Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Recapturing lessons and an early new year's resolution!

There were a good handful of posts that were in the making over the past few weeks, each with a handful of thoughts jumbled together. I will try and recapture the majority and essence of some of those into this one. This one is about changing seasons and new year's resolutions in october (bet I'm the first for the new year! Hah!), so actually new season resolutions.

The season of golden brown and shades of grey.
This year we experienced a phenomenal Swedish indian summer. Temperatures were well above average, much sun and far too less rain! It has been really dry all year and the lake waterlevels show it; 30-50cm below their usual level. Streams run dry regularly.
This draught might become a problem next spring too. The bees have settled for winter and I closed up the hive as much as possible. In preparation for winter I have been feeding them sugar or at least tried to. They wouldn't really take it, but supplies in their combs are not excessive either. Draught means far less nectar and thus honey. I did all I could do, so now I just have to wait and see, hoping they'll make it until spring. I fear that I might have to order new populations though....
The usual autumn morning fogs have been few and far between, also much less than usual and so far we only had a few occasional night frosts.Yesterday was a glorious, warm and sunny day, but today was far less favorable. The winds has changed north by north east and is chilling to the bone. Sky's grey and the mind wonders.........

The same location on 3 different occasions

It is also the season of death and dying. A few weeks ago I found this dragonfly by the side of the road, which was actually dying. It had spent all its energy and I could just pick it up and look at it. It tried to move around a bit, but it died in my hands and just fell to the ground, when I flipped my hand. It is sad to see such a beautiful and fascinating creature go to waste, but its kind will be back next year.

2016 is a year in which some significant things have been made clear to me or so I think so.
During the previous years I had been dreaming about becoming economically "independent" by starting a company producing and selling honey and seedlings or by starting a biological farm, commercially growing and producing vegetables and maybe even meat. As it all turned out it was not meant to be. And I think I see the reason for that now.
For starters the whole beekeeping-thing. The way I would have done that would be the absolute wrong way. The way which had economy in focus, not ecology. Conventional beekeeping is not the right way and I had to learn that for myself and by myself.
As for the farm I was simply aiming wayyy to high. Ambition and planning (dreaming) will not get you there all by themselves. Knowledge and discipline are equally required. Which I had none of, despite me thinking I had. So much for being cocky....
The reappearance of bushcraft into my life, by means of the meet and the Norway-trip, was to show me that I had lost or at least was losing the deeper connection to the natural world and I was to be reminded that I have to relearn and find that again.
And to top things off, the trip to Norway did not just give me fresh mountain air and good company, but also the insight of what to do and how to do it. Last night, the wife, our girls and me were talking about this and my oldest daughter jokingly said that in this picture, this cooperation that is growing, she would take the role as a hunter. She had just come back from the archery club, having taken up shooting her bow after the summer break, And I was a bit baffled by that, since it was exactly the conclusion that I had made earlier for a possible scenario. Right now it looks like I am going to develop into a farmer and homesteader with all the skills needed, my wife is the teacher, who will try to become a skilled and approved teacher in both wood- and metalworking, my oldest daughter expressing her interest in hunting and archery, but also in wanting to learn hands on the killing and butchering of animals for food. Our youngest daughter does show signs of having an affinity with plants and growing them, so that might develop. She also loves animals, but not unlike other kids. It seems to be more of a genuine interest in them instead of cuddling and petting them.
In real life this means no more halfcooked measures or faffing about. This means I will focus on growing crops, keeping bees and lifestock and taking care of the produce. No more wasting time on a full time job, just doing the occasional stand in to support our economics where and when needed. This means my wife doing her halftime job as a teacher and getting a degree as one besides that. And guide our kids, where their interests lead them.

However it sometimes does feel like I or we are not making much progress, but another chat with my youngest daughter, on our way home, put things into perspective once more. We had just went and bought 7 more hens and 1 cock and we got talking about how we have expanded our life stock this year. We had 1 dog and 2 cats, but added 1 more dog, 1 more cat, 14 hens, 8 cocks (of which 3 are still alive) and we got 2 bee populations plus all the equipment that comes with all of those. Not at all bad, I thought!
Looking at our crops and harvest I'd have to say that the biggest yield was learning by failure. Not only were our kale and cabbages devastated by caterpillars, were our carrots and garlic very small due to insufficient thinning and compact soil, but also were our potatoes mostly rotten and riddled with small, white larvae or worms of some kind. All potatoes in every plot were infected, so I have the suspicion that they were infested even before they got into the ground. The 3 species I planted came together in 1 cardboard box.
An estimated 30% of the potato crop was usable, some 50% was, as said, rotten or infested and the remaining ones were green. Our own fault for not properly covering them during growth season.
The few night frosts we had finished off pretty much all plants still left standing, of which quite a few did not make it all the way to ripening; sunflowers, pumpkins, corn and above all the poquito beans. All would have been good if the season would have been 1 month longer, so that means sowing earlier.
The apples I dried ended up on the compost heap. The first batch had not been dry enough and when we put all of them into a pot, the first started to mold and infected the rest. For next year I will make a rack to dry them by air. Takes a lot longer, but I think the results will be much better.


  1. Wow so much going on over there! That picture of the leaf in the hand is beautiful as are the scenery pictures.

    I picture your daughter as a young warrior in the forest self sufficient and wise in the ways of the world. You can be proud.

    Changes here, too. First rain. Leaves falling. Wind blowing. Dust settled.

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