About 10kms outside Nattavaara today we had the annual Renskiljning.
The Reindeer are herded into a handling facility and each Sami family removes their own animals from the herd to feed and care for during the winter.
Here are a few pictures from today;
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.
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.
This is a mother and calf that are digging in the snow to locate food
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!
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!!
I have just completed a new kåsa. Guksi (pronounced gooksee) is the Sámi name for a wooden coffee cup.
I made it out of a 15 year old Birch bur given to me by my neighbour and it was bloody hard work to carve (especially the inside)!!
The dark lines are caused by a fungus that would have been growing in the tree
I have soaked the cup in rapeseed oil to bring out the patterning in the wood
In the next issue of “The Bushcraft Magazine” (coming out very soon) I write about how to make a kåsa
I returned to the marknad on the Friday. It was a very cold day with a temperature of -38 degrees c. I had not been there long when I started noticing people with what I first thought was zinc oxide cream on their noses, but it was in fact people showing the early stages of frostbite. Later in the day I met a German girl who’s nose and cheeks were completely white, but when I suggested she needed to go somewhere warm or seek medical treatment, she just laughed and walked away!!
I did not spend much time looking around the marknad because I had no money, but I did watch the reindeer racing
Just after I took this next picture,
the reindeer on the right ran into the reindeer on the left and then kicked the guy laying on the ackja in the face.
To stop the reindeer when they have raced around the circuit a rope is put across, and when the reindeer and ackja run into the rope, the Sámi grab the rope and hold on as they get dragged behind the reindeer, until they stop running.
On Friday evening I attended a Joik concert by Anja Storelv and her band.
It was a great evening with some really good music
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.
Last week we drove up to the Sami/Saami village of Karesuando, the most northern settlement in Sweden, which sites directly on the Swedish/Finnish border, to visit the graves of Teres’ grandparents and meet some of here relatives that still live there.
As we drove up there, a young Tengmalm’s Owl flew across the road and was struck by the campervan in front of us. The owl sat in the middle of the road, so we stopped the car and I ran out to pick up the bird and check it was ok. There was no sign of any serious injuries, so I placed it in the forest nearby where the parents could find it
Teres’ grandmother lived in the village of Mertajävi just outside Karesuando
and this is where we visited some of Teres’ relatives. Here is the house where Teres’ grandmother grew up.
Here’s the lake at the back of the house where they fixed and collected water
From 1910 – 1940 the Sami people from the Karesuando area were being driven from there land and moved into the Porjus/Ritsem area. This led to some conflict as the two groups had different ways of herding, with the Karesuando Sami using a herd roaming system with less animals, compared with the local Sami who herded with more animals in their own specific areas for milking.
There are still families herding Reindeer in from 1910 – 1940 the Sami people from the Karesuando area were being driven from there land moved into the Porjus/Ritsem area. This led to some conflict as the two groups had different ways of herding, with the Karesuando Sami using a herd roaming system with less animals, compared with the local Sami who herded with more animals in their own specific areas for milking.
There are still families herding Reindeer in Karesuando, but many families are now farmers.
Chaffinch started arriving back here yesterday after migrating south in early November.
Many people here wear tin thread armbands traditionally made by the Saami people from Reindeer leather, Reindeer horn and a silver and tin alloy thread. Here is the first one I made
I began making the bracelet by doing a three strand braid with six strands of tin thread and three strands of cotton thread.
Once completed I stitched the braid to a piece of leather.
I stitched the edges of the leather together to form a tube, incorporating a leather loop and reindeer horn button as fasteners for the bracelet.
I cut small slits at either end of another piece of leather and inserted the leather tube through the slits, so that the loop and button protruded from the ends.
I stitched the edges of the leather together to form another tube.
Here is the completed armband
I have also made one for Emma using black leather and six strands of tin thread.
Finally managed to upload a piece of video from the Reindeer skiljning a couple of weeks ago.
This will probably be my last post before Christmas as I leave for England next week.
On Wednesday I was invited to an important event in the reindeer herders year. It’s called Renar Skiljning which basically means that after the reindeer have spent the summer together, at this time the animals are herded into a handling facility and each Sami family removes their own animals from the herd to feed and care for during the winter.
We were there well before first light for coffee and breakfast
(the light in this picture is provided by a powerful floodlight which allows the herders to work after dark)
The reindeer (about 7000) had been herded into a large enclosure from the local area the day before.
Here is my representation of the handling facility.
The reindeer are herded in about 150 – 200 at a time to the centre, from the right and the gate closed behind them
They run around and around
and the herders pick out their animals
Each family have their own pen around the outside of the circle (our section is shown in red in the drawing) and via a small gate
the animals are moved to the separate pens
where they are given food
It took 10 hours to process all the reindeer and my job was to keep a hot fire burning and keep the coffee cooking
Here are a few more pictures…..