Random days

I have not had time for staying over t the cabin recently, but have been there for some days.

The clothes drier is now completed

The mosquito’s are out in force now and we use many different methods to try and keep them away (the beer isn’t one of them!)

I have put a metal kitchen sink in the cabin so that it is easier to wash clothes and do the dishes.

I have seen pictures of Russian Birch bark craftsmen using a tool called a “sochalka” to remove complete cylinders of bark from the tree to make seamless containers.  I purchased a cheap, stainless steel, long-bladed fish filleting knife from  the Dollar Store to experiment with

It was surprisingly easy to cut around the inside of the bark, but I found impossible to remove the piece of wood from the centre.  I will let you know if I succeed with this method.

The Black Spruce Picea mariana look fantastic in bright sunlight now with bright red new cones forming on the ends of the branches.

Labrador Tea (Skvattrum in Swedish) is now in bloom on the floor of the forest

and last week a pair of Swallows appeared and commenced building a nest in my boat house.  And yesterday their presents proved very rewarding to me as their alarm calls alerted me to a Northern Hawk Owl Surnia ulula flying low over the cabin.  Unfortunately it disappeared over the forest and dispite searching I was unable to locate.

Midsummer in Lapland

Midsummer day here was Friday 25th June (but for reasons I do not understand, the date changes every year) so on Thursday evening we went to the top of Dundret, a 747 metre mountain just outside Gällivare.

The landscape here is very different with not many trees and some alpine plant species.

Our destination for the evening, like many other people, was “Top Stugan”

where we could sit and talk, drink coffee, eat waffles and toasted sandwiches, with beautiful views around;

view-1 (you can see the open cast mine)

view-2

view-3

but what we were all waiting for, was to view the midnight sun

June at the cabin – Part 7

My other trip out was in an old Swedish military vehicle

and we were setting up a motion sensitive camera to try and photograph some of the animals living here.

The camera took many photographs during the week but the only animal it managed to capture was this Moose

My friend Eric have given me two large burs to work with but they are not as large as the one he has kept!

Now we have a a new wood stove, I need somewhere to dry wet clothes, so using these old pieces of Pine

I have began making traditional driers that are fixed in the ceiling, over the stove

I have to finish this one and make two more

June at the cabin – Part 6

I have always wanted to try cooking on a stone, but had never found a large, flat stone (that will not explode or shatter) until out walking last week.  I carried it back to the cabin and set it on bricks and then made a fire underneath.

Once the stone was very hot, I could begin cooking.  For my fist meal I made some dough a baked flat breads, with onions, mushrooms and meatballs

With a baking tray upside down on the top I was able to cook Pizza and I can set the coffee pot on the stone to cook coffee.

One of my trips out while staying at the cabin, was a fishing trip with my friend Tommy (we were using spinners)

We were trying to catch Sea Trout traveling up rive but it was just a little early in the season, but Tommy was determined that I would catch my first fish so we moved to a calmer area of water to try to catch Grayling (Thymallus thymallus).  My luck is unchanged and as you might guess I caught nothing, but fortunately Tommy caught three nice Grayling

one of which he gave to me to take home.

I removed the head, tail and skinned it and then placed it on some Juniper (to give added flavor) on the hot stone

After fifteen minutes it was cooked perfectly and was really good to eat!

June at the cabin – Part 5

While Emma was staying with me, Ingvar (grandfather) decide to build her a swing to play on.

We cut Birch and Pine to build the swing and used rope to suspend it.

Emma also enjoys going out with me to watch the nature, using an old pair of binoculars and a telescope

We spotted a Hare in its summer colours

It appears that it will be a very good year for Bilberry/Blueberry as there are many flowers on the plants

The plants blooms at least one week before the leaves appear.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find Cloudberry (Hjortron in Swedish) flowering near to my boat house

June at the cabin – Part 4

While at the cabin I have been working with Birch bark again.  Using a small piece of bark not suitable for containers, I made Emma this simple little boat

I used split Willow to hold the ends together and lashed them with strips of bark.  I had to set a small stone in the boat as ballast.

I should have used glue or Pine resin to seal the ends of the boat, as after a couple of minutes on the water, the boat sank!

I have also been improving my skills with making containers.

I am using Black Spruce for the container tops and bases as you can split it into even pieces and it is easy to carve.    I bought a cheap pair of scissors from the Dollar Store which produce the patterned edge.

June at the cabin – Part 3

We are thinking to convert the wood store at the end of the cabin into a bunk room for 6 people and so using old materials I had lying around and timber we had removed from the wall in the cabin, myself and Ingvar decided to build a new wood store.

We nailed together three pallets and set on stones as the base

For the walls and roof we used timber from the cabin wall and old timbers I had stored

and we covered the roof with corrugated zinc

I used the old sliding door as a wall to divide the store in two.

Now I am busy collecting wood from an old forest clearing, cutting it up, splitting it and stacking it.

While out collecting wood I found a new bird species for the cabin list; a Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) singing from a tree in the forest clearing.  I also found hundreds of these Morel fungi…..though actually I think it is more likely one of the False Morels

as here in Lapland they boil it in four changes of water before eating it to remove all the toxins.

June at the cabin – Part 2

In the room of the cabin there was a cupboard next to the chimney and I decided to move the door to the back of the cupboard which would create a cupboard in the kitchen.

I have insulated the cupboard and set air vents in the top and bottom to allow cold air to flow through and enable us to store milk, butter and so on in side.  No one here seems to use a spirit level when making things, so when fitting the shelves I had to improvise with a small glass curry jar filled with water up to the label.

The line of the label is not so obvious in this picture but it worked very well to level the shelves.

Between the kitchen and living/sleeping room there is a wall and sliding door.  The sliding door has never worked well and so we decided to demolish the wall

and remove the door,

making it much easier to heat the whole cabin.

Unfortunately when I bought the cabin there had been a problem with a leak between the roof and chimney and as a result, rain water had been getting in.  When we removed the wall, we found that there is a lot of damage with rotten timber in both the roof and floor,

but this repair work will have to wait until we have gathered all the new materials.

June at the cabin – Part 1

Many thanks to all of you who have taken the time to either comment here or email about what activities would interest you here.  Everything you have requested we will be able to provide!

I have not posted recently because I have been at my cabin for almost two weeks (sometimes alone and sometimes not).

We are starting to make alterations/improvements to the cabin and I have been busy during my stay there.

Regular readers will know that the old wood cooking stove has had its problems and really isn’t up to the job of warming the cabin, so I bought a modern one and one of the tasks has been to install the new stove.

We began by removing the kitchen cupboards

and moving them to the other side of the kitchen (you can see the new stove waiting to be installed).


After the cupboards had been removed I could demolish the brickwork around the old stove to enable me to remove it.

It wasn’t easy with only a claw-hammer and two splitting wedges!

After the stove was removed, Ingvar came to help me repair the chimney and render the wall and floor ready to fit the new stove.

I had to fit a flue pipe and cleaning vent in the chinmey

One of the great things about living here is that you can often find the materials you need in the forest if you know where to look and for sand to mix with the cement, we did just that.  Here we are removing soil and stones from the sand

Last Thursday I fitted the new stove in place and tested it on Friday morning.

Everything went well and the stove looks and works great

It has a huge burning chamber which can hold a lot of wood and it has a glass front to enable you to see the flames.  The oven is also much bigger and has a very useful facility.

When the knob is pulled out heat goes all around the oven, but push the knob in and heat is diverted only over the top and this converts it into a grill.

Blog stats reach 100,000

Yesterday the stats counter past 100,000  since January 2009 and I would like to say a big “THANK YOU” to everyone who reads and contributes to this site.

This would seem an ideal time to ask for something back from those of you reading my blog.

As I meet more and more people here in Lapland, more and more opportunities are being made available to me and I have many ideas for activities and courses here.

I am interested to know what sort of activities/courses would attract you to this area.  Some broad examples are; the nature, traditional skills and crafts, activities with local people, winter activities.  These are very broad activity opportunities but I am interested to hear more specific requirements.

You can fly to Gallivare from Stockholm with Nextjet or you can travel up by train from Stockholm with SJ.se (you should copy and paste “Gällivare” into the search field as “Gallivare” does not work).

You can either leave a comment here for me or email me directly at; naturallore@gmail.com.

I hope to hear from you soon.