Roe Deer and a new use for a parachute.

This morning when I went outside I saw a lot of fresh tracks near the door and on the garden.  On close inspection I could see that they were Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) tracks.

There were at least two individuals and they had walked all over the garden

They had also dug down in the snow to find food

They had even been to inspect the new garage I have built for my car using three poles and a parachute.

As you can see from the pictures, it has been snowing quite a bit now and the temperature outside  as I write this is -20 so I need some protection for my car.

I keep my parachutes wrapped up individually in dry-bags and after randomly selecting a parachute to use, I was pleased to find my Fiskars hatchet (which I thought I had lost) at the bottom of the bag!  The last time I had used the parachute was when teaching a group of children firelighting skills here in Nattavaara and some of the children had helped me pack my kit away.  At some point one of the children must have put my hatchet in the bag before the parachute was put in.

Some snow and a wooden container

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.


Santa Winter Games 2011

On Saturday Gällivare hosted its annual “Santa Winter Games” with contestants from all of the world competing to be “Santa of the Year”.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Santa’s from all over the world compete in various competitions to be “Santa of the year”.

The event was rather disappointing in my opinion and poorly organised.  The sound system had not been tested before the event started and so they had problems with playing music and commentary.  There was a small area with barriers around where the competition was taking place and with adults standing at the front, many children could not see.  Adults were even pushing children out of the way to get a better place at the front.  Surely it would not be so difficult to create a viewing area just for children.

Because there is no snow here, they could not have the reindeer racing competition and instead had a reindeer “bucking bronco”, but due to the strong association with santa and reindeer I thought they would have reindeer there for children to see and stroke, but unfortunately not.

It was quite cold on Saturday (the temperature dropped to -13) but there was no food or drink available to purchase and I cannot understand why.

Like many other families we left part way through the games and have no idea who actually won.

This is an event that could really put Gällivare on the world map for winter tourism if it was organised better.  Maybe there was a limited budget, but if the budget was increased and the event organised better, I’m sure it would attract spectators from all over the world.

The Santa from Japan was giving out dragonflies made from cord.  They did not seem so difficult to make so I gave it a try.  The one given out is in red on the right and mine is blue on the left (mine is a mosquito because I think that is more appropriate here).

I will write a tutorial sometime on how to make them.


Natural Lore Flint & Steel Set

I had been wondering what to write about, but then my friend Håkan made me this as a gift

It is a traditional snuff or tinder container,

made from Birch bur, thin strips of Pine and sewed with Birch root and he has set Reindeer horn into the top.

Inside he had put a Bic lighter as a joke and I will explain why…

I have started selling Natural Lore Fire Sets here in Lapland and I am using old PLASTIC snuff containers (people here throw thousands away every year and I thought I would recycle some) but Håkan thinks I should make something like the container he has made to contain the fire sets.

The fire set includes a specially made fire steel, with a piece of flint, some True Tinder Fungus

and some Hemp string in the top compartment

I am going to make a container like Håkan’s (without Reindeer horn in the top) to see how long it takes me to make one.  Maybe I can use them as a more expensive version of the Natural Lore Fire Set……we shall see.

The Mystery Braid

The Mystery Braid is so called because the leather is braided, but the ends of the braid have not been cut or separated – it’s a mystery how the braid is made without loose ends.

Many times I have tried to do a Mystery Braid, but failed every time.  I was at a craft fair in Lulea last weekend where a man was demonstrating and teaching how to do the Mystery Braid.

You begin with a piece of leather that has been cut two times to give three even strips (connected at each end)

Then you begin to braid, ensuring the braids are tight.

You can see in the above picture that as you braid, the opposite end of the leather also braids up and this must be undone by twisting the tab through the  slits

Continue braiding and then un-braiding the opposite end

When you have braided as much as you can, thread the tab through again to “lock” the braid and loosen the braids to even them out along the length of the piece of leather.

Here are some bracelets I have made using this method

There are other methods of making the Mystery Braid via instruction on YouTube and the internet, so do some searching.

Here’s the best YouTube clip I have found;

Nature in November

I’ve been out and about this week seeing and hearing a few things.

The week began with 9 Capercaillie along a section of road just outside Nattavaara

There was also a White-tailed Sea Eagle sitting in the middle of the road drinking from a puddle, but unfortunately I wasn’t fast enough with the camera to get a picture before it flew off.  I have also seen two different Hawk owls, but only managed to photograph one (and the picture quality is not so good).

People in Dokkas have been seeing Pygmy Owl (Sparvuggle in Swedish).  Here is a picture taken by my friend Jeanette, from her window in Dokkas

The Pygmy Owl is only about 16cms long and feeds on small birds and mammals.  It is most active around dawn and dusk.  I did not manage to see the Pygmy Owl, but I did hear it two times singing it’s Autumn song which you can hear here.

On Wednesday morning when I drove to Dokkas,  I had a Raccoon Dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) run across the road and into the forest.  This is the first time I have seen one, but I wrote about them previously here.

We also have a pair of Siberian Tit coming to our garden bird table most days and I finally managed to take a couple of pictures.