Monday, May 30, 2016

Patience and poverty fatigue

A post on Corina's blog (marblemount homestead) about death & dying people and on living your dreams and Renee's responses to that prompted me to do something with that. To do a post on that.... since I can really relate to all of that.
Now where to begin?
I wrote about Jenkinson's book "Die wise". Those who read my posts on that know a little, those who read the book know a lot more on the subject. The final realisation that it could be my, our turn at any given moment made a big difference in the way I live my life these days. I try not to take things for granted anymore. Not my life, not that of my wife or our children and not that of those around us; human or not. All that we see, do or experience every new day is a gift and it has made me appreciate that so much more. Yes, I do get annoyed, angry or argue with others (well, the kids mainly. I do not bother with the rest that much anymore, really), but I also try to make sure that our ways do not part having hard feelings. I do not say "I love you", since I feel that those are mere words. I try to make them feel and understand from within that I do. An extra hug for example does so much more than words, especially if you really open up when you do it. Words are just air and sounds. Actions is what defines someone.

Now the impatience part is something I have written about and it still is an issue regularly. But I am working on it. I remembered that a colleague, who was pretty close, once told me that I am an emotional man. I live by and with emotions, I feel my way through life. Feelings dominate my being... She was so very right.
And sometimes I feel I am running out of time, that I do not have enough time to accomplish all I want to do within the timeframe that I want to do it in. And that goes for small things, like walking the dogs in a pleasant and calm way to big things like creating a fully functioning homestead with all that that implies.
And that is where the gardening comes in. I once read that gardeners grow old, because they need to practice patience to see things grow and to plan long ahead. The need to live to see their plans unfold. And it is true. I can actually be patient enough to watch a plant grow, see it develop over time and see my plans unfold over the years. So I am trying to use that knowledge on other aspects of my life as well. I picture my kids growing up, finding their own way, seeing them develop their own characters and in turn that makes me see them differently today. The same goes for the dogs; I try to see them as fully trained, happy, active dogs, plunging through a foot of snow, their tongues lolling out on one side of their mouths, almost with a smile on their face as they pull a sled. It makes me smile and it quiets my bubbling temper.
I still do get impatient and temperamental, of course. It is hard to unlearn a behavioural pattern, but I will get there in the end. I will see myself grow and develop into that wise, white bearded grandpa.... if I am given that time. if not, I will make sure the ones I leave behind will have good memories of me, until I completely fade away in time.

And than there is the issue of poverty and how it shapes you, can push you down and wear you out. Living your life for years having to flip every penny tenfold, before spending it.... It does wear you out. It really does. But is also shapes you, defines your life, colors it and makes you so much more appreciative on the things you do have; material or immaterial. Enjoying the scent of freshly cut grass doesn't cost anything and if you have nothing else, you will enjoy it so much more. Buying that wool sweater at the second hand store for a few bucks makes you enjoy its comforting warmth for years to come. That jar of homemade marmalade, made from handpicked fruit, cooked and canned in your own kitchen makes that it tastes so much better than store bought and not simply because the ingredients are better. There is satisfaction in it and there is no better flavour enhancer than that!

We have had our years of poverty and these last few months we do not have to struggle that hard any more. But it has changed us fundamentally. Now when we get our paychecks we spend quite a bit of cash. Oh yeah. But everytime we do it, it almost feels wrong. And often not even almost! We feel guilty, when we spend money on a cup of cappuccino at a café and we feel almost equally guilty when we buy "trinkets" like a "new" phone for one of the kids or something like that. Another car for instance. Now that one almost physically hurt, especially since it is not an exactly economical car.
We think and weigh, discuss and rethink..... We no longer just rush off and spend. We have become much more conscious about it. And we enjoy and appreciate the things we do buy.
So yes, it has colored our lives too.

And that's when I realised that it are things like these that give color to our every day drab lives! It is things like the up and down, especially the little up during longer downs that give flavour to the daily routine soup.

People who experience things like that..... They are the lucky ones!!!


Friday, May 27, 2016

The progress of our garden


I am reconsidering the use of the sideboards or wooden planks on the sides of the plant beds. The frost has made them rise from the ground, creating an opening under which the "weeds" were able to move in.
I am also reconsidering the use of those woven, weed suppressing groundcover cloth and wood chips. First of all that is manmade, artificial(plastic) fibre that doesn't break down. A less than environmental friendly alternative, both in manufacturing and in waste. I would need to exchange the stuff already in use, since that turns out to be absolute rubbish, tearing up like paper. The other side is that, in order to get those woodchips, I need a machine that requires energy to operate and more twigs and branches than my garden provides, so extra transport. Again, not as I would like to have it.
However once everything is in place it would be virtually maintenance free, apart from spreading out shredded material the garden provides every once in awhile.
Our youngest daughter thought of a way to keep our hens and rabbits; flexible "pens"; stakes of metal with netting or mesh attached, creating a flexible and flowing enclosure to contain chickens and rabbits. She drew this idea out on paper, when we were discussing various ideas and options to keep chickens and rabbits (things like mobile coops and such) and first we and than I developed the idea further; we could use the grass(over)grown paths between the beds. The animals could be feeding on the grasses, weeds, seeds and insects, yet without gaining access to the plant beds and the crops therein! Feeding animals, clipping the grass and weeds AND pest control all into one, whilst using all the space we have available.  This solution however would mean the purchase of bunny- and chickenproof fencing and quite a lot of it, given the length of the paths.

In between the cold and wet weather, including some not unsubstantial amounts of snow, we had warm and sunny days and this triggered an explosion of green. Birches went green within a week and the grass grows an inch a day... or so it seems. And that made me reconsider the bunny 'n' chicken-idea once more. They could never, ever keep up with that! Let alone control it!
Another issue is the limited space between the beds, which makes it highly impractical to wield a scythe
So I had to compromise; for now we bought a battery powered grass trimmer, just so we can keep up with the growth and keep the grass and other plants in check, until we have decided what to do. I might end up combining the latter 2 options. Don't know yet.

Oh... yeah.... the old horse manure I spread over some of the beds last year?
Turns out that that was packed with seeds...... Seeds of plants I did not want to see really..... So along with the favorable weather, those germinated and had ample amounts of nutrients.... *sigh*

One week long delay in weeding made that I felt that I had been overcome and overgrown by this green explosion and seeing the parts I did weed, turning green again is not exactly encouraging either. This is the toughest month in gardening around these parts. Things will slow down considerably in a month or so.

As far as the seeds are concerned; most are growing quite well!
A cold snap killed the tomato experiment however and none of the green beans germinated. (None of the Dutch brown ones either). Except for the ones around the metal feet of the old swing. I guess the warmth of the sun got conducted downward into the soil, warming that just enough to make the beans sprout! So I have to redo that and I now know to sow those a lot later. Maybe even as late as the first week of june.
The spinach I had sown around the garlic is not showing, but it did not show up last year either. Maybe the seed is too old? Or I need to sow it later too? I'll give it another go soon.

Yet another mistake I made was to not exactly and meticulously mark what I had sown where outside the greenhouse. I was in too much of a rush I guess, so now I know one bed contains carrots, beets and several species of onions in alternating rows, but I do not know what is where.
Cats using this bed as a toilet complicates things even further....

So...... There's a handful of lessons I am learning "the hard way". But that was and is exactly what I had expected.

Is it all misery and doom, then?
No of course not!
The cherrie- and plumbtrees made it and are blooming wonderfully and now they have gotten company of an appletree too. We could "save" that one for a good price. Folks needed to get rid of it, due to constructional work and since it was a recently planted tree there (2014) it could be dug up without trouble. Being only 2 meters (or a bit higher) meant that transport was no issue either.
Another plus is that we have more rhubarb than anticipated now. I needed to replant a big one and it simply fell apart. Now we have 3 plants instead of that 1 big one, bringing the total to 6.
We also got a rooting branch of a black gooseberry bush, so that should give us some more berrybushes as well soon.
A seedling exchange with one of our neighbours meant that now we do have tomato plants as well as leeks, some white cabbage and a few flowering plants too.
From my mother in law we got one of my all time favorit flowering plants; an older New dawn-rose. I love those! Their bright pale pink flowers, the smell..... and when it has become high enough I'll add a nice, dark clematis. That is always a sight to behold!

yet for now the rain keeps pouring down......

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

An epic trip in the making...

Well, maybe not epic, but quite adventurous!!

Via BCUK the idea was launched to have a meeting in the arctic/ above the polar circle during winter.
I was interested before, but finances forced me to back down.
Now the situation is a bit different and I could even take the dogs and a sled, making bringing a tent, a stove and plenty of food a lot easier.
Much of the things needed I already have, some of the knowledge too, a bit of experience with winterconditions and I would not be alone out there either.
And then the idea came to me; this would be THE opportune occasion to do what I have been thinking about for a long time; to initiate my son into manhood. If you can camp in the arctic during winter before you turn 15, you have the right stuff to be a man!
This trip, and above all all the preparations needed for it, would enable me to spend qualitytime with him, which is quite rare, since our interests are so completely different. When I told him this his reluctance seemed to lessen quite a bit....

Destination would be the area around Suorva (Stora Sjöfallet/Stuor Muorkke national park), roughly 115km northwest of Jokkmokk..... with the Sarek national Park very close by!
https://goo.gl/maps/gVeWS7A5YmH2

source; svenskaturistföreningen.se
During the initial planningstage I started looking for a suitable tent. It would have to house me, my son, 2 large dogs, a stove and preferably our gear too. I figured some other folks might be interested as well, so I sent out some invitations. Odd (Skaukraft) is considering to join us and I hope Matt (weekend woodsman) too. So I started eyeballing a socalled "förläggningstält 12", a Swedish army group tent.
The really weird thing is that I did find several, ranging from almost 9000kr down to 5000. And right after I had written a reply in the BCUK-thread about being busy looking for one, I came across a sales ad selling one for 3000kr. I took the bait...

Not this one, but one like it.
imagesource; surplesbuy.se
I included a link on how to erect one such tent, so I could find it again, too.
http://fixarfarsan.se/2015/06/satta-upp-militartalt-20-mannatalt.html

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dogs and lessons


I guess it is time for a little update on the dog-story!
Both are doing just fine! They are the best of mates, playful, lively, pretty close and still trying to figure out their relationship to one another in regard to dominance. Lester is a gentle giant, powerful and sweet. Rex is a lot less strong, but more mean and not always fair. Whenever he can not "beat" Lester fair and square, he uses foul play. But his dominance is regularly being challenged!!
It has become obvious that Lester has hit "puberty"....
Lester has also become strong. Very strong! And he isn't even fully grown yet.... So far he has torn 3 leashes apart. A white woven one just ripped apart, one of the newly bought green ones, ripped apart the stitching lengthwise and on the inside! The makeshift leash with clip did not even stand a chance....

So now we use what we have, being 2 leashes that are not equally long and that actually worked out very well! Now Rex automatically is in lead and Lester automatically falls in behind. The issues when walking them have drastically lessened. The same goes for my frustration and both my patience and understanding with and of them has increased...
All is well then? Well, mostly, yes. But we all still have a great deal to learn and sometimes it simply is a clash of characters. I am in a not too good mood, Rex is unable to restrain himself or Lester is being totally unreachable.... or he annoys and teases Rex, who responds fiercely and I get tangled up.
Or they are being goofy and boisterous and I nearly end up  peeing myself with laughter.
Be that as it may, we have had some help and got some good tips on how to handle them better and that is paying off.


Lester has helped Rex getting over his fear of water!
There is this ramp on one of the lakeshores and there we often stop. There are interesting smells there and they can drink. On one of those occasions there was a bright red bottle floating there; a boy or marker for a crayfishcage. Lester was very intrigued by it, but it was to far off. On the other side there is a concrete ball with a ring on top of it for mooring a boat. Now that was equally interesting and a lot closer! 
You can see the bottom of the lake where the dogs stand. Where it gets darker the bottom drops..... Lester jumped..... and went under completely! The look on his face, when he came up and out! He shook himself so vigorously that his hindlegs were thrown left and right. He turned around, stared at the ball and was preparing for a second attempt!! But was uncertain if he would take a plunge again.. 


We will continue to work on and with them and on ourselves as well. I am quite convinced that we can achieve our goals together with our boys, but it will take a great deal of effort and time. They both do show that they missed out on a lot in their early days. It has shaped them and we have to learn to work with that....

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The buzz of the bumblebee...

May came and with it came the sun and warm spring weather!
Oh, the joy!
And with that the first swallows too. I really do like those birds; their agility, their aerobatics..... and later on in summer their calls, when they soar through the skies with their buddies, chasing flies and outmaneuvering each other.
The daffodils bloom, the grass is growing (I'll be cursing it in a week or so) and the trees are shrouded in a fresh green veil. The seeds in the greenhouse are sprouting nicely and the first seeds have been sown directly on the ground too. One bed is dedicated mostly to onions; 3 species with alternating rows of carrots, parsnip, radish and kamomil in between. I also planted several rows of small bulbs, just to be able to compare later on. Whenever there turns out to be rooms left I will plant or sow something compatible there too. The potatoes went in the ground as well, but I had to plant the majority of them in a bed I had fertilised last year, so I have to see what will happen there. We bought a small box with 3 species; Rocket, Arrow and Mandel and when following the advised planting distances these turned out to be more than 1 large planting bed can take. So I had to plant half of the Mandel in an unprepared and unfertilised bed. A nice way to try out and compare them later on this year.
The garlic I got from Hugh of englishcountrylife.com last year is going very well and I have sown some spinach around and in between it.
So far I also planted 5 krikon (ramson) offshoots and there are 2 elderberry bushes waiting to put down their roots into our garden. We bought those, whilst attending a guided tour through one of the local plant nurseries. It was quite nice, but we had hoped on more background information on how they grow their plants. We were not particularly interested in promotion tales on several decorative plants. They actually have very little in terms of edible plants and they seem to specialise on pelargonium, lobelia, petunia and fuchsia, which they sow and grow themselves. The owner quite clearly had a passion for those and for his profession. A stack of syngenta plant labels however triggered an immediate red-flag-respons...... On the other hand it is the same nursery we bought our cherry- and plum trees last year and we are quite happy with those. They deliver quality goods, plain and simple.

Animal life has returned to the garden too. A garden thrives whenever there is wildlife around.
We are lucky that we have a lot of it; woodpeckers, dozens of birds, several species of bumblebee, loads of butterflies etc. There is also a good deal of not always equally welcome wildlife to be found; hare and deer do not mix well with a vegetable garden, at least not from a gardener's point of view. The animals probably disagree. A fox as an immediate neighbour (within 75 meters) makes having a chicken coop a challenge. Not to mention the martens and ermine that roam the area. And then there brother badger too.
And we have several forest ant highways through the garden. One directly across the front lawn and I am not too happy about that. We have tried several environmentally friendly remedies, but to no avail. I really do not want to go the chemical way, since there'll be bunnies there too in a few weeks/months. So I guess we'll have to live with them for now.
Watching a bluetit snatching a lemon butterfly in mid air, fly to the nearest pine tree where its mate was waiting and handing over the butterfly, after which the mate disappeared into a cluster of needles and twigs is quite a sight.
There are a lot of "blue stars" or blåstjärna (scilla) blooming in the garden right now. We never had this many. And they are very popular with bumblebees, of which, as said, several species are buzzing about. Rex is not too fond of them, especially the big black/yellow/white ones. He backs off, whenever there's one buzzing around his nose.
And those bumblebees were the key to some exciting discoveries!
On kristi himmelfärds (ascension day) I was cutting firewood and my youngest daughter was playing outside. She started telling me that she was scared of bees. I told her there was no reason to be and that I'd show her when they'd arrive. Then the conversation went to bumblebees and their stings and that there were so many of them in our garden, so I put down the saw and we went to look at them up close. I showed her that you could actually touch them and that they'd just move on. Our oldest daughter joined us and I asked her to get the poster I have of bumblebee species, because I saw several different ones in one place. And while I was waiting for her, a surprise showed up; a honeybee!! The first one I've seen since we moved here!! I was quite excited to see her. And since there are no beekeepers around or none that I know of, I assume that this is a "wild" bee, which means they might swarm. I am going to get my Warré hives ready to act as a swarm catcher.... just in case.
Oh... we identified 5 different species of bumblebee.



Thursday, April 28, 2016

Kids 'n school

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. As the father of a teen I am facing one of those dreaded choices one has to make with and on behalf of a teen son, in this case; the choice of a (high)school.
I have had some sleepless nights over this. What road to follow and how will that affect my son's future?
And there are a number of factors in play here; what is it he wants? What is it that I want? Will he have a future in the direction he chooses? Etc. etc.
The direction he has chosen, digital design, is something he really is into, so he is highly motivated. It is, however, a field or subject I have no affiliation or interest with or in.... at all. It couldn't be farther from what I advocate and stand for, but it is his choice. Should I, as a father, step in here and point out the potential pitfalls, the way I see it, such as bleak future prospects both in career and practical usability or maybe even downright interfere?
The answer to that would, based on my own experience on the receiving end, be a simple NO. That would kill any and all motivation and I know what the disastrous result of that would be. So I stepped aside and let him make a choice, after laying out the option before him. And he chose to go ahead. Which is good, since he stands fast with what he wants and believes in, even after having been confronted with other options or possible outcomes. And he has chosen a school that turns out to be quite different than the others too. No regular, communal, government controlled school, but as it turned out, a privately owned school with their own principles and guidelines. Principles and guidelines we, as a family, all approve of. He will not be drilled into a brick-in-the-wall kind of position, limited by guidelines and expectations. He ends up on a school that challenges each individual, gives him a lot of opportunities to try out fields of expertise and guarantees the maximum amount of interaction with and guidance by teachers. Quite a young staff they have too.
We attended a few open house events, talked to the staff and the principal, who happens to be from the Netherlands too, and the vibe we got was that this is a school that emphasises on equality, for as far as that is possible, cooperation and stimulation of developing the individual's capabilities.
I was quite impressed with the very broad spectrum of classes and subjects that is offered to the kids, even within certain fields of choice. It somehow feels like a modern, high-tech kind of artschool. If anything, this school has quite a bit of that same feeling about it as the Steiner/Waldorf school had that our kids went to back in the Netherlands, only much more modern and more grown up. That same sort of creative flow and this is my son's kind of creativity.
Both my wife and I wished that we had had these opportunities and possibilities when we were that age. Can't help but wonder how different things would've been.....
And our son is really eager to go there and that is the most important thing of all. And all I can hope is that he will find, what he is looking for. That it'll bring him, what he aims for.....Knowing his life will take him in other directions, when he is ready for that, too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blacksmithing - given an ancient craft a try for real


I got a weekend introductory course in blacksmithing at Carinas Smedja (websitefacebook) as a christmas/birthdaypresent and my wife insisted that I'd go, since I initially wanted to back out on it, due to financial implications. But I did as I was told and went and a good thing it was too. Why? Have I become a blacksmith enthusiast? Found a new hobby or lifestyle? Well, no...
It was good, because I got to meet new people, I got to experience a new craft, it challenged my way of creative thinking and I ended up with a nice bonus too.
The course itself was pretty straight forward; a full saturday and sunday 09:00-17:00, including coffeebreaks and lunch. Turned out our lady blacksmith Carina is someone who likes to socialise, but also makes the most use of hours available. So no excessively long breaks. The information and background theory were quite rudimentary, but then again we were there to bang on some hot iron, not become theoretically educated in the art and craft of blacksmithing and metalworking!
We started of with a standard items, which we'd all make together, using the information we had just gotten; a crook or wallhanger with a leafshape on top and a curled hook at the bottom and some nails to go with those. This way we would understand the use and importance of the metal temperature, how to flatten and curl it and how to basically work metal.
How did that work out for me? Well, let's just say that no 2 leaves in nature are the same and not all are symmetrical either.... And the nails..... Well, I am a gardener and I like to grow things and that is what happened to the nails too. They just kept growing and getting longer, no matter how short I started off. Gave up on them eventually.....
After this and a break we were pretty much given free hand at crafting whatever we wishes. Within acceptable and reasonable boundaries of course. Of course I wanted to make my very own firesteel. The ones we had made are nice, of course, but made by someone else; our local blacksmith. And they didn't throw sparks very well either. Carina and I tried rehardening them, but to no avail. So either there is too little carbon in the steel ( a modern file) or the contact surface is to broad, so you cabä't scrape off good glowing flakes. The one I made is a lot smaller, narrower and lighter and made from an old file..... And it throws sparks, baby! So I am quite pleased with that.
The things I did/made
The image is from Carina's fb-page
As a next project I wanted to do a threelegged potstand. Not that I am overly ambitious.....
I discussed this with Carina and initially we didn't really understand each other. I wanted a simple ring with detachable legs and she suggested 3 onepiece, similar shaped legs with segments of ring, later to be riveted together....
I ended up cheating. I couldn't get the 3 pieces to be the same, couldn't get the areas where they'd meet flattened and lined up properly, so riveting them together was not possible. I asked her to just spot weld them together and I camouflaged the weld with wire. Looks quite good actually.... and the stand is level too!! Just a tad higher than I had initially planned, but still I am quite pleased.
When done I had some time left on sunday. I filled that up with the firesteel hardening, described earlier. I also found someone's old project; an all metal knife with a twisted and curled handle. I could use it, so I flattened it. It had a blade as smooth as the ocean surface during strong winds. And no edge what's however, just the basic shape. I ground a rough cutting edge and than hardened that edge. Now it needs some sharpening....

Now... the bonuses....
One of them is a tray (24) of eggs. Freshly laid eggs from free ranging chickens, directly from the coop, including poop and feathers. For a very, very good price! And they are good! What taste!!
The other bonus is a sandstone sharpeningstone. One like I already have, but round, not eggshaped. I spotted it sitting underneath one of the storagebuildings, while I was taking a breath of air ( and cool down) and I made a remark to Carina that that was some fine, oldfashioned piece of equipment. She looked at me and said:" You want it? Take it. It's been lying there for 15 years. I don't use it....." So that one followed me home. Now I can fix my sharpening arrangement and finally start sharpening my scythes!
I will also end up with a few plant supports. 5 to be exact and for a very fair price too, considering the material costs, time I would have to spend and tools I'd have to borrow.

All in all I am glad I went along, even if I will never be a smith.
Metalworking simply is not for me.
And at the end of an intense weekend, there's nothing better than a locally produced ale and a locally written book....


Friday, April 22, 2016

April showers.....

... and wind.... and occasionally a little sunshine!

Damn, I wish spring would move up faster!
It's been rainy and cold this past week. Temperatures barely reaching 10C. Windy too, but we had a few sunny days as well. I keep forgetting that april here really is an early spring month and that spring usually doesn't really kick in until may. My seasonal clock is still tuned for Dutch seasons, even after 5 years.


But I really shouldn't complain, when I compare it to a late april morning (5 a.m.) in 2012....
<<<


However..... Like I said, we do have occasional bursts of sunshine and being busy in the greenhouse is kind of nice, when the rain patters on the roof overhead.
I am sowing and planting and reading and planning... full steam ahead!


The funny thing about these showers is that, before they reach you, they are preceded by a wave of cold air rushing toward you. A dark cloud at the horizon shows up and when a sudden and cold wind reaches you, you know the rain/sleet/snow/hail or mixed shower is heading your way. I guess the icy cold of that showers creates a downdraft before it, sucking in the warmer air from the top and pushing out cold air at the bottom. I also noticed that by the intensity of those gusts you can predict to a certain degree how heavy the coming shower will be. The more wind, the more heavenly water will be poured down on you.
And it creates the most interesting and beautiful skies,,,,,




As for the sowing..... I am kind of busy developing a schedule that allows for various species to be grown together, so as to avoid monocultures and boringness. And that requires some puzzling and researching; things I love to do. And with this weather....
Now you might wonder why the heck I didn't do that during winter. Well, I did. But as it happens quite a few more seeds and information ended up here and that made some changes necessary. Quite a few actually. At the very last we decided to have potatoes. So we needed to "design" a potato-patch. And we needed some accompanying plants for the potatoes. And potatoes do not mix well with others, so these had to be redesignated to other parts of the garden..... which had to be redesigned too. And so forth.

And I found this very cool thing on Mother Earth news, called "the three sisters", when googling for companion planting..... Apparently an old native American (or Indian) thing, meaning a combination of corn, pumpkins and beans. Now American beans are not the same as European or Dutch ones. For us beans usually mean those long, fresh, green ones. So again some redesigning was to be done...... And as icing on the cake there was that small package I received from California, from my dear internetfriend Renée (Tresjolie, who runs 2 blogs; grindstone ranch weekly and the view from grindstone ranch She intended them to become some form of dinner and I saw them as something to grow, before they become some form of dinner... The poquito beans!

I dare say they are quite unique for Sweden!!
There's a huge learningcurve ahead of us here. And speaking of learningcurves.... There are more. Some in the order of books (of course) and one in the form of a course. I am going on a 2-day blacksmithing course coming weekend.
The other curve deals with perennial edible plants and more in depth information on top bar hives. The first one is in Swedish and deals with plants that can be used here. And even by browsing it, it has proven its value. And I am quite pleased to be able to say we helped fund it though a crowdfunding. We squeezed out enough cash to get a signed copy....
The other books are Phil Chandler's books on top bar hives; Balanced beekeeping I&II. The first one is all about building them, the second one is about how to use and maintain them, so that the ladies inside thrive.
The online plans for building those hives are adequate to have a go at it, the book's just more elaborate. Managing the top bar hives is... well... about managing them. I'll get deeper into both of them later on....


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hey, have you seen the news today? Paris protests....

Something's going on, folks!

Massive protests have occurred all across France and spreading into Europe!
Those protests initially seemed to be peaceful, but I assure you that that will not last long. I am predicting violence erupting everywhere and the authorities will act accordingly; curfews, arrests, policeviolence.... Anything to suppress this spontaneous outbreak of civil anger and disobedience.
But no matter how much vionece the powers that be will use or instigate, the genie is out of the bottle! People have been pushed around, suppressed and provoked for a long time now and they have had enough.....

In one of the reports I read a quote that should make you, us AND the ruling class think;
"There’s something here that I’ve never seen before in France – all these people converge here each night of their own accord to talk and debate ideas – from housing to the universal wages, refugees, any topic they like. No one has told them to, no unions are pushing them on – they’re coming of their own accord."
Because of this it is clear that there is a huge feeding ground for protest to grow, to converge and to create a stir. There are no leaders, there is no agenda..... It started as protests against French government changes, but it has grown into something else.....
Does it all start again in France?
Will there be another "storming the Bastille"- kind event?
Will there be another revolution?
Given the interconnectedness these days it most likely will spread and spread fast!

The ruling class has become to arrogant, to brutal, to reckless and to deranged.
Time to topple them.

Another quote;
Thus, today on the Place de la République, it is not 9 April; it is 40 March. Playing with dates deliberately echoes the French Revolution, which started in “year one”. It involuntarily recalls the opening line of George Orwell’s 1984, when a clock strikes 13.
In the early days, the participants had no individual names. Everyone was “Camille”, a name which can be male or female in French.
But it is difficult to enforce rules in a movement with no rules – and individual names are creeping back.

Gael, a student in his early twenties, dressed all in black, with a neat beard and a serious smile, said: “We don’t know where this is going – that’s the whole point. We don’t have plans. We don’t have demands. We don’t have leaders. We disagree about many things, but we know that things have to change. We didn’t need the Panama leaks to tell us how the world works. We no longer want a system where the selfishness of a few limits the lives and opportunities of the many.”

Sources;
http://www.commondreams.org
http://www.independent.co.uk

Of course the mainstream media is depicting these demonstrations as "violent" and they'll do just about anything to label this movement as "leftist", "anarchistic" or whatever "undesirable" label they can come up with.
And the Swedish media?? Silent as a churchyard!!!
Except for 1 (one!) article; ny proteströrelse forbryllar

But something is going on, folks...
It is called "nuit debout" (awake all night)...

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Commitment

My wife has been down with a pretty hefty cold these past few days and now it is my turn again.... I was still struggling with the aftermath of a cold from late january/early february, which had lodged itself in my upper airways, causing shortness of breath, fatigue and other unpleasant symptoms, but I could function normally.... sort of. I even went to the doctor and got my blood tested. All came out normal, but still. And now I am having a go at it again... I wonder if my immune systems have become weak or if those pesky coldviruses have become more powerful and evil almost. And the speed with which they make themselves felt.... One day you're fine, the next....

I realised that the piece about the dogs was a result of my frustration and irritation. I also realised that that's not so much the dog's fault as much as it is mine. They just are who they are; high energy dogs with their own characters and shortcomings and I am the one who is not all that high energy with my own character and shortcomings. As much as I would like the dogs to adapt to me, they can only comply up to a certain point, so it is up to me to adapt to them too. And here's where the problem lies; I do not know if I can. The physical fitness thing; sure, with a lot of exercising I would get into shape, but I also like to take it slow. And then there's the patience thing.... plus the finances of course. Doing dogtraining, getting equipment. At this point I am really not sure if I can or want to commit myself that much.
On the other hand I also realised where Lester comes from today. As we walked along the shore of the lake, there was a galy wind and it blew the water in waves onto the rocks, making them splash quite loud. Lester was running and jumping up and down the shore, not sure what to make of it. And I realised that this was likely the first time he had ever seen this! Almost 2 years old!! No wonder he's been acting like a deranged rabbit, stuck with his nose to the ground. The disappearing snow revealed all sorts of things he has never seen or smelled before!! He came to us from the centre of a larger city out into the countryside, when winter was upon us.
Rex on the other hand is developing a kind of behaviour I am not at all happy about. We met one of the neighbours and his male dog, about the same age as Rex, and Rex charged at him. I could barely hold him back! He was very aggressive and he really went at him. If I had not had had him on a strong leash and would have backed up a few meters, he would have had attacked the other dog. He has also become increasingly disobedient. It feels like we have to raise him all over again.
I seriously underestimated the consequences of having these dogs. I really did. And I must admit that I am pondering over the issue of relocating them. Not because they fail me, but because I am failing them.
Having them makes me doubt if I would ever be the kind of person that would or could handle animals properly. Animals you work with and that require high maintenance, training or constant care. Animals like horses for instance. And dogs.
I probably really am a plantperson above anything else, I guess. Good thing the right season is upon us. On the other hand if I could overcome this obstacle, these issues I might find myself in a much better situation. How to do this, is the big question. I know the main issue lies with me. The solution too.... somewhere.... Maybe they are here to show me something in the mirror?

I gave it a bit of a try this afternoon, despite physical limitations, and tried running a bit with the dogs. That went fairly well and once the dogs got the hang of it, they took off! I had to yell to get them to stop almost immediately! I just couldn't keep up! So the  will to run and work most certainly is there, but there were complications too. As long as Rex ran next to Lester, he would snap at him and get into a brawl. When I held back Lester, Rex would stop, turn and do the same until I told him off real good. As long as Lester is behind Rex and out of sight then they run in unison.... and fast!! Tried it a little while later again and with the same results. So there is at least one lesson learned. Two actually... their endurance is as bad as mine at this moment.