Sunday, June 21, 2015

Midsommar.....

...and the idiots of summer seem to have returned, fleeing their cities, swarming across the countryside, bringing their noise, haste and total lack of consideration with them... But the days are shortening again and soon we'll be enjoying the calmness of autumn and the silence of winter again...

... but it snows in june...


Well, not actual snow. Not here at least, but the fluffy seeds of the aspentree.
One day when I came home, I saw that the vegetablebeds were white and when I left the car the whole garden was covered in a light fluff.

I made up my mind and applied on friday, the day of the midsummer celebrations, for the hunters course. I did that on a whim actually, suddenly having the feeling to just do it. Hopefully it will leave me with much more knowledge and understanding of the world of a hunter, if nothing else. And it will get me out of the house and among people for at least one night per week until christmas.
Strangely enough that same night I had a chance encounter with one of the villagers, a man who lives on the other side of one of the lakes and who we know by face and name, but not much more than that. We greet each other when we meet, but that was basically it.
I met him as I was going for the late night walk with Rex and he came "cycling" down our road, heading for our big city weekend neighbours, who were throwing a very audible midsummerparty. He already was considerably socially lubricated (posh description for drunk) and he stopped to check out Rex. He has 3 dogs himself and loves dogs, clearly. We talked dogs for a while and out of the blue he invited me to come over for some coffee one day and to join him on a huntingtrip. He is also a member of the other hunters association around here (the other one being the club for landowners, which I went along with last year) and I mentioned having applied for the course in september. He then said I'd be welcome whenever I wanted to join him or the association. We'll see how much of this he will remember when he is sober.....


The next day, when out with Rex again for the early morningwalk, I discovered a roedeer lying down in the field next to our house. It was lying there in plain sight, didn't move, but I could see it breath and an ear moved. Strangely enough it was not alarmed by our presence and I thought it was lying there in an awkward position. Then our neighbour came down the path with his dogs and I alerted him to the presence of the deer. He turned around, since our dogs do not go well together and I completed the morningwalk, still finding the deer in exactly the same position as before. Not long after we got home I heard a gunshot. Our neighbour had put the deer out of its misery.....

Looking at the image I noticed that the area in front of it had been trampled. Maybe the night lair of the group and this one got left behind. I did see one trail moving away from the place. The grass was bent away from it. This roedeer had a swollen belly. Maybe a birth gone wrong?

The geeselings seem to be thriving though.
As I understood from some beekeepers, getting my own bees this year might prove not that easy. The season has not been favorable for bees so far; rainy, windy and cool. That means little food and bad flying conditions. I guess many populations will have a hard time preparing for next winter, let alone expand in size. Looking at the buzzing buddies in our garden I see a decent number of smaller bumblebees, very few big bumblebees and some big ass wasps! Even the mosquitos and ticks seem to be having a hard time.

And speaking of idiots....
We had one (1!) day of good weather, being last sunday and what does this idiot do? Right.... working in the garden... NOT! I went shopping at IKEA.... I admit we did need a new mattress thanks to Rex and I admit that the weather forecast was nowhere near as accurate as it should be and I do admit that I did need a rest..... and the lunchbreak at IKEA did some productivity; a very rough sketch of our semi-greenhouse to be! And a similar sketch for a kitchen sofa with a lot of storage capacity. Plus a lot of ideas for the rest of the house. A lot of "upgrades" are needed, like insulating the hall floor in the cellar and in my mancave. Plus we will (hopefully) be sleeping on a decent bed and a good nights sleep is worth a lot too.
As you can read nothing much is going on. Having a very busy full time day job makes pretty sure that it doesn't. Everything had to be done before friday afternoon and that meant a lot of grass cutting, weeding and above all hedge trimming. And there are a lot of hedges! Pushed my lazy muscles so hard that by lunchtime I had a hard time holding on to my cup of coffee, let alone lifting the gas powered trimmer. I've been feeling that all weekend, hence the aforementioned rest.
In the meantime we had Rex neutered and as a proper family member who fits in..... that meant complications. The procedure went smoothly, except from him escaping his pen before surgery and happily bouncing around the vet's place. The aftermath was less smooth. Since he can not take it slow fluid started collecting in his scrotum and that one grew larger than a tennisbal. So 2 weeks of almost nailing him to the floor and antibiotics. We weren't even allowed to walk him for longer than it took for him to "do his thing".
Now he's fine again, but all that bundled up energy is being let loose now plus he has changed too. He has become aggressive towards other dogs now; snarling and barking, ready to charge and when we correct him, in the heat of the moment he does have the tendency to turn on us too! So we decided it was time to bring in some guidance and assistance from folks who know. We contacted the local branch of the Svensk Brukshundsklubben or the Swedish workingdogs association. They have dealt with dogs like this before and we really need to get him socialised with other dogs. People are no problem.
Slowly we are increasing the length of our walks with him again and everytime I walk along the lake, feeling the wind, hearing the water sloshing against the shore I so wish my canoe was useable! I'd want nothing more than to take it out for an evening of slowly paddling along the shores...


And if all this wasn't enough, there was a happening that made the emotional strain just a tad bigger.
Our oldest daughter's class had to say farewell to each other and their beloved teacher. She was really worked up about it and the days preceding the final day were very tense.
On the final day of the schoolyear all classes, the parents and relatives gather in the church. One by one the classes sing and the 6th graders are last. And as my girl stood there singing, her choirexperience clearly showing I was shocked by how much she looks like her mum and I finally realised we only have one little one left at the local school. She'll be attending 3rd grade next year.
I had to swallow hard a couple of times, let me tell you.






Shopping at one of the grocery stores together with the mrs. the other day did the rest. They had a stand there with reading glasses and jokingly I took one and put it on my nose, trying to look professor-ish. According to my wife I looked like a certain gnome from our youth: Paulus de boskabouter (Paul the woodgnome). I laughed at her and grabbed a nearby product to read the ingredients list.... and got a nasty surprise! The glasses followed me home.....


Ohh and in my acquisition-post I forgot to mention that we were able to fulfill one of my wife's wishes. We got ourselves a decent camera; a Sony X100 and I am learning how to use that one...


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Improvise, adapt, overcome...


As an afterburner to my last post, there are some things that have changed recently, dramatically and unexpectedly or that have been crossing my mind.
In the light of recent developments, like my wife having 2 jobs substituting for instance or the improbability of us acquiring land, I really need(ed) to think things over, adjust ideas and views and generally alter the way I see our immediate future here.
The plans and ideas I/we had for creating an ecological farm/business for now remain what they are; dreams. For in order to realise those and make it work, we have to be a cohesive team of 2 fully dedicated people (5 actually) and right now I am not so sure that we really are.
Another issue was the issue of land. A co-worker explained to me that that is a very sensitive issue around here. The chances of someone letting you use their land are very slim, the chances of renting it are even smaller and the chances of buying it.... You might as well try your luck in the lottery. Unless you are very close to the owner (or there is something they want from you). That might enhance your chances considerably. And we are not and have not. We still are, and probably always will be, outsiders. This piece of information perfectly explains all the encounters we've had when dealing with the subject plus a few we were witnesses to. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but in general... Fat chance.
This all means that some serious rethinking was in order. What to do? What were our priorities? Even moving was being mentioned, but then what? What we will leave behind here, we'll probably find some place else too. Besides we wouldn't be able to afford moving some place else, even if that place did have a sense of community, which this little village lacks or it is so innercircle that we are not aware of it, but I highly doubt that. And besides we do not want to leave the area or run with the tail between our legs. We fought too damn hard for this place.
So for now we will focus on our little island, see what we can do with that. Which will probably mean that the mrs. will provide us with an income and I will be taking care of things at home; fixing, building, growing and taking care of humans and animals alike.
And I also realised that I was getting too hung up, too serious and too focussed on our way of living, on my vision of our future and on social issues in general. So much that I was forgetting to have fun. So I am taking some steps back, slow down and go with the flow more instead of trying to steer it. That doesn't mean I will stop what I am doing, but I will try and be less of a fanatical tight ass about it.
So what if building scale models means working with plastics and chemicals. I enjoyed what I did, thought I was quite good at it too. It also meant having a way to vent myself and my creative flow. Even if it still really bothers me that just building and finishing 1 model requires a shitload of raw materials, oil and chemicals, before I can put it on display in a glass cabinet. I will not save the world by not building one, but it might make a difference for me personally and for those around me if I can relax, focus on other things for a minute, before switching my mind on the real important issues again. There is that damn dilemma again....
I am also reconsidering huntingschool. Since there will be no larger animals around that might require killing, there will also be no need for the skill and permittance to handle a firearm. That would save a whole lot of cash; school, rifles, weapon safe, fees... On the other hand we can afford it right now and it might mean a way of legally putting real, good meat on the table, but I already noticed that the hunters community is a kind of its own. Not easy to fit into....
I think I will be focussing on growing vegetables, having bees, chickens and maybe a couple of rabbits and buy the rest locally with the cash the mrs. brings home.... That would also free up time for more time in the woods, foraging and expanding the knowledge required for that or generally frolicing about... showing off shinies and sharpies.. ;)
Y'know.. doing the woodsman-thing...

Monday, June 15, 2015

acquisitions and disappointments


First paycheck came in and I went on a shoppingspree!
Here I was, talking about peak oil and how it will become scarce and all and the first thing I bought was..... A car!
Ohh the irony! In order to break free more I needed to become part of the problem more. Why? Well, I need transportation. A workhorse to get the stuff we need. And that is what I got; a genuine Swedish workhorse. One of those spit ugly Volvo 745's in dark blue, well used, dented and scratched. But it has a trailer hitch, the power to pull a (horse manure or firewood) laden trailer, is reliable, was cheap to buy, not so cheap in fuel, but spareparts are easy to come by and cheap too. And it can double as a familycar for 5+ dog if needs be. + roofrack... The only requirement it doesn't fulfill is the 4x4 part. But one of those would cost a fortune, both in acquiring one and in driving/maintaining it. So all in all a very good compromise. It also means my wife has gained mobility, enabling her to work more too, so we'll have our money back very soon.

Well, actually it wasn't the first thing I bought. That of course were books...
Quite a number of books found their way here. Many older books from before the ''age of toxicity'' as I have come to call it, meaning predating WW2. Books on lifestock, on fertilisation and on basic farmers knowledge. Newer books on growing food and on the use of nature's foodsupply. Some books on sheep too, but even as it seems a bit of a waste, they might become of use anyway someday. They're just fun to read as it is. There's something about sheep that makes any bad mood vanish...
It has been mother's day too and as a bit of a joke I got my wife a 1937 Swedish handbook for countryside housewives and a household book/agenda from 1958. Turns out these are packed with householdtips and tricks, how to's and recipes! It even shows step by step how to use intestines for sausages. Both for less than 50sek.... total.

The disappointments lie in the news that I will not be working at the churchyard for 6 months, but 5. The gap probably will be overcome by the then upcoming potatoharvest, but it means no vacation to spend with the family this summer. I will have to take the off-days at the end of the season to start harvesting, so no extra pay either. It does mean another winter of free potatoes, though...

The other disappointment lies in the fact that any hope/chance to keep larger animals, like sheep, got hammered into the ground.
There is a lot of land not being used, directly bordering our premises. About 4000m2. Bit more actually. It belongs to one of our neighbours as does pretty much all the land directly surrounding us. The land we wanted to use, is of no use to anyone, except for the ticks hiding in the tall grass, but might make some decent grazing pasture for sheep. It is hilly, full of boulders, trees and at its lowest point marshy. So we went over to ask if we could use, rent or even buy it. His answer was a brusk ''No''. He does not want any animals in the near vicinity.
This means we are encapsulated on our own little island with no possibilities of enlargement or expanding. This means making do with what we have, finding solutions and possibilities. Quite a challenge! And I do like that, using my imagination, seeing what we can come up with. And it also means much less expenses or loans!
Some of the ideas we had were either buying a tunnel greenhouse in foil or constructing one with old windows. The first would be expensive, some 6500sek, but could be taken down when not in use,so no building permits needed.

A few more purchases are on the list with the next paycheck; accumulatortanks for the heatingsystem, a few more kubic meters of firewood, paying for the hunting school, bees and necessary equipment and hopefully a trailer to transport it all.
Besides that we have begun to stock our foodcellar with supplies. First we want to build up a certain stock of things we use often, like coffee, honey, various tomatoproducts, raisins, nuts and such. And then of course there are the orders of locally grown and slaughtered meat; pork (20-25kg), cow (up to 40kg) and lamb (10-15kg). These will be delivered at the end of summer, beginning of autumn and that will mean a lot of chopping, cutting, processing, freezing etc.



So far spring had been a disappointment too. Cold, grey, wet and windy with occasional outbursts of sunshine. But that gives us many, many rainbows. And we did see some spectacular ones!! Birds are having a tough time finding food for their young and I did not see many of those yet. But we have at least 4 species nesting in our garden and we can hear the young, screeching inside the nestboxes. The few warm and sunny days we did have, made plants grow with almost explosive force. You could almost hear the grass grow! And because of this growth the newly acquired plants are doing well; a handful of brambles and some ''äkta vallört'' (symphytum officinale). Plus I was able to add some splashes of colour by saving a good deal of plants from a sorry end on the compost heap. The same goes for 2 chestnut shoots, just because I like the trees. They're not edible.Various sorts of viola may live to see the end of summer here. The previously saved heath and daffodils are doing good too!
The seeds we have sown, spinach, carrot, beetroot, salad are showing some small progress too, but we already learned that loosened soil+seeds+cats= a bad mix. So next time we will need to cover our plantbeds with nets. I am looking into ways to construct a semi-permanent tunnelframe over those beds, so we can cover them with cloth, foil or netting when needed. Some organic potatoes (maestro) that were not looking to fresh anymore have been planted too and they are growing as well! Same goes for all the strawberries I saved. More than a dozen plants and they are all going strong and bloom.




As far as this blog is concerned, I noticed a sharp decline in hits, ever since I stopped talking about exciting woodsbimbles, shinies and sharpies, but the response has increased. With any luck I will be able to do something about the woodsbimbles later this year. I am planning a visit to my Norwegian buddy Odd in early autumn and a trip to Finland to meet the weekend woodsman in person in late autumn..... or early winter there.


"And in comes a newsflash.....
The mrs. has managed to find another job!!
It is another job as a substitute, but during the interview she already got the question if she would be willing to work 75%, starting in autumn if she feels at home in the job. Cool thing is that she got asked for this job! A friend of ours tipped his superior after that one complained about an acute lack of personnel and they rang my wife..... Our life keeps on twisting and turning in unpredictable ways.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Olja för blåbar - book review

Olja för blåbär - energi, makt och hållbarhet
Johan Landgren - Roberth Hansson
Hardcover, 303 pages
Text is Swedish.

This book deals with a fenomena that mysteriously goes all but unmentioned in todays media; peak oil.
Peak oil as defined by wikipedia; Peak oil, an event based on M. King Hubbert's theory, is the point in time when the maximum rate of extraction of petroleum is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline.
Two small words, but with an immense impact on us, our world and our way of living! It simply means we are running out of oil and since basically every single damn thing we do these days is based or dependent on oil you might see some trouble ahead. No? Well then see us like this. We are hardcore crack addicts and the drugs are about to run out. Permanently. 
It means that while demand for oil keeps on increasing, the supply can not keep up. It in fact decreases rapidly after the maximum productionlevels have been reached and now you might start to see where this is going wrong; demand and supply do not match. Demand with too little supply means rising prices. More demand and even less supply.....

The language used in this book is clear, simple, devoid of any high-sounding professional jargon, meaning even I, as a non native swedishspeaker, could easily understand what was being said. That would mean any averagely educated Swede of about 16 and older can too. Which I think is a very great bonus, since that vastly increases the number of potential readers. Especially in those hard to reach, but ever so vital agegroups. The younger ones, since it is they that will bear the brunt of what is coming toward us; an abruptly and significantly... no, totally changing world within the next decade.
That's right; DECADE!
Some of the analysis the authors give, show that many of the current oil- and other fossilfuel producing countries have already reached their peak or will very shortly, whilst on the other hand growing giants like China and India demand an ever increasing share of that fuel pie. Sources all across the internet confirm that scenario. But I am running ahead of things now....

The book;
It is of course divided into several chapters; 11 to be exact and each of these are subdivided in subchapters.
It starts with the very basics about energy, oil and items related to that and from that moves on to the subjects of economics and how this is all tied each other. The second chapter looks more specifically at Sweden in that context.
The third chapter goes deeper into the history of oil and how it got its power, how it influenced recent history and how it is shaping our world today. Chapter four deals with the myths and facts about an indefinite growing economy, based on finite sources and chapter five looks at the North Sea and the oilcountries around that, like Great Britain and Norway. Chapter six is about fracking and other seemingly brilliant fuelfinds, whereas chapter seven takes an indepth look on the socalled "strategical ellipse" (fossilfuel producing countries around the kaspic Sea, like Iran, Russia and the many countries of the Middle East) and the awakening Chinese dragon.
Chapter 8 switches back to Sweden again and looks at its preparedness for Peak Oil or any other calamity....which is not something to be cheerful about, really.
From chapter nine the book starts moving towards possible solutions, based on today's technology, for upcoming practical problems. How to keep logistics going for instance. Chapter ten keeps on moving in the direction of local and sustainable, a logical step in the light of troubled logistics and chapter eleven gives us an image of what the world might look like for the children of today. It might very well be a world my grandparents would recognise from their childhood.
It feels a bit utopian and leaves out the often ugly scenes that might come with collapsing civilisations. But maybe that was intentional to give the reader a feeling that not everything is deep doom and gloom, but that there is hope for our future.
This is a general feeling I had throughout the book anyway. A feeling of hope and possibilities, despite that which we are about to face.

All in all a very highly recommendable book if you are swedish or know the language. I went as far as to contact one of the authors and ordered a copy of him directly. I do feel that this book should be in our bookcase for when our kids are old enough to understand or if they are interested in why things possibly are as they are in our world. They have a blog to by the way: http://www.peak-oil.se/
Despite the fact that the book is more or less tailored to swedish readers and society I do think that the general consensus is global, since it affects as all and it might be a good thing if the authors would translate and maybe slightly rework the book to make it fit for the international market.

Another very high plus on my scale is the fact that the book has a very extensive list of sources, each indexed in the appropriate piece of the text, so you the reader, can cross reference anything they claim, should you desire. That makes the book all the more credible to me.

My verdict; If you are in anyway interested in what makes our world tick today and why it might stop ticking in the quite near future; get it!
If you know, see or feel that there is something fishy going on these days and want to make changes or become less dependent on the ever more erratic cycles of our economy; get it!
If you, with or without children of your own, want to know or get an idea of where we are heading and do something about it; get it!
If you are someone, who refuses to stick his head in the sand and run after the next fashionable shiny gadget; get it!
This book is not a bible or the answer to everything, but it sure will help to make you understand...
I'd say that this book, together with Gunnar Rundgren's Trägården Jorden, gives a pretty good idea of where we are now, where we are going if we do not act and how we might/should act to prevent the worst kind of misery.

If you're Swedish, simply get both and read them!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Where have we come from and where are we going to?

The first month at the new job has passed. It passed quite quickly.
Working at a churchyard does have a strange effect. Spending a lot of times on your knees on top of a grave or close to it, a tombstone right in front of your face. The eyes wondering, looking at the names, the dates..... Some of those resting here are young and I shiver at the thought of having to bury one of your children. Some of those resting here are old as are some of the graves and I can not help but wondering what their lives were like back in the days. How did they live? What did they think of? What did society look like?
And being so close to the dead makes me wonder about my own life, the things I do and the world I one day will leave behind... Perspectives shift, change. And yet this is not only a place of death and sorrow. Some of the trees are as old as some of the graves. Older probably. And they harbour a lot of life. Birdlife in particular. And I get to witness that life up close. I guess some of the birds have come here for generations. They almost seem tame. I see tits and fares building their nests in the nest boxes and coniferous trees. I see the younglings leave the nest and hop around, feathery fluff on their heads like they just came out of bed and next to tailless..... I see the parents battling off crows and magpies, which have nests of their own here.
There was one incident I thought was quite special. Whilst emptying the waterstorage boxes underneath the plant trays I found a cluster of ants floating in the water. They were clinging to each other and most were alive. The dead ones were at the bottom, having sacrificed their lives for the common good. Their bodies acting as a raft for the rest to climb on too.... I scooped them out of the water and as I put them in the grass the cluster immediately fell apart. The living ones scurrying off, leaving a layer of bodies behind.

And now I am sitting here, tired.... Body's not used to working anymore...
A full time job as a churchyard gardener is a lot of physical work. Trying to create a food garden and maintaining the rest is too. The more so, if you have to do that simultaneously.
Yet it is a good kind of tiredness. A tiredness that comes with having done some real work... good work.

And still there is another form of tiredness. A tiredness of the mind. I previously wrote that I feel so much more rooted and I still do. I also wrote that I do not think so much anymore, but that is not quite true.... What comes into mind, apart from what I mentioned, is equally tiring. Maybe even more so....
I wrote about my mum reappearing into my life after a long absence and that feels real good. I wrote about the picture that made me think of my dad and that did more than I initially thought. It hit home more. Both events did. Made memories resurface, good and bad ones. Anxieties too. It makes me focus on myself; painfully aware of things I do, say, think or feel. I am not him, but very much like him, despite working very hard not to be..... Have been doing so for as long as we have kids and that worked out pretty well I must say. But it is also wearing me down at times and when being tired you let your guard down more easily.....

I have also been reading a lot. About where we are as a society, as humans. Where we have come from and above all where we are going and bringing our own children into the picture the pressure intensifies. Intensifies, because of the realisation that they will inherit a world we have created. A false world, which is falling apart. Falling apart fast!! What will their future be like? What will ours be?

I read a good deal of blogs, articles, books and studies dealing with these issues and one thing becomes clearer by the day; the world as it is today will soon cease to exist. Very soon. No, not in an apocalyptic BOOM.... Although that option still is open... No, in a much more mundane and fundamental way. There is this ever present feeling that we are running out of time..... because we are running out of resources. We on a global scale that is.
I am reading and thinking a lot about these small words and their implications; peak oil. Small words, but with an impact beyond imagination. What they mean? Simple. We are running out of oil... So? Any idea how much we are dependent on that as a society? As a civilization? A good bet.... very close to 100%.... Each and every aspect of our lives is dominated by it. And there are many clear indications that we have used up, squandered the vast majority of it. Production has reached its peak or very soon will and after that resources dwindle fast.... very fast. Currently with little, feasible alternatives. Of course this is all denounced by the mainstream media and politicians, proclaiming we should continue business as usual and everything is fine. Except that it's not.
I will come back on this issue shortly, when I do a review on a book dealing with that, but if you want to know more, just google those 2 little words. And do your homework. Or go to the The archdruid report, for instance. Then you will understand why it is on my mind and why it creates a very strong urge to hurry up and do/complete what we are doing here. Being aware of the issue, reading and learning about it, makes one see the signs ever more clearly. Not just the signs that are very present in everyone's face, also the ones more hidden beneath the surface and are visible to those knowing, but the most disturbing ones are the signs that lurk at the horizon. Signs that paint a not so pretty picture. Global depression like we have never seen before. Shortages, Rising prices. Unemployment. Civil unrest. Famine. War... Because that is what comes with a failing, crumbling civilization. That is not doomsday thinking. That simply is a reality.
Yet out of the ashes a new civilization will arise and I really want us, or at least our (grand)children, to be a part of that. A contributing, constructive part... So I still hope for and work toward a world that is worth living for and in. There are so many things we can do. So many alternatives and choices.
And that restlessness, that urge is also tiring. Mentally. I did not sleep so well these past few days and this may just be the reason why. But it is an issue worth losing sleep over. My future, my family's future and the future of all of us. Many of whom will not make it and maybe we will neither. But I do know that learning and preparing now will enhance the chances of my family making it significantly.