Salted, air dried Reindeer meat

Now is the time when people here are preserving meat (before the flies emerge) to carry with them when in the mountains or forest.

We used Reindeer rump steak for this demonstration.

Firstly fat and sinew are removed from the meat

The meat is then cut into hand sized pieces and laid onto salt

The meat is then also covered with salt

and put in the fridge for one day to allow the salt to penetrate the meat and draw out the moisture

The pieces of meat are then hung up in the loft for 6 – 8 weeks to dry.  These Reindeer hearts have already been in the loft for two weeks

The off-cuts of meat I mixed with garlic and onions

fried them and then added water and reduced the water to make a stock for stews

Some small pieces of meat I dried near the fire in the cabin for 12 hours.

Three days at the cabin with Teres

On Thursday evening as it was getting dark, myself and Teres left our car and walked to the can.  It was after dark when we arrived and even with a fire in the living room it was still a very cold evening.

I kept the fire going all night and by lunchtime on Friday the cabin was getting warm.  One of our first tasks was to clear away the snow

Here she is even clearing snow while talking on the mobile phone!

I purchased a child’s pulka from a local fuel station

so that I can pull my pack behind me when I’m skiing and it works well

but as I mentioned before I wanted to try and make a larger one of my own.

The base is a thin piece of plywood from the cabin and the sides I cut and brought with me

I knew it would be difficult to bend and shape the plywood for the front of the pulka, but I did not realise how difficult.  We tried using steam, weights and soaking the wood and using heat to bend it

but we could not bend the wood enough and unfortunately the plywood eventually cracked.

We spent some time out skiing but Teres’ feet were too small for the ski fitting so I had to improvise with loops of cord and a couple of webbing straps and fortunately they worked really well.

It was snowing most of the time and there was very little sun so it was not a good day for nice views

At Anki and Ingvar’s cabin we stopped to make coffee

before heading back to the cabin for the evening.

We are making use of the open fire now and utilising an old wire coat hanger I made a pot hanger over the fire for the kettle or coffee pot

it’s also nice to sit and grill sausage in the fire

and here I am baking Pinn Brod

The time went very quickly and too soon it was time for us to head home

18th March 2010

I found a sheet of 5mm plywood in the wood store and have cut a piece with the idea to make my own pulka,

but more about that in the future.

After lunch it was time to leave and drive back to town.  Fortunately Ingvar had agreed to take me to my car on the snow mobile

It town it is becoming more and more obvious that spring is on the way.  The snow is melting and the roads and house roofs are losing there winter blanket.  Birds such as Great Tit, Greenfinch, Bullfinch and even Waxwing are singing and I have even seen a Blue Tit investigating next boxes ready to build a next.  Each day the sun gets stronger and the days longer.

17th March 2010

I kept the fire burning all night and kept the cabin reasonably warm.  After melting more snow for drinking water

I went to Anki and Ingvar’s cabin to cook coffee and grill sausage

A bird that is usually around when you cook food outside is Siberian Jay

During the day I also saw Willow Tit, Siberian Tit, Hazel Grouse, Bullfinch, Jay and Great Tit.

The boots I am wearing, not just for skiing but most of the time are these Karrimor Snowboots

They have a lip at the back of the boot that allows the ski to be attached over, while held in position.  I bought them for £29.99 from TK Max (reduced from £99.99) and they are so warm that I do not wear any socks the majority of the time.  The lining in the boots is Thinsulate.

16th March 2010

After 13 hours sleep I was still reluctant to get out of my sleeping bag and so used my trangia stove to make coffee next to my bed

After several cups of coffee I decided to get up and make my first attempt at skiing with the Swedish Military skis I had bought

As I took this picture with the self timer a Moose walked across the track behind me.  I also spotted these strange tracks in the snow which I think are Red Squirrel.

I would have to describe my first attempt as more walking with skis than sliding but at least I incurred no further damage to my ribs.

I returned to the cabin and mixed up some Pinn Bröd dough

and made some breads

I had melted cheese and sausage on one for my lunch

Late afternoon Ingvar and Anki arrived on their snow mobile and Ingvar helped me try to solve the mystery of why smoke from the open fire will not draw up the chimney.  While on the roof he discovered a third flue blocked with bricks and metal.  Once removed, the smoke started to draw and I soon had a warm fire burning

That evening in my cabin was much more pleasant even though it was -25 outside.

By the way John Kemp, if you are reading this one of your paintings has made it up to Swedish Lapland

Back to my cabin

I am writing this post from my cabin.  I arrived Monday and will be staying until Thursday.  I walked to the cabin again

and my first task once there was to get a fire going.  However the smoke would not draw up the chimney from either the wood stove

or the fireplace and the cabin soon filled with smoke

So I had to go onto the roof with a chimney brush and clean both chimneys and clean all the vents to remove any soot.  A surprising find in the wood storage chamber below the stove

was three dead House Martins which were not there when I was at the cabin with Adrian three weeks before?

I can only assume that they died in the chimney last autumn and then a mouse has somehow dragged them in.

Eventually I got a fire going in the wood stove

but even with the wood stove burning it was still bloody cold in the cabin.  In the picture below I am sitting over the stove but you can see my breath in the cold air

and by 8pm I was in my sleeping bag to keep warm.

“Unfortunately the touch pad on my netbook has stoped working and as a result it has taken two and a half hours to write this much so I will have to stop and try to get it repaired or buy a mouse when I get back to town”…. it appears that the week broadband signal at my cabin causes the modem to affect my touchpad as now I am back at the flat in town eveything works normally again!

Out for a drive and a walk

Enjoying my new freedom to be able to get out and about in my car, I decided to drive out to an area of forest to see what I could find and hopefully film and photograph Reindeer.

I have now purchased two sets of military ski’s from my friend Toby but until my ribs are better I cannot learn to ski, so for now I have to use scooter trails (they have compacted the snow) to get about.

although if you step to far to the left or right you drop down to the top of your thigh or even higher

I found numerous tracks of a large canine which were too large for fox but did not seem quite large enough for an adult Wolf at least, but I can see no reason for a large dog to be traveling around so much in the forest on its own.

There was also a pair of Siberian Jays in the trees from time to time

I never managed to find any Reindeer but typically as I drove home, two ran alongside my car!!

I have bought a car!!!

Frustrated at still not having my own transport to get out and about, and with spring on the way I decided on Wednesday to make the 321km trip  down to Luleå to buy a car.  I had found five cars to look at in my price range and it was the last one that I looked at which I decided to buy……a Renault Megane

By the time all the paperwork and payment was sorted, it was after 6pm and dark and so I was a little nervous about making the 321km drive home on the ice and snow, while watching out for Moose and Reindeer running in front of the car and trying to establish where my half of the road was and where the white road stopped and the soft snowy verge begin.  The journey actually took just over three hours and was quite uneventful.  Here is a picture of a typical road here in Lapland.

Speeds on main roads vary between 90 and 110 kilometers per hour.  The reason you can travel at these speeds are the “winter tyres” which all vehicles must have here

The tyres have metal studs set into them which you can see here

It is amazing hoe well the vehicle will perform n snow and ice with the addition of these little studs.

My first project

As the days get longer and the sun gets stronger, spring appears to have arrived as the snow is beginning to melt and soon the trees will thaw and begin to grow which will mean I can start to make things.

I need a workbench at the flat where I can make and do things so using using pieces of discarded timber

I set about designing  and constructing a bench.

For the work-top I used the end of a Pine bed, under which I nailed a frame I had made

I nailed four legs to the frame

then I secured the legs together with cross timbers and a support across the middle

The bench is in a room I have in the cellar of the flat and I now plan to make another bench for the cabin.

Soon my craft projects will begin again :>)

Out for a wander

With my ribs improving faster than predicted I decided to go for a wonder.

I walked through the village along the main road

and then headed along the same road to the river where I passed the ski jump

I was here at the beginning of February 2009 with Ingvar and I never imagined then that I would be living here one year later!

This is the river and I plan to take a series of pictures from here through the changing seasons.

as I walked in the forest I found fresh sign of Reindeer (which I want to try and get good film and pictures of).  These droppings are on the river as they crossed

I followed the trail into the forest but never managed to catch up with them

I did find the remains of a fox kill and I am told these feathers come from Capercallie

The most common bird species I saw was Magpie, followed by Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Great Tit (mainly around the gardens) and I also saw Bullfinch, Raven and Crossbill.