A while ago I launched my patreon page. This was done in order to try and raise some money because for various super depressing reasons we need some extra cash right now. I´m going to keep on doing what I do no matter the financial support (since what I do is rooted in ideology and a selfish desire to express my experience of being alive) so feel no obligation or stress about it (but maybe you´ll consider buying me a metaphorical cup of coffee each month in return for the reading experience, I don´t know).
As I launched my Patreon page I asked you what you would like me to do with this space.
This blog. This soapbox of mine.
(I´m still asking you, it´s an ongoing conversation).
Recently I realised that what´s going on in Europe right now is too crazy and too dangerous to not talk about it, to not speak up, to not raise your voice, sing songs of resistance, tell stories of alternatives (fascism is rising, believe me, official elected politicians are talking about eugenics with a straight face, shots are being fired at refugees by the borders, children are drowning while trying to escape war, we´re building walls and the population is being manipulated, scared into silence, it´s happening, it´s real, it´s evil and it cant be fixed by thinking happy thoughts)
I cannot close my eyes to this.
I will not.
(please remember that this blog is SITUATED. Something IS happening in the Scandinavian countries and Europe as such right now and it´s happening very fast)
When I asked you – you said that you would like to hear stories about other people who live in the forest, people who have made some of the same (moral and practical) choices as us.
I agree. I understand. I think telling stories and raising awareness about the real and factual existence of alternatives to the status qou is important so here´s a story about THE DANES.
It is a story about action. It is a story about fighting for something, insisting and manifesting it over time and it is a story about the importance of rooting ones beliefs in the real everyday mundane actions of living life.
This is Rie (Thomas is not found of having his picture taken)
Rie and Thomas are Danish like us but have been living in the Swedish forest, a hundred kilomers north of here, for almost 20 years. They started as we did, with nothing, what they have now is something they have worked very hard for.
I think Rie is a wise woman. I tell her things I don´t tell anyone else. We share a very intimate experience; the experience of being a woman living in the wild. She gives me good advice and when I don´t think I can go on anymore she says “Yeah, well you can”.
We are very lucky to have met Rie and Thomas. We met them via this blog.
Rie wrote me an email and we had a furious debate about whether or not it was fair to have volunteers do the dishes, Rie´s position was clear as mountain air “Everybody wants a revolution but nobody wants to do the dishes”.
I think she´s right. I also think it´s a good way to start a friendship, a little sound and furious debate never hurt anyone.
Now, as I do the dishes each morning, I THINK about doing the dishes while I do the dishes and somehow doing the dishes has become a manifestation of… something (that you have to clean up your own mess, that you have to do what needs to be done without whining about it, that dishes are equally important as building buildings. Stuff like that).
Rie and Thomas has a lot of sheep. The sheep provide them with meat as well as fur. Living a hundred kilometers north of here the winters stays for a little longer and it gets a little bit colder, furs are a valid and important asset of living like this, furs provide you with comfort and warmth, do not ever underestimate the importance of comfort and warmth.
Rie makes the furs. They have a million furs.
We visited Rie and Thomas the other day and this is the guest room where we spent the night.
Rie and Thomas tell us that they started out just like us, with no money, with total chaos, they say it takes 17 years at least to structure life out here, I suspect they might be right.
Visiting them is always such an inspiration because it´s like getting a glimpse of what things might look like 17 years from now.
This is their kitchen and the door into their pantry (sorry for the shaking picture, I was drooling at this point, look at all that SPACE)
Rie and Thomas moved into an allready existing house. They say it made all of the difference.
I know they are right, we have spendt four years building buildings now, we could have spend the time more efficiently (but I do think that we, as the personalities we are, needed to go that long, hard way). Rie and Thomas´s garden is… well, they make all of their own wine, produce all of their own food, it´s on a whole different level than us… (we´re still questioning ourselves about how much we want to be a farm, sometimes we want to stay hunters and gatherers)
A common denominator for a lot of selfsufficients farms it is that they tend to have a lot of buildings, outhouses, sheds.
Living primitively like we do takes a lot of time and a lot of temper. Not to mention a lot of space. Places to butcher, places to work, places to store things. This is Rie and Thomas mainhouse (all the buildings in Sweden are red, they truly are, it´s some kind of tradition that have turned into some kind of law)
Another common denominator for people living like this seems to be importance of the car- and the fact that the car will break down. A lot. (because of the off road roads)
And you wont have the money to take it to the mecanics- which is why you need a garage.
You COULD consider having a horse instead (lord knows we have consider that many times) but we live in a forest and thus have limited access to grassing acres… besides some of the machines we rely on (such as the generator or the solar panel) liberate some time and energy that would otherwise have been spent taking care of animals and so yadi yadi…
Most of us rely to a greater or lesser extend on machines, it´s not something we talk about a lot ( I know I don´t… like to talk about it, because machines make me dependent) but the machines will need tending to.
Hence a good garage is really necessary (for storage as well as work space)
And then of course a barn
Besides sheep and hens and the like what´s in the barn is this.
It´s called a Volvo Valp and it´s really the only car that works out here, can be used as both tractor, horse, snowplow and general badassery.
And this. “The orangerie”
Light is so scarce up here, it´s really important to create ways of being in the light even in the dark times. Cosy times!
This is the guesthouse (on the first floor) on the base floor Thomas has his wood workshop.
Two very important things that some (us) tend to overlook and not prioritise (giant rookie mistake!):
1. People will come visit you.
You might not think they will, but they will. If you don´t have a guesthouse or room it will be hard to have guests, it will be a giant invasion of your privacy. But guests are nice. They´re like a bridge between society and the wild, you need them. It gets lonely up here in the long run.
2. AND you need somewhere to store you tools. Seriously. Do NOT think you do NOT need somewhere to store you tools, I´ve had too many family dinners with a machine saw placed on the table, I´ve stumbled over mountain of axes running in and out the main door, Jeppe has nowhere to go when he´s mad, I have nowhere to tell him to go. You NEED a workshop!
The sauna is the first thing Rie and Thomas build. Everybody tells us, it´s the first thing you gotta build when you go live in the forest. I know for a fact that it is true, legitimate and needed… we just didn´t and I regret that.
This is the compost toilet from the outside
and from the inside (luxury!)
This is the woodshed (look at all that firewood!)
The first and most important thing to get self-sufficient about is the firewood (when you live in Scandinavia) The second thing are berries and mushrooms.
And you know, the level of organisation these people have. It´s just awesome.
A designated little room for wilderness stuff such as sleeping bag and trangias!
Yes. Organisation. Storage boxes for flour. Everything has a place, there´s an order, no piles of… stuff. Everything so organised!
I admit it. Organisation have become a whole new phenomenon to me after having lived two years in tipis/sheds/caravans while building log cabins, our clothes in plastic bags, peeing in the bushes, kitchen utensil you could never find….
Or maybe I´m just growing old. I can´t stand it anymore. I want structure!
As Jeppe goes to work (digging a ditch) (we´re day labourers, hustlers, gypsies, sharing economy fanatics and we went to their place to exchange gifts)
We eat dinner and talk about politics. You´d be surprised about how often politics and the state of the world is debated out here.
You´d be surprised about how many radicals, anarchists, rebels and resistance people are living out here and you´d be surprised about how everyday living can be seen as some kind of opposition, as some kind of protest, you´d be surprised about how many of our actions are rooted in deep, deep ecology and ideology, there is a clear awareness about this among the people I meet out here. It uplifts me.
Next morning, morning coffee glory, we drive home to our own forest and a take a swim in the clear water before returning home
and I realise and I sometimes forget…. that we truly live an amazing life, this IS living the dream, I cannot imagine a better life for me bear cup baby, a natural life, roaming free nor a better life for my husband who needs to feel proud as much as he needs to breathe air and for me… who sink into depression about the state of world, my salvation complex, my Scandinavian pain. What keeps me up when I´m down is the fact that we DO stuff.
Yesterday I made two kinds of jam, mueslibars, pizzas and kombucha (chopped wood for the woodburning stove, fetched water in the well, picked the berries)
I need to keep active and to DO things because as the world thighens as a shrinked wollen sweater around my neck, as things get worse and worse I need to both remember and to manifest that I hold POWERS.
I can do stuff.
I can share my stuff.
I can elaborate on how I do my stuff.
My stuff can inspire others to do stuff… as Rie and Thomas has inspired us. We can do stuff together! We can help each other. Inspire eachother. Learn from each other. Right?
Isn´t that what being human is about. Isn´t that worth remembering?
I think we need a recipe soon. Don´t we?