“Man tager vad man haver”, which means You use whatever you have. The expression comes from Kajsa Warg who wrote cookery books and also author of “Guide to Housekeeping for Young Women” published in 1755. It’s an expression I like to use a lot and I also use as an excuse for my hoarding, saving whatever and whatnot just in case it might be useful one day… My big wooden camera that I use for wet plates is falling apart and so are the holders. Sick and tired of having so many plates ruined by light leaks I’ve decided to let it retire. Until I can afford to buy another one I’ll have to make do with the smaller format and fished my Sinar 4×5 out of the closet. Oh, it was such a joy to work with! Not having to pull and tug the holders and worry about the bellow or lens falling off. Now only problem was that I didn’t have any plates the right size. I decided to sacrifice some old picture frames and used the glass to cut glass plates the right size. Glass cutting is not one of my finer skills I must admit but at least I managed to cut about 15 pieces, raggedy and sharp, but usable. I was planning to use the negatives for printing and toning but released that I was out of fixer so I chose Cyanotype instead. Cyanotype is also great because it can be exposed in the sun which means hanging with the chicks at the same time!
One of our very first hens Bugget has gone missing. At first the only explanation I could think about was a hawk or something. Although you often see bird of prey on the way out to the island I have never actually seen one out here. I guess you have to count on hens dying, online I read about whole henhouses taken out by foxes or other predators, but the strange thing was that she just went missing without a sign. No blood or feathers. After a couple of days I asked on Facebook if by chance anyone had seen her or what’s left of her. That resulted in a journalist calling to ask if she could write about it in the papers, the pun was Hen missing on “Hen island”. So Bugget is now known all over Sweden but still not found. The day after the article was posted a neighbour told me he knew the answer to the mystery, a fox had been shot close by! First time I heard about foxes on our island but I guess they can swim and run over the ice. Ok at least we know, I thought, but later that day I told a friend. He said he’d found a black hen above his house running around, his hens started attacking it so he let it out again but he didn’t think it was a Hedemora(would be strange with two black hens on the run the same day though). So maybe Bugget got eaten by the fox or maybe she’s still running free on the island we will probably never know. Today I spent all day in the garden trying to rescue the flowerbeds from the hens and then had a coffee at my relatives place on the next island, Öckerö. She had a dead bird on her door step. I wouldn’t have noticed it if she didn’t point it out! Apparently a goshawk had dropped dead on it’s back with eyes half-open just next to the garden decorations. I’m fascinated but she was horrified and sad so I offered to take it home. When I told my husband I had a present for him it really wasn’t what he expected… I’m saving it out in the cold over night and tomorrow I will eternalise it on a wet plate and then bury it at cockerel cemetery(the veg patch). Yes, even my family think I’m quite weird sometimes.
Since I moved to Hönö I’ve made it my longterm plan to bring more animals to the island. There used to be a lot of them in the old days. My grandmother had pigs, cows and hens. Every morning she cycled down the seaside to milk the cows, called Rosa and Malin. It used to help clear the land but now it’s all overgrown and some plants are in danger of being extinct. I heard they have both sheep and pigs at Björkö, one of the other islands in the Northern archipelago, so I decided to pay them a visit. 14 sheep greeted my with an ear-deafthening BAAAAH! The sheep are taken care of by 5 families as a cooperative, they take turns looking after them. Next to the sheep there were pigs, also a cooperative with 5 families and two families who look after both pigs and sheep. The whole cooperation is run smoothly, everyone share the costs and workload, mainly feeding the animals and building new fences. Some of the wool is taken care of to make slippers and such but most of it is thrown away, which is apparently what most farmers do. All the leftover bread from the island shop is fed to the sheep and the pigs get leftovers from the Hönö beer brewery. Must be some happy pigs! Anna-Lena who greeted me answered all my questions and some. She’s always dreamt about sheep and made her dreams come true by starting the cooperative with some friends about two years ago. I was surprised by how much work it was, feeding them twice a day and of course shaving, culling and when there are lambs on the way they need attention at least three times day plus at night. They are also starting up a chicken cooperative soon. It made me realise that this is nothing I can do on my own but the cooperative way seems to work very well and they’ve had no problems finding families who want to join. A couple of cows would be nice as well…
Once my wet plate box was done I realised that I needed to mix more chemicals thus I didn’t get to go out the day after and with a busy schedule it wasn’t until yesterday I finally made it. Last time, after trying out my first box, I promised myself that I would try the next one out in the garden but hey memory’s short! I only had two hours but got everything packed on my bike and went down the seafront. For the last box I used red ruby with plastic, which failed after a light test so this time I had doubled it. Next time I’ll quadruple it. The box worked fine but it felt like daylight in there and the plates came out foggy. BUT there were some pictures, not great but I’m happy with having done the trial. Things to remember for next time: Don’t splash silver everywhere, use smaller bottles(I planned on this and even built a shelf for them but was too much in a hurry) and last but not least do not pour developer up my sleeve. Apart from the window the box worked just fine it’s just working inside it that needs some fine-tuning. I didn’t think about it at the time but before next excursion I will pour a plate and develop without exposing just to make sure that it’s not my plate holders acting up. Maybe third time’s the charm?