Thursday, June 22, 2017

Nyberget Summercamp

Summer break is here and in order to keep the kids busy and away from computer- and/or telephone screens we came up with a few activities at home to keep them occupied, challenge them and learn them a thing or two, that just might come in handy someday.
The setup is twofold; one is for enjoyment and recreation, the other is for learning some skills. A third one is spending more time together too.
First of all I bought a game of "kub"; an old swedish game involving pins and throwing blocks, where 2 sides compete in knocking over each other's pins with said blocks. A very simple, but equally fun game. Next we put up the trampoline again. A great way to get some exercise and release bottled up energy. Also a very nice place to just lay on, relax and watch the canopy and skies above. Stuff to make you dream away a little..... Then we hauled up the old swing frame, which we had intended to grow beans on, but which was just too big. Now it is fulfilling its old purpose again; a pair of rings is hanging from it. Plus a punching bag. And it will hold two hammocks too. ;)
And the other day we spent some cash on a badminton set plus net, some tins of air rifle pellets and targets. So besides play, we, mostly I, intend to teach them about handling rifles, routines like safety, drills and shooting, teach them some self defence, like how to avoid a fight, throw a punch or block one, use dirty tricks if needed and kubotan and show them the basics of first aid too. They are old enough to learn and if our youngest one wants to join in, she can too. There's enough for her too learn too.
Besides our first aid kit has quite a few items that have expired, old "army" bandages and stuff, so we can keep it practical; the way to keep a kid's attention. And when handling knives, hatchets or an (air)rifle, basic first aid knowledge is mandatory.

Some of it had to be tried out right away....

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A disruption of routine

I have to admit it, I am one of those people who likes to have a routine in everyday life, like to change that evévery once in awhile to break the monotony, but dislikes the actual change, since that disrupts my flow and I have to adjust.... Anyway.... The everyday routine is broken and being replaced by another one; the summer holiday has begun. No more alarmclock, the kids are at home for 10 weeks straight and coming tuesday my wife too for 8 weeks. This means a disruption of my usuals routines and these are replaced by other, less strict ones. The adaptation usually takes a few days. Days during which I feel a little lost....
So far we have had a few good tastes of summer, but also a good deal of rain. I can't keep up cutting the grass or weeding the beds with vegetables! And that is frustrating as hell! I have another confession to make..... this year we are not as fanatic, when it comes to growing vegetables. 2 beds have become overgrown with weeds, we turned out to have next to no carrot seeds left, our courgette seedlings got eaten within a few days and I made a huge mistake during winter. In an attempt to get nutrients and organic matter into the soil, I used the chicken manure mixed with hay and spread that out over the beds. That is like sowing weeds and fertilizing them at the same time.... Hence the aforementioned overgrowing issues.  A few beds I could clear (more or less), but those last 2.... Besides that weeding with your hands in partially decayed chickenshit and wet grass.... No fun.

We had high hopes that our chickens would produce offspring. The eggs were there, the chickens went and sat on them, but things went bad anyway. For one thing one of the hens poo'ed all over the eggs, for another the hens piled on top of one another, up to 4 at some times. There is a bad, sour smell coming out of the henhouse and we found one of the eggs crushed with a hatchling inside it. The first batch of eggs is 4 weeks old now and they should hatch within 21 days, give or take, One of the hens has not quite gotten the idea yet, since she sits next to her eggs.... So I fear we will have to remove any and all eggs and hope that the ladies will try again and with better results....

Right now we are "påreparing" for the traditional midsummer festivities and as usual the weather plays along...... by reminding us how it is in early spring with forecast rain and low temperatures.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bushcraft weekend Gyllbergen

Now this post will contain a number (probably most) of pictures and links that are not mine. I will give credit to the owners and people concerned. And I have to warn you beforehand; it contains many pictures, some even have me in them.... 😆
The fun thing is that this way I not only can harass you all with repeated exposure to my ugly mug, but it also shows the event through the eyes of the others, creating a more colourful and diverse picture.

It had been a long time since I last slept out and the last time actually was the bushcraft meet in 2016.
So this local bushcraft meet was an excellent occasion to get my butt out into the woods again!
The weather forecast was changing constantly, but the dominating presence of rain and not knowing the terrain, prompted me to load up the big tent, after consulting Olli. In hindsight the tent was not needed, thankfully.
However I came very close to not attending. My stomach really started acting the previous night, but it settled down in time. A wrong combination of food, probably combined with a touch of nerves, I think. Regular readers know that I tend to get a bit anxious when being confronted with the prospect of meeting new people or participating in larger groups. Turned out that the group wasn't that large after all and it felt as if I met with a group of friends, not strangers. Says enough, doesn't it?

I wanted to test some things too over the weekend. Things like my upgraded LK35 backpack, my puptent/mosquito net arrangement and the army wool blankets I have. The expert will recognise a standard LK35.... heavily overloaded. It contained everything I needed including the food. Bedroll with tenthalf, mosquitonet and blankets over the top, poncho and bungies before that, small pouch with first aid kit and foldable 5l. watercontainer and sleepingmat under. Inside as said food, swedish army messkit, moccasins, fleece vest and small stuff.

It performed very well, given the load of 18kg, but one half of the waistbelt came off almost instantly, when unloading the car. A test report will follow in due time.

My home for the weekend.
I opted for this one, because of the forecast rain and because I actually never slept in one of these before.
It is actually part of a small viking-style village under construction/restoration and the entire premises is private property.

This weekend was organised by Olli Niemelä from Swetrek, but it was an all private undertaking.
The friday workshops were fire given by Olli and fly fishing by Joakim Karlsson, who also is a member of said team.
I went for the first one and in this little group there were a number of absolute beginners, which to me is a good thing. This way everyone gets to go over all the basics again and their enthusiasm was contagious. There was plenty of room for exchanging of experiences and knowledge, so it was fun to participate.
Photo by Per Moren
That's Lisa to the right and
Roger, the knifeman to the left
Afterwards we had dinner and I was able to share some of my outdoor household tips; how to do dishes bushcraft-style with nothing but a birch branch and some water. Crunch or smash the tip of a fresh branch as thick as your thumb for a brush, use the leaves of said branch for soap but crushing and boiling them, which releases food remains and fat even before you start brushing and use the ashes to remove soot by dipping the brush into the water, then the ash and then gently scrub. Voila, pots & pans clean and no chemical waste left out there. It also removes the need to bring that stuff in the first place. Not much of a contribution, but one subject that is often overlooked and/or dismissed, since many deem it a burden.
Later in the evening there was live music by Lisa Brolander, singing songs by Dan Andersson, a favorite of Olli, and some of her own work. Her unique voice, accompanied by her guitar playing, combined with the melancholy in Andersson's songs and lyrics, the darkening skies and forest around us, the looming clouds promising rain, the campfire.... All this created an atmosphere that was hard to describe. Everyone, perhaps even everything fell silent and listened and I dare say that she touched our souls. At least mine. An experience I shall not lightly forget.
Then another participant, called Boel, spontaneously joined in, and these 2 women had voices that matched and complemented each other perfectly. As they sang it sounded as if they had been doing that together for a long time, despite just meeting one another. Amazing, really.

Lisa Brolander kular

photo by Boel Engkvist

photo by Boel Engkvist
Saturday started grey and wet.  Not the best of conditions for the first workshop; the bowdrill!
The guy showing and teaching us, Robert Eriksson from Mountain Guide Travel took some materials with him, so these were dry and he managed to get a fire going in 2 attempts and under 10 minutes. But the effort involved was quite obvious!
He told us what locally available materials to use, which was very welcome to me and then we could have a go to. I knew I would not be able to pull it off, but I had a go anyway. And indeed...... After a few starting troubles I got the thing smoking and there was charred powder, but before an ember emerged, my shoulder seized up and I had to put the bow down, knowing that pushing it would make me regret it for days after. Slightly disappointed and frustrated I sat there on my knees, looking at the small pile of charred wood. And then I had a lightbulb-moment; would a firesteel work?? I loaned one and with 3 strikes I got a glow. Some gentle fanning and blowing indeed resulted in a small ball of fire!!

Observe the simplistic expression of joy and
wonder on this specimen's face

photo by Boel Engkvist

Photo by Lee Fraser

After lunch we were heading out, aiming for the highest point in the area, the top of the Gyllbergen. Not impressively high at 497m, but the highest in the area. The terrain on the other hand did prove to be a tad challenging, especially given the wet conditions. Rain had come in by now and much of the track was bare rock, barely covered rock or wet wooden beams with a hint of algae. In the beginning I boosted that my old army boots gave me a firm footing, but before the end of the trip my cockyness had come crashing down, putting me firmly back on the ground again. I slipped. The first 2 times no harm was done and I thought the second one actually was a quite spectacular save, but three times is a charm and my third time was not at all charming. No saving there! But other than a bruised ego and some wet cloth, no harm was done.
The hill itself, with its boulders, bare rock and stunted vegetation was quite gloomy in the greyness of the low hanging clouds. Finding an sacrificial stone, a large square block, deliberately leveled out, did little to lighten the atmosphere.

photo by Lee Fraser
Back at camp we prepared for the next workshop; a beginner's theory on wolf tracking, combined with making camp coffee. Which was a good combo, since we were kind of in the mood for coffee.
Olli explained and showed the basics of tracking wolf, but unfortunately it was all theory. The coffee making was much more practical and not much later we were enjoying a hot cup o' joe.
Another workshop on fly fishing, especially the Japanese version tenkara, followed suit. Joakim was explaining the basics and tenkara is all about basics apparently, but I absolutely have no fishermen's heart, so I did not attend. However I did catch the part, where the fishing rod ínvolved was shown and I could not help being impressed, when out of a tube that would easily fit into a backpack a rod emerged, several meters long, complete with string and lure.
By now the grey clouds started to get thinner and not much later small patches of blue started to appear, growing in size still. Then the sun entered the stage and the change of the area and atmosphere could not have been more dramatic and total. Gone was the all dominating greyness and the vegetation positively blazed with greens. Greens so bright it looked as if the were luminous, leaves and branches decorated with drops that glittered and shone. The surface of the pond next to camp became still and turned into one big mirror, amplifying the invigorating brightness. The mood, which was never bad to begin with, noticeably lifted even more....

photo by Tobias Karlsson
Later we were treated by a guy, who came to bake so-called "kolbullar", a kind of thick pancake with plenty of bacon, to be eaten with lingonsylt (lingonberry or cowberry marmelad), baked in cast iron over an open fire. I must admit I can not recall having had better ones than these! They were really good and a suitable dinner for the occasion. Chef de cuisine was Johan Hyson.
In the meantime we had a workshop on restoring old knives, given by Roger Olsson, who was also attending. Now there was a man with a passion for knife restoration! He rekindled my desire to finish my knife project that has been dormant (sounds better then shelved and forgotten) for 5 years now and I will see to it that it gets done after summer. He gave me a handful of very useful tips and suggestions and he also showed us a good deal of tips and tricks on knife sharpening, both practical and economical!

Several fish were caught during the evening, cleaned up and cooked and we all got a taste of that. Again, not being a fish lover, I thought it tasted good and was impressed by flavour and simplicity.
During the evening I talked to Tobias, board member of both the Swedish bushcraft förening and bushcraft festival and it is due to him that I decided to attend the latter and probably rejoin the first. Actually the festival is already booked and the ticket sits on my planning board as I write this....
This night we were treated to a very different kind of musical entertainment. One of a much lighter character and we had a few good laughs listening to the guy, called Mika Olavi, performing, singing, playing his guitar or accordion. We had a good chat regarding atheism and related views on the world and life afterwards.

Photo by Johan Hansson
This is Tobias and me and you might notice the coffee grinder in the picture.
Now there's a little story to that one. During our conversation we talked about several small pleasures of camplife, one being pipe smoking and another coffee. Turned out he had the same preferences of the old ways and he showed me 2 coffee grinders he had just bought. Like me he seems unable to pass by a secondhand store without stopping. Now this particular grinder is exactly the type I like and matches the colours of our kitchen. And being the gentle man that he is, he let this one pass over to me!
You can see him using the other one, grinding coffee which afterwards would please our tastebuds..... He also explained how to prepare and use a pipe and gave some tips on tobacco. I have on several occasions thought about getting one myself, but have convinced myself that it would be pretty stupid to start smoking again after being "clean" for almost 15 years.

But still.....
The evening went on well into the night and even into the morning for some, but now we're so close to midsummer it is not getting really dark anymore. Lee captured that wonderfully I think.

photo by Lee Fraser
During the weekend that social lubricant, known as alcohol, was applied liberally and sunday morning showed the carnage. I was up first, ready for breakfast by 08:45 and the scene around the campfire did remind me of one after a Roman orgy. Cans and bottles and junk everywhere!!! So after blowing the fire back to life and while the water for the coffee was being heated I started cleaning up. It didn't take too much time and by the time coffee was ready the site looked acceptable once again. Good thing too, since the owner of the site showed up not much later and I would have hated him seeing the mess. I must admit that during cleaning I got the feeling that some parts of me integrating into Swedish society have worked out...... given the amount of empty beer cans under the bench where I had resided for much of the previous evening...... 😏
But it has to be said that there was no negative behaviour at all, both during or after and I have seen differently!

This weekend I did test and learned a few things for myself as well.
The major one being my bedding setup. I can now lay to rest the romanticized and nostalgic ideas of using blankets. I used 2 wool army blankets....... and froze!! Even though temperatures remained around 10C. I have to say that conditions included high humidity, due to the rain and the spot I slept was quite drafty with gaps in the floor, around the small windows and all around the edges of the roof. It was dry, but that was about it. Even the gaps in the floor were big enough to let in daylight!
I was lying on a fieldbed with a sleeping mat on top, but the cold just came up and went through. That was the biggest issue. I also learned the hard way that I do need some form of pillow for a good night's rest. I ended up using a fleece vest and my moccasins stacked on top of one another as a headrest, but those quickly compressed into a hard lump. Lugging around a field bed or slumping on a rocky floor crisscrossed with roots no longer appeals either, so I have been taking a closer look at Lee's hammock & tarp setup. Those look more and more appealing.....

Was the entire weekend one of only ups? Unfortunately no.
I did suffer a loss as well. My trusted and loved moose mug has rendered itself useless. A crack in the bottom now has extended all the way out, so the coffee leaks through. It will go on the wall or shelf of memories as a living testimony.

A wholehearted "Tack så hemskt mycket" to all participants for creating and making this event into what is was!!!

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.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Will it ever be summer?

Spring sure has been taking its time this year. The coldest spring in over 150 years I heard some say! And I can believe it. The first half of may has past and I do not think we could fill one week with daytime temperatures reaching double digits in celsius.
But then, as I browsed a bit through earlier posts, I came across a post from exactly 2 years ago. And there too was the mention of a cold, grey and windy spring. So maybe it is not all that abnormal at all, but still.... the coldest in 150 years....
But improvement is on its way! Temperatures are on the rise and before we know it we will be complaining about grass growing at astonishing speed! And it is about time too. In 4 weeks time the kids will be having their summer holiday and it still felt like early spring.
All we need now is a good amount of rain, even though plenty would complain about that too in no time. Local water levels in lakes and flows have dropped severely already and in many parts of Sweden warnings about water shortages are being issued. Some places already put a ban on using water for watering the garden and such! In order to prevent problems with that in the future we have started to take precautions; we got ourselves a large watertank, which will be filled with lake- and/or rainwater. I was even thinking greywater, but that would involve some serious rearranging of plumbing, so I'll put that off for the time being. But it might materialise in the future....

And then.... it happened!
We got hit by a sudden wave of warmth!
The wind shifted and the temperatures rose to well over 20C overnight with a very high humidity. And all the green stuff just went *BOOM* An explosion of green all around us. I swear I could see the grass grow! As if all the greens had been bottling up the growing energy, waiting for these circumstances to happen and now unleashing that energy. What a transformation.
And not just the greens, bugs and beasties too. There are insects, flying, crawling, creeping all over the place. I am not glad to report the ants are back too...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What is done is done

Things are set in motion at our place.

One of the major jobs to be done around here, probably the biggest, has been completed; the sewage system. And in the process my favorite place in our garden has been absolutely destroyed. But....
This new system is a lot better for our immediate livingarea and surfacewater. No more waste gets released into either of them, which is a massive win in itself.
A good deal of trees had to be taken down. More than the anticipated 3-5. We ended up with 11 downed trees. 2 of those were at my request, one being a fullygrown rowan which dominated the entrance toward the house and which had started to die. Bark had started to fall off and a large crack all along the length of the trunk became visible. The other being the large pine dominating pretty much everything, both view to and from the house. But..... all that wood will be warming us on many a cold winter's day. However before that will come to pass I will need to acquire new skills; how to handle a chainsaw.
Another plus is that now our house is much more exposed to sunlight, which most likely will be most noticeable on sunny, and thus cold, winterdays as well. Now the sun can warm the stone lower half of the house and blaze right into our current livingroom without the shadow of that large pine ruining things. That will cut down on heating. Besides we hope to have the greenhouse ready before coming autumn, so the effect will be greatly enhanced.
Another benefit is the addition of at least 40m² more or less useable planting area onto which we have sown a variation of cover crop plants and bee friendly plants. The soil has been greatly disturbed and needs to resettle. We need to recreate soil life and feed it with biomass.

But right now we are "mourning" the loss of that special, little place.....

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A word from one of my idols.....

an icon in the world of nature, preservation, knowledge and passion of and for all of Mother earth's beings...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Foodgrowing season has started!!

And so it has begun.....
Greenhouses are up and ready. Or at least were until we had some pretty strong winds. The greenhouse we bought last year from Denmark got blown over and the frame mangled. The 2 bottom bars, connected with a simple, longer bolt were ripped out. The receiving end proved to be very weak, but that we already learned last season. The tubes were badly bent on one side. Also did the foil get torn up in one corner. All in all this greenhouse has turned out to be one disappointment. Low quality from one end to the other.
But as the saying goes, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys....

We had a couple of very fine days these last few days; sunny and nice temperatures. It really makes one come to life again. Energy levels go up and flabby muscles get worked again... However this fine weather has a downside. We are already facing the very real possibility of a drought. Lake waterlevels are at a low and there is no sign of any rain. This is something we need to look into; a proper watersupply for gardening purposes.

But we have finished the first step of the season; sowing!!
2 days of filling pots and planning what to sow where and how much... And going through all these little bags is so much fun; dreaming about what it will turn out like... All sort of cabbages and beans, flowers and herbs. The herb-section is pretty extended, since I am going to try and grow them for tea!

And now the work is done. All I need to do now is water them and wait. Although I still have some empty pots....

And in a week or 2 we'll be sowing directly into the soil as well. By that time it should have warmed up enough. The cats are already checking the location. Probably laying in the sun on a bed of hay is wonderful. Or is it the hint of chicken manure that clings to it??

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May and spring jumped on us!

Finally may came and with it spring!!
However during the final period of april we did have some occasional bouts of fine weather and we tried to make the most of that, despite the icy wind that never seemed to stop, only to change direction.

An intricate pattern of pieces of reed, blown into the shore of one of the lakes and a miniature daffodil, a remnant of my time as churchyard gardener. They were a lot bigger, when I took them home, but here in the garden they grow no taller than 4-5cm.

During april's last week we had "some¨ unexpected guests. Some really is not the right word however. We saw a huge gathering of migrating birds. Apparently they had gathered in this area to wait for warmer weather to come in, so they could journey further north. We had large groups of thrushes of several species, and finches too. Lots and lots of finches! The noise they made was earsplitting at times and when they started calling each other in the morning..... Now that was one heck of a wake up call. Just not at 04:00am.
But now they all have gone. All but the robin that lives in our garden and the loons that inhabit the lakes, their calls echoing across the surface, answering one another. And new summer residents have come in too! I saw the first few swallows dash through the air the other day.....

But spring did come at last.....
But before that we had the traditional walpurgis night or valborgsmässa. We decided to visit the place where we went the first time and where we used to live in our early Sweden days in order to catch up with old friends.

Between that and slaughtering roosters, this sudden arrival of sun and warmth initiated a sudden burst of energy and activity! Besides getting our greenhouses ready to finally start sowing, inspecting our garden for hidden and growing surprises. For one thing we, quite spontaneously, decided to visit one of the local farms, where they sell their own produce and have loads of livestock. The one thing I was interested in, besides being plain curious, were their African dwarf goats. I just had to see them for real.
And guess what..... We think a few of those just would fit in with us! Looking at their size and the size of the area we had intended for them and the size of the area they had, we figure there'd be more than enough room for 3 of them. We would have to buy additional food anyway. So another project will be undertaken over the course of the next few weeks/months!

But the fun did not stop there. Oh no!
The visit to said farm inspired us to come up with more ideas. As we sat there, having coffee and waffles with marmalade and whipped cream, I noticed they had vines growing along a south facing wooden facade.... without any protection! So I asked what kind it was. A baltisk staketdruva (or Vitis labrusca) was the answer. A blue grape, suitable for consumption as fruit, not wine. Exactly what I wanted! Now I found a grape species I can have outside the glass greenhouse! We have a nice, south facing stonewall, sheltered from blistering winter gales, so the vine should thrive. So we are getting one of those as well. Oh by the way..... 2 hazel shrubs are on order too....

Another thing that inspired us, was their so-called farstu; a semi-enclosed area in front of the frontdoor. We had already been thinking about having one, since they make ideal places to take off dirty shoes, boots or working clothes, before you come into the house. and theirs was just the style we had in mind.

All in all a very good 1st of may!
Hope everyone will have a good season and summer!!