Jokkmokks Marknad 2012 part 1

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.

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.


Scraping dead wood to make fire

We are all familiar with the method of scraping the surface of Birch bark  and igniting the scrapings with a firesteel due to the high content of natural oils in the bark.

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but you can use this scraping method on most dead woods to achieve either a flame or and ember (depending on the type of wood and/or weather conditions).
For this demonstration I used a dead Ash tree and light rain was falling.  I found a fallen tree, where the bark had gone leaving exposed and weathered dead wood.  I scraped the surface of the wood with my knife (discarding the wet outer material and scraping the drier inner material into a pile)
Each time you use the firesteel you are creating heat which helps to remove moisture from the scrapings and after using the firesteel five times the material began to smoke
On a dry day I am confident I would have achieved a flame but today had to make do with an ember
This ember can be treated exactly the same as a friction-fire ember and blown to flame using a nest of dry material.

Fiskars hatchet

Another item I recently purchased was a small hatchet to use for carving as I left my Elwell axe at my cabin

Kevin Warrington - new equipment (Small)

Ignore the Wilkinson Sword stamp on the handle because the hatchet is actually made by a Finnish company called Fiskars.  Other companies such as Gerber and Stihl have also put their stamp on Fiskars axes.

Its a very will balanced tool and good for splitting logs (the way the axe head is fitted into the carbon fibre handle means you can use a baton on the back of the head), carving such things as cups and spoons (with a little re-profiling of the cutting edge) and chopping

kevin warrington using fiskars hatchet (Small)

The axe head produces a really nice shower of sparks when used with a firesteel.

The sheath is rather disappointing and so I set about designing and making a leather belt sheath

kevin warrington leather belt sheath (Small)

Unfortunately I didn’t take a series of pictures during its construction to enable me to produce a tutorial.

The handle of the hatchet is hollow and while initially I considered fitting a survival kit inside, I decided to put a chainsaw file inside instead to remove burs or nicks when sharpening the blade.

I split down a piece of Ash and carved it to the shape of the handle and so that it would fit inside the handle.

I then carved out a groove into which I glued a cut down file.

hatchet handle file (Medium)

When I used the hatchet, the file hit against the inside of the handle so I had to carve this piece of Ash to glue halfway up inside the handle to prevent the file moving around.

I paid £17 for this hatchet and think it is worth every penny!!

Lapland autumn 2009 – 17th September

Teres’s children had been given time off school to join us at the cabin, to learn more about nature and improve their English.  Before driving back to the cabin I visited the Dollar Store to buy a variety of items with which the boys had to build boats to sail across the lake.

boat materials (Small)

In addition to the items I purchased they could also use any natural resources.

Seb and Emma where keen to try out my hammock

in the hammock (Small)

Emma spent more time trying to fall out of the hammock with much success I might add!!!

Emma in hammock (Small)

Ingvar had purchased a new axe shaft to replace one I had split

Ash shaft (Small)

so we went to Anki and Ingvar’s cabin to fit it and to have some lunch

P1020967 (816 x 612) (Small)

While splitting logs my chopping block had split in half and so Ingvar cut me a new one…..the easy way!!

Ingvar cutting new chopping block (Small)

Having spent some time teaching Seb how to use a firesteel he spent a lot of time trying to make fire and I was impressed at his determination to achieve fire…..and he did.

Seb with his first fire (Small)

In the evening the boys put their boats on the lake

Seb putting boat on lake (Medium)

and once the wind caught the sails we watched them race across the lake.

boats on lake

We had the perfect end to the evening with a nice display of the Northern Lights at about 10pm (unfortunately my picture isn’t as good as those of Tricia)

Northern lights

Lapland Spring 2009 – 30th May

There was a lot of dead grass around the cabin presenting a potential fire risk, so I raked the whole area and bagged up the dry grass for firelighting demonstrations in the future.

raking grass (Small)

Even after the heavy rain of the last few days the air is so dry that everything dries incredibly quickly.  As another example of how dry the air is compared with the UK I can leave packets of biscuits open for months and they do not go soft.  Try that at home and they will usually be soft in about a week.

I had been invited to Anki and Ingvar’s cabin for lunch.  I’m not so sure that Emma was so pleased to see the mad Englishman again!!

food with the family (Small)

The family had brought with them some curtains to put up in my cabin to make it look “more homely”

Kitchen curtains

and to also make the cabin looked lived in when I am not there.

room curtains (Medium)

I went walking in the evening and took this picture to write about.

Labrador tea (Small)

The dead leaves of the Tussock sedge you can see in the background are very good for making fire.  They will easily ignite with the sparks from a firesteel.

The plant in front of the tussock is Labrador Tea (Ledum palustre).  There are similar poisonous plants so it is important to ensure there are brown hairs on the underside of the leaves.  As the name suggests it can be used to make a refreshing tea which is incredibly high in vitamin C.  The tea can also be applied to the hair as a treatment for head lice.

Labrador tea (Large)

The leaves can be used as a substitute for Bay Leaves in stews.  The flowers however should be treated with caution.

Labrador Tea (Large) (577 x 768) (Large)

The sent has been described as a narcotic and falling asleep in a patch can produce an intense headache in many people.  The plant should not even be dried in a confined space as the fumes can cause problems.  The leaves are also high in tannin and are used to tan leather.

A new bird species today was two Swifts flying west giving their characteristic “screaming” call.