Sunday, September 6, 2015

Horses and woodsmoke.....

..... with a dash of scouts, woods and outdooroveranopenfire-prepared food to make a tasty recipe....

Last weekend was one dedicated to the outdoors.
First on the agenda was a visit to the "skogens dag" or "day for the woods"; a manifestation with all sorts of organisations and companies with ties to the forest. Forestingcompanies, scoutinggroups, enviromental organisations, authorities etc. A very noticeable contribution was made by a number of attendants using real horsepower! At least 4 different ones showing both Ardenners and Nord svenskar or north Swedish. The latter is less massive.

Sheer power!! Immense muscles and immense hoofs, luckily blessed with a gentle character.

Later that day I was given the opportunity to try and "work" with a horse! I was allowed to steer a wagon, whilst the owner was sitting beside me, holding on to a pair of backup reigns. Of course the horse was very gentle and well accustomed to the task ahead, but still. Handling an animal in such a way was completely new to me!
And I must admit that, despite the terror a horse would instill on me many years ago, ever since I got over that fear I am starting to develop a real.... well love is a strong word, but heartfelt interest in these animals. I like being near them, feeling their warm skin, the muscles underneath and the look you get from those big, brown eyes, which I'm quite sure, see and understand more than we know or would like to know.
Before I hopped on the wagon I went to the horse, let him smell me, and hear my voice. Properly introducing oneself is important to me.... and probably to them too.

Handling such a wagon and horse for the first time I really wondered why the heck we started to use cars, if not for the sheer convenience of it. This was feeling good!
One of the other participants, the one with the horse further up this post, had written a book about this kind of work with horses, complete with illustrated step by step explanations and one of the copies switched owners. These people are planning on having a course of this coming autumn and you can guess what we were thinking... right? ;)

 Our oldest daughter was attending with her scoutgroup and they had erected a camp with shelters and an obstaclecourse. They had had a great time, since they were being joined by a nearby, yet to them unknown scoutgroup and they shared the experience.
You can see her sleeping place under the green tarp where the grey/green bedroll is lying.
The reflectoroven was on the other scout group's firepit.
And of course there was handwork and- craft too, albeit only one person. Yet she made wonderful things like wreaths/garlands out of all sorts of coniferous twigs or mosses, decorated with whatever the forest gave her and combined in very tasteful and harmonious ways.

Our stay there was being cut short, because of lack of time.
After our visit to the skogens dag we went on to our next "assignment"; a double pass at the charcoalkiln. We had planned to spend the afternoon, evening and night there from 14:00 till 06:00. And most of us were looking forward to it... except our son. He wasn't feeling much for it, but we made him come anyway. We'd share the evening with some friends/acquaintances there, prepare some campfirefood and just have a good time. Weather was playing along nicely so far, even if the forecast predicted a bit of rain. So I went there first with some of my stuff, so at least one of us would be on time and my wife would pick up whatever we might need for our stay there
A bit of a downer was the fact that we had to use undried wood on the fire, since the dried wood had been used up due to mismanagement of the supply and uncooperative weather. A lot of smoke was the result, but the evening went by free of mosquitos!

By night fall had picked up and we heard a thunderstorm rolling in. Not much later we were getting drenched. Rain just poured down, the wind picked up and it got real chilly fast. We were really happy to have a roof over our heads and a fire crackling in front of us. This lasted for a few hours and I realised that getting caught out in the open under these conditions the situation would very quickly become quite uncomfortable. Pouring rain, wind and darkness do not make easy living out in the woods.
In the meantime my son was really getting bored and Rex misbehaved himself, snatching a piece of sausage out of our youngest daughter's hand, trying to do the same thing with a cinnamonbun with one of our friends, sticking his head into a frying pan after preparing meal and licking it, while it was in no way presented to him and begging for food or treats all the time, whilst all the time trotting back and forth, pushing his presence onto us and trying my patience....
By now our son had made it perfectly clear that he had no wish to stay overnight and forcing him would do nothing to add to a harmonious atmosphere....

Letting my uncooperative and bored son stay at home, alone all night together with a quite misbehaving and restless young dog with the possibility of more thunderstorms coming in...... Not on this dad's watch! So the "stronger sex" went home....
As we drove home, he glanced at me sideways and said:"Sorry. I know I ruined the whole family sleepover."
And yes, I was quite disappointed. I had loved to spend the night in the wind shelter together with the girls. I was also disappointed, because he could not or would not bring himself to adapt. A teenage-thing perhaps. Yet on the other hand I was also pleased with the fact that he does stand up for himself, even when he knows he will disappoint someone, like his parents, and not be forced into doing something he really does not want to do. He showed stamina and a strong will. And that's a good thing in my books.

Ohh and Bee, in case you still wonder why my son never is in one of the pictures....
Here he is!

The sunday was spent relatively easy and slow; washing up the things we used to make dinner, airing out the sleeping bags and pillows, washing clothes..... The vague smell of woodsmoke hanging around for just a tad longer.


  1. Ron, very neat about the horses, I hope you get to connect to them more. The more time we spend with horses, the more I love them. Actually, I am quite obsessed with them. :) I was watching a documentary about the draft horses and in Czech republic they were using draft horses to help clear the woods while in other parts of the world - to pull the nets for the fishermen.
    Sorry about disagreements with the son. He must be thinking you people are all out of your mind staying in the woods in the rain like some homeless hobos. Reminded me when we recently hiked in the woods in the dark, it took some imagination for me to get my 4 year old going, but at least at this age they are a bit easier to pick up and carry. :)

    1. Things like these are really helping me getting closer to animals. I've always been more of a plantperson, so it expands my horizon.
      As for my boy; well, he is a teenager and a real one too. Not troublesome, but not really cooperative either. I guess it has to be like this for him to develop a sense of self too.

    2. It is good to be close to animals. They are true and always exactly what they are. They have senses we have lost or maybe never had. They show us how to connect in a real way. They show us how to be patient. They show us how to work in partnership.

  2. Oh you two! Romantics! Don't get me wrong. I'm obsessed with horses. I have 3 right now. But honestly? If I had to harness up the horse to drive into town which all takes care and forever and then something scared him (horses are big rabbits, not bicycles) and he ran off with the wagon, well, I'd be thinking in my mind now how can I invent something that doesn't need to be trained to be any good. Cars and horses need to be "fed" and they both get "sick" but there's that training aspect. If you don't do it right you have a big ole problem on your hands because badly trained horses are hard to get rid of and are dangerous. They can kill you with just one mis-step.. Oh and did I mention if YOU are not properly trained you can UNtrain a well trained horse. Let me tell you that those folks who have those lovely beasts that you are falling in love with are big big experts and that's why you love those horses. Because they did a time-consuming good job and they keep at it.

    OK OK sorry. Raining on the parade. Did I just blow it big time? Slap me back.

    Come to a screeching halt, change directions... Love the Skogens Dag! I am so envious. Honestly I should be doing something more than surfing the web but it's so crazy hot here (108 farenheit) that my brain is just fried. I don't want to go anywhere or do anything. If you want me to do something it better be super easy or I might just go take a nap. So looking at your green is a mini-vacation for my eyes.

    Bee, I used to hike in the woods in the dark with my dad scouting deer sign. I felt like Natty Bumppo and it was one of the peak experiences I ever had as a child. But I was a lot older. If he'd taken me when I was little I'm sure I would have not understood it.

    Keep up the good work both of you. I always enjoy what you write.

    1. Romantic?? Why??
      We have absolutely no illusion what's however that we might even begin to use horses in the way you described. If anything it would be that if we would get some our kids would learn and teach their kids someday. They might be able to do what countless generations did before our time; grow up around these animals and understand and use them, cooperate and interact with them.
      For us it would be a valuable schooling method on how to deal with larger animals as such.
      Maybe if everyone would use horses instead of cars they might handle their ride a lot better then many do these days. I believe that a hopelessly untrained lunatic behind a steering wheel with a immensely false sense of security (which basically goes for the vast majority of people) is much more dangerous than a spooked horse.

    2. There's logic in what you say. Yes, the children. However, being a person that has spent most of their life behind the wheel commuting at 60 mph until recently I can tell you that the vast majority are the sane ones. It's the minority lunatics going 80 mph weaving in and out and tailgating that are endangering the people just wanting to get home in one piece in peace. For every 100 cars you have 2-3 lunatics. I've counted. I can't tell you how glad I am to be off those crazy highways.

      But I do think that it would not hurt AT ALL if people had really in depth relationships with animals besides eating their dead body parts gotten from the store. See, I liked your article about the Greening because I also think people are slowly wising up to their folly. However we have a long long way to go before consciousness is raised enough. Let's keep one-pointed.

    3. As a former policeman I'd be willing to disagree on the lunaticpercentage....
      But yes I do see more and more waking up too. And not just online. It feels good meeting them and talking to them in person too. Like we did on this day of the forest. We met a woman playing a forest trol and we started to talk a little and it turned out we were very much on the same frequency.

    4. Oh you and my husband! He's a retired police officer from a tough town, Bakersfield CA and he has the same opinion! Lunatics abound. I always tell him I've been sheltered from the reality of the world and that kind of reality I'm ok with being sheltered from. I have so much admiration for policemen who go out there and put themselves in harm's way. I could not do it.