New life in Malexander

Families and Christmas – holy ones and the more ordinary...

I have the whole family under the same roof. Or nearly – when everyone is here we need to use the has-been riding camp huts for some of the brood. But it works – no frostbite or numb feet in the morning so far! Instead we have the frosty comments and heated arguments. It is not easy to keep the peace amongst siblings and it does not get any easier when growing up it seems. The old roles of the sibling pecking order and a child like approach to conflict takes over when entering the family unit again. A phenomena known as egression, my daughter informs me, a well known and commonly discussed issue for the 20 + age group. For the first time i realize that it is no longer my duty to resolve conflicts and arguments – or am I just too tired to keep trying? However, the happy and joyous moments outnumber the irritable ones. I will miss the children and even their clothes, lap tops and ability to fill the house with noise of all kinds when they return to their own lives this week.

The Christmas early morning service ( 6 a.m on the 25th) in Malexander church was well worth beating ones tired limbs out of bed for. The choir leader/organ player gave the worn old hymns exiting new sounds and I was wide awake during the whole sermon. Not usually the case, I must admit...The priest told of how a young man had rushed to the body of the Stockholm suicide bomber to try and resuscitate him immediately after the explosion. A journalist asked him how he could put himself in danger like that for the sake of a terrorist. The man’s answer was But he was also a human being!.  True but not always easy to remember or feel, deep in ones heart of hearts. In Malexander the memory of what mindless violence can do is always present. We pass by the memorial and the burning candles for the murdered policemen on our way home from church.
(26 dec 2010)

I am evil...
Oh yes, it is true. During the last few days Buzz, conveniently renamed Mischief (works better in swedish, trust me!) has learned to chew on his electric  fenc rope. Yesterday he graduated to picking off the handles of the gate to his paddock. That meant grave danger both to Mischief, the fence and myself. Me, because if anything happens to M I´m not worth much in his owners books and she is pretty strong...

So, off I went this morning - without breakfast, which was all Doris´s fault but more on that another time - to redirect all power from our fencing unit to M´s rope to try and teach him to respect the fence. This proved to be more dfficult than I had expected so in the end I had to bring M and his mother back in to work on the fence in peace. Bringing in M´s mother when no other horse is in the stables is NOT a good idea. In the 15 minutes I needed she managed to make a complete mess of her newly mucked out straw bed by prancing up and down. She is, to put it  mildly, a bit highly strung sometimes...

So, whilst swearing over the cold, the snow, Doris, M and his mother I worked away at the fence.In  the end I managed to fix  it and with a menacing smile turned the horses back out again.

- Go on, Mischief, why don´t you taste the rope? and of course he did and ZAP there went the first chock in to those sweet pink gums! I am not exagerating when I say that I jumped for joy more than once because M had to test the rope again - ZAP - and again...until, with a disgruntled look on his face, he went for a comfort suckle from his mum.

It is indeed true - that one creatures misfortune is another (wo)mans fortune - at least today!

Happy Christmas cleaning everyone!

(22 dec 2010)

To sell up and move - it´s like divorce...

It starts in all innocence with me just scanning the property ads on Internet. Checking out other farms, nothing serious, just passing the time really...Wouldn´t really want to move anyway. The old house is quite nice and think of all the work we have put in over the years to make it work for us.

But so, one day, the ADVERT appears, and I can´t resist... We go to see it, several times. But no telling the rest of the family or the neighbours, it all has to be hush-hush at this stage. Plans for a new way of life starts to take shape – wouldn´t it be great to live there, so challenging and exciting and simply wonderful??! The long commuting distance to Ian’s work, the  need for extensive repairs and the fact that there are no proper fences for horses – bah -  who would let petty details like that stand in the way for a passion – sorry – new farm plans? And the decision is made – we are buying!

All the plans now have to be made in to reality. An estate agent is called in to start selling the old house. And suddenly it dawns on me – it´s over between me and Frälsegården! No more walking through those beautiful rooms, no more enjoying a cup of coffee on the front doorstep. What have I done – how can I just turn my back on all those years and all the plans we have had for this house? I am an evil person..

The garden is deserted, the stables emptied and a heavy melancholia settles on the whole family. The only solace is the brief moments we spend at the new place – because it IS wonderful and it DOES feel right to move there. If only I didn´t have to leave the old house in order to do it... And will our lives really be better for moving here – well – nobody can tell at this stage.

What we have to do now is to throw ourselves out in to the unknown and give it our best shot – because the only thing that is certain from now is that things will be different!

( 13 december 2010 )

Murder in the afternoon

Tumbo Farm has had its first crime – and such a beastly crime too!  Just before lunch on Saturday – whilst Anna was buying necessities and anatomically adjusted slippers in Kisa and Ian was snow clearing with the tractor – our pack of dogs took the life of Huffle the rabbit inside the stables. Exactly how the deed was done no one of the accused are willing to divulge. What is clear is that Huffle cleared the double gates supposedly shutting him in to the rabbit cubicle. Thereafter he was brutally scared or bitten to death by the three dogs. Not a pretty picture...

Temple Grandin writes in her book Animals in Translation that all predators has the killing bite as a fixed action pattern imprinted in their brains. They do not need to learn this technique from older animals. What they do need to learn is what to do with the prey AFTER killing it – in other words – how to eat it.  Our dogs reacted exactly like that. The rabbit was found seemingly unharmed – saving a few tufts of fur that had been torn out.

This is how thin the line is between cosseted lap dog and wild hunter. Fast movements, especially in sig-sag along the ground level, will release a hunting behaviour in a domesticated dog. But, if one has taught the dog as a puppy what does not qualify as prey; for instance cats, small children, wheelbarrow wheels, the killing bite will not be performed as the end of the chase. Even though we feel deeply for the rabbit and his family – he left a wife and son behind – it is interesting to see this theory expressed so clearly in our renegade pack of dogs. The cat, which they encountered outside the barn soon after the murder, was greeted with utmost respect and courtesy – they did not even try to hunt her.
(7 december 2010)

Snow - it´s love and hate

The only thing i could draw properly as a kid was snow. Using charcoal on white paper I drew skitracks in snopw, shovelled snowbanks along a drive and great big trees full of snow on their branches. Today I felt transported in to one of my own drawings - there is so much snow everywhere!
I grew up in the north of Sweden in the sixties when winters were snowy - bit like now really. So I am used to snow - snow in ones shoes, snow in ones mouth, snow inside the collar and snow in the face when playing rough with ones mates. We had to go out on our skis every lunchbreak at school - unless it was below -15 in wich case we were excused...But even so I do like snow - it hides things in the garden and it makes the world sooooo quiet....nothing is so quiet as a forest during a heavy snowfall. And it is pretty - of course it is.

But it is also heavy to shovel, in the way, everywhere and a general pain in the xxx. Everything takes longer, everything is much harder work and WHY did it have to come so early?? I was fencing in 50 cm of snow yesterday  - fencing!!! To all of you non swedes out there - this is not normal for central sweden - no way!!
But - it is also a great insulator  - so we probably have the snow to thank for the waterpipes not freezing underground. Love it love it love it

(5 december 2010)
To be ones own boss

Schedules my own working day, in charge of my tasks, free to do things in my own time and tempo – you all know how the life style articles likes to portray self employed people. I have been my own boss for five years now and one would imagine me to be pretty much on top of this thing of balancing work and free time by now, right?
The truth is that I am not in charge at all – the flock is! By that i mean all the animals on the farm. When I get up there are the three dogs to let out, the bird wants feeding and then it´s hurry hurry down to the stables to feed and let in or out nine horses of various sizes. Oh, and don´t forget to bring the rabbit food – it freezes if kept in the stables now. If i do forget I just have to tromp all the way back to fetch. The cat is easy NOT to forget – she is under my feet until she gets fed at a dog safe level.
Do you understand now – it´s hardly me who is the boss at this time of the day!
When I get back in the dogs and I have breakfast, the wood burner and the BLOG needs attention and only THEN can I tackle the (hopefully) revenue making part of the day. At least for a few hours until the whole circus with in and out, feeding, mucking out, exercising and training youngsters starts up again.
Is this freedom? Is this really a meaningful life? Absolutely! Do I make any money? Well….
(3 december 2010)

Trendy woodfires

You can´t open a trendy interior magazine these days without seeing logs in the pictures. Logs in wood baskets, logs stacked up against white plastered walls and logs cracking away happily in open fires and woodburners. I depend on my wood burner for real and I do wonder how the trendy magazine readers would like a run in with reality?
To start off – logs and a tidy home does NOT match  - not even close. Logs are messy. When they are carried in, when they are put in to the fire and above all, when the ashes are taken out. Not to mention how messy it can get if you in frustration over a fire that is slow to take have a really good go with the bellows. Ash everywhere, including your face.
Logs can also be a real strain on a relationship. Especially when the wood box is empty, it´s half past 10 in the evening and the outside temperature is around 20 below. And finally, all those logs has to be stored somewhere before bringing them in to look pretty. How does the trend sensitive folks manage that in a well manicured garden of approximately 400 square meters?
Maybe they simply get one of those fake fires/flat screen tellies that you can plug in to the wall socket at Wal-Mart.
But it sure doesn´t keep them warm like mine does!
(2 december 2010)

Colder than cold…

-20 degrees Celsius last night – bloody hell… It does feel a bit unnecessary to have such extreme temperatures when we have just moved in to a house originally meant to be a summer dwelling. Our house, made up of three workers barracks put together with a pyramid shaped wooden upper floor on top, is very well insulated in places and very well ventilated in others. Bit of both worlds, in other words. Well, I must not moan, the water DID NOT freeze last night and it is amazing how well one sleeps in 14 degrees room temperature with a good quilt an a warm husband in the bed. The dogs run around on three legs picking up alternate paws when they get a spot of cold cramp but seem fairly unaffected otherwise. The horses aren´t bothered at all – as long as they have silage in front of their muzzles it can be as cold as it likes! Good to know we have 48 bales in store for them if it really is going to be the worst winter in  a 1000 years...Time to surf in to to find out what to prepare for.
(1 december 2010)

1 kommentar:

  1. Hey Anna! I love your blog, and I think my previous attempts at commenting have failed . . . maybe this time I can just write "anonymous" (should be the simplest way). It was great to see a picture of your old house, much as I love the new one!