Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sticks 'n stones....

....won't break my bones, but it sure feels like they're breaking my back!

Besides getting the food garden ready and going, we're also working hard to restore the damages and clearing away the debris. Firewood should not be too much of an issue coming winter, provided I get it all cut up and stacked soon, so it can dry properly before that.
A lot of work is the clearing away of all the rocks and boulders that can be moved. What to do with all those?? And all those smaller branches?? So I came up with a plan; using the stones as markers for a path and chopping up the branches and twigs as the actual path. Saves a lot of muddy feet.
The excess stones will end up as small walls around the edges. This should create a warm terrace, creating possibilities (hopefully) for (edible) plants that prefer warmer circumstances. Drier most likely too. Maybe a good spot for perennial herbs.
This required a piece of equipment I used to have, but that broke last season; a chopper for those branches. I had one with rollers; quiet and strong, resulting in 2cm large chunks and chips. A new one would set us back 2000sek at least. However my wife found one in a garagesale for a whopping 50. Downside is that this one has knives. And I don't like it. It is noisy with a earsplitting screamy noise, not nearly as strong as the previous one and is murder for the body due to the constant vibrations. One has to hold onto the branches all the way, since it is not self feeding. But it gives nice small chips and gets the job done eventually without us going bankrupt.

That cheap 'n shoddy greenhouse we got last year is serving as a frame for the beans now.
There's another pile of to be processed wood there too.........

The terrace is shaping up.
And another pile of wood.....
plus a lot more still lying between the trees.....

Well, I did ask for it, didn't I? Summer.... we got it, if even for a few days. High score so far 27C. But the weather's been kind to us so far. The temperatures remained nice, despite several days where the skies opened up. So the drought issues are gone for now. Not enough to replenish the water shortages, but that would really be too much to ask. Everything is looking fresh, vibrant, lush. So far the forest fire risks are back to minimal again.
Phew. Had a few days with the next to highest alert level.

A blazing summer's day....

And a few days later thunderclouds gathering and a storm building.
For the first time since we moved here I have the feeling that I got the garden under control. At least the grass and weeds that grow more than a centimeter a day. That weed hacker I bought last year turns out to be a very good investment indeed! I really have been putting the damn thing through its passes, but it keeps going good so far. The extra batteries were worth their money too!
Another investment I made this year was the purchase of a chainsaw. An electrical one.
Why this choice? No nauseating exhaust fumes, acceptable levels of noise and a very low price, incl. the helmet. Just buying such a helmet new would be more than the price than what I paid for the set! I will not need another chainsaw, since I will not be working or cutting in the woods anyway. And so far I am quite pleased. This machine made short work of a 13 meter high pine, 2 even taller birches, a few smaller ones and some aspen, a fully grown rowan and some junipers. Cutting the smaller trunks and bigger branches into pieces fitting the heater remains to be done, though.
A new set of skills has been and is being learned!

Also the community building facebook-initiative I took, is working. One of the members arranged a plant/seedling sale/swapping day and we finally got to meet the writer David, who moved to the neighbouring village and his partner Sofia. They arranged this event on their homestead, complete with drinks, pastries and icecream! It was a very lovely small gathering. All in all maybe 60 people turned up, but the atmosphere was real good and it turns out that there is a need for community and such events. It is growing and more and more people are doing their share; growing crops, having chickens etc. All small scale, but when combined with great result. This is the beginning, but it'll grow!!!
Our table...
There was a garage sale in a part of our municipally the other day as well. Besides the usual small things, like military shirts, a book and some old utensils, I came across something I'd consider a small treasure; some old beekeepers stuff from the 20's and 30's! Those would be a bunch of old, genuine labels for honey jars and 2 honey tins. AND a complete year of a beekeepers magazine from 1924. Those items followed me home, just out of sense of nostalgia. I also spotted an probably equally old honey centrifuge, but its shape was not the best. I wouldn't use it anyway! And of course the talk turned toward bees and related subjects. The owner of the place, who incidentally is the same man who introduced me to woodturning, when we were on a holiday here in 2008, told me there were a bunch of old beehives up in a wood smoking shack. So I went up there and indeed found 3 hives. Those were wooden stackable hives, but of proportions I had never seen before. Big ones!! These were used during the 30's I assume, given the fact that it was the old man's father who was a beekeeper and due to the fact that the labels are from the 30's. Some google-fu seems to confirm that.

A plan has arisen in my twisted brain, to see if I can get those hives and place them on our local hembygdsgård (local history museum). The idea is to re-create a 1920's-1930's apiary, but a live re-enactment! I want to restore these hives to their previous glory and populate them.
Now I need to see to it that it materialises!! That means talk with the hive owner to donate the hives, the board of the museum to get permission for this idea, the neighbours to avoid complaints and the local beekeepers for assistance.

As for our everyday life, besides shoveling earth, moving stones and cutting up trees, planting and sowing is well under way. As we speak, or I write, more half of our available beds have been planted. We took it kind of slow this year. Not too many plants and very little flowers. I sort of forgot to order seeds for those. But we still have the entire herb-section to go!!
For those I am creating space directly next to our terrace, so we can pick what we need, whenever we need or otherwise enjoy their smell or flowers.

And then there's the chickens.... We have got a strange bunch. Which is not all that surprising since noone and nothing here is quite normal. But some of our ladies have started to hatch. And they do not do that with a nestbox each.... No, they like cosy. Very cosy. Three of them in one box!! Keeping a staggering 27(!) eggs warm and toasty. Even if less than half hatch, we'll be having a significant enlargement of our flock! Which is a good thing, since we not only saw the fox dashing between rocks and trees here the other day, when our flock was out. No, we have a much more serious threat here at home. Lester!!
He gave me a real shock the other day. As I was finishing up in the garden for lunch, I noticed a white curled up tail in the corner of my eye. One of the dogs out? Did I leave a door open? Or a window? It has happened before, so..... I checked. All was closed. All, except for one kitchen window, more than 2 meters above ground level. He had jumped out of that one!! And when he's out, he will not come back just like that! No way. But it got much worse real quick. He did something he had not done before. He went for the chickens! And caught one! And would not drop it! And took off with it........ and ate it. Luckily he took the least valuable one; Malfoy, one of the new cocks. And he was by far the smallest and weak one. So that saves us the trouble of having to kill him ourselves. But still..... I'd much rather have him on my plate then in Lester's stomach.
He rammed home the fact that he is indeed a Siberian husky/Alaskan malamute mix. A breed with very primitive characters, including hunting, killing and eating.
After the initial shock, and determined exclamations from me that he had overstepped the line and had to go, I calmed down and realised that it is not his fault. He did what he is bred to do. It is inherent to his breed. And we once again need to adapt to that.

But now I'm off, packing for a weekend of bushcrafting, camping and meeting people, both known and unknown.


  1. Wow you have really been busy! I love it. The garden looks absolutely wonderful! I wish I could say ours looks as good. We have summer squash, tomatoes, onions, herbs, strawberries, bell peppers at this time. I am impressed that your electric chainsaw can accomplish all that. We have 2 chainsaws both gas. A big one for big work and a small one. I call it a Girl's Chainsaw. I can hold it for so much longer. I can barely lift the one my husband uses. We used the heck out of the chainsaws when we were at the ranch cutting up oak for firewood but now we only use it for cutting down our dead trees since we do not have 1,000 acres any more! We had enough reserve that we brought with us last year but now we have to find another source. Maybe up in the foothills. We burn eucalyptus but I really like oak. Anyway good to see you are still blogging. We have gotten our dilapidated house painted and repaired. The garden is in. We switched real estate brokers to one that is in our town so now we save time and gas by not having to drive to Fresno. I think we may have a listing for a horse ranch that will put us in gravy. We are old and have almost no savings for when we can't work. We need to put more money under the mattress. That's my advice to you, too! Here's one idea: I just started a Nickel Builder. It's where you put 5 more cents in every day. 5 cents, 10 cents, 15 cents, etc. At the end of the year you will have over $3,000 saved up. Plink plink!

    1. Hej Renée, boredom is not much of an issue these days. ;)
      Hope you're doing alright!
      I wish saving money like that would work, but unfortunately there are powerful forces at work here to eradicate the use of cash. Banks will not handle your money anymore or not with a hefty charge and more and more stores are following suit.

  2. Wow Ron you have been busy. I've just been re-reading some old blog posts of my own on which you had commented and wanted to reconnect. Glad to hear that you are doing well.

    1. Hi Andy, yes it's been a while.
      Hope you are doing fine given the circumstances and thanks for reconnecting.