Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wasting daylight

These past few days we have had a serious spell of thaw. The sound of dripping water everywhere, singing birds and on the balcony in the sun temperatures reached 20C!! The first flies have been active and our youngest daughter even saw a butterfly yesterday!! Bluetits are investigating the nestboxes, magpies are bickering over what I think should be nesting sites and the black woodpecker calls out to mark his territory.
The theme of change still seems actual. But if the weather forecasts are anything to go by, and they are quite erratic these last days too, winter will not just give in and should return after the weekend. It still is only february after all.
These are days that I feel at my worst. Not enough work to fill my days, one can only do so much household, anxious to get going in the garden, which is still hard as rock and covered in ice. I can not let out the chickens either, since the birdflu curfew still is in effect. Walking the over-dynamic duo has also become a high risk enterprise, since the roads are icing over and the studs underneath the boots do not always guarantee a sufficient footing! Yes, I think the fifth (Swedish) season has begun; vårvinter. That time between deep winter and spring.
So all in all my days are filled with a lot of reading. There are books to be found everywhere and authors like Forstchen, Paolini, Canavan, Rothfuss, Hoffman, Pullman or Sapkowski can be seen lying around or in hand. A welcome change in subject there too. For now no military history, biography, homesteading or gardening books, although fantasy has always been a popular subject with me.... or us. It is more the absence of the others that is noticeable.
And I have picked up my scale modelling hobby again too. Some creative juices are flowing again...
But these last few days my wife has been keeping me company. She is recovering from her flu and so we sit and drink coffee, do some chores together when possible.... and drink some tea.... and do our hobbythings.... and drink some more tea...

So we wait...... not really able to do more.
And that feels like wasting daylight to me.....

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Winter is coming

A phrase from a popular tv-series game of thrones. Great books too as far as I can tell.

But I do believe that winter indeed is coming. Winter for our society, for the world as we know it.
Why??
Because I can already see the signs of the following spring; the preparations for a new awakening, a rebirth. Buds have been forming to start growing and blooming after winter. An awareness that spreads. People waking up, seeing that what is today is not good. Is sick and has to die. That will be society's winter. I think we are in the final days of society. It has sprouted, it grew and it is going through the final cycles of wilting. It has spent its vigour, its youth and has only one thing left to do; to die. That will be winter. The time where all things have to stop, all things have to die. That which is sick and weak will not make it to the new spring. The seeds and buds lacking the strength to regrow will never sprout, the seeds that have that strength will.
The buds I mean are the people, who wake up. People seeing the world for what it really is. Understanding that it is wrong, became rotten, ruthless, cruel and ruled by the greedy and powerhungry. People who resist complying anymore and are actively seeking new ways. People trying to awake and inspire others. I see this more and more and I also see the established structures reacting ever more desperate and violent.
This winter will bring death and destruction to many, but that will be inevitable. Winter is merciless. Those unprepared or unfit will perish and probably many that were too. But after each winter a new spring will come and we can only do what we can to make it until then, either by reaching it ourselves or by creating the best possible conditions for others to do so, like preparing "our young" just as it is the way of nature.

And speaking of illness; our family is going through a spell of illness too. The wife's down with flu, our youngest daughter's stomach thought it was time to regurgitate its contents at 02:50 this morning in the middle of the bedroom and hall, resulting in the ultimate sleepless night. We all have the sniffles and feel generally unfit.... But there was that inconvenient truth that homesteading leaves little time for illness. Animals have to be cared for, fed, watered and walked and as I was doing so this morning I was treated to some heartwarming scenes. One of our neighbours is using flower pots as temporary birdfeeders and the trees were positively alive with them. Several species of finches and tits were fluttering about and chattering and I did detect the first notes of the songs they will be singing before long.
A few moments later I was witnessing the "birth" of another day; the sun rising above the hills, heaving itself higher over the summit ever so slowly. I actually saw it grow and the light intensify as it try to pierce the morning haze. Even the dogs granted me the moment and kept quiet, waiting until I was done watching.
Such moments make life worth living.

And as I was writing this post we got confirmation that another, significant change is coming our way. One that is going to force self dependence on us. Our social safety net will shrink considerably. We had expected that to happen, but now it will become a reality and soon, too.
And I have that strange feeling that changes are not over for us just yet.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The drums of war - war with Iran

source;
http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012/03/27/lies-taking-us-to-war/balles-iran-war-drums/


They have been beating a while now, but I think they are now beating louder than ever!!

A quick rundown of the situation;
Iran has announced to drop the dollar.....

As did Saddam Hussein, when he wanted to exchange the (petro)collar for the Euro -> the second Gulf war....
the guardian article
http://www.monetary.org

Gadaffi wanted to do something similar; drop the (petro)dollar and install the goldbacked Dinar -> a revolution starts and Libya gets bombed into the stone age by NATO....
http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com

And now Iran dumps the dollar too. Iran, a country that the US wants dead and gone for ages now.
https://financialtribune.com

And the propaganda machine for creating an excuse to attack Iran is being cranked up already;
Press-secretary Sean Spicer falsely accuses Iran of attacking us navy vessel

The plan to take out Iran is nothing new either as it was with Irak, Lybia;
General Wesley interview 2007

Now all of these links came up instantly just using google.
Dig a little deeper if you can be bothered and I am sure you'll come with much, much more...
Like why and how the US has been taunting Russia and China. You know minor things like treaties, monetary unions, Ukraine, South Chinese sea, embargos and looming trade wars..... insignificant stuff like that.

And then you might see connections!
Iran has alliances with Russia and China. Yes, those same two countries the US has been pecking and jabbing at and relations between those are tense..... Very. very tense.....
The US attacks Iran, a country not really loved by its neighbours, but maybe those neighbours recognise the common enemy here. You know the one that brought liberty, freedom and democracy to their countries as well. They might just join forces.
And maybe China will not directly get involved militarily, but might just see an opportunity to raise the South Chinese Sea-issues to a whole new level.....
And maybe the Russians will see an opportunity to join that merry band in showing that bully of the world once and for all that he is done for....
You are seeing a pattern here??


Oh and besides....
The elite in the US is busy bugging out and digging in on a massive scale....
Yes, the rich folks are running.....
Why???
http://www.naturalnews.com/ government retirees bugging out
http://www.zerohedge.com/

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Turning things around

After that wonderfully dismal, depressing previous post I figured I'd level out my whining with some other, non relevant side information.
Winter has returned. We are seeing the sun these days and temperatures dropped. Fresh crisp air that cleanses the nostrils and sinuses are ours to enjoy again.

We have become convinced that our Rex not only is a German shepherd-Alaskan husky male, not only is the older half of the over-dynamic duo, but also the reincarnation of an old, grumpy man. He at times is moody and indeed grumpy, groans and moans when he lies down, wants to lie on soft bedding and he even looks like an old man!!! More and more I believe he was sent back to Earth as a dog, subservient to humans to learn his place and as punishment for being a total jerk in a previous life.
But he is learning. He is getting more gentle, more friendly and he really is a good pal to all of us, including the cats. He is learning to contain and withhold himself, trying to accept that someone else is getting attention, but not he at that time. His overprotectiveness is getting less and overall he seems to become less anxious, although his brain still works on overdrive and his fierceness has not lessened yet...
Doesn't he??!!
Odd and I are on a roll too with that whole bog out food box. It went from BOB F-72 to M T-72 (Matlåda or foodbox, T for timmar or hours) to M T-90 and that one become a part of the bigger picture, called MEK-5 beta, standing for Modular Evac Kit for 5, development-version. I'll get back to that sometime later on. But it is fun; 2 no more spring chicken roosters, balling back and forth ideas and going nuts over it like small boys with new toys. Like he said": Got to have some fun too. Can't all be serious..." The MEK Beta is his idea by the way.

But keeping with the whole change-thing; there's more change in the air for us.
The other night we had a familymeeting, something we do when there are issues to discuss concerning the whole family, so everyone is involved. It all started with my wife finding a house and dreamily commented that that would be something for us. My typical reaction was rolling my eyes, but still I looked at it..... And she was right. It really would fit us. Enough room for us all, easily adaptable to off-grid, a larger piece of land, so more room to grow food and have plenty of space left for us and the dogs and located in a community of which we know we would fit in much more.  And precisely that is the keyissue; we do not fit in her. We feel tolerated, but not really accepted, let alone welcome and above all we feel lonely here, especially the girls. No other kids in the village for them to hang around with. That place even has a Waldorf school right across the street (If there is a thing we miss since we left the Netherlands, than that would be it), so the girls would not only not having to take a 30-45 minute bus drive to school, they'd also have much more opportunity to meet friends and hang out with them.
So we had this meeting.... and all were positive!! We talked everything through; housing, schools, social aspect, but also finances and other potential pitfalls. The main thing that struck me however, was that we were unanimous. We are all ready to leave this place. That really hit me.....
Now there is a next to none chance we might pull this through, but we feel that every step we take will increase our chances. The first babysteps have been taken and we have many more to go, but the most important one has been taken.
Now I realise that this place has served its purpose; we found a place for ourselves in a new country. We learned what it is like to live out in the country here, have learned to be relatively independent and we have come to appreciate that very much. But we also learned we are not loners. We need people around us. We need a small community, preferably with a similar mindset to really thrive, interact and cooperate with. We have outgrown this place and the time to move on has come.
I truly believe that destiny has given us this place to learn and grow and I do believe that when the time is right we will move on and grow more.
Maybe this is that time....

We feel ready.....

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Some things never change

The weather's been grey and dreary for quite sometime again. Seem winters are similar to the Dutch ones we left behind more and more; not really cold, humid and overcast. Today everything's just..... light grey. Where snow ends and clods start is hard to tell..... A good, depressing atmosphere to tell a bit about recent events.
It started the previous weekend. Our youngest daughter was going to have a scouting overnighter and we would go grocery shopping afterwards. A usual routine these days after payday. Except..... payday was a little not what we expected. Due to administrative errors beyond our control my wife got only about 40% of her salary.... That was friday. To make things more interesting my wife, after leaving our youngest one at the scouting, turned out to have run a flat tire. That was saturday morning...
This meant changing a tire with the tools supplied with the car. We did that before last summer, but now conditions were quite different; cold, with snow and ice on the ground and wheel, grime and sand and did I mention cold? Snow and ice melt when you touch it, but metal stays cold. This was a useful lesson though. Changing the tire in itself is not that much of an issue for us. We do it twice a year at least. But I wonder how many people do not? Have you ever changed a tire on your car? Can you unfasten the bolts on the wheel with nothing but the handtool supplied?  We do not fasten the bolts with powertools, so we can... Having a spare set of gloves in the car is another must have. Wet gloves make for numb fingers very fast. A rubber mat to sit on would also have been nice. Makes for dry and less cold knees.
Well, the tire was changed in under half an hour, so we could go on our way. Fixing the tire was a no-go however. There were 3(!) holes within a 10cm row. Maybe she hit a lost horseshoe?? This meant a new tire and another hole in our budget. You can see where this is going, right.... We did the shopping and loaded up the car real good. And we do that once a month, so we have some supplies at home just in case we happen to run into trouble like low funds, a broken down car or any other circumstance unabling us to do shopping. Plus buying in bulk means you get more for your money. Not just because of larger packages, but also because of less visits to stores.
And that night, again my wife,,,,, This time her cellphone died. Just like that.... A little over one year old, so no guarantee. Wouldn't you know it... That means more expenses coming our way. And then, last week, we got a letter from försakringskassan, a government institution that is supposed to help people with benefits. Supposed to, because if you hear and read the everyday stories about those people.... They help you alright (*insert major sarcasm here*) and so did they with us. We got the final calculations from 2015 and now we have to cough up and repay a very substantial amount in housing benefits, which they deem we received unnecessary. True, we did get it and yes, I worked the summer at the churchyard. Yes, I reported that and no, they did not alter the benefits, saying it was of no consequence and yes, we did spend it. Turns out in hindsight that my income was of no consequence to any health benefits I should want to claim! Not housing!!
But wait! There's more! Due to financial shortages we had to suspend the road tax from our Pajero (roughly the amount of a week's salary), which means I can not work on weekdays and I haven't been called to substitute since before christmas, which means.... You guessed it; no income for me.
And then there is a large car maintenance coming up shortly. A job I can not do myself, so.... Another week's salary down the drain in the near future.
And now we finally got a building permit from the municipality, allowing us to change the sewage system that that same municipality forces us to change! Meaning an increase in mortgage.
As you see some things never change. Finances are always an issue, especially when things are turning out ok and we seem to be having more room in that matter. The more room we get, the harder the blow afterwards is! It is as if something is trying to teach us to get by with very, very little and whenever that little gets more and we adjust to that, lesson 1 is put back in power again!

Thou shalt not receive and thou shalt not spend it!
Thou shalt live as frugal as possible!! 
Thou shalt get by with as little as possible!!!
*whack-smack*


But there is one change though; a quite significant one. My wife has landed a fulltime job now, meaning a steady, if not massive income. It will be slightly over the barrel scraping minimum we have lived on these past years, but a vacation to the homeland, as my wife would like, will not be a possibility. At least not for all of us at the same time. For us that also means that we will roll into a set pattern; my wife working for an income and me staying home, taking care of kids, household, animals and garden. Very little, if any paid work for me, except maybe during the weekend or school holidays.
We get by and still have the most essential things we need; a roof over our head, wood for warmth, food and warm clothes and gas for the car. The usual bills get paid and we can afford luxuries as cellphones for all.... Although those bloody things seem to be quite mandatory these days. But it showed us just how dependent we are on those devices; social contacts in one form or another, banking and even navigation... It all is gathered in one, battery driven, hitech, prone to fail (because that's the way they are designed, called designed redundancy) handheld gadget, doing it all for you. But when it breaks.... Who knows the phone numbers of their families and friends by heart? Who keeps an up to date copy of the roadmaps in their car? Banking is not even longer possible without such a thing!!
A grim lesson again.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

5 years....


395 posts. More than 300.000 views.

5 years to this day..... since I first started writing this blog. Initially thought as an outdoor sideshow for our emigration blog, but it became so much more. It was to become the tale of the journey I had embarked on...

And what a journey that has become...

Starting out as a man, trying to escape the madness of modern city life and, unconsciously, searching for himself, his place and his connection. And well on his way discovering more and more the true wickedness of the life and system he was trying to get away from. A journey with hardship and amazing discoveries, with bitter lessons and awesome revelations. A journey discovering home.... and myself.
During this journey past, present and future came together. The way I grew up with the way and the crafts of old, like food preserving, firing up the stove on a cold winter morning and the growing of plants, through gardening, the longing for independence and the absurdity of logistical systems, massively polluting the air we breath, the water we drink and ruining the very land we grow our food on, poisoning that too along the way...
5 years of ramblings, babblings, outdoorsy woods stuff, bushcraft, politics, personal brainfarts, social issues or plain everyday life of a wannabe homesteader. I think I done it all. Sometimes i worry that there will not be much left to write about or that I start repeating myself, but so far I think I managed to avoid both issues.,,, more or less.
5 years.... and looking back through the posts, as I regularly do, when I am bored or don't feel like doing anything, I can not help but notice how much things have changed. How much I and indeed we all have changed.
During the life of this blog I have lost old friends, found some new ones, but lost some of those again, too. We found a new home, I radically changed my lifestyle and everyday life, we got older and the tensions of starting a new life from scratch do show. I barely recognise my own children, comparing them with the images in my mind of 5 years ago. They grow up so fast, both physically but also mentally. I daresay that sometimes I barely recognise myself!
5 years and in some ways they seem like 5 weeks, but in others they seem like a lifetime.
In the beginning I thought I was a woodsman, connecting to nature and being at home in the forest. Little did I realise that I was but a city guy, running into the woods to escape modern urban life, including the job he hated. Turns out I still do love the woods, but I am not at home there. I am a mere visitor. A worshipper in the cathedrals of mother nature. Turns out I am much more a farming guy. In love with the plants he sows, plants and later harvests. At peace when surrounded by chickens and bees. In awe of the small creatures a garden harbours. At home in the agricultural landscape of southern Dalarna. If someone would have told me years ago that one day I'd be standing in the middle of a cackling and clucking bunch of chickens, whilst cleaning our their coop and feel at peace, just looking at them I might have laughed in their face.

These days the blog is moving more toward the prepping hemisphere. How could it not be? It is the accumulation of all things learned and done. Given the ways in which society and economy are developing, one has to be an absolute blind idiot (to me) to not see it. But then again I do think that we are in no short supply of that category of people.
Sometimes I wonder if I take it too far, but more often I feel I am not taking it far enough. I guess the long winter nights leave a lot of time to think and wonder.
But the days of growing are nearing again. Growing as in plants and animals. I do not see any growth for man. Maybe that will come after winter has come and gone for the western world. Being reborn again in the spring of an new era. Because I am hopeful. The process will be very painful and even more ugly and many will not make it. Large chance we will not either. But I will give us the best chance we have, the largest advantage over the rest possible. And in the end it might prove to be not enough or it just might prove to have been. For us, but much more importantly for our kids. It is they that will have to deal with what will be left, for we have had the largest part of our existence.
But maybe, no probably, it is for the best that many will not make it through the turmoil. After all mankind truly has become a plague. Ransacking our home planet, like a spoiled, disrespectful addict ransacks the house of its parents, consuming what it finds, destroying whatever gets in the way and is deemed not of use at the time, all in search of the quick fix. We, as a species, have squandered our birthright. The right to a nourishing, sheltering home. Because we ransacked, pillaged, defiled and consumed our home and the treasures therein.
Do I think my children deserve to live and maybe find such a place? I most certainly do, as does every child. Like I said I believe it is their right by birth. Whether they maintain that right is up to them and decided by their actions. Continue ransacking, consuming and destroying and that right will be lost. To love, cherish and maintain that world earns them a right to that place. And I feel the vast majority of (wo)men have long lost that. Do or did I earn it? I let others decide. Those that come after me and hopefully they can honestly say:"Yes dad, you did...."

As for this blog..... I will continue to write, simply because I love to write. And simply because I feel that this way I might reach out and touch people, inspire them or just to let them enjoy what I write and do. I know there are those who do enjoy it, but I sincerely hope that I touch people and inspire them to be the change they want to see, themselves.
That would be the ultimate reward and even reaching one would have made these 5 years worth while.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Bug Out Food Box - part II

I have dubbed it the BOB F-72...

The following menu was thought up and I put together the ingredients accordingly.
Breakfast;
- oats porridge (havregryn) with raisins and/or nuts
- hardbread with jam, liverpaté or cheese in a tube.
- semolina (mannagryn) porridge with dried fruit or applesauce

Lunch;
- tinned mackerel in tomato sauce and hardbread
- self baked bread w/nuts, dried fruits, raisins and jam
- canned soup

Dinner;
- pasta w/ham and tomato sauce
- rice, beans and tuna
- mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, sausage.


The contents;
What I packed myself;
1x5 portions of rice in a mylarbag
1x 13dl of flour, giving 2 loafs of bread. The required amount of yeast is taped to it.
1 vacuum sealed package of dried apricot pieces
1 vacuum sealed 1x5 portions of semolina
3x 5 portions of cacao+sugar (5+1 tablespoon)
5 portions of muesli vacuum sealed
1 pack of vacuum sealed hardbread (15 slices)

What I bought and used as is;
1 jar of coconut oil
4 cans of tuna
4 cans of assorted beans
1 small can of corn
2 can of 8 sausages
4 cans of a hearty soup
5 cans of mackerel in tomatosauce
1 can of pineapple pieces
1 pack with 4 bags of powdered, mashed potatoes. 1 pack will do for the 5 of us.
1 pack with 2 bags of powdered milk, each giving 5 liters of milk
1 pack of coffee
1 jar of honey
1 500gr. bag of pasta
2 cans of ham
1 jar of applesauce
1 can of sauerkraut
1 box of tea
2 bars of chocolate (real chocolate, not that brown, sugary surrogate)
1 can of tomato pieces
1 tube of concentrated tomato paste
2 packages of concentrated juice to make "lemonade"
1 package with 10 bouillon cubes
1 ziplock with a good number of small bags with salt, pepper and sugar. You know, the ones you get at every restaurant or gas station.... or IKEA. ;) And of course a box of matches. This ziplock also contains a small bag of silica to absorb moisture.

As an extra, since there was room to spare, I added 1x5 portions of muesli to be blended with milk, a small pack of bouillon cubes as a warm inbetween drink or as base for soup, containing what ever might be left and useable and 3 packages with 1x5 portions of cacao+sugar to make hot cocoa to make a warm energy drink for those not too fond of coffee or tea (also for those that are ;) )..... and of course some matches! I put those in almost every kit I have. With some products I left the cardboard outer shell in place as an emergency tinder to make fire. I still have some room left, so I am thinking about adding a package of egg noodles and maybe some dried vegetables, if I can find them. Along with the bouillon another quick, warm stomach filler. Maybe add some herbs. I am still looking for those small tins of liverpaté or jam. Those tubes with cheese are awful!
There are still some details to work out. First I need to add a clear window to the lid, behind which I can slip a note with the date and maybe product of the first thing that expires, as a memo to oversee the box as a whole. I will also add the menu, just in case. There'd be enough to think about, should we ever need to use the box as it is. I will exchange the large jar of honey for a small one. No need for almost 0,5kg of honey, how ever much I like it. I will take out the box of tea and replace it with 3x5 vacuum sealed teabags. I will regard this box as an ongoing project and exchange, alter or adapt as I see fit or need for it.

Now the very thing that got me started, was a wooden box that has been sitting in the my basement for a while, holding a variety of stuff and projects, but which originated as a transport box for our cast iron cookware. Nothing bombproof or heavy, yet sturdy enough for the purpose. I like the size though. Very handy with 2 rope handles.
The entire box weighs in at 24kg.


And to make things complete...... 5x5 and 5x2 liters of water. But since I topped up the containers, there is 0,5l of extra water per container. Enough for 72 hrs with room to spare, just as with the foodbox.
Why 5x5 and 5x2? Simple. The containers came free, you can much more easily store a small container or several of them in small places and you only need to open 1 small one at a time, minimizing the risk of contaminating or spilling the rest. Much easier to handle or refill too.

Now why on earth would anyone do this? Why make such a kit? There surely is no need for it?

First of all I sincerely do hope that there indeed will be no need for it..... ever. But!
With so many governments throughout Europe urging their people to be prepared for crisis or war. To make sure they can take care of themselves for at least 72hrs or even longer. With politics both local and global developing as they do..... There is something brewing.
Besides it also was a good training for the brain, an exercise for the mind.
And it doesn't hurt to have a little something in reserve. A power cut or a car breaking down, preventing you from getting supplies can just happen at any given time. In such cases one is glad to be a bit of a nutter... ;)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

lengthening days

On december 21st, the sun went up at 09:00 and went down 14:39...
Now, one month later, it is 08:35 and 15:40...
That's 1,5 hour of more daylight within a month and now that pace only quickens. The days around the equinoxes are almost stable for a week or so, bringing down the average.
For me this is the period of "The long Wait".... The wait until spring comes. Not that I no longer enjoy winter, but it is no longer new, fresh and exciting. It has become everyday life. Still holding its charm and working its magic, but everyday life nonetheless.
Now is also the time of dreaming, of fantasising how the garden should be like in a few months and the time to start planning for it.
One of the plans that has to be thought over, maybe even cancelled, is the coming of dwarf goats. Why? Because the planned areas, where they would be frolicing about, contain an unpleasant surprise (for them) we had not taken into account: poisonous plants!
 
source; naturvardsverket.se
source; webben7.se
Ohhh how wonderful to be adding pictures of flowers again!!
Yes, lilies of the valley and lupins. Now the lupins, despite being beautiful and a glorious sight to see along the roads in summer, I can do without. As a matter of fact I have already begun to eradicate them from our piece of land, since they are an invasive species. The lilies of the valley however I will not get rid off, if only for their delicate beauty in spring and above all the scent with which they fill the air!! That to me is such a powerful, happy feeling triggering thing I really do not want to do without!
The massive presence of said lilies in the planned goat pasture means that we have to alter our plans. Now I am thinking of 2 lesser pastures instead of 1 bigger. These will not be so big, but we can switch between pastures whenever we feel like it. The abundant plant growth in spring could mean that the pastures could regenerate somewhat in between goat visits.
What I do not like about that plan however is that we will have fenced in areas all over the place, taking away that feeling of free room around the house. At least that's what I'm afraid of.
This "long Wait" is made more bearable, and at the same time more unbearable too, by planning what to sow, where to put it and how to create plant or flowerbeds with what has been sown.


This year the main focus will be on creating areas with perennials and the use of much more flowers! More flowers throughout the garden and around the house. I have always been a huge admirer of the so called English cottage gardens. Of those lush, colourful and seemingly, slightly wild and chaotic gardens.... And the making of a "teagarden" is scheduled as well. Not a garden to have tea in, which will happen anyway, but a garden to make tea from!

However winter's still here to stay for a while and I continue to enjoy its wonders, despite daydreaming about what is or might come spring- and summertime. But during mild periods, like the one we're having right now the sun is giving of just that little bit extra warmth and the great and blue tits are testing their vocal cords with frail voices and short songs.....

And speaking of winter.... have you ever paid attention to the colour of snow?
Yeah, it's white.... only it isn't. Yes, it is white, but only when it falls. Once on the ground it becomes like a chameleon, taking on the colour of the surroundings. In the case of snow, the colour of the prevalent light. It turns yellow in the low hanging wintersun, but becomes shades of blue as soon as the sun doesn't touch it anymore. On overcast days it turns grey, but in the pink and orange light of sunrise and sunsets it becomes pink itself







Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Food storage - vacuum sealer and mylar bags.

The other day we spent a little of our hard earned cash on items I deemed handy; a vacuum sealer and a package of mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. Yes, we are talking longterm food preservation! The vacuum sealer in question is one from OBH Nordica called prestige and we bought it on sale. It came with booklet and a roll of bags + a rool of foil to make bags in any size you desire/need.
The mylar bags came as a package, containing 10 1liter, 10x 4 liters and a vacuum sealed bag of oxygen absorbers, bought from a supplier in Sweden.
Mylar is coated foil, that prevents air or light penetrating the foil, speeding up the process of spoiling. Add an oxygen absorber and you take away another source of spoilages; the oxygen. So when using these you can seriously prolong the shelflife of food, but it says nowhere just how long.
For my experiment I'll just go with exp.date + 3 months without vacuum and exp.date + 6 months with vacuum. But I guess it will be safe as long as the packaging is still vacuum.



I worked with both for one afternoon, trying to prepare food for storage in the foodbox or BOB-F72 as I have started referring to it.
Operating the vacuum sealer is actually very straight forward, yet I did something very un-manlike, before giving it a go; I read the instructions!! The display and buttons are very simple; vacuum & seal, seal. Options for dry food and moist, making the sealtime longer in case of moisture of the seal surfaces.Turns out the thing even has a function to vacuum seal containers, which can be bought separately.
So far I vacuum sealed dried apricot pieces and semolina, which is a powder. Just to try out. The sucker really did suck out the air! I ended up with 2 very compact packages. This apparatus really is plug & play. Given the reduction in size of the food packages I am figuring we could do with a much smaller freezer, if we used this thing all the time. A lot less air to freeze inside the freezer also means lower operating costs and in case of a power out a more massive quantity of food thaws out slower, too. The bags or foil are more expensive than regular bags, but can be obtained locally too. A complete roll might mean less waste.... Time will tell.
I then tried if I could seal the mylar bags with the machine too and what do you know; it worked!! However one sealing sequence proved not enough, so I did two. The foil is actually clamped in one place, so no risk in moving the foil in between goes. Worked like a charm. Maybe I could have gone with the moist-option, but this worked.
I made one bag with flour for 2 loafs of bread and added 3 absorbers + one bag with rice for 5, adding 2 absorbers. Had a bit of a nasty surprise though! While I started cleaning up I noticed the oxygen indicator of the opened bag of absorbers had turned blue. When handling the absorbers to quickly vacuum seal them, I noticed they had become warm! So fierce is the reaction with oxygen! At least I know they work....
When using mylar without vacuum (haven't tried out if it works), remove as much air by hand as possible. The more you get out, the less there is left for the absorbers to react with, making them last longer.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Prepping.....the Bug Out Food Box

There's this funny thing keeping me occupied these last few weeks. What if there was a situation where you'd be forced to really rely on yourself. An emergency that would require selfreliance. What if there would be a situation where we'd have to leave in a hurry for whatever the reason?
I am talking about prepping.
Not that bushcraft, homesteading and prepping are all that different. There are many similarities and crossovers between them... and a great many other related fields. But somehow I want to create a possibility to have an advantage, when something goes wrong and we'd have to relocate in a hurry. I am not talking about hordes of zombies banging on my front door, but an emergency, like a forest fire, that forces me and my family to leave home on short notice. There are uncountable sites and places that will tell you just what to pack; the so-called B.O.B. or bug out bag. In this you should have tools and items you'd need to make it easier or to just make it through the troubled days and ways ahead, when the proverbial excrements hit the air circulation device, in jargon known as SHTF.
The so-called BOB or Bug Out Bag is a term one regularly comes across in the bushcraft-, prepper-, survivalist or worse case scenario-scenes and it comes with all sorts of essentials, gizmos and gadgets. Fine, then you'd have your knife & axe, your cooking- and firelighting set, your water purifying tools, your tarpaulin, sleeping bag and your survival kit... Great. But in many of these lists and recommendations there are some things missing. How about some good, old cash. Doesn't have to be a huge sum, but a handful will get you a long way. How about some backup I.D.'s or copies of them? Proof of insurance or medical stats. A small bundle of essential (in this society) documentation in written form. I think it is a good thing in itself to be prepared, but the thing that I sorely miss in those, is one of the most essential things; food!!
Now I do not talk about that crappy freeze dried or other survival "foods". I mean real, nutritious, high energy and tasty food. If things go wrong, nibbling on some tasteless, compressed, sawdust oatmeal survival bar or slobbering down something, that looks like it has been eaten before, is not the best way to lift spirits and increase morale. Yet I have to admit here that I know nothing of today's freeze dried or dehydrated meals. I did have my share of those back in the days, like the army or during bike- or campingtrips and the memory haunts me to this day. Just the thought is repulsive and given the fact that products these days in general do not hold the same level of "quality" as 20 years ago....
The needed extra energy intake to cope with stress and inconvenience is another matter to take into account. The food had to be as healthy and nutritious as possible, yet have a long shelf life. So you can store it and just grab it, when needed. As little carbs as possible and as much fat as possible, because stressful and intense situations, as said, require a lot of energy. Long lasting, not a massive spike, followed by a even more massive low. Plus it had to taste good, because in said situations it will need to keep up spirits and improve morale and good food will do just that. Just the act of preparing a real, tasty meal does that too!! Plus it should be as similar as possible as regular food, so we could just use it, when it might near the spoiling date and just add "fresh" supplies to the box. Changing your diet during times of high level stress might very well cause health issues and I read in extreme cases even death, due to metabolism failure. And to add to the challenge it had to feed my family of 5 for at least 72hrs. And last but not least it had to be fit for winter, meaning high energy, but also usable during summer. An additional advantage of using single ingredients, is that you can adapt according to the situation, like using food we'd find out there; berries, mushrooms or even some animal might find its way into the menu.
Weight would not be so much of an issue, since if it would ever be necessary to bug out, family logistics would dictate the use of a vessel; car, cart or sleds. If I ever found myself in a situation, where we would have to carry everything on our own backs to get out alive, something has gone horribly wrong, we'd have failed big time and would be in need of support from others anyway.

So I sat down and thought.... and planned.... and came up with both a menu and a list of contents.

72 hrs - I split that up into 3x breakfast, 3x lunch and 3x dinner, just to cover the basics. If room would be left, that could easily be filled up with things like dark chocolate (morale boost and energy). Maybe some mints. And of course more nuts and dried fruits. Can't have too much of that.
Breakfast;
- oatporridge (havregryn) with raisins and/or nuts
- hardbread with jam, liverpaté or cheese in a tube.
- semolina (mannagryn) porridge with dried fruit or applesauce

Lunch;
- tinned mackerel in tomato sauce and hardbread
- self baked bread w/nuts, dried fruits, raisins and jam
- canned soup

Dinner;
- pasta w/ham and tomato sauce
- rice, beans and tuna
- mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, sausage.

Now via my buddy Odd the phenomenon "mylar bags with oxygen absorbers" was brought to my attention and we exchanged many a message about them and their uses. I also did some reading into the subject and one of the advices given, was to keep the mylar packaged food in an extra container, since, although the mylar is moisture-, air- and light tight, it is not strong enough to deal with handling and the slightest pinprick would ruin the effect of the oxygen absorbers, with spoiling the food in the end after all.
I was going to give the mylar a try anyway and the box would contain a number of ingredients that might require repackaging in order to keep them longer.

So in order to be able to make this, we would need a lot of stuff. And shopping we went....

Part II, the practical bit, will follow shortly......