A very windy weekend at the cabin!

By the time we arrived at the cabin on Friday evening, it was already getting dark, so I did not get any work done.

It was a bright sunny morning on Saturday and the temperature reached a high of 12 degrees.  Unfortunately there was a storm in the mountains  and this meant that we had very very strong winds.

I built a new saw-horse

saw-horse (Medium)

and spent the majority of the weekend sawing up and splitting logs.

While sitting and drinking coffee in the veranda I was amazed to see the boat which Emma had built the previous weekend, floating past on the lake.

Emma boat (Medium)

Teres’ father needed help at his cabin lifting up a new wind turbine to generate electricity for his cabin (which wasn’t easy in a such a strong wind).

wind generator (Medium)

He then came to our cabin to help me remove  a damaged brake cable on our trailer.

removing brake cable (Small)

On Saturday evening as it was starting to get dark, 6 Northern Long-tailed Tits appeared feeding in the trees.  Unlike last weekend, this time I managed to get a photograph of one.

northern long-tailed tit (1125 x 849)

On Sunday morning I worked with Teres’ father again.  This time we felled some trees and built a new board-walk to the fresh water spring where we go to collect water.

board-walk 1 (Small)

board-walk 2 (Small)

board-walk 3 (Small)

We are hoping that we will get at least one more weekend at the cabin before more snow comes.

Cabin repairs

The cabin repairs continued last week with work on the kitchen.  As we arrived there were a large number of Waxwings feeding on Mountain Ash/Rowan berries

I had purchased some wood paneling to put on the walls.

It was much more work than I had expected because some of the wood needed to be planed and shaped with a knife

Here are some before and after pictures

and one extra of the new kitchen

When I have more money we will replace the ceiling so I cannot complete the work just now.

I have made a new, rather primitive looking knife, which I will be using next week when working with Reindeer in the mountains (I’m not so worried if it gets lost or damaged).

The two pieces of horn I used form the perfect shape to fit into my hand

The sheath I have made enables the knife to be withdrawn easily with one hand and it holds a firesteel in the front

The sheath also proved useful for holding my pencil while working on the kitchen

I have also now purchased a chainsaw from the local petrol station at a very good price and while at the cabin we collected some Birch nearby, which had been damaged by a snowplough during the winter

We carried the wood the trailer

and it was not long before we had a load to take back to the cabin, cut up and split

Hopefully my next post will be about working with Reindeer….

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.

Easter weekend – Part 2

We spent the next day at Hasse’s mothers cabin in Sammakko .

Emma and Pontus were playing on the snow

and Sebastian was practicing his fire making skills

and we spent the day enjoying the sun, riding snow mobiles, drinking coffee and grilling sausage

These trees outside the cabin are Lodgepole Pine (Pinus concorta)

it is native to North America/Canada and I can remember Mors Kochanski talking about the introduction of these to Scandinavia when I was working with him.  In America they grow long and straight and have been traditionally used by Native Americans as tepee poles, but here in Scandinavia they have grown very differently and are not good as a harvesting product.

Large Alder Bur Kasa/Kuksa – Part 2

Unfortunately as I carved into the wood I found a flaw inside

It’s rather more obvious from the outside

Based on previous experience, I was certain that the kasa would crack here as it dried so I decided not to carve any thinner but instead worked on the shape.

Even if it did crack it was worth continuing to increase my knowledge and skills in working with bur wood and carving.  And after another hours work the shape was looking good.

A couple more hours of sanding and polishing with cotton cloth and it was just about completed

I completed it by cutting in some minimal patterning with a knife and then oiled it to lift out the patterns in the wood.  The kasa holds 3/4 litre of liquad.

I had a small piece of bur left over so I also made four year old Emma her first kasa

and engraved an “E” on the handle to personalise it for her

Large Alder Bur Kasa/Kuksa – Part 1

I’ve wanted to try and make a large kasa for some time and after an area of trees had been cleared on one of our reserves I found a large bur on an Alder (Alnus glutinosa) stump, which I removed with a chainsaw.

I removed the outer bark and using my Fiskars hatchet cut cut away faults and flaws until I reached good wood.  Then I marked the size and shape of the kasa I wanted to carve from the bur.

Using my gouge

I began to shape the inside of the bowl and after a couple of  hours work it looked like this

and after another hour it looked like this

I continued using my hatchet to shape the underside

The patterning in the bur is beautiful

and after another couple of hours work the kasa was really starting to take shape

Navigation via moss on trees

Many books tell you that in the northern hemisphere you can find north by looking at trees on moist ground and the side of the tree on which the moss grows highest will indicate north because  of the assumption that all mosses require cool, damp, shaded locations and this can often be true, but not always as you can see in the picture below.  The picture was taken 1 hour after midday and the moss (on the south-easterly side of the tree) is growing about 1 metre up the tree (in this case an Ash tree).

Mosses have no roots but instead have tiny threads called rhizoids that serve to anchor the moss and to supply moisture and nutrients.  Their leaves are thin and cannot retain water so instead they obtain water from rain
and dew and for this reason mosses tend to grow best in wetter places.  You can learn more about mosses here.

So when using mosses on trees for navigation look at a number of trees and take an average to give a rough idea of north but not rely on it.  I would also recommend getting a copy of this book “Finding Your Way Without Map or Compass” which teaches you how to recognise many natural signs and events  to use for navigating.