Jokkmokk’s Historic Marknad 2013

Yesterday I was at Jokkmokk’s Historic Marknad (this is a small market held each year from Sunday to Wednesday, prior to the main market starting on Thursday), where I spent quite a bit of time demonstrating making fire with the bow-drill.

jokkmokks marknad 2013

fire making jokkmokks marknad

jokkmokk 2013

One Sámi man was really interested to see the bow-drill in use and I ended up giving him my bow-drill set so that he could practise making fire with it at home.

jokkmokks marknad 2013

Yesterdays dinner guests

I was at work yesterday, but Teres was at home and took some pictures of some guests that arrived for dinner and spent most of the day at our house.

reindeer in garden nattavaara lapland kevin warrington

There was one almost completely white reindeer with them.  He had a bell around his neck which helps to locate the reindeer when they are in the forest.

white reinddeer nattavaara natural lore

This is a mother and calf that are digging in the snow to locate food

reindeer nattavaaraby

and this animal is fitted with a GPS collar as part of a project to study bear predation on reindeer.  When a bear comes within 100 metres of the reindeer, the collar activates and begins sending a signal to the researches.  They have found that 60% of reindeer calves are taken by bears!

reindeer with gps collar nattavaara

A Karesuando home remedy

This is one of the home remedies that we learnt about while in Karesuando.  It is a hair tonic and shampoo made from Birch leaves and when used regularly, it treats scalp conditions, promotes hair-growth and generally conditions the hair.

It is very easy to make.
You collect Birch leaves in August in Karesuando (so maybe during September in the UK) put them in a jar with an air-tight top.

You then add warm (NOT HOT) water and leave to cool for about 8 hours, shaking periodically.  After 8 hours you remove the leaves and it’s finished.

You only require a small amount in your hand when you wash your hair, but it does not lather!!

Karesuando 2012

On Saturday morning we travelled to Karesuando to spend a day with Teres’ relatives.

Unfortunately a 26km section of the E45 which runs from Karesuando – Gela in Italy.

The road was very rough to drive which wasn’t so good for my back and it was not always so obvious exactly where to drive!!

Teres’ dad Ingvar came with us to tell us about the area and it’s history and stories of things he did when spending summers there with his parents and family.

The village is actually just outside  Karesuando and is called Mertajärvi. The old house on the left of this picture is where the family used to live (built in the late 1800’s) and then the new house was built in the 1950’s.

We spent a lot of time talking with Ingvar’s aunty and traditional remedies for various ailments and illnesses and I will be testing and writing about some of them in the future.


It was also hemvändardag  (I can’t translate this word but the event is about people who have lived there, returning gathering to see friends and family).

The event was held in the school where there were many pictures of family and relatives (the family name is Gunnare)

and Ingvar enjoyed talking with people about the family history.

We also drove across the border into Finnish Karesuando

There were some wonderful chainsaw carvings in a field next to the border

Thanks to all the family for a great day!!!

Reindeer calf marking again

Fortunately, yesterday evening there was a reindeer calf marking at a location where we could drive with the car and I only had to walk a couple of hundred metres.

We took Sara and Mona with us who are two girls from Germany, spending their summer working here at our summer café here in Nattavaara.

Preparations started at 7pm, with each family making  a fire, cooking coffee and grilling reindeer meat or sausage over the flames and children playing.

After this it was time for the work to begin.  First the number of calves was counted

The animals were not at all stressed and many calves to the opportunity of a quick meal.

Unfortunately I could only stand outside and watch but Emma enjoyed being involved

People were busy identifying and catching their calves to mark the calves ear with the individual owners mark.

The work continued long into the night, but unfortunately we could not stay.  I really enjoyed being able to get out again!!

Claire Brimson – guest blogger

I am a student nurse from Wales, UK studying on an exchange program in Oulu University Hospital Finland and also teach outdoor education including wilderness survival and bushcraft skills.  Whilst over in Finland, I wanted to travel, particularly into the outback areas and hopefully meet some like-minded people over here, so into the internet search engine I plugged ‘bushcraft finland/sweden’ and eventually turned up a guy based in Northern Sweden!  Checking him out, I realised he was also on the Bush craft forum, so I emailed him asking if he fancied meeting a ‘like-minded person’; never expecting a reply, I left it.  However, a few days later, there it was, an email from Kevin, and so internet action began and I fixed dates up to go across to meet the family in Nattavarraby, unsure of what exactly I was going to find and/or do when I got there!

My journey went from Oulu by train to Kemi, then bus to Tornio (Finnish boarder), hop across the bridge into Haparander (Swedish boarder), then bus to Hakkas

where Kevin’s partner picked me up where we drove through beautiful scenery not so dissimilar to that of the Boreal forests of Northern Canada and Alaskan tundra.  The whole journey took almost 12 hours of travelling.  My accommodation was in a cabin surrounded by spruce, birch and pine trees with reindeer moss and lingonberry tufts growing, birds singing and full daylight at night; a moose hide was airing drying on the old barn, whilst cut moose antler was sat on the cabin steps having obviously been used for making tools etc by the man himself.  It was beautiful and tranquil and I could understand why someone wanted to live out here.

The following day, I was taken up to the local meeting place (Byastagan) where local women were making a speciality flat bread – delicious, so we purchased some although I would have quite happily sat and eaten it all with blueberry and lingonberry jam alongside (where was the jam!!!).  We then headed up to the old school where visitors stay in log cabins – warm, bathroom facilities, tv and internet, all for 50 euros per night equates to a bargain! You certainly would not get that in the UK in surroundings of peaceful tranquility and enclosed by old forests over-looking the local village of Nattavarraby!

We then collect stuff to make birch bark container’s and headed back down to Kevin’s cabin and his house where I set to work making my pot.  I have made these before out of Cherry bark and Ash, however, I found the birch easy to work with and it was nice to use sinew.

Later that day, we went to Gallivare, the local town where there is a Sami craft shop selling some of Kevin’s work he has done.  The town is part of the Iron Ore Mine which is the major employer, along with the local Hospital for these town’s people, some of which are Sami folk.  On the way back, we passed reindeer and moose

with a lot of deforestation occurring; whilst the evening saw me re-inacting my youth by herding reindeer into a compound ready for tagging – an activity that is not really open for outsiders let alone women to be involved in!

Saturday saw us all heading out to the cabin in the middle of nowhere – and it really is miles from anything, but sat by a lake

surrounded by swamp marshes, pine, birch, spruce, juniper, lingon bushes.  Moose, bear and other animals live here and their prints show it along with their poo; here I finished my birch pot, adding lichens for traditional decoration.

Nattavarraby is beautiful, an island surrounded by a single river which breaks and re-joins downstream.  It is inhabited by both Swedish people traditional Sami.

There is much wildlife including beaver,

hare (white in the winter), reindeer, moose, many different birds and flora and fauna; a walk out into the back yard or through the forest with Kevin and he tells you every bird call or plant and its uses traditional uses.  If you want to learn to make fire, cook over an open fire, make your own plates, kusa, spatula, spoon, bowels, weave baskets, learn wildlife, see beaver, moose, bear or reindeer, or learn about plants etc, this is the place to come as he has an amazing amount of knowledge and his love of allowing and wanting you to learn and experience this is immense.  Kevin is patient, with a heart of gold and will always try to bring the best out in everything and everyone he meets; the person or people he is with he wants them to experience the best he and they can achieve and this will be done together.  He also is fluent in Swedish.  However, behind all of this in Kevin, is a good partner, and that is what he has.

I truly encourage anyone to visit Nattavarraby and to stay with the family – you will receive a very warm welcome and nothing is ever too hard for them for to do for you.  If I can travel 12 hours on a student budget then I challenge those of you who have never been to Nattavarraby to go there, and those of you who have said you will, to go there as well.  A place you will want to revisit again and again and a man who has a tremendous amount of knowledge and insight.