Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Finally we have a working sauna and it is great! After a hard afternoon dog sledding yesterday it was wonderful to christen the sauna! We put too much wood in it and had to resort to opening the door!!! We are very glad that we invested the little extra into buying a glass fronted  stove as this provides all the light and looks lovely at the same time. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Camera fun......

I saw a tutorial on the internet about taking photos of the stars, so Fionn the WWOOFer and I delved into the manual settings of our cameras. Neither camera is like the all singing and dancing cameras on the tutorial but we had a go anyway.

A day of extremes....... Vikings......electronica.......skiing....

The day started with an invasion of the Vikings ...... This photo shows our WWOOFers wearing their home made Viking costumes down by the river. We were trying to get some good shots with the sledge and an old wooden bucket found in the barn.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Yesterday we finally got some decent snow! We were working down in the forest again and had started earlier than we normally do, 8am, so that we could beat the snow. It took us an hour to finish stacking up the wood and just as we were moving the final log, the snow started!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sunsets, WWOOFer power and stuff.....

There has been some fantastic sunsets over the past few weeks. This is just one! There where even some very confused swans flying around in the sky when this was taken...they must be lost It is December!!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Harvesting firewood!

Over the weekend we organised a friend to come over to our forest and help us take down some trees. He works in the forest for a job, although much of the time he is in giant tree grabber machines. He was so fast and took down about 20 trees. We are very grateful for his help as we are not that good with the chainsaw.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Preparing for winter

It has finally got cold and I thought that it was about time that I bought in all of the cabbages. This photo is just one load, we have had a really good year! I dig them up roots with a bit of dirt and store them upright in the earth cellar. They tend to go a bit slimy on the top leaves, but they are fine underneath and in fact they keep better for being a little moister!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fairies hovering.......

Nico, our ex wwoofer who never left the village  after staying with us, and I were taking down the tarpaulins which covered the bender tents which housed the wwoofers in the summer, and there, hung in the tree was a beautiful fairy. It was, I am guessing, made by the Dutch mother and daughter wwoofers who stayed with us for a month in the summer. It was a wonderful find. They have made it beautifully, woven grasses and rush leaves along with twigs. The trees without their leaves have bought her to life!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Another crazy and rare ice crystal!

I was emptying the containers I use for the various "teas" (sheep poo, and nettle and comfrey) which I use in the garden over the summer and noticed this amazing ice crystal. It is called an ice spike and according to Wikipedia they are pretty rare. I have only ever seen pictures of them and was very excited to see this one growing out of the top of a bin lid. It was about 20cm tall and really fantastic to see. However it was raining at the time so did not last long.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tomato and long will they last????

My poor tomatoes, I saved them from the freezing conditions of the greenhouse and then forgot about them.... no water, with not much sun in the cool temperatures of the back room. They were covered with dead leaves and looked rather desperate. Oops! I picked off all the dead leaves and gave them a good water with some of the liquid seaweed "tea" I make from my dried and ground up seaweed and they are already looking better!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Curtain decisions

I bought this material over the internet the other day and I really like them all! Now I have to make a decision! I don't normally buy new material but I have been looking for a while in the second hand shops for red material and I have had no luck. It also does not help that I don't go very often to the shops so I miss all the good stuff! I use woollen blankets to line them to make it extra warm and massively more effective.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Amazing nature.....

I never get bored of looking at our view. It changes every day which is wonderful! It looked even better in real life than what this photo shows!

Making sugar, part 3.....and kale and apple mountains!

So, this is what that pan of liquid became when boiled down!!! The peg gives you some idea of scale. It tastes great, it is thick and now I have to wait, and wait, and wait until the crystallisation process starts. In industry they use a chemical, milk of lime, to remove impurities and speed up crystallisation.  A friend the other night said that in some of her experiments in uni when growing crystals she introduced one to start the reaction..... Not sure if I can just put some sugar in!!! You can cook with the syrup as it is and indeed one website said that they often used it all up before the crystallisation actually started!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Making sugar....part 2

Well, it does not look that appetising at the moment....I hope that it will improve! I had 3 large pots bubbling away on the stove for about an hour. This was to release the sugars which are contained in the sugar beets. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Making sugar, part one....

This year I grew sugar beet for the first time, and this is the patch which has has most of the leaves cut off and fed to the sheep. I have never tried to make sugar but I thought that it would be fun, although rather time consuming!

Friday, November 1, 2013

A shitty day!

Well....well....well. This is the well pump house and it has a layer of water in it which refuses to go away, so I took a metal rod and poked it down the drain hole to try and unblock it. It did not reach the end, so I went and got a longer rod and still it was not long enough. So I went and got another rod, it was now 3m long, and it was still not long enough. So I went and fetched another pipe, this one was about 40m long and this was long enough to reach the blockage but I could not shift it. I had about 5m left of the pipe and thought that this was a very long drain pipe. So I thought about it, and guessed that maybe it joined up with the septic tank outlet pipe. So then I went to have a look at the end of the exit pipe.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The garden is still going!

We had some frost earlier on, it went down to -6 but it has warmed up a bit so things are still going in the garden. Above are the sugar beets and some self sewn parsnips in the foreground. We hope to make some sugar in the next few should be interesting, maybe even a complete failure ! But I would like to try.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New ram!

I bought a new ram a few weeks ago. He is called Emil and is very calm and friendly. He has the yellow head collar on. I introduced him to his new girlfriends the other day so I hope he does his stuff and we have lambs next spring! He has lovely quality wool so I hope that this will breed some good lambs which I can bring along to keep to replace their aging mothers. In a few years I will swap rams to a meat breed and breed heavier genes into the mix!

Bumper sprouts!

This year it has been really good for the cabbage family and the frost has come but has not been persistent and this is another batch which I picked and froze. I have been picking off the old yellowing leaves very regularly this year which helps to keep air circulating and also takes away the rotting leaves so that the mould does not spread into the sprouts themselves. They have been strong plants all year with no caterpillar damage. In fact I only did a caterpillar pick one time and I found so few I did not bother again!! I know that many people had all sorts of trouble this year. I am not sure why we got away with it. Perhaps they were just really strong plants growing in really good soil with plenty of birds around to eat the caterpillars ..? I also planted some wheat next to them which the birds stripped. I am wondering if this also encouraged the birds in to eat the caterpillars. I will do the same next year and see what happens. Perhaps I will even do a control patch without wheat....if I remember!

Pub.....almost!!! And last!!!

Recently some "after works" have been organised in the village which happen once a month. We missed the last one but made it last Friday.  We took the chess board, some beers and there were lots of people there. There was bread (the local bakery's bread) cheese and salami to nibble at, coffee and people took their own beers. There were kids there and a really good turn out from the village! Everyone was talking and having fun! Not quite a pub, but nearly!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dry rendering leaf lard

Inside the pig carcass there is a layer of fat which when rendered down makes excellent baking fat. I am using the dry method here, but there is a method you can use by boiling the fat in water then skimming off the fat from the surface. This apparently makes even cleaner, taste and smell free fat. Maybe I will do this the next time but this is the way which I have been using over the past few years and it is ok.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dog food

A slab of elk meat from the scrap pile from the hunting lodge. One of many. What a waste.....but not any more it is now chopped up and is Fenris's dinner.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Working for your dinner.....

This photo shows the dog, Fenris, literally working for her dinner as she is pulling a loaded wheelbarrow of Elk feet, off cuts,  lungs, liver and legs we collected from the hunting lodge in the village. She makes a big difference although to start with I am not sure she wanted to be in front of the wheelbarrow....rather in it!! I am going to chop it all up into dog dinner sized pieces and freeze it. I am desperate to get her off the rubbish dog food which you can buy from the shops. Even the expensive stuff is terrible stuff. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Giant doggie treats!

This is an elk foot, and Fenris is a medium sized dog.....Pretty big!! She was in doggie heaven last night..... today I will collect some more!! I will take my camera up to the hunting lodge as the set up is pretty impressive ........and the trailer of scraps is pretty impressive also!!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Winter's coming and a carrot mountain!

In the last few days I have been digging up the carrots and packing them ready for future use. I am so glad that I have an earth cellar, I can not imagine life without one now!! I have a couple of sacks of peat  which I use from year to year. This is not the best thing to use as far as the environment is concerned and I would like to try something else in the future. I have tried saw dust with not such good results. I would like to go up to the village sand pit (a big sand bank out in the forest) and bring home a few sacks to give it a go. Next year.....

Monday, October 14, 2013

Harvesting the tunnels and off to England..

Whilst riding to work on his motorbike, my son, Eli, had a Landrover and trailer pull out in front of him and stop in panic when the driver saw Eli coming on his bike. Eli was in hospital with a multitude of injuries so I decided to go back to England to see how he was doing. Before I left I had to clear the tunnels and the photo above shows some of the tomatoes and peppers I picked.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Warm to cold!

It has gone from very warm to cold in a space of a few days! Last week it was over 20 degrees and last night it was just about -6!!! The sun in the photo above is coming over the hills to the left, the frost will soon melt when it reaches us! We are still desperate for rain, many wells are drying up. If we go straight into a snowy cold winter, the ground water will not be replenished and we will be pretty stuffed for our winter water supply. The river being so low will also make it tricky to get water. Perhaps we will have to cut ice from the lakes...... Let's see what happens!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Market madness!

We only do one market a year, not for money, but to get out and meet people. What money we do make goes into our non profit seed bank which will pays for the seeds and compost for next years harvest so that we can eat for free (If you discount all of the hours and hours of work which we put in!)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I will paint you a picture......

Make yourself comfortable, there are no pictures today. Just pictures for you to paint in your mind......

Nectarine and redcurrant wine!

Last year I made some redcurrant and nectarine wine and finally today I bottled it! I have racked it off a few times and now it is lovely and clear. There was still a bit of sediment in the demijohns, but it looks wonderfully clear in the bottles. During the syphoning process you get a chance to taste it....a perk....and I think it tastes rather good! It should be ready for Christmas but we may not wait that long to have a sneak preview! From 2 demijohns we have 12 good bottles and one bottle which sucked up a bit of sediment as I was hoping that it would just fill the bottle...we'll have to drink that one first, maybe tonight!!! It is a lovely rose, pink sort of colour, but you can not see it in the dark bottles!!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

An extra grand room!

Our house has nearly doubled in size! Although the room is not finished we have started to use it!! Our neighbours gave us the green sofa and arm chair and I splashed out and bought the stripy one at a "loppis" which are sort of garage sales which last the whole summer!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A simple gravity hot water system from the wood burning stove

I am not sure when I found the time, perhaps it was the pressing need to have a shower (as the sun is not as warm as it was to heat the hose pipe outside!) but I managed to reinstall the hot water tank! Last spring our tank sprung a leak and the company which I bought the tank from wonderfully paid for the tank to be posted back and a new tank to be sent over from the UK. It is a small tank designed for boats and has 2 internal coils and on one of the coils I have built a system inside the old water heating section on our wood fired kitchen range. Have a look at this old post to see the construction of the heating coil in the range:   I used a jig to ensure that the coil I made to fit into the tank were soldered all at the correct angle to ensure water flow and no air gaps. I just used an old piece of plaster board with screws screwed in to it to hold the pipes in place. It was also easy to draw on all the angles etc, and was fire proof to solder afterwards!

The photo below shows the tank and the pipes going down through the wall into the kitchen. These pipes were the problem as the 2 different tanks fittings were not in the same place.....ahhhhh....they were about 2 cm apart...... 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Colourful vegetables!

It is a very busy time at the moment, the frost is going to come soon and I am desperately trying to preserve as many vegetables as I can at the moment and they are a really pretty batch just now!
Here is a box load of leaf beets which I lightly steamed and bottled in the pressure canner. It made 5 1/2 litre jars in the end which was more than I thought it would make as it shrinks a lot when it is cooked. We are also growing fodder beet and sugar beet this year and we have been eating lots of the leaves, although they are not as pretty as the ones below!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Simple homemade ravioli, potatoes.......and litter...

I woke up the other morning thinking of ravioli, so I made some in the evening! We have limited ingredients here and all the recipes I could find on the net were just too complicated. So I just mixed up grated cheese, cooked and squeezed out spinach  finely chopped up and fried onion and garlic and lots of pepper as the filling. We make pasta regularly and have a pasta rolling machine and this time I left the sheet pretty thick in an attempt for it not to break apart when cooking. This also meant that I could put a reasonably amount of filling in them!!! I have a simple "form" for making the individual pieces. You just lay the sheet of pasta over it, then another plastic mould makes the small indentations, then you fill them, paint water along the edges, put another sheet over, then roll over the top with a rolling pin and carefully turn upside down and push them out! Simple! This recipe worked a treat and was very tasty. I made a quick onion and tomato sauce for the top......

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sunny weather and busy in the kitchen!

The good weather is continuing which is great in the garden as I can harvest for a little longer! One year we had our first frost on August 31 which was a bit early for my liking!
Our sunflower patch is looking good and is also glad of a late frost as I planted them a little late! There are about 100 plants!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vegetables, planes and eggs....and a snake!

We have had a wonderful summer......and it is still great!! The garden has been producing on the whole lots of vegetables. There has been some failures and disappointments as there always is when you garden, but we have eaten well and we have lots of food for the winter! This year I have had a dedicated tomato tunnel and we have tried some new varieties. Stupice has been a success as it always is producing early tomatoes but I also tried some pasta and plum tomatoes which are a bit slow, but this maybe because I was a little late planting some of them as the seed company lost my order. The ones that have ripened have been great and I hope that we will be able to make lots more pasta sauce without all the liquid which is produced when you bottle Stupice. This picture shows some of them:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Luxury Toilet!

When the Dutch girls were here they built a fabulous earth toilet down in the camping field and it deserves a separate post. Here is the toilet, it covers a large hole:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Getting ready for Christmas......I am really!!

Well Christmas seems a long way away, but I am planning for the festive season.....

I have 2 bottles of raspberry and 2 bottles of blackcurrant vodka liqueur and the great thing is that Alexis does not like it so it is all for me!!!!! I mix berries and sugar with some vodka, shake everyday and wait a minimum of 3 months. You are meant to wait for a year but I am not sure it will last that long unless I make some more!! It looks very pretty and over time it will take on the colour of the berries. You can use the berries afterwards with some ice cream or even in some mince meat for Christmas  The English Christmas mince is sweet, packed full of fruits and is delicious in pies or stuffed into apples then baked....yum!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Home made baked beans! (Without the baking!!)

I grew Cannelloni beans this year for the first time for the purpose of making our own baked beans and today I actually managed to make some! The first 4 jars have been processed in my pressure canner I got second hand from the USA. I could not find a recipe for using fresh beans so I sort of made it up! I just chucked loads of chopped tomatoes into a pan and started to boil them down so that they were a little thicker and also chopped up an onion and a few cloves of garlic and gently fried them before adding to the beans. I also added a bit of dried mustard powder and black pepper and a tiny bit of salt. It looks like it came out ok, however maybe I should use the sauce a little runnier. I did not bake the beans, I just boiled them for about 15 mins before combining them all in a pan before filling the jars. I am really looking forward to trying these this winter with some of our lovely baked potatoes!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sheds, TV, Radio, open garden and more!

Well it has been an eventful few weeks, where do I start! This is a very long post, sorry but I have tried to keep the text short. Click on the button below to look at the full post!

We have had many WWOOFers so lots of jobs have been done, we have built a wood shed. We took the bike to the forest and cut down some small spruce trees and then the bark had to be taken off:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Using wood, preparing wood!

The family was here last week and like a whirlwind the room next door was transformed into a nearly usable room! We panelled away and the walls were done! The next job is to seal the floor which we hope to do in the next few days so we can have a usable room! On the last night the family was here we has our first meal in the room and Andrea decorated the room wonderfully with what ever came to hand!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bender building

We have constructed the first bender in the bender city down on the campsite down by the river. These are to house our WWOOFers. First we went to the woods and cut some springy saplings and dragged them back. Traditionally you would cut some hazel, but there is none around here! We made a hole in the ground with a metal spike and pushed the poles in to the hole.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A WWOOFing Film - at our place!!

One of our WWOOFers from last year has made a film of his stay and entered it for the WWOOF Sweden film competition. I really like it!!! Part was filmed here and part was filmed at our neighbours place when we went over to help build their house for a day. Thanks Ike, a lovely film!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tomato flower competition

Every year my Mum and I have discussions about the state of the tomato plants in our respective countries. This year my tomatoes have done well, despite the cold start to the year! I planted 2 batches of tomato seeds. One lot was quite early and this lot were planted in the one of the plastic tunnels inside another mini tunnel (see a previous post) and I noticed the other day that the third truss of flowers has started to open! We have quite large tomatoes further down the plant, still green, but they are looking good. We beat you Mum!! And here's the proof..

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cosy Tomatoes

I have planted the first of the tomatoes into the ground as they are flowering away and I would really like an early crop. I have made a tunnel within a tunnel but first I had to cut and peal back the black plastic which was on the ground and put 3 wheelbarrow loads of manure and compost onto the ground. It is 3 different shades as I took each load from a different pile!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Party mania!

The summer is here.....well sort of, and we have gone to 2 parties in the last 2 weeks!! But the people who know us and Värmland will know that it is never that easy for us to do anything, we always turn it into an adventure!!!!

Party number one was 20km north of Arvika, which is a long way from here when you only have a bicycle for transport, so we jumped on a train with our panniers full of camping gear at 7 in the morning and got off just south of Sunne. We first started cycling along the edge of a lake on a track not marked on our map, but we guessed there must be one there because there were a few summer houses scattered along its edge. It was very pretty, despite the threatening weather!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Plant update

The tunnels are warm, the greenhouse is warm, the ground is still a bit cold outside, but there are patches which are ok! The plants are growing like crazy in the warmth of the greenhouse and I thought that I'd show you how it is going.....

The greenhouse is almost full.... (there are another 7 trays in the house!!!)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Meat, Bacon, Canning and stuff...

I have had a busy few weeks as the pigs are no more and have been processed into tasty things. I miss them as they are really fun animals to have, but the land needs a rest as it is very compacted. In the future it will be lovely fertile land with all that pig muck... Anyway, back to the kitchen.

As we had 5 pigs to cut up I decided to have a go at one myself. I bought myself a new knife, cleaned the hack saw put on the "pig in a day" video by River Cottage and set to work. I wanted to make lots of bacon and our normal helper did not know how to make back bacon and I wanted to give it a go. It took me a long time but this is half a pig in bits (minus the back leg!). The bottom left big pieces are bacon, lower is back upper is streaky. Top left is the shoulder which I was going to turn into sausages.  Top right is filet (tenderloin) and middle bit is a roasting joint, right is the bones cut out from the back bacon (the spine and some ribs - which made lovely bbq bits!) I cut up the back leg into some smaller ham joints and then used the rest to make sausages.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Missed out summer, back to winter!

Woke up this morning to a winter wonderland.......

And then I saw one of the hoo....

We propped it up, and it is sort of back to the right shape, it can grow plants in anyway. Back in the autumn I build 2 new tunnels and they were slightly different. The one that collapsed had its's poles a little wider apart and all winter I meant to prop it up, but never got around to it. It just took a night of heavy wet snow to break it's back. We had about 12cm but it is raining now and I hope it will all be gone tomorrow and the ground can have another chance at drying out. It was doing pretty well up until now!

The pigs are no more. I have days and days of preparing meat as I hope to be canning most of it. We did an experiment yesterday with some beef mince and some moose mince (say that quickly!!) and made some meatballs and canned them. We ate the leftovers for dinner and they were pretty good. We over spiced them because the canning process seems to change the flavour a bit. All four jars sealed and  we will wait and see what they taste like! Interestingly, I found out yesterday you can can bacon.....Our last bacon did not freeze well because of all the salt. We learnt our lesson and will try to do it differently this year.

Here is a picture of the canned meatballs, in a red wine broth....