Monday, January 25, 2016

wondering about the birds and the bees....

There seems to be a lot less birds in the garden this year
Not as many domherre, talgoxe and blåmes. Grönfink seems to be lesser in numbers too. Only a few gulsparv.
Much more gråsiska, saw a flock of stjärtmes, but no sidensvans anymore.
Hackspett pair is here, as is a pair of nötvecka.
All in all far less birds this winter.....
Something else that was missing, were tracks. I saw very little tracks of deer, compared to other years, but the most notable absence was the absence of moosetracks. I saw 1 (!) set of tracks so far and that was in the area I dubbed moose-alley a few years ago.

And I wonder how the bees are coping with the cold. It has been a relatively dry cold, but a fierce one too. I just hope I will be having my bees this year.

On the other hand, something that was very notable in its presence was the moon this time. A full moon again and our pets went nuts! Very keyed up and very restless. Much more so than normally during a full moon.
But Luna also showed herself in other ways. The day before full moon we were walking Rex late at night and the moon was up there, pouring its silver light over a white and frozen landscape; everything eerily still, as if frozen in time and so brightly lit it was almost daylight! A Swedish, full moon winter landscape in its truest sense.
Yet the day after full moon she showed herself in a totally different guise. This time she was butter yellow as she was rising over the treetops. There were large, sharply edged banks of fog floating over the land and lakes and the moon again casts sharp shadows.... but there was no light! The real cold had gone too.
I unwillingly thought of the sun rising in a black sky, which sucked up all the light radiating from the sun. Very unnerving, really.

Today I saw one of our hunting neighbours circling the fox-den site with his dog. I guess the fox' days are numbered. I feel sad about that really, despite the fact that that might prevent an issue arising with the henhouse.

We'll be having a very mild week this week. Thaw, predicted temperatures up to +4-5C for several days in a row and rain. That'll be fun on a frozen underground... not. But is is also nice to have a warm spell. Helps you relax a little and it will mean that the hole that the coldsnap has blown into our woodpile will not become that much larger.

And my cold lingers on, drains me of my energy, ruining my shape. I am always surprised how something like a normal cold can incapacitate or limit one.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Smells like....

As I am writing this I am fighting a annoyingly decent cold. So much fun what the kids, or in this case their substituting mom, bring home from school!
Well, it had to happen sooner or later. And it gives me time, though not energy, to read. Which is a good thing, because this week there was a package from the US of A in the mail. It was a book Kristina, or Bee as I like to call her, from the Beehappeenow-blog, that she had sent me. The reason for this is that, while reading Ben Hewitt's then we'd have pie post I commented on a post that had a quote of Stephen Jenkinson in it and I remarked that the book it came from, Die wise, sounded interesting.So she wanted to send that one to me. The shape of the package was a bit odd though.... Turns out there was another book in there too: Don Miguel Ruiz' The voice of knowledge! But the icing on the cake was the very sweet, handwritten card she had included. Once more it goes to show that you can make and have friends through the internet. As if I needed proof of that.... I sure do hope I can add her to the list of internet-friends I got to see in real life, too!

On a more mundane, daily note; I saw a pair of whooper swans, locally know as sångsvan or Cygnus cygnus fly over yesterday. I could hear their honking long before I could see them. Their white blended in well with the whites and greys of the snow and sky. I stood there, watching them as they passed over at low altitude, wondering what the heck they were doing here, because there is no open water to be found, when all of a sudden sky and earth changed places and I crashed into the frozen ground. I was walking Rex, he had seen or caught scent of something, so he went off and the line had caught my left foot. The rest must've looked like in a cartoon movie, I guess.

And the subject of scent brings me to another little episode; last year's neighbours are back. Meaning the foxden on the other side of the street is occupied again. Last spring we did see 3 fox cubs playing there in the sun and we thought it was great to have them living there. Now things are slightly different, since they will be no more than 25 meters away from the chickencoop, when that materialises. And that is too close for comfort for me. And for the chickens 'n rabbits too I guess. I contemplated about telling our neighbour about it, since he hunts fox, but decided not to. Instead I will visit the den's entrance daily with Rex, leaving our scent right in front of the fox' front door, hoping it will encourage him to move and go live elsewhere. So far no need for putting a chunk of hot metal through his chest.

Standing on the mound, looking down..... and when I turn around 180 degrees.....
across the road, up the hill.

The scent of cookies is filling the house right now. Esther's baking Heffalump-cookies for her birthday, today. Yep, heffalump, as in Winnie the Pooh's Heffalump movie (big Pooh-fan here! And that sounds.... off, somehow). In the extras there is a recipe included and Esla, our youngest one, wanted to give those a try.... And they are soooo.. good!
The only problem is that they do no good to me. If I eat too many, and it really does not take that much, honestly, I feel not well and I get physical...... issues. I did notice that (was hard not to!) after the december month with all the festiveness and extra "good" food. Ever since I quite sugar ad avoid grains, my body reacts in ever severe ways, when I relapse. A month with cookies and goodies, pastries and chocolate left my health in a wanting state. Goes to show what crap I have been stuffing down my piehole all my life. But the festive season is over, so back to a normal feeding-routine. A fat incoming paycheck will help keeping cheap junkfood at bay, too.

Have a good day, y'all and you really should pay attention to what you eat. It'll make you feel so much better!!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Patterns in the snow

First of all, you might have noticed; The blog is changing and has been changed.
I chose a temporary new name, until I come up with a better one, but this is what came up now. I also changed the layout, because that fits me better these days. It is a pattern that has been showing already and speaking of patterns, I found some in the garden lately.
One is the pattern of the garden layout I have been constructing and with the fresh snow collapsing into itself, that pattern was showing beautifully in the rising sun.

The other one is one I have mixed feelings about. This is made by a vole, It is beautiful in its randomness, but it might also spell trouble. Trouble for the plants in our garden. Luckily it is just this one pattern and not many, like we had in the beginning. Our cats and the regular cutting of the grass took care of that.

And winter just keeps on being cold and wonderful in its beauty.

As I went home from work this morning, the sun rose over the lake, next to the town of Säter...

And this is one of my absolute favorites of all time!

Some more patterns

Friday, January 15, 2016

Life in a deep freeze....

Well, winter has finally settled in around here and for real! First the temperature started dropping and we got the most wonderful hoarfrost. So much so that at one point it looked as if snow had fallen. And the air was so cold that any incoming moisture fell down as snowflakes. More then once there was snow in the air, while the sun was out too and that created strange, yet beautiful scenes and atmospheres.
The dark pictures are not taken at sunset, but during the days, when a cloud of snowflakes was blocking out the sun.

The temperature kept dropping and we hit -24C. Below -20C it becomes a whole new ballgame. This is cold that actually hurts. It bites you in your cheekbones, nips at your nostrils and make you squint your eyes involuntarily. It was just an incidental drop or so I thought. This morning we broke our coldest-yet-record since we moved here; -26C! Walking the dog in that is no fun. I decided to do a little experiment last night, during the late walk; No extra protective clothing, just the regular cityfolk clothes in winter; Jeans, a thick coat that makes you look like a balloon, knitted hat and scarf and mittens. And I learned the painful way that you do not stand a chance in that kind of clothing oúnder these conditions. Sheesh, my legs were painfully cold from the moment I stepped outside (big surprise here), but also the rest failed to keep me comfortably warm. The pants might have given some form of insulation if I had not moved, but not moving would be disastrous. And it only was -24C last night.This morning at -26 I did get properly dressed, but the cold was enough to make my fingers hurt through a pair of knitted gloves inside wool mittens (probably because of holding the leash) and Rex started limping within 500 meters, but that stopped pretty quick, once we were moving at a steady pace. I did notice him limping previously though, so we need to think protection for his paws, too. I pulled the long turtleneck kind of scarf out along my face, but still the cheekbones went numb fast. And, probably because I took up scale modelling and military history again, I wondered how soldiers can function under these conditions, let alone fight at even lower temperatures in layers of summer clothes... Hell is not a fiery hot place. It must be a frozen one like the Eastern Front more than 70 years ago.
But in between these 2 cold spells the temperature rose to around -10 to -15 and with that came more snow. Lots of it. About 40cm in less than 3 days. A very light, dry, powdery, feathery kind of snow. And with it wind. First from the east and later it turned to the north. That was not pleasant either.... but here comes the twisted me to the surface; I love this!!
I really do love it when it is cold, when it freezes and when it snows. Maybe not as much at -26 or in a freezing gale, but still....

It takes you back to the inner you, trying to stay warm if not on the outside, then at least on the inside. Huddling up, wearing warm clothes, breathing this stinging, fresh, clean air. Seeing amazingly brilliant and clear starry skies, looking at the astonishingly complex and beautifully shaped snowflakes, hearing the crunching and squeaking snow under your feet, but no other sounds.... It makes you really feel alive. Experiencing the world with all your heightened senses at once and it always leaves me in awe for the sheer cold beauty and instills deep respect for the world in which I live. Mother nature in one of her most dazzling guises, but mercilessly cold and ruthless to those not respecting her.
I took this one during the first cold period, when the moisture froze out of the air.
Perfectly shaped ice crystals, like stars.

We saw 2 strömstare or white throated dippers (Cinclus cinclus) this week. The first one was startled by Rex and we saw it shoot away, just over the water's surface of a stream that flows too fast to freeze... yet. The other one I saw when we crossed that same stream, but much more upstream, where it starts as a overflow from one of the nearby lakes. Never saw these before and now 2 in a row!

Now there's a little story to most of these photos. Most of the time it was too cold to take off the mittens and gloves to operate the cellphone. I do not leave home without it walks like this, because one wrong step, especially with a dog moving around like a loose canon on deck, might cause serious problems.... and there is so much beauty to see and share!!
All of the shown images are taken using a cellphone, either mine or my wife's. Last winter I "developped a technique" that enables me to snap shots without getting cold fingers.. I use my nose.

And thus this                                       

Is the result of this...

No I am not worshipping my cellphone..... 

                                                  Up close it looks like this:

This was today around noon; cold and moisture moving in. The air over the lake got hazy and the cold started to bite a little more.
I did notice that I have some softspots during this kind of weather; my cheekbones and the sinuses behind my nose. All the rest was warm and comfy, since I was trying out my outdoor gear once more in preparation for my trip to Norway soon. Now I need to find a way to protect those weak areas....
I paid more attention to Rex again, too. As long as he is moving, he doesn't seem to have issues with his paws, but if we stop for a short while, like when taking the first photo and others, he starts pulling up his paws and limps. I guess he has the same issue I have when I start out; cold fingers. But once the blood starts pumping when we move, the problem seems to disappear. When my fingers start to freeze, so do his paws, it seems. Good to know and a good reminder to check on him....
Maybe use some old socks on him or something?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The swing of the pendulum....

Well, most of those who drop in regularly have noticed it; the trying woodsman is no more...

No I ain't dead yet! Quite the contrary!
I am very much alive and better, as a whole, than I have in a long time.

Yet there has been a change again. A change that actually has been going on for a while, but I became very aware of it just recently. Winter has finally come for real.... and I even haven't unpacked my outdoor wintergear! My woolpants are still in the trunk, the pulkas (sleds) are sitting in the shed and should've been fixed, and the same goes for the skis. I think the woodsman-thing has outlived its purpose for now, as I find myself focussing on other things, like the garden, the future building plans. My new job is a focus too and maybe all this change, all this social activity is making me retreat a little more into the house, instead of running through the woods all day. Having a dog with which a nice, casual stroll through the woods is not an option, does not help either. Or maybe I am just getting a little scared of the world as it is these days and I seek refuge in my own little world.
I do get my share of treeviews and forest air each day anyway, but I somehow lost my drive to go into the woods and play woodsman.... for now.

I am therefore contemplating a change of name for this blog.
Somehow the "trying woodsman" doesn't cut it anymore. Hasn't done so in a long while. I am no woodsman, even though I still love being there. I have become or probably always was, something else, someone else.
I needed to be a trying woodsman in order to get away from modern (Dutch) society. To find a sanctuary. To refind and redefine me, the life I had and the world we were living in.
Living here, in this place, largely ended that search, even though the path, the journey never ends. I no longer need to go out into the woods and enact a woodsman, a bushcrafter or forest hiker. I live near and in the woods now. I am extending my contact with the earth and all its living things therein, on and above.
I have started to grow my own food and my, our changed personal life will finally enable us to speed up and expand our homesteading endeavors. Those, in time, will cut back our dependence of logistical systems and cut back our negative impact on our planet, because of that. And besides, working in a garden, fingers in the soil, not only brings you closer to the earth and its inhabitants, it will also give you peace of mind, because it helps you earth and comforts the mind in knowing what you eat. Or just sitting in it, being.... Looking at birds flying by, seeing the ants march along highways, carrying bits of prey or sticks to build with
I have learned a handful of skills through the bushcraft approach and that made me open my mind and I figured if I activated my accounts on several bushcraft forums that that might reignite that woodsman-thing. If anything I only got put off even more..... A reminder once more to not look back.

Does that mean this blog will change?
No, not really. I just continue to write down and show what I do, why I do it, how I think and about what I feel is important. Nature, homesteading, social issues..... But I will be rethinking, redoing and probably even renaming the blog, since its looks no longer represent the contents...

Kind of a long intro to say just that, wasn't it?

On a completely different note;
Those following the media these days, and I am one of those who tries to limit that, must have noticed that there are things going on....
A vortex of happenings and developments that bode little good; economies not going well, despite low oil prices, legalisation of bank's bail.ins, meaning they can take all the money from those banking with them. Legal theft on a massive scale, just to save themselves from the aftermath of their own high risk money games. Creating a cashless society, as they are doing here, goes perfectly with those plans. People losing jobs here and there. Politicians becoming more and more erratic, unrealistic, alienated, stupid or plainly show who the real masters are. Massive refugee issues. 10's of thousands fleeing, moving to other countries and massive issues in those countries because of that. In Germany a massive sexual assault on women new years eve and reports vary from 100's of men assaulting women to 1000's of immigrants assaulting and actually raping women. Are these really refugees with a belittling view on women or is this an orchestrated act of war, an invasion? Images and movies of columns of young, fit men crossing borders coming back to mind. No women, children or elders in sight.... Soldiers?? Sweden reported similar issues earlier....
Reports on wars and attacks flash by, almost unnoticed. Who can keep up?
Reports and messages of fear, anger, violence and above all hate, all the time, everywhere; it is so easy and accepted to hate these days. Hate the women, hate the others, hate each and everyone that is not like you. Hate people just for having a different opinion, skin color, gender.  Extreme right opinions and groups dominate the "news"flow. They are having a frenzy!
We are so fractured. There is no more unity. Even within groups that seem to share the vision that things are going bad, there is no consensus. Most can't look past their own field of vision, their own ego or their own fears. I said in a previous post that after the Paris talks those against should do well to talk to each other and unite. But most of what I see is fragmentation and I wonder..... should I still commit to the fight or should I step aside, get my own shit together, make a huge bowl of popcorn and "enjoy" the show...

On the other hand I try to focus more on what is NOT reported in the mainstream media, looking for alternative sources and those reports are even more unsettling.
Top people from every field, economical, banking, oil industry, social, medical, from within those institutions themselves, are speaking out, showing us what is wrong, warning us and with every passing day those grow louder, more numerous.... and yet people refuse to hear and see. The plainly refuse, because they can not cope with the horrendous truth,
The build up to a climax and the vastly increasing pace leaves me with a sickening feeling to my stomach. I spend my 45th birthday today in peace and quite, warm and well fed.... How will I be spending my next one? The next 5??
I am but sure of one thing; a storm is coming. It is brewing. I can see the dark clouds on the horizon and I can hear thunder.....

Here too the pendulum swings back again....
History is repeating itself once more, but this time the playground  literally is the world and the stakes are much, much higher... The above mentioned issues are a burning fuze, the last ones are the powderkeg.  Maybe this is a better comparison....

Out of order there will be chaos and out of chaos there will be order once more...

I need to take a deep breath....... and focus on my little world, because that is the one I can change.
And I actually seem to be doing that.
As I told before I am now working with refugee teenage boys and in order to give them something to do (and get them away from a screen) I am setting up a scale modelling group. Via contacts I got support in the form of free scale modelkits, some magazines and utensils and I introduced that to those boys. The response was more than I anticipated, with a dozen wanting to join in. Some wanted to get going right away! I tried to focus on civilian subjects, but those magazines inevitably contained military ones too.
One of those kids wants to build a tank....... I hesitated, considering their background and what implications that might have. Yet he wanted nothing else. Of all things he chose a WW2 German one... And we started talking about that, what that had meant for Europe in those days and via that we came to talk military history to today's happenings and the parallels. And I saw his eyes getting a bit bigger. He got it!
And I realised; I had just touched someone.........

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Watching the snow fall....

This morning I was sitting there.... In my chair by the window, leafing through a book, a mug of hot, steaming coffee close by and a sleeping dog at my feet, when I looked out the window.
Out there everything was still. No human made sounds to be heard. No wind. No warmth. I saw snow falling, silently, gently, almost weightless. I looked at the snow, wondering what it was that captured me, what was different about it. It was the snow falling, but not as it usually did. There was no wind driving it forward, no weight pulling the flakes down, like huge specks of dust, caught in a beam of light.
It was mesmerising, hypnotic and after a while I lost my thoughts. I just looked at them for a while, trying to single out some and focus on them on their way down. Such a variety in shape! Some were like feathers, some like balls of fluff. Some resembled those "helicopter" seeds sycamores drop and behaved in pretty much the same, spiraling way. Some were small, mere pinpricks and others were large, maybe more than a centimeter across, but all were white, silent and on their way down, making the world turn bright.
Like little angels coming down from the heavens and bringing light to this darkening world of us. Another one of those small wonders of nature many of us take for granted or even despise, because they can cause inconvenience in our hectic, everyday life. And yet they bring peace of mind and beauty to those willing to see to.
Later on I took Rex for a walk as usual, but this time I took a different route and we found our girls, who had gone out too. They were in a patch of wood, strewn with boulders. I could see their tracks, but they did not know I was there. They only heard something mover through the woods and thought it might be a moose!
The decided to join me on my round and told me about a place where they'd found a lot of squirrel-sign; a place where many pinecones had been eaten. We checked it out and I took them to another place that had a lot of beaversign; chewn down trees. My youngest one, Elsa, was quite excited to be able to make out every single bite mark left in the wood and we even found a big aspen, about a foot across, that even had most of the bark eaten away, not to mention the entire crown. We moved on and found even more squirrel-diners and even some moosedroppings.
By this time more moist air moved in and the cold made the moisture fall down like snow.... You could feel the air change. The cold started to feel a lot less comfortable and it was time to head home. The girls started to get tired anyway and since I had skipped lunch my fuel supply was running low too.

Sunset at 15:35

Friday, January 1, 2016

The snow came with new year's day....

.... but is wasn't much and with it a hunter I never did see here before; a varfågel or Northern shrike (Lanius excubitor). It was the second sighting of a rare bird for me lately. The first being a slaguggla (Strix uralensis).


I saw the owl sitting on a perch, a fencepost, when I drove to work the other day. The post was right next to the road, about 2 meters away. It sat there, tall (I guess half a meter), looking directly at me and the disks in the face were very clear. I checked the mirrors, hit the brakes hard and stopped to look at it. After a while I backed the car to get closer, but it lept up and flew, wafted is more like it, away. Broad, majestic....
My first live owl sighting!!


I was brought to the attention of the shrike, because a small bird hit the livingroom window I was sitting by. The loud thump startled me and I looked out, seeing the shrike in midair. 
I keep a set of binoculars on the windowsill just for occasions like this and I could get a good look at it. A very noticeable pattern gave it away...
It apparently was hunting over our house, spooking the small birds, sending one of them slamming into the window. It does feed on rodents, insects and small birds, as I learned when I checked the books. It impales its prey on branches, thorns and the like.....