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.
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.
On Saturday I went ice fishing with my neighbour Folke. The snow is very deep and it was not easy to travel with snowmobiles.
It was 12kms to the lake where we intended to fish and once we arrived there we started boring holes in the ice to fish through.
After only a few minutes of fishing (using a worm and a piece of shrimp for bait) Folke caught an Arctic Char!
I was fishing with my Reindeer horn fishing rod
It took a little longer for me to catch my first fish; a Rainbow Trout
We made fire and cooked some coffee
We then continued fishing. Folke caught 2 Arctic Char and I caught 2 Rainbow Trout and 1 Arctic Char.
Yesterday evening I took Emma out fishing with me to a local lake.
Emma played in the forest while I was fishing, but then I gave her some matches and asked her to try and make a fire. She thought I was joking at first, as this is something she had not done before. She had already gathered tinder as we walked to the lake and there were lots of dead branches laying around, so she had everything she needed.
Just as she started preparing the fire, I caught a Rainbow Trout, and suggested we cook it directly over her fire. “But we have no cooking utensils she said”. “We don’t need any I said, you will see once you get the fire going.”
Emma made fire successfully and while she was tending the fire I prepared the fish
Emma was so pleased that she had made her first fire
I placed the fish over the fire
and after 10 minutes it was cooked
We ate the fish with fresh picked Hjortron/Cloudberries.
It is snowing again today and the temperature is 0 degrees with a cold north wind! Spring is going to be very late this year.
Recently I demonstrated an emergency signal fire to a group from Austria. It was only a small version but still worked very well. This type of fire is used to help emergency services locate your position from the air.
Firstly I dug a hole in the snow and then laid two pieces of Birch across the hole. Across the two lengths of Birch I laid a large amount of small, dry, dead Spruce branches.
Over theses dead branches I thatched a thick layer of fresh, green Spruce branches.
Finally I pushed dried grass and Birch bark up underneath the pile as a fuse to light the fire. Once the grass was lighted, smoke began to appear very quickly
Soon there was thick smoke bellowing out
Unfortunately at this point the battery ran out in my camera, but here is a picture of a larger version made in Canada 2006.
Last week I spent two days at Jokkmokks Marknad as part of my job as a wilderness guide at Solberget Vildmarks Byn.
My first day at the marknad was on Tuesday at the old, traditional market where I was fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time with John Stokke, a Sámi reindeer herder who has his own chapter in the Sámi book of fire “Eld, Flammor och Glod – samisk eldkonst”. The chapter is about the “Nuorssjo” and it was this fire that he was demonstrating at the market (he is in the centre of this picture).
Photographs by Mike Lenzner
The Nuorssjo is a fire used for two people to sleep next and will burn for 14 hours with very little maintenance. 20cms of Spruce branches are put on the ground as insulation to lay on.
In addition to translating his life as a reindeer herder for our German guests, I also spent a lot of time discussing fire making with him. He even cooked coffee for our guests to drink.
He wanted me to return the next day to talk more and show him how to make fire with the bow-drill but unfortunately this was just not possible, but I have promised to do it next year.
Fire making with flint and steel was also being demonstrated, and visitors were able to try for themselves.
On Wednesday we had the first snow fall of the winter here in Nattavaara By. The snow is only a couple of centimetres deep but it is better than nothing. As you can see in the picture below (taken a midday yesterday) the sun is only just appearing above the horizon now, for about 1 hour. Next week it will disappear completely for about 4 weeks.
Last week I wrote about a wooden container that my friend had made for and now I had had a go at making one myself, using some scrap pieces of wood I had lying around in my workshop. Both the top and bottom are root bur from Sallow.
I made the top by glueing two pieces of wood together, one slightly smaller to fit inside the pot
I stitched the side together with sinew, but unfortunately as you can see below the side has split when it dried.
I am working on more containers with different designs and will put up the pictures when I have finished.
I already have some shops up here that will sell my Natural Lore Fire Sets, but interestingly they prefer the plastic container because it is easier for people to carry in their pocket.
I start my new job on Wednesday as Project Leader for the nature center we are creating in Dokkas, so I will not have so much time to get out and about and as so I probably will not be posting as much.
I thought it might be interesting to see what I carry with me on a daily basis when I am out in the forest.
The first item is a piece of carry mat to sit on when the ground is wet or covered in snow. I carry it rolled up with a piece of parachute cord tied around
Inside the mat I have a small bottle of water (because there is often not water available in the middle of the forest) and I store dry material for making fire.
I carry my titanium mug in a leather pouch clipped to my belt and inside the mug I have a leather pouch containing instant coffee and stock cubes.
I also have my knife and sharpening kit on my belt and in my pockets; strike anywhere matches, parachute cord, hemp cord (for making fire), camera, a spare camera battery and SD card.
Around my neck I have a small torch, a wooden spoon and the kit I carry in my neck pouch.
1. Small knife, with blade, scissors, tooth pick and small tweezers.
2. Some reindeer sinew and a bone awl and bone needle.
3. A piece of carbon steel chainsaw file, a piece of flint, a piece of true tinder fungus, a char tube and some sisal string – all of which I use in combination for fire lighting.
4. A small firesteel and a glue stick from a hot glue gun.
5. Reindeer leather neck pouch
Yesterday we had two Yellowhammer in the garden and three Whooper Swans flew over calling.
I drove to the small village of Dokkas yesterday where I was helping Dokkas Hunting & Fishing Club with a nest box project which has been running for many years. The project was originally started by this man
but more about him later.
There were 10 of us there
to clean out about 60 existing boxes around the edge of Dokkas lake
and put up 25 new ones.
The boxes are especially for two species of ducks; Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) and Smew (Mergus albellus) which used to be very common but due to more intensive logging, there are very few trees large enough for them to nest in now. We travelled around on snow-mobiles, but both the snow and ice are melting very fast now and driving conditions were very difficult.
It took two and a half hours to complete the work. We put dried moss in all the boxes for the birds to lay their eggs in.
This is the original type of box Arthur made (he cut them from trees in the forest and carried back great distances on his back).
Some of the new boxes we fixed up with nails
and some were fixed with two webbing straps
In two boxes we found Red Squirrel when we cleaned them out and in this box we found a Tengmalm’s Owl sitting on eggs
After we had completed the work we gathered around a fire on the shore of the lake for coffee, buns and sausage.
We are currently seeking funding to create a nature center in Dokkas in memory of Arthur Leidgren and if anyone reading this knows of any funding sources within the EU, please get in touch.
I am also creating an extra page on my blog about Arthur and the work we are doing to create the nature center.
I’m still not that good on skis so I’ve been out in the forest training.
The weather and scenery are beautiful just now
The Birch trees are sheding their winter coat now and I am collecting the thin, pappery outer bark for teachingfirelighting later in te year.
Of course I made fire I cooked coffee. I collected resin rich, standing dead wood to use for making fire
I used a thick layer of Pine as a base to build the fire on
It ignites easily and burns very well due to the resin
Soon the snow was melting
and coffe was made
We have been out and about enjoying the spring sunshine.
We found some really nice rodent tracks in the snow
I imagine they are a vole walking between holes but I am not certain…any help appreciated.
With a bit of practise I have regained my firelighting skills
We cooked some coffee
and cooked sausage