search instagram arrow-down

Join 921 other followers

Follow Andrea Hejlskov on

Support my work

You can support my general work via Patreon
and I hope you do, will.

You could call this a living experiment of sorts.

What happens when a modern family leaves modern society and emerge themselves into the wild?

1. They get shattered, as a family and as selves, no doubt about it- but it´s allright because they were shattered long before they even got there, taped together in one big mess or, maybe better, like a broken chinese vase. Realizing that you are shattered, as a family, as yourself, is a painful process, no doubt, no doubt at all.

2. They realize that they have no skills.
They don´t know how to light a fire, how to catch a fish or grow a crop, they don´t know how to build a shelter for themselves… regardless of the fact that 90% of the world’s population knows how to do this, the most basic of all human skills… they were never taught how to do it, they don´t know how to survive outside of the machine.
They feel deceived. After a while they begin to teach themselves.
Learning is difficult. There´s a lot of learning by doing, learning by mistake, learning by necessity, learning because there is no other option. In the wild.

I was talking to a friend not long ago, he was with us that first year in the forest. He taught us much. We fought a lot. He said “It was merely the beginning. For all of us. It was stage 1”
It´s true.
Stage 1 is a painful process of unlearning. All you thought you knew… about leadership, teamwork, community, all you thought you knew about dreams and ideals, how to get shit done.
It takes a while.
I took me 4 years.


Not to mention the body.
The body goes through tremendous changes. I spent a lot of time being sick. Poison in my tissue was released, body and mind. Lumps were discovered, I almost died. Bad habits. Bad use of muscles. Like the body is a machine but it´s not. I had to learn how to care of the body, I had to appreciate how much the body has done for me through the years, how it has protected me, sucked up the disease because it had to.

Clearly this is a time of reflection. I´m turning older, it´s winter and this is the end of stage 1.
Deeper into the woods.


Around new year we had a major crisis here in the forest. I was ready to move. I wanted to move. I wanted to find another community, somewhere new, I looked to New Zealand but it was too far away, I looked to Ireland even Spain. I examined every possibility and I sent out a whole flock of birds in the form of emails. Inquiries.
This forest has given us much, it´s been good to us- but I don´t want that role, I can´t be that freight train, I want to be GIVEN something, I have GIVEN too much. Such were my thoughts.

I can´t tell you what the problem was but I can tell you what the problem always is: community.
Someone stepped out of line… which is funny because everybody here is here exactly because they stepped out of line, stepping out of line is good… only: boundaries.
What do we do about that?


I think this latest crisis was a final exam of sorts.
My initial reaction said something very disturbing about my personality, something I need to deal with. Again and again and again, it is not forgotten.
The only way to solve the problem was to be brutally honest and somehow this naked honesty seems essential for life outside of the machine. It´s the only thing that works. Again and again and again I have learnt this.
Then came time.
Time needed to pass.
Then came pragmatism.
We all need each other.
Also: in the grand scheme of things how big is this transgression?
Also: who are you mad at, really? What is the problem, really? Was this just the last drop? What about the other drops? Did you secure your boundaries well enough? Did you tend to that problem, did you hide?


Building community, tribe, flock even family is the hardest thing of all. We were all raised to be hardcore individualists (not me!), we were not given the skill set nor the experience, we had no elders to look to, only a shattered sense of community, maybe worse: a sense that community is somehow wrong and oppressing, that modern individualism is right.

I had a class in school once, they called in “teamwork” but it was not at all about how to share (few) resources, how to work together, ask for favours or do something even when you don´t feel like doing it. I never learned that you should grab the bull by it´s horn, you should never postpone those extremely uncomfortable talks, you should act immediately!
So much unknown territory here. Building fires, fishing, growing crops and building log cabins was the least of it.
Forgiveness. Tolerance. Laugh in the face of opposition!

3. They spent a whole lot of years exploring boundaries and negotiating their roles, finding out what community is, how to build strong bonds, how to trust others, how to get over it.

Planning how to build a fortress and then building it again and again knowing that the nature of the fortress is to thaw… that´s a real lesson, right there.
And remember to laugh. Remember to love.



The crisis waned like the moon. Then came peace. We solved the problem. We did it head first, strong on.
I think it´s about personal space. Building personal space (again and again and again) that you vouch for. Defend. A point of departure, a sanctuary (even if it melts)

This is individualism: your fortress. This is community: in a land of many kings let´s dream about building a barn!

Sooner or later we are going to have to learn about community. Sooner or later we are just going to have to.


19 comments on “Building a fortress

  1. nicoleaugust says:

    Lots of thinking from these last two posts … Many Happy Returns on your 40th !


  2. Tricia says:

    My initial thoughts are always to ‘run’, get away, start over, there’s too much of a problem here, etc. I just turned 40 as well and golly gee, after 40 years I’m starting to actually listen, and not run away, and allow it to work out, as hard and painful as it is. And then……ta da! Whew! Relief. I’m actually starting to feel normal. Great post, thanks for sharing!


  3. smcasson says:

    Yes. Happy birthday! I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.
    You touched on topics here that I have been wondering about. I still have questions, although I am still formulating them.
    I am glad you have had peace recently, and glad you “stuck it out” in the forest. I hope you are able to continue in the forest, if that’s best for your family.


  4. ncfarmchick says:

    Knowing when to run and when to stay. No one teaches you that, maybe they can’t. I know I have stuck with things too long in the past because I was raised not to “quit.” Problem is, no one tells you when maybe that a change of direction is the better choice if only for what you will learn about yourself that will not be revealed if you just blindly keep trudging on.
    Someone once said, “The good news is the world runs on relationships. The bad news is the world runs on relationships.” Lot of truth there. I have found, in some cases, that avoiding uncomfortable situations (which is my natural tendency) just closes doors. Do this enough and you eventually have no where to go and you did it to yourself, really. I’m much better at addressing things now when they happen before the other person has a chance to forget and then think I made the whole thing up. Following the idea of “True, Kind, and Necessary” in all my interactions has helped tremendously, too.
    Hope you birthday is all you hope it to be!


    1. BeeHappee says:

      NC, can I hire you for my therapist? 🙂 Your posts are always helpful.


      1. ncfarmchick says:

        Ha! I think you’re doing pretty well without my meddling…ummmm. intervention, Bee. But, thank you for the compliment!


    2. That sentence really stayed with me “Knowing when to run and when to stay”. Thanks!


  5. David says:

    “Defend. A point of departure, a sanctuary (even if it melts)” — Yes! This. Care for yourself. Care for what matters. Again. Again. This is beautiful, even when it melts.

    Have a very happy birthday, Andrea! Many happy returns!

    It’s funny how these round numbers (40) work on us, make us pause, make us wonder. I turn 30 this year, still (I pray) many years ahead of me, but like you, a time to take stock. Where I am going? Is this the life that matters? How can I get out, run to the forest? Not just running away, but running toward something better, something particular, something good and life-giving.

    Anyway, happy birthday. And thank you.


    1. Yup. It´s superweird… a time to really take stock, I don´t find the proces particullary setteling but then again I´m always sad 😉


  6. Andrea, if you are reading great science semi-fiction like that Aeon Scorched Earth 2200 no wonder you are rattled. (For sometimes I feel as if you are rattled.) (but I might be hallucinating so correct me if I’m wrong). Anyway, I’m rattled after I read it. I started thinking my god what have I done to my poor daughter who will have to possibly live in such a world. I feel devastated thinking about it. How could I be so selfish? And blind? Nature tricks me into having urges. I’m only human and pretty dense over all.

    It’s really too bad – in a way – that the catastrophe is not happening fast. A lot of people are like the frog in the water slowly almost imperceptibly boiling to death. If it was fast no one could deny it and they’d be slapped into reality and get off their lard-arses and contribute to a solution instead of dumbly going on with life as usual.

    But it isn’t going fast. It’s moving like a glacier while the glacier is melting.

    I wish I could live 200 years so I could see how it all turns out. I think we live in pivotal times.


    In the meantime I hope you have an intensely interesting birthday and that you discover all manner of wonderful and perplexing ideas to celebrate with. XXOO


    1. I´m ratteled allright. And it´s getting worse.
      But thank you!


  7. It is all a matter of perspective, really.
    I so recognise the huddle up, the lock up and defend your castle-attitude. Look what a big bas mess we are leaving our kids. What have I done putting them into this world?? And for some reason one ends up reading and hearing horror stories about the demise of our planet.

    Yet I have come to make a conscious decision; a life altering decision; am I going to huddle in horror? Am I going to peak over the buttresses? Or I am to make a stand, boots on the ground, arms at the ready… and maybe even charge?
    I opted for the last one. I am going to stand my ground and even build up for “offensive action”. I ran to the forest, just like you, because I couldn’t take it anymore. And I will start or proceed taking care of me and my own, just like you, whilst fighting this system that is still trying to make me submit or crush. But after that I will “attack”. Just taking care of us isn’t enough. Huddling inside my castle won’t cut it. I will take it one step further, maybe even more. I will teach my kids what I believe is right and wrong and hope they will take that message, add their truth to it and spread theirs afterwards. Who knows how much they will alter???
    And I still have that other dream, that other goal. Fighting the system from within with physical action. They might be small actions with little impact, but I am aiming for a cascading effect. And I just need to act.
    Look at what people like Ben achieve through his homeschooling, writing and his blog. Look at what you are doing on a daily basis and your blog. (Wish I could say something about your writing, but my Danish is……. inadequate). How about Anna and her blog on education and teaching ( and there are many more out there.

    I can not change the world, but I can change mine! Worrying about what may come is pointless. Look at the now, without forgetting what was. Look beyond the now, whilst living it. Acting to change any possible outcome is what we can and must do.
    Will it be a “fresh, cheerful war” like the Germans exclaimed in 1914? No. Will I or should we all settle down for a war of attrition, stuck in muddy trenches? Hell no! A Blitzkrieg? mmmno, we lack the resources, so it’ll be guerilla warfare… And often offence is the best form of defence, but we must choose our battles carefully.

    Does it show I like military history????


    1. You sound so much like a lot of people that I know, Ron. Maybe more and more people are having these kinds of thoughts?
      (and btw do you live close to Hagfors? I saw a toyota with a couple of old fashioned skies attached to the top and the skies looked like yours?) 🙂


      1. What?? Am I sounding like a lot of other people??
        Ohh the horror!! That is so not like me!! I need to change my tune!! 😉
        But seriously, I only hope many think that way. Then there will be some change, starting small, growing bigger..
        And no, I do not live in Hagfors, otherwise I might’ve been at your doorstep already…
        Hah! Scared ya, huh? 😉

        No, I live roughly 30km south of Falun… and I do have a 4×4…which is awaiting repairs… for the second year now… and I do have old skis…. which are in the same state now….


  8. BeeHappee says:

    Oh I love the smiles in this one, Andrea. Such beautiful smiles. 🙂 Happy Birthday!


  9. Abigail Higgins says:

    Hullo andrea Does your son have any social contact with another child? ~ Abigail

    Sent from my iPad


  10. Yes. There are (a few) more children living in the woods and also we take him to daycare a couple of times a week so that he can sozialise with others, it´s the only option we have out here…. 🙂


  11. Ahhh… what did you do to the blog??

    Didn’t realise that it was sunday… Hope you have a great birthday today!! Life doesn’t begin at 40, but chances are it’ll get better!!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s