We’re slowly arriving in Sweden!

28 July 2013

We’re still around, still thinking about blogging and yes, we arrived safe and sound in our new house in Sweden about two weeks ago. We’ve been too busy with other things (i.e. life) to blog. But we are slowly arriving in our new home in mind as well as in body, plus it’s raining like mad on this quiet Sunday morning, so THE perfect occasion for catching up on the blogging front.

Our move from France has been very stressful due to poor planning and support on behalf of the removal company, but luckily all our belongings arrived on time in Sweden and we have now unpacked about 130 boxes and see the light at the end of the tunnel with only about 10 or 15 left.

The first couple of weeks here have been wonderful – we arrived to an incredibly sweet Swedish summer with lush, long and sunny days. What a perfect start to life in a new country!

We have been incredibly busy with making the house a home and occupied with our forest clearing (I prefer that to calling it wasteland…) that is to become our permaculture inspired garden in due course:

Image

At present, we are still a far cry away from having a thriving garden, as the land is full of stones, big and small, waste from building works, etc. While the weather has been so good, we started cleaning up rubbish and to remove some stones. Amongst the rubbish we found treasure such as some gloves, parts of ancient shoes, a pretty door knob and some explosive that is still sitting in a borehole in the rock… (we’re still trying to sort that latter one out and have instructed the children not to connect the wires that are sticking out to a battery).

I am also learning about our land by watching the animals that visit, the light, the wind, and by taking note of which plants grow in which places. Since yesterday, we have had a lot of rain, so it is interesting to see how the water flows, where it gathers, etc.

Conditions so far appear promising in our spot. We get plenty of sunlight, but will need to create areas sheltered from the sometimes very strong winds.  I am hopeful that we can turn the soil that is at present hard, rocky, and very depleted into a beautiful lush garden in good time.

We have already made a start at enriching the soil with natural fertilizer by adopting this cute little creature :

ImageThis is “Crazy Harry”. We visited him at the local animal shelter a week ago, instantly fell for his charms, and got everything ready to provide a new home for him last weekend. I found a second-hand hatch on the internet and building a spacious run for him turned into a fun family project. Since we picked him up from the shelter, he has been busy helping us in the garden by munching dandelions and leaving nutritious droppings on the ground. He is also a lovely character, friendly, inquisitive, and very sociable. Lucy is so happy to be having a pet at long last… and me too – I find his company rather therapeutic.

We will also have chickens to help us fertilize the garden – this is my own “pet project”, but I have decided to wait until next spring before taking on a bunch of feathered ladies to provide us with fresh eggs: The summer in Sweden will end soon and as I am planning to raise chicks, I felt it’s better if they can grow up during the warm season. I have already decided on the breed: It will be “Swedish Flowers Hens”, an old traditional breed that is adapted to the climate and hardy enough to survive the cold winters.

But apart from working on the house and the garden, we also made some time for fun. We have been swimming several times – we are surrounded by lakes big and small and we have been going for swims in the local lake which is just a few minutes away by bike. It’s marvellous, the long evenings mean that we can go for a quick dip after the day’s work has been done. It feels like an utter luxury at the moment and in fact a bit like a holiday – it’s like perfect camping – while the good weather lasted, we spent almost all our time outside, but still we got to sleep in our own beds and have a fully equipped kitchen including dishwasher at our disposal…  At present, it feels like we can be happy here for a long time. People are friendly, our neighbours are helpful and kind, and I think that we won’t get lonely, but will have visitors frequently.

In fact, there was a knock at the door yesterday and, lo and behold, a friend of Lucy’s from her old school in Lyon and her mum had come for a surprise visit en route to their holiday destination in the northwest of Sweden. Though they don’t live in France themselves anymore, they had got our new address through the international grapevine and had decided to come and see us. We all really enjoyed seeing them, so that was a GOOD day. I am now hoping for many more good days … but I’ll have to watch this space. We are very pleased so far, but everything is still so new and everyday brings new surprises, so life will remain exciting, challenging and sometimes frustrating – like the other the day when I cycled into Gothenburg through the woods. I was ok on the way there, because I was with my hero who knows the area, but got utterly lost on my own on the way back. Let me assure you, the woods are expansive here and you don’t want to lose your way completely. Luckily some kind people helped me out so I found the way home eventually. I am still grateful I did not get eaten by a bear or chased by the mighty moose…

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5 Responses to “We’re slowly arriving in Sweden!”

  1. Scot Says:

    Sounds absolutely beautiful — just how large is that garden? And have you already started stuff like compost heaps? Is there a fireplace? Can you go fishing in those lakes?

    Before you start getting to veggies, let me recommend two books: One, for free as a PDF, is “Building Better Soils for Better Crops” (http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Books/Building-Soils-for-Better-Crops-3rd-Edition), for the basics; and “Teaming [sic] with Microbes (http://teamingwithmicrobes.com/home/). Both can get technical at times, but are worth the effort. You’ll have to adapt the ideas to local climate, of course, for example we use more scarlet clover here in Germany instead of the red clover “Building” recommends for most of the US. And our winters don’t get cold enough for winterkill, which makes no-till pretty impossible with plant killers. You might have better luck with that.

    I find it hard to believe that R. didn’t want to blow the dynamite himself. Maybe just as well we didn’t find that as teenagers =8).

    Please keep up the postings, we’re really curious, and it all sounds great!

    S.

    • Scot Says:

      Sorry, “with plant killers” must be “without” of course.

    • soundray Says:

      Thanks for the tips, Scot! The garden is just over 1400 m^2. We’ve started a compost heap for non-food organic waste. For food waste we’ll get a closed composter (model Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout), because back in Ascot we’ve had a nasty invasion of Crazy Harry’s relatives, the long-tailed variety. No fireplace in the house, but a geothermal heat pump. We may build an outdoor fireplace some time, but that’s not a high priority at the mo. You bet I wanted to experiment with the dynamite, but then I remembered my borderline-safe experiments with unexploded ordnance that Henning and I collected on the Truppenübungsplatz in Schwarzenborn. And that dynamite is practically under the house… You must think that I’ve become sensible. Perhaps I have — sorry…

  2. Gary Marklund Says:

    Nice thing about Sweden is you don’t have to stay up late in the winter to put on a fire show. Hi to Rolf

    • soundray Says:

      Hey Gary, great to hear from you! Can’t wait for winter to come with all the opportunities for fireshows 🙂


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