Monday, October 7, 2019

Clearing college cobwebs from my head

Recently I have gone back to school. Being only 16 months away from the big "Five-Oh" this isn't an easy task, especially considering that it was 30 years ago, since I left the schoolbenches.

So I had to go out, clear my head after the first weeks of classrooms, lectures and severe social interaction and today was a fine, yet rather windy day.

Initially I headed out to scout out a new area for a midwintermeet I am planning for our group here, but the location I had in mind turned out to be a disappointment. The old fäbod (forestfarm) is in disrepair and draughty, the roof falls apart and there was no possibility to stay the night inside and have a fire.
The surrounding area has suffered from a clear cut too.
Too bad really. The location in itself was rather good.

So after a short while I left again, wondering what to do or where to go.
There is another area nearby, one that I had never visited, despite living near for almost 7 years! So I decided to go there instead. The place is called Trylämnet and is rather popular during summer. Now the summerguests and tourists have vacated the area and I had the entire area to myself. I drove up the forest road to see how far I could go, but at one point I decided to stop. It just kind of looked inviting. As I left the car I noticed a path going into the woods, which soon disappeared downhill. I grabbed my gear and followed it and within minutes I was at another, much smaller lake. The spot is just perfect! And I knew I had found a new spot to come back to. It just felt right.
Right at the lakes edge there was a fireplace that had been used before, but by the looks of it not recently. Here was were I was going to have my lunch and coffee! There were plenty of spruce around, providing me with dry wood, despite the rains of late.... and last night.... all of last night. I discovered something I was not to pleased with; someone had left 3 makeshift fishingrods leaning against a tree, complete with hooks, weights and lines, but this was so old that the lines had become overgrown with moss. I dislike stuff like this. The wood will rot away eventually, leaving the lines and hooks for an animal to get trapped in. I disposed of these traps by burning it all.


I started by gathering firewood, which actually were mostly the lower branches of said spruce and got myself a fire going. The strong winds made me burn through that wood at an alarming rate! So more forays were needed to keep it alive.
One thing I must confess to, is that I am a neatfreak, when it comes to campsites and gear. I can get, and always do, really annoyed by campsites where gear is strewn all over the place. So I always make sure that when I am out there, things are tidy.
I also want to show off my altered anorak.... if you don't mind. ;)
I have dyed and redyed the thing about half a dozen times, the last time adding green with the warm batik-method. But I wasn't satisfied. It looked to pale. So I added dark brown, using a paste that can be painted on, breaking the paleness.

I had also planned on doing a gearreview on my backpack, doing a test with signal colours and their visibility in the woods and wanted to explore the area more...
But I ended up staying at the spot, fiddling around with my cellphone camera, eventually just settling down, having coffee, sitting close to the fire and observing that.
I just sat there, watching the angle of the sun change....

Have you ever paid attention to the smaller pieces of firewood? Seen how they twist and bend as the fire consumes them?
Have you paid attention to the patterns in the embers? How they glow and die down, depending on the wind and the flow of air across them?
Or the patterns of the smoke as it twists, swirls and dances to the "beat" of the wind?

It is magical, hypnotizing and alive!!

But all good things come to an end. I doused the fire die down and when the very last of the flames extinguished I threw water over the hot embers, watching the steam follow the path of the smoke, said my thanks and headed home.
My head is clear again, my body feels grounded again.

A different daytrip - geology class

The other day we had a geology field trip, visiting Europe's largest meteor impact crater; the Siljansringen.
Here, about 370 million years ago, a app. 5km large asteroid smashed into the Earth, creating a large impact crater, about 52km in diameter, in the middle of current day Sweden.
The lake Siljan is a direct result of that. As a result of that impact the surrounding area got deformed and because of the processes during the ice age much of the damages have been laid bare. We were going to visit a number of sites, showing that.

The following images are from wikipedia to give you an idea;

 We started of around 08:30 in the morning, driving toward Rättvik, just above Falun on the shown map, where we climbed the highest "peak". It was a clear day, we could see right across the lake Siljan all the way up to Mora. It was cold to, +2C. And very windy! Windchill kicked in fast, reminding me why shelter can be a vital factor in the famous Rule of Threes!
We headed out to the next stop without much delay.
I must admit that I forgot to note the names of the locations we visited, so you'll have to make do with pictures instead, accompanied with some comments.

 After that it was almost lunchtime, so I was "allowed" to perform some outdoor tricks.... such as making a fire without a jerrycan of gas. The ensuing warmth was deeply appreciated by the rest of the group.

We also visited a site, where the former floor of the then present sea was forced up. The entire population of sea lillies was instantly encased and is now exposed as fossils.
I picked up a few with the idea of including those in gifts as seen in certain other threads, posted by a well known person, residing in a country to the south of me...
The gushing water in one of the next pictures actually is groundwater being forced up due to the geological circumstances. All you need to do, is collect and drink it!
They even looked for oil and natural gas in the wider area, but did not find any....luckily. It most likely wold have destroyed the region.

All in all a very good day out. The weather played along quite nicely, being dry and sunny with grey and rainy days before and predicted after. And I visited locations I normally would not readily, whilst learning a lot of new things.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

No sew medicine pouch

Via bushcraft USA I stumbled across a fun and easy project to do on a windy, snowy day like today; a small poich that did not need any sewing.
The original link to the pouch on shamanArts. net is HERE.
The pattern; 

I dediced to print it as large as possible on an A4, but was unsatisfied afterwards. The pouch was too small for me to use. I also experimented with punching holes on different locations, another failure.
My wife then printed the pattern on A3-size. That proved to be much more useful.

For the bigger size I also needed a bigger piece of leather.... which I did not have. I did have some leftover furniture leather, which was fine, since I like the patchy kind of look....
And as usual I just can not keep to "the plan". I added small brass rings in the holes and changed the closingsystem. Mainly since the rings were not big enough to allow for the original way.
And now my steel striker, a tin of charcloth and some bits of flint live in the pouch. With a litle room to spare. I actually am quite pleased with the result. Maybe an hour's work.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Springequinox and inspiration

Today is the day (or night) of the springequinox. Night and day are in exact balance a short while, before the sun takes over and rules the coming half year by lengthening the days and shortening the nights.
I was lucky to enjoy a real early springday, flooded in sunlight and temperatures well over freezing. Snow and ice just collapsed before my eyes. These days are also days of renewal or alteration for me, personally. My physical conditions (and medical team) are forcing me to rethink my path once more. The farmingdays appear pretty much over. I simply can not continue this way. And so I have set my sights on a new path, hoping to (not entirely) leave behind the world of agriculture and move toward the world of academia.
I will continue to do (some) homesteading, but must drastically alter my modus operandi a.k.a. the way I work. And to create some form of income after I end my career at the dairyfarm I have applied for a position as mentor on the local högstadiet (highschool), ages 12-16. In this position I would be a councelor, middleman and contactperson among other thing. No teaching in front of a class. I also sought an education. That is a course on international relations, politics and history and, once completed, should give me access to higher education facilities.
My current situation means that I have a lot of sparetime and I must admit I do not spend all of it in a productive manor. I am not allowed to either. So I splurged some of my cash on a new pair of binoculars, since the previous ones pretty much died. It is not an ultrigh quality pair, but the improvement over my antique 7x32 is massive! I now have a new 8x40 and the coating on the lenses ales all the difference.
I had the opportunity to use it studying a fox that has chosen a bolder in out garden as a restingspot. It lied there in broad daylight and in plain sight, no 10 meters from our kitchenwindow! And chickencoop.... One of the next paychecks might see me getting a small, but decent camera with zoomlens.


But I was also inspired by another activity. My friend Olli asked me if I was interested to follow him and a family out on a day in Gyllbergen, the naturereserve and cabinsite I have been to a few times now. The youngster in the group had been wished to have some basics in survival and outdoorskills tought to him, so we were happy to oblige. The day inclused some basics in navigation, snowshoeing, firemaking and knifehandling. The day started with going over the basics, before we set out on our snowshoes. During the trip Olli told a deal about the forest, how and what to do in certain situations and at one point we decided we had "gotten lost", night was falling and we need a place to stay. So we went over the basics when it comes to shelter and fire and the group was given the challenge to make one. The succeeded quite well actually and you could see the sense of accomplishement on their faces.
We then headed back and made our way for the cabins, where snowshoemaking from scratch was tought. That did not go as well, since the snowshoes kept falling apart, but all the basics were covered. I am quite dure the young lad (and his companions) had gotten a lot to think about. We covered pretty much every basic aspect of being out and I hope he felt inspired to continue developping. It was a great day and it felt good to be out again, especially after recent grey days with heavy snowfall.
Animalstracks were few and far inbetween, but we did find some noce sets of native snowhare and invasive foresthare side by side. The difference is huge!!

At the very end we briefly talked about making a signalfire. Off course we had made a fire on this location and Olli had gathered quite a bit of spruceboughs and since we needed to clean everything up..... These ended up on the fire, creating a large column of smoke, rising above the trees...

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Scouting for new grounds and botanical treasures

The other day my dear friend Olli asked if I was interested in scouting out some new grounds and look for rare or endangered species and boy, was I! Currently I am at home on sickleave and I feel cooped up to much already. We had been experiencing a period of serious thaw and pre-spring weather, so I was a bit edgy and restless.
I can not disclose to much on the area (an abandoned military depot) we went to, since it is off limits, but the facility itself was not our primary goal. The shielded area however meant that finding rare fungi, for anything else is not visible this time of year, had a good possibility of success. And we pretty much succeeded in every aspect! The base was cool, we found some very intrigueing animaltracks and a number of endangered and rare fungi/mosses. But that is Olli's terrain, since I am a complete novice in that field. However it was kind of fun to see and hear Olli becoming a tad nerdy, when he found something.
Of the facility in question we refrained from taking pictures, since that is prohibited, but I did find some online, so want to share a glimpse... even if it is a summer image and not as recent.

The area is open to public, allthough the depot itself is closed... sort of. The fence around it is anything but intact; parts cut open, parts collapsed and I believe certain parts not fenced off at all. Still I felt a little uneasy, since we were trespassing, despite having no bad intensions. The law abiding citizen is deeply imbedded in me, it seems. ;)
Right from the beginning we found something very intrigueing; a hole cut in the fence. But it was not the hole, but the tracks through it that puzzled us; moosetracks. A moose had crawled through the holw, but left only footprints. And a few strands of hair. Judging by the size of the prints and the length of the hair It must have been an adult moose, yet the hole was just up to my waiste! How could it not have left more marks in the snow???
Once in we quickly saw we had not been the only ones. There were relatively fresh tracks of someone having walked his dog there, but we were a bit startled that we found out someone had been clearing snow on the far side of the depot! It hadn't been done to recently and one would expect that the first thing one would do was clear the area around the entrancegate, but that was untouched?!? All in all weird. We crossed the area, since we were actually heading for another area, the shoreline of a small lake behind the depot and that was only reachable this way. We left the buildings alone, but looked in amazement and wonder at certain features of the depot, wondering what would lie behind those sealed entrances. Later, while searching the net, I found some answers.... All over the depot we found tracks and signs of animals; fox and moose mainly and there was one set of tracks that must have been a cow with her calf. They must have gotten in through the non-fenced in part?

After we had left the depot behind us and had reached the shoreline, Olli figured it was time for some coffee, so we settled... sort off and started looking for firewood. Here too signs of visitors were clear; a used firepit and someone had taken the trouble of constructing a chair out of rocks!
We got a bit sidetracked while looking for firewood, reading animalsigns and looking for fungi, but eventually we got a fire going and I made coffee. It was time for lunch and a lot of talk and during this break I got a few messages.... Johan, from our local group, had been busy. He has been quite busy lately, making leather items, sheaths mainly, and he had made another one... Just for me!
He had been looking at the Mora Garberg I was given for my birthday and had decided that it did not look well with the other items on my belt. It did not match "my style". So he made one that would! He actually had planned on surprising me, but was unable to contain himself. He sent me some pictures and a short video:

And yesterday a small package arrived... I am soo pleased with it! Thanks Johan!! It now rides on my belt and you will see it appear on a blog near you soon.
After lunch we packed up and headed out again, leaving the depot behind us and working our way uphill. I spotted a bright yellow spot and thought someone had spraypainted it. Turned out to be a type of lichen, but just that one spot!
The terrain got more and more difficult and loads of blowover trees did not make things any easier. Olli found a few interesting species of lichen and fungi and we climbed and slugged our way aroud the base, back to the starting point. The way in had been far easier. We circled the depot and I wonder if we would have found our way in if we had gone round it in the first place.
Either way we had a great day and loads of exercise too! The snow had been deep in places, covered in a hard crust which more often than not could not bear us. Showshoes would have been handy, but inbetween the trees there was not much snow left.
And speaking of which...... I did not go home emptyhanded. Just before we said goodbye, Olli shoved a pair of snowshoes into my hands. He figured he had enough, where I was lacking...
This sure was a day of receiving. And not just of goods, but of friendship mainly!