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I can tell you why we have begun to talk about ATV’s.
We have lived here for years now without machine power (except from the chainsaw we got two years ago). Meaning that all shovelling of snow, towing of logs, digging of fields and carrying firewood… have been done by hand, by back, by will power.

This morning we sat in the kitchen and talked.
We talked about a guy we know further north, he’s young, strong as a oxe, stubborn and idealistic – he used to live around here and we like him. If anyone could live a primitive life in the woods it would be him.
He bought a place further north and is now having a hard time because of all the work that needs to be done, he doesn’t have the time or the energy and all of the guest, woofers and volunteers that come to help him seems to be city people dreamers… how they don’t know… how they have no worth ethics… how they handle the tools as if there was an endless supply of tools… an endless supply of  food and firewood. But how he can’t- on the other hand- do everything alone.
Yeah.

Then we talked about some other people that we know here.
Man, are they hardcore!
We were sitting in the kitchen and talking about this (inserted footnote: we talk much better now that I said that I won’t do the laundry or the dishes alone anymore and he said “well, yeah, ok, that’s fair”) … as the snow slowly fell from the sky.
I love snow.
Snow calms me, soothes me, snow always makes everything fall into place. I couldn’t live without the snow.
You should know this about snow: snow is quiet realisation, not sparkling visions or clean clarity as frost, no, snow is home, snow is warmth, snow cleans the world from all of  the clutter, snows quiets all of the chatter. Snow is calm, eternally calm.

“Shit, if we had known what we now know …” I said but he interrupted me “I think we needed the hardship, this was a sort of forced re-acculturation wasn’t it?” and I nodded because it’s true.

Maybe we needed to do all of the work by hand and by back and by sheer will power.
I’m not saying suffering is necessary (well, it IS what I’m saying) (and I don’t know how to finish this sentence)

You throw the tools on the ground if you don’t know the value of tools.
You burn all of the firewood at once if you don’t know the value of firewood.
You sleep long in the summertime if you don’t know the value of summertime.
We talked about that because the guy we know further north, a guy who knows much more about bush craft and survival skills than us…. wrote an essay describing challenges that I recognised.
Bitterness is always dangerous as is solitude yet there seems to be some convergence between our experiences… the experiences of all of the people living like this.

That’s when we began to talk about an ATV.
How it would change our lives fundamentally.
See, it is a problem for us to gather firewood, not so much to take down the trees but to transport either trees, logs or chopped up wood to the cabin (we’ ve tried every possibility). It is a problem for us to grow our vegetables in hugelkultur beds because my back is broken and my pelvis and what-have-I-not… I can’t work intensively in the garden and he can’t both build houses, sheds, saunas, barns, greenhouses AND work the garden. And then there’s the snow.
We drive our car up and down the forest road to create tracks. If it snows too much we walk that road (up to the bigger forest road) with shovels in our hands, backs, will power.

Summa summarum: to live completely alone in the woods is close to impossible, people who did back in the days had horses and the more experienced people doing it now have….ATV’s.
You just can’t do it all alone…which is why we have had so many guest and volunteers and woofers. And which is also why our friend have been having so many guest and woofers and volunteers and then suddenly your job becomes one of education- and that’s not really why we’re here is it? We are here because the UN-eduaction.
We’re probably the worst teachers in the world.

After 3 or 4 cups of morning coffee we began the work: we did the dishes together, fed the chickens, walked the dog, collected firewood, water, checked to the compost toilet and the bucket under the sink, these are the morning chores, and then of course: to drive up and down the forest road.
Then he went upstairs to finish the record he’s making. I should work the manuscript but I can’t, the snow contains so much calm, I need to go outside and roll around in it.

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Sigurd playing- and logs for our sauna under the roof tile. I made that boy!

 

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The entrance to our home. I found that door handle in the woods!

 

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I knitted that leg warmer!

44 comments on “Snow

  1. BeeHappee says:

    Plus then you can have fun with the ATV. If they only invented a fun way to do laundry. 🙂 I guess suffering with laundry is also necessary, right? (it is L word for me, that laundry. . )

    Like

    1. “Suffering with laundry” Ha! I could create a whole soap opera with that title!
      Yes. First year I washed our clothes in the river. Horror! Horror! Now we drive to town to wash laundry (also we don’t have a lot of clothes anymore 😉
      Seen in retrospective I DID learn a lot from doing the laundry… learned a lot about the roles of the sexes, so much debate over this, yes, I did learn a lot and I think I had to 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. (We can’t afford an ATV though and we can’t have a horse because then you need a field and there’s not a whole lot of fields in the forest… so this is a challenge to us, a problem that needs to be resolved. Mostly because the securing of next years firewoods begins in feburary (taking trees down, collecting what we already have laying around all over the plot, this and that, this month is so slow and snowy…. only this month though :-))

    Like

  3. mridler3 says:

    I love the snow!! (I live in the mountains of Colorado) I especially love when it is falling…coming down hard with thick flakes. I love the quiet and yes, the way everything is covered…no more clutter. 🙂

    Like

  4. Sofie says:

    Var i de svenske skove i juleferien, og besøgte min yndlings nybygger deroppe. Han havde ATV, og jææææsus hvor var den skøn, og jææææsus hvor var der meget fedt tilbehør! Den kan jo ALT, den tingest!!!! Hest, traktor, transportmiddel, lastbil i et, og en kran var der sgu osse til den!!! Og den ku trække en campingvogn! Blev altså helt forelsket.

    Like

    1. jæææsus, I know!

      Like

  5. vpfarming says:

    This is an issue we have been talking about of late. We are gradually working to become more independent and self-reliant. Machines and tools (chainsaws, tractors, wood lathes, ATVs) can help in that quest, but are expensive to acquire/maintain and can ultimately return us to dependence on the very things from which we are trying to wean ourselves.

    Perhaps there is a balance…

    Like

    1. This is exactly the issues. Put we broke the problem down pretty simple this morning: we need extra man power. We can either get this from help and woofers, by animal or by machine.
      These are the 3 options we have- and each option comes with a set of problem. To be solved. And that’s they key- you gotta get to the point where problems are practical and therefore have practical solutions 🙂
      It’s knifes edge though… the issue of machine…

      Like

  6. Eumaeus says:

    When I lived in the third world I was mainly an idiot. There was not a lot I could do besides read books and make stupid noises. So they sent me to work with the children. I learned the language working with the children. I herded goats with the children. I chopped firewood with the children. I gathered kindling with the children. I went to the river with the children (the girls washed and the boys swam). SO….

    Now we live in the first world and our children are doing other things…
    And someday we will buy a tractor
    And someday we’ll get one of those Gator jobbies
    And someday we’ll probably get a log splitter too (when I’m really old)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this comment so hard.
      I’m an idiot too.

      And don’t even get me started on the log splitter….

      Like

  7. Lene says:

    Lovely post – as all of them. If only you knew how much your posts mean to my way of seeing life. And I can feel that does me good. A heart felt thanks, Andrea.
    Maybe I am way off track here, but in Georgia (the country not the US state) where we live, donkeys are widely used by people who cannot afford the cost of getting a horse and keeping one. Donkeys can work hard – pull and carry stuff. They are resilient. And I believe they can live of what they will find in the forrest. They are cheap and low maintenance.
    And they are much more cooperative than their reputation. People say they are stubborn. They are not. They are sensitive and thus do not like to be rushed into any situation. They need to check things out – assess possible dangers a.o. This gets interpreted as stubbornness. But in understanding hands (as I know a fellow sensitive like you would have) they can be very cooperative.
    I bet someome in Sweden will have a donkey they got for fun and now do not know what to do with. You could adopt it for free.
    Again – maybe this just makes you laugh. Maybe it is a crazy idea. But here it is 🙂

    Like

    1. Thank you, Lene 🙂
      Actually we have been talking a lot about a donkey.
      There’s an old man here about, I sometimes see him when we drive on the forest roads, he works the forest by horse as they did in the old days and his piece of the forest is always so organised and neat not at all how the machines leave the land after taking timber… yet a horse seems a bit “overkill” for our purposes.
      We need extra man power to plow the land (the hugelkultur beds are too work intensive because I have that back problem) to plough snow, to tow timber and to lift heavy things. I heard that a donkey would actually be able to do this- but also that you had to train it a lot?
      It’s the good old problem: animal versus machine.
      Pro’s and con’s with each- main problem with machine being that they make you dependent on gasoline and generators….
      Thanks for commenting!

      Like

      1. Lene says:

        True – machine vs animal… I guess you are right training them is an issue…

        Like

  8. Scott says:

    Sounds like you need a small tractor more than an ATV. Skidding logs with an ATV… better be small logs or a big ATV!!
    My uncle swore by his old, air-cooled diesel Belarus tractor.
    I have found that a decent running, old mechanical-only tractor (I have a Farmall Super A) is a whole bunch cheaper than an ATV, and can do lots more work. Tractors like working in low gear, slow, powerful. Work an ATV slow, skidding logs, and you’re asking for transmission problems. Trust me. ATVs are meant for higher-speed, less-load work.

    Get you a tractor with a 3-point hitch and you can mount just about anything. Blade (snow, gravel), Carry-all (carrying log rounds, anything), drawbar (towing, skidding logs, pulling small stumps), log splitter even.

    All that said, I have no clue about the tractor market in Sweden. Buy something that is cheap, simple, plentiful (parts easy to find, new or used), and can be fixed with a brick and baling wire. 😉 Just my tips. Not trying to boss you around or whatever…

    After all that, I’m thinking maybe you could set up a couple, three “strong points” (post in a hole in the ground) and use an electric winch run off your generator. That way, you could just pull on the stron point with the winch and pull the logs along with a minimum of expense or maintenance.

    (can you tell I’m a damn engineer…?)

    Like

    1. Yeah, we have been dreaming about tractors too but our land is located on a hillside, off road territory and a tractor would be able to manoeuvre between the trees… Great idea about the generator/winch collaboration, we never even knew that was possible so for they first years my son Sebastian was the master of the winch and let me tell you that boy has strong arms now! 😉
      Great inputs though, food for thought!

      Like

  9. BeeHappee says:

    Andrea, I like donkey idea. A Donkey and a sleigh. . A sleigh pulled by some cheap version of ATV, are there such things? Sleigh pulled by Thunder boy. 🙂 How long does the snow last in those woods?

    Eumaeus, finally, glimpses of the steppes. I hope you share more, that is so so interesting. Would love to hear more comparisons of the two worlds. It was funny when my dad was visiting, there was a constant conflict, my third world dad wanted and preferred doing everything by hand, while my American husband wanted a power tool for everything, even if it would take 30 minutes to set up the tool, while you can do the task by hand in 10 minutes. Sometimes it is just funny. 🙂

    Like

    1. Thunderboy and a donkey! That could go wrong on soooo many levels! 😉

      Like

  10. Tricia says:

    I love reading your blog…I always relate, even if I don’t live in a cabin in the woods. Ummm yeah, could you help with the dishes once in a frickin’ while? Or just do something? Because one person working the homestead is not enough. I hate asking, but I’m learning… and doing it alone, much harder. It’s a tough choice…do it yourself or risk your isolation by inviting others…who might be helpful:} Hell yes, get the ATV!!! And ride it like the warrior you are!

    Like

  11. I think it was Charlotte duCann who said (when I interviewed her for my yule calendar) that one needs to learn how to be a tough negotiator when leaving the loop of modern capitalistic society – and I find this to be very, very true! 🙂
    (I would loooove to ride an atv around in the forest! Swedes do it all of the times, even use them on the lakes when they’re frozen, looks fun!)

    Like

  12. Well, I just popped open a can of super luxuries olives, got myself a bowl of peanuts to go with that, just cut thunder boys hair and read through the comments here… I think I have a pretty nice life! And the snow is slowly falling outside. Yah!
    Hugs to everybody! 😉

    Like

    1. BeeHappee says:

      Sounds like a good life to me. 🙂 Since when are you eating like an American? Forgot the potato chips.

      Like

  13. Søren says:

    Snow has memory
    Water molekules has memory
    How else would We people be able to remember anything
    We are, when it comes down to it, mostly Water …..

    I have no clue why I wrote that, maybe some one else does …. 😉

    I vote for the ATV …. and so fun to ride
    I Lend my focus for you to get an ATV, cos I have no money
    I Hope you get one soon

    Like

    1. Eumaeus says:

      You wrote it because you’re a bad-ass viking, Soren. And don’t you forget it. When you become frozen, when you rise like a vulture on the thermals in the late afternoon, don’t you forget it.

      Like

    2. That was nice, Soren 🙂

      Like

  14. Scott says:

    In the US, we have a class of tractors called Garden Tractors, a little bigger than a simple riding mower. But they can do a lot of work! Especially if weighted down with good ag (farm, bar-tread) tires on the back. Such as this:
    http://louisville.craigslist.org/grd/4792788073.html

    They’re great for weaving through the forest since they’re narrow, along modestly cleared trails (less ground clearance than an ATV – obviously you would remove the mower deck). Again, I don’t know the market for tractors (or anything) over there. But I do know tractors here. 🙂

    Also, A simple metal tripod with a mount on one leg for your winch will lift a lot.

    And yes, you have carved yourself out a nice life. I sit in my office cubicle under fluorescent lights with no windows, reading your blog dreaming of the day I can quit my day job. I am not watching the snow fall with my family at home. Sigh.
    Thumbs up!

    Like

    1. Hey, but you know a lot about traktors- I’ll get Jeppe to read your comment! Thing is though that a donkey is probably more in our league economically… (the downside of not having a day job! 😉

      Like

      1. Scott says:

        I don’t know the first darn thing about donkeys… thus my totally ignoring the possibility!

        Like

  15. syberpunk says:

    A vote for the donky .

    Or rather two – male , female .
    You know …
    The differens betwen , needing and wanting and what is and will be .
    call it idealistic – i see it pragmatic
    Creat future .

    Like

  16. BeeHappee says:

    E, thermals, what is thermals, thermal underwear? I have no idea what Soren, Eumaeus and syberpunk are talking about. . Water, thermals, donkeys – I think it is the same person. . At least Scott and NC make some sense. Scott, cheers, me too, cubicle (thank goodness working from home today – too cold to drive to the office) excel sheets and nonsense. . What can you do. One day we will be walking in the woods. Thanks for advice on tractors, taking notes. 🙂

    Like

    1. ncfarmchick says:

      I’ll be sure to tell my husband someone thinks I make sense (ha!) Soren, Eumaeus, and syberpunk being the same person – now there’s an idea to ponder.
      One day, you will walk out of that office and into the woods. I am sure of it. Just be sure you’re wearing boots high enough for all the sh$# you will walk through along the way – the good kind and the bad.

      Like

    2. Scott says:

      Thermals – warm air rising through the atmosphere. See buzzards or hawks circling in the sky? And not on a downward spiral? They’re on a thermal. Lets em keep altitude and scan the ground, without using energy to flap wings. A very low-power way to maintain altitude.

      Shoot, it was in the negatives farenheit, and I was outside doing chores at 4:30. Left the house at 5:20, in my office at 6:20. Excel sheets… holy crap I’m an expert. Against my will. At least my wife is 100% on board with me – produce our own food. Raise our own kid. Drastically reduce our need for money. Be our own people. I’ll get there someday.

      Like

      1. BeeHappee says:

        Thanks, Scott. Yes, I looked up thermals. 🙂 Although today we really need thick thermal underwear, it is something like -12F or less in Chicago. I am also up at 4:30 packing kids meals and stuff, catching train in the cold now. Take care. Good you have a great family. Option to work from home at some point is always there, that would help with farming chores.

        Like

        1. ncfarmchick says:

          My husband works from home and it is a blessing beyond measure. Those down times you have in an office (waiting for someone to return a phone call, etc.) can be used to water the garden, fix something small, any number of things that would just pile up around here otherwise. It was an intentional change that comes with less money. But, when our second son was 3 months old, he just decided he had to make a change. It sounds like a cliche, but we are all much happier than before, even with the greater insecurity (or perceived insecurity?) that a lower salary can bring. Best wishes for your escape to the wilderness of your choosing, whenever and wherever that may be!

          Like

      2. Scott says:

        Thanks Bee and nc. I have young ones as well, and the pull is strong to be home. I have a business idea that would allow me lots of home time, and a very flexible schedule. But I have been putting it off in the name of things that have to get done “today” – type of tasks. Death by a thousand scratches type of thing. Time to get on it. Let’s Go.

        (man, amazing how things pile up, as you say, nc, when you have a newborn around? esp in winter, when the baby can’t go outside for more than a minute or two? Holy Crap I’m overwhelmed, as the one who can’t feed the baby.)

        Like

        1. ncfarmchick says:

          My boys are 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 so I remember well the newborn days in winter. Front carrier under an old (but very warm) coat of my husband’s worked great. They would sleep the whole time I did barn chores, snug as bugs. Was actually harder the next winter when they were on their own feet but absolutely refused to wear mittens for more than 2 minutes at a time. This winter, they seem to appreciate warm hands, thank goodness. And, don’t feel bad. My boys would never go to my husband for more than a few minutes at a time when they were babies. He didn’t have the…ummm…equipment they were interested in, I guess. But, then, you guys can pee outside without freezing your you-know-what off so there are trade-offs, aren’t there? 🙂

          Like

      3. BeeHappee says:

        I work from home couple days a week or on no-meeting days (yes, good for doing laundry!), other days it is 5 minute commute or train commute downtown, so lots of variety, but looking for full time home option – although it is good to escape sometimes. 🙂 But when I had a newborns, I was home for 2-3 yrs, with each working and feeding a babies. There are many decent Flex jobs these days although many require extensive travel. Scott, good luck with newborn, my little guy born in January, remember those days carrying him outside in woolen blanket. He still loves cold and stays in shorts all winter. 🙂 Overwhelming now, take one day at a time. Mine growing up too fast. . Neither one of my kids ever took bottles or pacifiers, so it was hell for my husband to calm them down as he could not feed them. Get rest and take one moment at a time. 🙂

        Like

      4. Scott says:

        The carrier and large coat idea is so obvious and perfect! I feel like a dork for not thinking of it. She uses a front carrier a lot. Thanks for the encouragement both of ya.

        And thanks to Andrea for the space to have our side conversations lol!

        Like

      5. BeeHappee says:

        I can send you guys my Ergo baby carrier if you don’t have one. 🙂 That thing is definitely a lifesaver, carried my both well into toddlerhood. if need carrier or additional one, message me at beehappeenow@yahoo.com I am trying to clean out house here and move 🙂

        Like

  17. ncfarmchick says:

    Believe it or not, we use a modified golf cart here in our own forest to do many of our heavy lifting/hauling-type chores. We got one for practically free when we moved out here almost 10 years ago, fitted it with tractor tires, disengaged the governor, made a seat with tool carrying ability on the back (where the clubs would go) and zip, slide and otherwise look like fools driving it around. We are so NOT golf people so it is kind of funny we have the thing even though it barely resembles its former self. Probably not helpful in your situation at all but just had to mention in the spirit that there are many ways to get things done.
    Also like the donkey idea. We have horses which, you’re right, is not easy in the forest as there is significant time spent removing part of said forest (in our case heavy loads of pine straw) to keep them in pasture. But, they are old and partners from my younger days so what do you do? Anyway, a small pony (maybe a Fjord?) or donkey that eats very little would be very helpful pulling a skid around and cheaper and better company than a psychiatrist!
    My boys and I made paper snowflakes and hung them in the windows today in a plea to Mother Nature. Cold enough here but no beautiful white…yet.

    Like

    1. Scott says:

      No white here yet either. Sadness. Good job find getting the cart for next to nothing! I’d love one, but prices are pretty high here. Plus I’ve got too many engines to maintain as it is.

      There are many ways to skin a cat, as they say. (Sorry if you have a cat. I don’t.) There are tools to aid dragging heavy things, like deer carts for hunting, skid sleds for logs and such, or “skidding cones” (these go on the front of the log you’re dragging and let the square cut end not get caught on stumps, trees, etc). I guess you could always go “ancient egyptian” and use many small short logs as rollers under your load.

      Cheapest/least maintenance solution would probably be a “come-along” or “chain hoist” type of thing. People call em different things.

      http://www.grainger.com/product/CM-Low-Headroom-Chain-Hoist-WP5109306/_/N-mtv?s_pp=false&picUrl=//static.grainger.com/rp/s/is/image/Grainger/5W556_AS01?$smthumb$

      They work a whole lot better vertically than horizontally, but they do work pulling horizontally.

      I’m a mechanical engineer, and I guess it shows. I love solving problems like this, but I’ll shut up and quit slapping graffiti on your blog, Andrea….

      Like

  18. I like all of your comments and the conversation happening, this is so beautiful to witness, never stop 🙂

    Like

    1. Scott says:

      Aw, thanks for that. I’ve really gotten a bunch of inspiration from your blog. I’m looking forward to your book.

      Like

  19. Andy Jukes says:

    Here in Shropshire, England at the moment we have no snow. Just rain and strong winds. If snow is calm, these winds are the opposite. Everything is in constant motion. Lots of noise. Wind buffeting walls. Odd sounds. Rattles. Clanks. Wind whistling down chimneys. Mud and wind. Makes walking hard work. Makes going outside hard work. Feels like we’re under siege.
    Snow would be nice. Cold would be nice. It should be cold now. But it’s warm. I don’t like it. Feels wrong. The impression I get is that there is too much energy in the atmosphere. No weather seems to stay around for long. It’s all in flux. Always changing. One day warm. The next freezing. Then warm again. Everything’s agitated.
    We could do with some snow to calm things down a bit. It’s great here when it snows. We are useless and our systems cannot cope with even a little snow. Schools close. Kids all go outside and play in the snow together. They don’t do that any more usually but the snow gives them permission. They grabs sleighs, tin trays, plastic tarps, whatever is available and head for the nearest hill to race down. They stay outside all day and have fun. Normally that’s not allowed. So, eventually a man will come on the radio and say that it is terrible that the schools are shut. Because parents are having to stay off work and it is damaging the economy! Like it’s a bad thing that the kids are outside having fun and it’s a bad thing that parents are spending time with their children. That man is clearly crazy and should be ignored.

    Like

    1. Scott says:

      Snow days are some of my fondest childhood memories.

      Hell, some of my fondest adult memories too. 🙂

      Like

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