I then drilled a small hole through the bars into the underlying box walls. The holes in the bars were used as a guide to saw slits into the ends. Into the holes in the walls I inserted toothpicks, so each bar fits. This makes easy replacing bars at the right spot later on.

The quilts were even easier to make. A 10cm high squareframe, burlap at the bottom and a fitting board on top. The burlap was an old shoppingbag. At some point last winter a mouse got into it and died there. During the decomposition process it bodily fluids had stained the plastic liner and seams and we deemed the bag unfit for further use.
The day before making the quilt I treated the burlap as per instructions in Warré's "Beekeeping for all", meaning covering the burlap in a flour paste. This paste consists of 1 liter of water and 3,5dl of wheatflower (in my case). Warré himself suggests 5 soupspoons of preferably rye flour. To make this paste you slowly cook the water, slowly adding the flour, while continually stirring.
When I pasted on the goo it looked a mess as it thickens even more as it cools and I took off the excess paste after letting it soak for a while. No idea if I should do that or not. While the burlap is still wet, fasten it to the quiltframe! When it dries it will put itself taught. Then just cut off the excess burlap and you have a box for your insulation.

The insulation itself is sawdust (not the powdery version). That stuff  is also used for insulation on addicts around these parts and we have loads of it. The topboard was once a tabletop from an old diningtable.
The top was a bit trickier. I made a calculation error and had to redo one of them. But still it is quite straight forward and there even is a simpler version, which has only 1 slope. Of course I went for the harder one. Just looks better I think.
Next step was the bottom. Here too I used the old tabletop, sawing 2 squares of 35x35cm; the outer measurements of the hives. I then tried to fashion an opening for the hive entrance with a small slope. That did not go as I had hoped, but I hope the bees will forgive me. Do not forget the landingplatform in front of the entrance.
Now the legs.... Here I did do something I normally would not do. I used pressure impregnated wood. Simply because I still had that as a leftover from a job I did last year. I used 4 3x3cm normal wood legs (inner legs), but covered them with the impregnated wood (outer legs), so that the top of that runs over the edge, while the legs sit under the hive bottom. I cut the top of them outer legs in an angle so rain and meltwater can run off.

I did NOT need to buy;
2 broodchambers of whatever size or material
2 bottoms
2 tops or inner covers
4-6 supers
2 queen excluders
frames, usually 10 per box
waxsheets for each frame

The whole thing cost me one box of nails from the thriftshop..... plus the hours of labour. And if I can build them, really anybody can!!!

It truly is a people's hive; plain, simple and cheap. I hope effective too!

For now I have 2 hives with 2 boxes each. Only used 3 for the pictures. The remaining 2 boxes will serve as a makeshift swarm catcher, so I have 3 locations covered, enhancing my chances of attracting a swarm. I treated the bottom of the bars with wax as suggested/instructed by David Heaf.
See my previous post for links and extensive information on the subject.

Now go ahead! Make some! It really is as easy as it looks.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Of birds and bees.....

and other animals... ;)

More and more birds are returning; terns and gulls appear in numbers and buzzards circle the skies.
Last week we got an unexpected visitor; a young buzzard. Swept in low over the house and trees and landed right in the aspen in front of our livingroom window! Of course I grabbed a camera, but as I went outside, it turned around, lowered its head and gazed at me, before taking off. It made a few slow circles and then disappeared all together..  And on friday afternoon I heard loons calling on the main lake. They're back again!! I don't know what it is, but I love that sound of their eery, mournful calls. Untamed nature, perhaps?
As far as the bees go.... The bumblebees were out buzzing away last friday too and I saw one or two smaller, solitary bees as well. I think one of the bumblebee queens has chosen the wood supply next to the backdoor as a place for a nest. I guess I will not be taking that wood indoors just yet.

The beehives are nearing completion. It took some measuring and sawing, both of which I am not that good at. Difficulties with numbers and shoulders... Good thing I was able to loan my father in law's sawing table. I followed Warré's instructions pretty literally, but had to alter some of the measurements, due to differing board thickness. The ones I used are 25 to 26mm thick instead of 20. That makes the boxes a good deal heavier, but also provides more insulation in winter. I not only used the wood I got for free, but also nails from a local thriftshop and jute from an old shoppingbag.
The days before the weekend my wife and I spent quite some time measuring and sawing and I spent most of the saturday nailing, measuring, remeasuring, sawing and building again. We made a mistake with the tops. They were 1cm too narrow.... After I had built one hive roughly (no interior or insulation yet), I put it in its place, just to see the result. I was quite pleased...
I will do a separate post on the building process and show everything in more detail.
On sunday the stability of the still empty hive was being tested. We had a day and night of rain and stormy weather, but the hive still stands firmly.
And because sunday was mostly about wind and skywaters, we revisited a friend of my wife, who has a farm of her own called Utah Farm and who quite recently has gotten "in the business". She breads with sheep and chickens, has a few pigs and sells meat, eggs, lambskin and in starting a small shop with related, natural items on her farm as well and on sunday she had "open house". I got another chance to ask a handful of questions and to take a look around. Learned a thing or two... We had been there earlier this week to deliver some of my wife's woolen angels and we talked a good deal of course. Turned out they have roughly the same ideas and visions we have... Always good to meet likeminded folk!
Our girls enjoyed petting ducklings and some lambs and especially our oldest daughter adored the black chicks. I loved the black and white coloured lambs, a crossbreed they have and they even have blotched pigs with fur! Forgot the breed, though...

And of course we came home with a handful of eggs....

...which tasted real good, together with the knäckebröd my wife baked herself in the woodfed ovens of Skedvi Bröd, one of the very few bakeries in Sweden, where they still use open woodfires to bake the hard bread. A handcraft and a local item of pride.... Take a look at the link. You'll find some clips on how they do that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The beginnings of beekeeping

A picture of last year's course
At least for me.
Now bear with me... I am no expert. Not even near. I am an absolut beginner. Just had my introduction to beekeeping last year through a course in ecological beekeeping. Plus a lot of reading...
Ever since the course I got the buzz. Standing next to an active hive is thrilling, exciting. Especially if you forget to close the front zipper of your beesuit.... Working with the bees had a strange yet powerful and positive effect on me. It literally made my day! Plus I want to do whatever I can to keep the bees from further decline... Since we need them. Need them desperately! We need them as pollinators and the honey and possibly some wax are very beneficial byproducts... to me.

Of course I did start out talking to a former and a present beekeeper and did a course. I used my library card well and I did read a handful of books on conventional beekeeping like the very elaborate book by Åke Hansson; Bin och biodling. I loved that large bee-overlay, where you can see the inside of a bee, layer by layer. Excellent book! And I will still get one if and when I can afford it.
But still there was this nagging sense of something being wrong..... Forcing the bee in every way to adapt to the beekeeper.

the original image is found here
Quite appropriate I think...
Now the caretaking-part;
One thing that struck me as strange, later turning into wrong, was the "harvest" of the hives. Taking the excess as a reward to the keeper, fine. Taking it all.... not. I feel that that is pretty much the basis for the trouble in the beekeepingworld.
Taking away their food and substituting it for sugar water to me is the same as what the foodindustry is doing to us these days. They have taken away our real, healthy food and given us back tons of junk and crap. Result; we get sick. Following this line of thinking leads me to the conclusion that bees get sick too and are therefore less capable of fighting back infestations and disease.
Why many modern and traditional beekeepers keep yelling that their way is the only way? Well, why do myriads of people still go to Mc Death? Why do hordes of people still stuff themselves with all that killing crap? Because they can not or will not look beyond. Because they can not or will not make a change. Because that requires rethinking, leaving trodden paths, leaving the old, known and familiar, even if it is wrong, behind.
Plus for beekeepers today there is another, probably major,  keyfactor; profit!! One kilogram of honey is much more worth than 1 kilogram of sugar. So they take the bees natural, healthy food and substitute it for cheap junkfood, claiming that that has worked for many years or even decades. Sure, the bees survived.... sort of. But why is it then that we are seeing so much beekeepers and bee societies in trouble? Why so much dying bees? It's like a mass extinction! I do not believe that it merely is the use of pesticides, although that is a major contributing factor, Nor is it the mass infestation with varroa. I do believe that the latter and other diseases can get a foothold and create havoc, because the bees themselves are seriously weakened, just like the human species is weakened by bad food over the years. And, just as with humans, pumping the bees and their hives full of antibiotics and chemicals only make a bad situation even worse. Keeping otherwise doomed populations by feeding them even further decreases a populations strength by eliminating natural selection.
Speaking of natural selection; tempering with a bee's genes is not a viable option either. Destroying the genepool by creating bees that do not swarm, that do not mate freely, that yield a for humans productive species, while at the same time eradicating characteristics that make bees hardy and able to survive.... No more natural selection of the strongest... And if that's not enough alien species are being introduced or even lab created!
And still scientists the world over have no idea what causes that massive demise in bee populations...

So I believe we should go back. Treat the bees right and giving them the right conditions to breed, work and thrive. That means no longer plundering their food supplies. That means taking away the factor of financial profit!!Take a little, but ensure the bees can survive on their natural food during winter. If that should mean you worked a summer for next to nothing; tough luck!
Stop using "medicine" to cure them. If you have to pull every trick from the hat just to keep the colony, it probably isn't very strong and pretty much doomed anyway. Back to step one; create healthy, strong bees. Stop supporting weak ones.
Another factor is the choice of hive. I choose to use a hive that mimics natural conditions as much as possible. Not a hive that is easy to work with and pillage. Besides, those latter hives use sheets of wax to steer the buildinginstinct of the bees, even further suppressing their natural instincts.... and contaminated wax seems to be yet another issue in the vast array of traditional beekeeping methods.
So hives without prefabricated waxsheets or frames.
A third factor is one that already made me butt heads with my course teaching beekeeper; the choice of species. I want a species that is native, that is adapted to local climate and that is on the verge of disappearing altogether; Apis mellifera mellifera. I don't care if other bee species are more productive and I certainly don't care that crossbreeding with other species might give aggressive bees! Because that is the argument I was presented with. Crossbreeding of the native species with non-native or even artificially created breeds would do just that, much to the discomfort of other beekeepers. Well, maybe other beekeepers should ask themselves whether their species is the right one..... Besides I am far enough away from any know bee colony to prevent cross breeding. And after all there still are wild swarms around here, so they might create the same problem. If that even is the real concern....
This whole philosophy is a perfect example of every aspect of current society; "progress" for the sake of progress. Profit is everything. Maximising profit by any and all means. Man controls it all and nature has to submit. Millions of years of evolution are swept aside with one move in favor of man's arrogance or should I say God complex?
And I already know that I will be at a ramming course with others over this..... *sigh*

All this I found in a beekeeping method as advocated by abbott Warré.
Here are some links which might help me make my decision, based on, to me, sound and logical grounds;
Nordbi - They work hard to maintain and even expand the presence of the indigenous species in Sweden.
the practical beekeeper -  who makes a pretty strong case for the arguments I just stated
the barefoot beekeeper -  same as above
warré beekeeping - this site provides all the information in downloadable bookform for FREE. including building plans both in metric and imperial measures. Anyone willingly sharing information or books without financial benefit automatically steps up the ladder of trust, because there is no financial gain for them involved. They do not need to sell their idea for profit. They share their ideas because of passion or belief. Cross referencing of such sources is still advisable though as it is with any.

As I was pondering over the ideas, plans and uses I came across a thought that might spoil the whole thing. I do have this annoying physical issue that messes with me everytime certain moves are made, causing strain in certain areas. Lifting is one of those moves, especially if it is a bit on the heavy side with repetitive movements over prolonged periods of time. And the Warré hive, despite its very appealing nature to me, still has multiple, heavy, honey filled boxes that need lifting....
The barefoot beekeeper seemed to have an answer; the top bar hive. It's like a warré hive, but on its side... sort of.
The barefoot beekeeper's site also offers free information and building plans and specifically stated that no heavy lifting was required, whilst providing all the key specifications I want. No lifting of boxes, only combs. The plans and ideas he provides are adapted for northern climates, since it is of African origin. Problem is that I can not find any references that might indicate that this sort of hive would be suitable for our climate. I do have my doubts...
I guess I still have quite some reading and studying to do.... The beekeepers I talked to said beekeeping was a science on its own, but having read I can not help but feel that they missed a point. A vital point! See what the bees do themselves naturally!!

So I chose to be a bee caretaker, not a honeyproducer....

Well, time to start to put all that wonderful theory into practice! Let's see if all this "know-it-all"-ness will make me land flat on my face... Or not.
The materials are largely in place, the plans are ready and the tools are being prepared!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The big clean-up....

Lately large groups of swans and lapwings have been gathering on fields and meadows in the area. Maybe they are waiting for spring to advance northward so they can continue their journey. Last tuesday we heard and saw large numbers of cranes gathering and flying northward in small groups and in pairs. Somewhere on the southside of one of the lakes they had gathered in larger numbers and we could hear that!
The ant colonies too are stirring. Whenever there is a sunny period they gather at the sunny side of their anthill, but their movements are still kind of sluggish and slow.

Spring is here and with every spring there should be a spring clean up, right?
Time to clean up and put away those packboots, thick coveralls, wool mittens, pants and jackets. But I'll keep a wool sweater and blanket close... Just in case. Either cold or withdrawal... ;)
Airing out the house, opening windows and doors, sweaping dog- and cathair, sand and more muddy pawprints,
The other (cold) day I fired up the heatingsystem with 6(!) years of redundant administration; old insurance policies, salary- and taxrecords, warrantypapers..... the whole shebang. Normally I would throw it all into the old paperbin, but this is information I'd rather not see lying around in the streets. Now we have extra room and had warmth in the house and more ashes for the garden... I actually mixed it with a lot of woodash, so it would wind up spread evenly throughout the garden.
We also finally got rid of the Mitsubishi 4x4. A car recycling company came and collected it. It did hurt a bit as it had been a damn fine car. Not really economic or ecological in use, but comfortable, safe and roomy. Getting it fixed was beyond our economic capabilities.... All the other metal junk that had gathered went to the recycling station, including our old refrigerator and stove. Both were old (from the 70's at least), used a lot of electricity and were starting to malfunction. They already were in the process of falling apart anyway. We were able to replace them with newer items (someone else's "junk", because they were cleaning up) for free or real cheap. Amazing what people want to get rid of these days. Both appliances still work flawlessly and the much smaller fridge is practically new!
I found an ad saying someone had a lot of wood from torn down buildings they needed to get rid of. The collector of that no longer needs it and his heirs did not want it.

So we helped them by cleaning up a large part and got a large part of it. I hoped to have enough for a few plans I had. What I ended up with was much more than I thought! Sorting, loading, putting the leftovers back in a pile, unloading and stacking it all in a neat pile again.... Felt sore and stiff as hell after sitting around idly for so long, but I experienced that wonderful fatigue of actually doing something again, too!
I will use some for a woodstorage next to the house, a good deal for the henhouse after that, a compostcontainer and I might even have enough to put a partial floor in the attic! What will not be used, will end up as firewood, like many of the rotten ends. In order to get the wood I needed some large transport, so I asked the potato growing farmer I work for during harvestseason if I could loan a tractor and wagon. And while I was there he asked me if I could take care of another order he had to place in Holland, this time for spareparts. And that's the way things should be, I think. Helping out each other without waving wallets or workhourstats.
While working with the wood I came across a marking that made me stop for a little while. This wood was more than 60 years old!! And much of my things do come from that era. In fact this specific year does pop up regularly......

And then it hit me! A memory from the time I was a young boy, about 7 or 8.. We are living a life and in a situation I used to look down upon! When I was that age I, or we, looked down upon people who did not have a job, who did not have money, who scrounged material or who wore secondhand cloths. We regarded them as unfortunate, as poor sobs and below our standard, maybe even as lesser persons! This was what we were taught. It affected me, my view of the world and my development for many years afterwards...... And now I AM one of those people. Largely by choice, partially by circumstances beyond my control.
Is this karma biting me in the butt? Is this one of the lessons I had to learn? To make me see that this was all wrong?
The realisation did come quite as a shock....

I am also in the process of letting go of stuff that was once pretty important to me, because it defined who I was. I sold off my heavy metal record collection. 35 vinyl records of the more heavy calibre within the metalscene. Made a pretty penny with it and I invested that in the purchase of 2 cherry- and 2 plumtrees (2 prunus avium gårdebo and 2 prunus domestica reine claude). These things are insanely expensive here, but I just want to have cherries and plums!! Should make some good barteringmaterial in a decade or so... ;) These species are hardy here, taste good, yield a decent harvest and are not too big in the end. And since I want to avoid issues with self fertilisation or a tree dying I play it safe-ish. Both images are from, but I got the trees from a local gardencentre.

Another bonus was the ability to go and buy a quarter pig from the local, ecological pig farmer, who do everything themselves from growing the pigs' food to growing the pigs themselves.. And then they get slaughtered at the local slaughterhouse. It felt so good to be able to eat decent, real food again! Not just the knowledge that the Animal in question had a real life, but also the taste and consistency of the meat. It even smells differently... The sight of a large slab of bacon made our mouths water.... And while we were busy cutting and packaging we were closely watched....
Soon the pigs will be out on the fields again. It is a local tourist attraction and many people take their kids to go see the pigs and piglets, roaming and feeding freely.
Thanks to Maria and Anders from Forsa Gård and a bit of extra advertising hopefully goes a long way. Supporting the local economy and all...

I wish you all a happy easter if you're into that or otherwise a good weekend!

My wife's latest woolfelt creation.
Real flowers to the left and eggshaped candles to the right.