Saturday, August 29, 2015

An amazing story of a Danish "refugee".....

A fellow blogger, Andrea Hejlskov, literally fled to the Swedish forests to get away from the crushing life of the "normal"  Danish society. She has a wonderful blog, full of ideas, feeling and Swedish forests, but now she will be sent out on a mission. She is given the opportunity to make us, who resist the current state(s), heard at the Paris climate conference.
Here's her story, which also is our story;
Andrea Hejlskov, the day of activism or on facebook; and the pioneer life

So the stars were definitely hanging in a certain way, there was something in the air, maybe it was some kind of divine (coincidence) , maybe it was the soul as well as nature itself tired of waiting, watching the destruction, the injustice… but what happened yesterday was indeed spectacular and I´m going to tell you about it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

All work, no play....

Well, I was supposed to be out in the woods during last weekend, but due to circumstances, both within and out of my control, I decided to not attend the planned gathering and spend our scarce financial resources on something with a higher priority and my time in the garden.
Looked like the folks visiting the Idre-region had a good time and I did make some progress with my project too, despite being baked in the sun. Which is kind of relative, given the 25C, but out in the sun.... It was a good deal more.
So instead of being a trying woodsman again, I'll be spending a long overdue, hopefully qualitytime weekend with the mrs. in Tallinn, Estonia soon. It might prove to be of vital importance.

On a less positive note; we were subject to an incident that brought to light the less than favourable interhuman emotions
For a while now we have been having this under-the-skin feeling that we actually are not really welcome or liked around these parts where we live and said incident did nothing to ease that feeling. On the contrary. It made it painfully clear that normal relationships in the place we live will never happen. We are and always will be regarded as intruders. The feeling of isolation and total lack of sense of community became highlighted once more. It sure did take off some more of the gloss of the idylle we hoped to find here.
The jobhunting isn't going anywhere for either one of us and the possibilities to take care of ourselves are very limited as previously mentioned in this blog. We keep on running head long into these walls with no sight of improvement.
All in all reason enough to start expanding our horizons again (northwards) and look for more favourable options elsewhere.

So tensions are quite high these days with many things happening all at once and many thoughts crossing our minds.

But I did come across a cross spider (Araneus diadematus), which is not all that common around here and it was a big one too! What a beauty!

And Rex has become a very fine dog indeed. Growing stronger and more beefy and his attitude is so much more gentle now. He even is overcoming his initial not fear, but apprehension towards water.
There's something there......

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The end of summer...

...and summer finally came...

The end of summer is closing in. The summervacation is practically over. Kids are going back to school on monday again. Of course this is the time that the weather changed and we are experiencing summer in full force; clear blue skies, max. sunshine and temperatures higher than we had all summer. Which is not that hard concidering it practically never went over 20c. It gets dark at night again and we can see the stars again... occasionally. Autumn is on its way. Sometimes it already feels like that with chilly, foggy mornings and even the birdcherrieleaves have started to change colour and are falling... In a few weeks my summerjob will be over and I'll be harvesting potatoes again.

I did forget to mention a few items with the previous post, so I thought to catch up and blend some new stuff.
First of all.... My wife made a killer good rhubarb juice!
I do not want to start sounding all housewifey 'n shit, but this one... I just had to share the recipe.
Here it goes:
3kg rhubarb
2 sliced lemons
1 teaspoon natriumbenzoat (it's a preservative)
4 liters boiling water

Toss it in a clean bucket, pour the water on top of it and let it sit for 5-6 days with some form of lid on it.
Strain it through a piece of clean cloth.
Then you need to warm it and dissolve 300gr. sugar per liter juice.
It doesn't keep longer than a few days in the fridge, but can be frozen without losing taste.

The gardening system I am experimenting with is called "raised beds" not covered growing or some such shit. Sorry for any misunderstandings here. The idea behind it is that worms take care of the organic matter and at the same time loosen the soil. The cardboard is meant to suffocate the grass and weeds and their parts will add to the amount of organic matter. A large part of the garden destined for growing edible things is starting to take shape pretty well. No less thanks to a machine. It is a purpose designed woodshredder, not a compostshredder. It does cut up branches and such by crunching and munching them into pieces. Greens come out pretty undamaged..... I bought this piece of equipment 15 years ago and has served me very well over the years, chewing up many a big branch or small tree with stems up to 3,5cm thick. Much, if not most of the branches used to feed the shredder come from the unused april bonfire pile and are moist and do not break up easily.

Because of my job I was feeling like I was missing out on a few wonderful opportunities to be outside. The weather for one made for beautiful subjects to use our "new" camera.
But when at work I see many wonderful things nearby. The morning dew evaporating and wafting away in the morning sun. Small critters showing amazing patterns and colours. What a man seeks is often right under his nose... comes to mind.

The morningdew, caught in a spiders web, appearing like strands of pure light in the rising sun.

We are having quite a bit of issues with slugs, but when I look closer at them I can not help but marvel at them. That little speck on its side is its breathing opening and it opened and closed as I was watching it.

Itsy bitsy spider, bright white, red flashes and a icy blue egg cocoon. And tiny yet superbly detailed.

We found these two in our garden one morning, at the same time. I put them on a piece of wood and we studied them. Ever noticed the fluffy fur on a bat? Or the thin, yet strong skin of its wings? Did you ever see the sun as it shines through the wingfeathers of a bird??

I will have a moment of fame in Orland, CA!
The pastel painting Renée did of me will be on display at the Orland art center. I really hope it'll pay of for her.

And the volvo performs equally well as a mobile toolshed and as a woodcutdowntreeshrubhauler too.
I use the car regularly to keep the tools I am working with dry and in one place. Simply open the truck and toss in all the stuff I need; hammers, nails, cablereels, shovels, gardeningtools, you name it.

In the period since the last post we also lost an old friend.....
He was the partner of a dear friend of ours back in the Netherlands who had helped us a great deal in times of hardship. Too bad the contact was lost since we moved, but still the news made a vicious impact.
He was a loveable guy, always good for a laugh and with a love for life, despite his illnesses or maybe just because of them. He will have left a huge gap.... and I surely hope that I will remember his message. Enjoy.....

I also got to deal with a bit of a personal crisis the other day.
I became painfully aware that I inherited a trait from my father, that I really wish I did not have; envy.
It was a hard and bitter lesson, given the fact that I had been on the receiving end of this "quality" in my childhood years, when I experienced the full wickedness of it. And I panicked.... It took a great deal of energy to overcome it, since it is like a virus. It infests your mind, spreading through your system, multiplying....
It is a completely useless, negative emotion. Utterly (self)destructive if let reign unchecked.
If there is one emotion worse than hatred it must be this one, because it makes you hate the ones you love. Being aware of it makes it easier to deal with it. And in my case I sat down and wrote.... Wrote down everything that went on inside me. I then read it, rewrote the text, slowly eradicating every blaming, fingerpointing piece after thoroughly examining the how and why. It surely helped letting go, seeing in writing how ridiculous and unfunded some things actually were.
However this episode also brought to light a few issues that had been lurking beneath the surface for a long time. Dealing with those will be a priority.

On a completely different note;
Despite the fact that I tend to demonise social media, they do have their uses too.
That is if you see them as a tool to keep and expend real social activities, such as meeting people for the first time and meeting them face to face.
On such medium is facebook. I really do not like it, but it gives me the opportunities to do just that; getting to know people, meeting them and keeping in touch.
Through said medium I got into contact with a Swedish bushcraft group and through that group Varavild. And they are organising a meeting up at Idre, Dalarna and even if it is an almost 4hr drive I can not pass up this opportunity to go back to the roots of this very blog; bushcrafting, but also to meet people face to face for the first time. And maybe make some more new friends or at least contacts.
So what does any decent outdoorsman do? He goes preparing and checking over his stuff to see if it still is functionable and above all what to take.
At first I planned to take the shelterhalf Skaukraft gave me when he visited me, but then I recalled the experiences I had when trying to sleep outside during one summer; mosquitos! So I order a mosquito cot-net, one of those things that go over an entire singlepersonbed, at Varusteleka.
Turns out, as expected, the shelter and the net do not match. Not even close. I wonder anyway on how to use the shelter, since it offers little space. Love the green colour of it though, but it is beyond me how an army can provide its troops with a shelter that blends in well and then outlines it with shiney metal buttons!! Looks like a neonsign in the woods!

So I took my old Dutch army shelterhalf and started fiddling with the cot-net, sticks and bungees...
I worked sort of and I already have plans on how to alter it, but that will have to wait. This setup will have to do for now with a little tweaking later on possibly. Depends on the sleeping area.

Monday, August 3, 2015

farmer John... err... no... Ron..

The morning fogs have come already. It often felt as if autumn was in the air, even though it still was the end of july. Temperatures sometimes even dipped into the single digits and practically never reached 20C. Yet it was beautiful outside and I was often bummed out to miss it all due to my full time job.

But the weather more often than not was just hopeless. Rain and plenty of it. And it regularly came down in torrents. On a very rare occassion we'd have a spell of sunshine and then the temperature would rise and get real warm real quick... or I am not used to warm weather anymore.Which is just as likely.
This weather is good for one thing though; mosquitos!! And snails...

The mrs. lost her elderly care job. It turned out to be a total mismatch. And that was both the work and her boss. She even told off her boss and that was a first!! So they both agreed that the contract would not be extended after the initial period.
Working with the two of us meant that the kids were at home alone all day quite a few times and that was another first for us. One which we did not like at all. And they surprised us, showing us they could take care of themselves, each other and minor householdchores  and take  responsibility and we have learned to trust them. As a result of all this we have grown as a family.
Speaking of growing, our girls had a scoutcamp, meaning they'd be away for 5 days. That meant time to let go a bit more for this dad and in hindsight that was easier than anticipated. I even enjoyed the silence in the house...

The girls had a blast, despite the horrible weather on the first night and second day and despite a soaked sleepingbag....
During camp our little one learned to step over boundaries and her confidence has grown accordingly. At home she didn't dare to climb higher than the second branch on a tree, but there....

As the girls came home we were quite horrified. We knew they'd be tired and yes, they were... very! But they looked like they all had the measles!! They had been eaten alive! Completely covered in mosquito bites- and bumps and our little one had her right hand looking like a balloon. The result of a close encounter with biting flies. We had quite a bit of work trying to sooth the itching the following days...
Yet they had had a great time and it feels like they both did change a little.

In the meantime my wife and I allowed ourselves to indulge in a little shopping outing, meaning a morning of thrift store rummaging. Our haul was considerable, especially when one looks at the prices paid....
I found one of those large, heavy Swedish army coats. One resembling the m/1913 livspäls I had before in white. Sold that one, because it was too heavy, too cumbersome and too warm. This one is also called a livpäls, but is a more modern version, probably 1940's vintage. Less heavy, less cumbersome and and olivegreen/gray kind of color. And the price was right too!
Other than that we found a pair of  wooden canoe paddles, a ton of clothes for several familymembers, a new backpack for one of our kids... Well, actually intended for our oldest daughter, since the blue backpack she had with her on her scout camp was absolutely inadequate. The new one is in the same style as my other framed backpacks, but has a hollow tube frame, thus not so heavy and a waterproof sheeting on the inside, keeping the contents dry in bad weather or while canoeing.
We also scored a heap of (kitchen) utensils and tools, like (cast iron) pans, soup dishes, a large crosscut saw and curved carving knives.
And of course some vintage books on cooking, preserving and agricultural landscapes.....

But we also had our own yardsale. Not really our own as it was a joint effort with nearly 30 participants all over the village. It was reasonably successful. Made a few bucks and we got rid of some stuff. In both cases not as much as we had hoped, though. The mrs. took care of this event and the planned gardening jobs kept me busy and away from the other sellers places.

Our garden.... well...
Our beans have become snail meals. What you see on the picture is what is left from 16 beanplants... 5 remain... sort of. The rest is a sorry collection of short stems. The 2 broccoli plants are equally damaged. I suspect that letting the grass grow to a foot in length was not a good idea, presenting numerous small snails a good refuge during the day after the night raid on our plants.
I hope to tackle this issue, as well as the weeds, by laying down a layer of wood chippings on top of a anti-root fabric.
The plantbeds; I found this system, called "täckodling" or covered growing on a facebookgroup on homesteading. This system suppresses/kills existing weeds and above all grass and replenishes and fertilises the soil at the same time. The idea behind it is that one does not dig up the soil, but adds a thick layer on top of it and let our slimy, elongated friends (a.k.a. worms) do the work for you.
The system is as follows; cut down grass and weeds as much as possible. They may ferment when buried and that may cause more damage than good. Then add a layer of newspapers or cardboard. I went for cardboard, since I am doubtful regarding the ink used in newspapers, especially the colored ones. Lay out a layer, covering every single square cm. Water it down real good so that the layer becomes homogenous. Than pile on a good layer of well rotted horse manure, about 5-10cm. On top of that goes a thick layer of compost.
In our case we could have the remaining stable manure from our neighbours after they sold their horses. The compost is actually a layer of "hay". I cut down our "lawn", which was actually a meadow. So the toplayer is not just cut grass, but a special meadowmix with grasses, weeds, flowers, nettles and whatever other plant you can find in a meadow. All this is left alone until next spring and then it is planting time!

While working in the garden I figured we had to many black currant bushes, so I decided to share some with our neighbours. It really did help in breaking the ice with one of our neighbours, one we always thought of as being distant, even a bit stuck up. So I went over, offered her the bushes and we talked a little. Later on I dug them out, set them aside and as she came over to get them we talked a bit more and she left us a jar of this year's blueberry jam. A good move on my account, I dare say...

Shoveling horsestable manure, raking the hay, feeling the (setting) sun on my skin and looking out over the lake, seeing the blue sky, filled with towering white cumulus clouds as thick as whipped cream, I could do this all day and as a matter of fact I did...
And as a bonus a thunderstorm passed us by, nearly missing us. It sent down a torrent of rain, which moved past like a grey curtain and the sun turned that curtain into a double and very vibrant rainbow.

And I felt not just very satisfied, but happy.

And as I was shovelling I found something I was quite pleased with; worms and a  lot of them.
I also found this "little" guy. Could feel the hooks on its paws stinging into my skin as it crawled along...