Saturday, 28 June 2008

Crafts and gifts

Before leaving I visited the house of a Saami couple who make traditional clothing and crafts. Ake opened up there shop and workshop for me to look around. There were so many beautiful items including knives and kuksa's but unfortunately they were out of my price range. I bought a few small items to take home as gifts including this reindeer leather pouch and kuksa.

While in Gallivare a friend gave me a piece of curly Birch, Reindeer antler, sheath leather and a carbon steel blade to make a new knife.

I have just completed the knife handle using Rein and Roe deer antler, pieces of curley Birch and Birch bark.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Spring in Lapland - 2nd June

During my day in Gallivare I visited a reconstructed Saami summer camp.

This is a meat store to protect the contents from animals and insects.

This platform was used to store other items. The framework was covered with skins to keep the contents cool and dry. It is called a "luouve".

The construction of this dwelling is based on the framework above and is called a "puogge"

and here is a picture from inside.

This dwelling is called a "båstångskåta"

and finally a "skums kåta".

For all three buildings, a framework is covered with Birch bark and then turfs laid over for insulation.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Spring in Lapland - 1st June

Cloudy with sunny periods today and rain this evening.

6 Crossbills flews over calling this morning as I was waiting for the taxi to arrive.

I left the cabin at 11am and the taxi took me to Gallivare.

My final list of bird species for the cabin is as follows;

Wood Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Teal, Smew, Goldenye,
White Wagtail, Great Tit, Whooper Swan, Restart, Mallard, Meadow Pipit,
Raven, Redwing, Whimbrel, Chaffinch, Pied Flycatcher, Brambling, Song Thrush,
Mistle Thrush, Common Crane, Ruff, Lapland Bunting, Waxwing, Golden Plover,
Curlew, Greenfinch, Black Grouse, Willow Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, Siskin,
House Martin, Little Bunting, Goldcrest, Tree Pipit, Goosander, Black-throated Diver,
Siberian Jay, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Spotted woodpecker, Common Sandpiper,
Cuckoo, Hazel Grouse, Willow Tit, Redpoll sp. ,Common Gull, Wheatear, Wryneck,
Long-tailed Duck, Capercallie, Rustic Bunting, Blue Tit, Osprey, Hooded Crow,
Reed Bunting, Crossbill,

Birds in Gallivare;

Fieldfare, Magpie, Yellowhammer, Wigeon, Red-breasted Merganser, Robin,

Here are a series of pictures to show a changing view during my two week stay;

Monday, 23 June 2008

Spring in Lapland - 31st May

Clear, sunny and 27 degrees today!!!!

I caught 3 Perch and 1 22 inch Pike in the trap today.

It is a sad day for me today as I will be leaving tomorrow.

This morning I had problems lighting the stove (the chimney may be blocked), so I made a fire outside to cook on.

For breakfast I had fried bannock and the remainder of my dried fruit and sun flower seeds.

I walked to the marsh but it was very quiet, though there were many Green Hairstreaks around and 1 Holy Blue.

I spent the afternoon cleaning and tidying in and around the cabin and spent the evening rowing around the lake, with the beaver as a companion.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Spring in Lapland - 30th May

Sunny today, with a maximum temperature of 17 degrees.

1 Blue Tit around the cabin this morning, 2 Black-throated Divers on the lake, an Osprey flying around over the lake, 2 Hooded Crows flew over, 1 male Reed Bunting and 1 Common Lizard.

4 Perch in the fish trap this morning.

I washed my clothes this morning and then completed all the painting I wanted to do. I spent the rest of the day making items with the Birch bark.

I cut some of the bark into thin strips

I weaved the strips together to make a reasonable sized basket

I also made a large container, carved another cup

With the remaining pieces of bark, I made a sheath for my knife.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Spring in Lapland - 29th May

Sunny with some cloud today and temperature up to 16 degrees.

It is very quiet for birds today. Only 2 Waxwings and a pair of Long-tailed Ducks on the lake.

I was pleased to find three Perch in the trap this morning

After filleting, I fried them in oil with salt and pepper.

Before Anki and Ingvar headed home, they took me to the south end of the lake to show me the location of a fresh water spring.

They have installed a walkway and a pipe to make it easier to collect the spring water.

As we walked to the spring we passed the remains of a Willow Grouse (Dalripa in Swedish) which had probably been eaten by a fox

I walked back through the forest and found a really nice, large Birch tree with reasonably clean bark. I made a bark chisel and set about removing a piece of bark from the tree.

The bark was not easy to remove because there is still very little sap rising,

but I managed to get a large sheet of bark from the tree, so it was well worth the effort.

I spent the afternoon painting more windows and then this evening I have cut up the bark for a couple of projects I have in mind.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Spring in Lapland - 28th May

Hazy sunshine today with a cold north wind.

1 Rustic Bunting singing in the forest at the north end of the marsh this morning and I managed to get some very nice views. There was also one Green Hairstreak butterfly flying around as well.

Only 1 Greenshank and 1 Wood Sandpiper on the marsh today.

Now that the lake is clear of ice

I have been able to get my boat out of the boat house and row around the lake.

I also put my fish trap into the lake, just off the end of the jetty in the hope of catching some fish as I am running out of food.

This evening, while I was outside working a couple appeared taking their dog for a walk. They introduced themselves as Ingvar and Anki and they have a cabin on another lake not far from mine. They had come to stay for one night and were going home again tomorrow. Although Ingvar spoke no English and I speak very little Swedish (if anyone knows of a Swedish language course please let me know!) Anki could speak some English and was able to translate. They invited me back to their cabin for coffee and we talked about the wildlife and nature. They have owned their cabin for many years and told me that a lady called Elin had owned my cabin from 1967 until she died four years ago.

It was nice to meet such friendly people and to share their company for an evening. When I return in September, Anki has said she will teach me the fungi I can eat there and the best places to fish. Ingvar is a carpenter and so has offered to help me with some repair work on the cabin in September.

They have asked that I learn to speak more Swedish before I return, but it is proving more difficult to find a local Swedish language course or tutor than I had expected.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Spring in Lapland - 27th May

So I was up at about 02:15 to try and find the beaver (there are Chaffinch and Redwing singing in this piece of film).

The first birds I saw were a pair of Long-tailed Ducks sitting on the ice outside the cabin.

I walked around the lake and on the northern edge I could hear gnawing of bark and could see the water moving. I moved very slowly and managed to get to about three metres of the beaver, who was completely unaware of my presence.

I even filmed it for a short time

before it noticed I was there and with a slap of its tail on the water it was gone.

Pleased with my success I walked over to the marsh where there was nothing unusual and then made my way back to my bed.

After breakfast I decided to walk to a much larger lake that I had visited last autumn. Minerals in the ground mean that a compass can not be relied upon for navigation so as I travel I keep looking back to note distinctive features that I can look out for as I travel back. I also make small marks on trees to help define my return route. The picture below shows a mark on the left of the tree so I know I must turn left here.

The lake is in a low valley and it was almost like going back a week in time as there was still a lot of snow and most of the lake was frozen!

Smew, Goosander and Goldeneye were the only birds here and I also flushed a female Capercallie as I walked back.

I spent the rest of the day rubbing down and painting more windows and I finished the kuksa I was making.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Spring in Lapland - 26th May

As predicted I awoke to a wet rainy morning, which then turned to snow. By mid afternoon it was sunny but with an icy cold north wind.

1 Common Gull flew low over the lake, 1 Redwing singing just outside cabin, 1 male Wheatear around the cabins today (probably forced to take a break from its migration by the weather), I Wryneck (a member of the Woodpecker family) around today. Here is a picture of it on the sauna chimney

I spent most of the day working on the kuksa that I started yesterday to give as a gift to the guy who gave me the knife.

I also collected some local plants to experiment with as food;

I have found references to "Old Mans Beard" lichen being used as a survival food.

If cooked for a long time it is supposed to release starch and has also been used as a gluten substitute to make bread.

It reminded me of pubic hair prior to cooking and after testing it at various intervals during a 10 hour cooking period, it didn't change much!

I do recall from a Ray Mears programme though, that the resulting water could have been used to treat fungal infections.

A plant that I do enjoy is Labrador Tea

though if I drink too much of it, it sometimes gives me stomach ache.

This evening as I sat carving the kuksa, a beaver appeared swimming around the edge of the lake.

I've decided I will get up early tomorrow morning to try and find where it is feeding.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Spring in Lapland - 25th May

Sunny and warm today and as a result the snow is melting significantly now.

The male Common Sandpiper is displaying over the lake today. There were 2 Siberian Jays in trees behind the cabin, 1 Willow Tit and 2 Waxwing, but apart from these it is very quiet for birds today.

Made the most of the fine weather by rubbing down and painting some of the cabin windows today.

I then gathered logs from the fallen frees I had cut up over the past few days. and then carved a spatula and started to carve a kuksa.

I really like a slightly sweet Swedish bread called Vetekaka and buy a pack each time I go.

I used my last mushroom and cheese to make some mini pizzas.

This evening I am trying to collect some Birch sap.

The sap will run down the blade of the knife and drip into the well of the billy can lid. Once this fills the sap will run over the lid, and because the lid fits loosely on to the can, the sap will run around the lid and into the can. This prevents any crap getting into the sap.

There has been a "halo" around the sun all day today so I am expecting rain tomorrow!