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...


  1. I'm in Colorado visiting my sister. More later. Wonderful post in the meantime

  2. Hi Ron, will be curious to see how your compost method works out.
    Good for the girls. How come your son never makes it into the pictures. :) Are kids looking forward to school or thoroughly enjoying summer?
    Nice coat, my dad used to have a similar one.
    We found the same beetle just about a week ago in our backyard.

    1. Given the fact that he spends most if his time in his room reading, drawing, on the pc and building/designing stuff using legobricks......
      He doesn't really care for the rest.

  3. I can't wait to get home and write a post that shows pictures the amazing hornworms that I plucked off my pepper plants minutes before I had to leave for the airport. I couldn't figure out what was more important: Hornworms? Pack? Both!