Went for a run and came home with…

One of those days! Started the morning going down the harbour to help out the Hönö Klåva second hand shop. A few times a year they have a lorry coming to pick up stuff to bring to Romania. They have been to Romania a number of occasions and everything is sent to a few families and then divided to other people in need. Today was the worst weather so far, it was grey, heavy fog and rain. Lucky me is only entrusted to count everything brought on to the lorry so I got to stand in a container watching all the guys carrying sacks, bags, boxes and beds.
Tomorrow is the first day open for my gallery this year and I have so much to do, left most things until the last day as usual. The weather miraculously turned around to sun and a warm wind. I cleaned out the barn/gallery for a few hours but then I had promised my daughter to go running so we did. -Hey lets jog around the corner to check out my hen-friends new hens. So we did and so one hour later we came home with the promise of three little chicks!
I did try to reason with myself but as always it just happened so fast… We picked up the little chicks and put them in a box in the hallway for a while until it got dark. One of our hens, Nettie, has been wanting babies for quite some time now so we let them into the catbox, where she’s been laying everyday for weeks, and covered it with a net. She seemed confused but happy and the little chicks snuggled up to her straight away. I really hope they are still alive in the morning! So tomorrow is the premiere for Camera exchange day in the gallery and at the same time I will have to build a cage or something to give the chicks more room and stop crazy hen Lottie getting to them. It seems my favourite motto should be “When you have loads to do best go out and find some more!”.

 

Green fingers

After having two weeks of snow suddenly sun appears, everything has melted and every time you turn around a new spring flower has popped up! Yesterday I did loads of necessary chores but took some time in the sun just hanging with the chicks. Today started foggy but eventually sun broke through. I said last week we have to buy a proper pancake or crêpe pan instead of our big frying pans, this morning I went down the second hand shop in the harbour and Voila! The perfect cast iron pan. Love it when that happens! I had a coffee because they have the best coffee and it’s also nice to just sit there and look at people. At home I immediately tried out the great find and me and my daughter had pancakes in the sun on the stairs. Then she helped me clear the veg patch, chickens came to help to. They are so social and curious. I’ve spoilt them rotten so every time I go in the basement they come to beg for food. When I planted peppers Lottie actually came inside but left as soon as she didn’t find any food. I promised myself to not go through another summer without a greenhouse, problem is I want a really big one to sit in. Planning the year I realise that it’s not gonna happen without a budget and a holiday so now I’ve decided to build something in the vegetable patch  or possibly attached to the henhouse. The veg patch is my worst enemy. There’s ivy and nettles taking over everything. I’m tempted to leave it but it’s such a valuable patch of land, perfect location, enough sun, shade and shielded by the worst wind. Maybe if I put five minutes every day on weeding I’ll be able to keep it in check. Think of all the vegetables we can grow and use for events in the barn/gallery!

Esme reicarnated

It is pretty quiet in the garden with only three chickens which is both good and bad. I love planting but the chickens sadly doesn’t see the difference between weeds and flowers… But as sure as I’ve already ordered new seeds I’ve started looking for eggs to buy. I am really happy with Hedemora and whatever mix race the new hens are but we’ve decided(well my daughter did) that we will be shallow and order fertilised eggs from hens that lay different coloured eggs. So now it’s just to wait for one of the hens to become broody. I paid a visit to Fotö where the 4 hens live that we sold before the fox came. So surreal, I think of them all gone, so to see Buffy, Vera, Captain Pugwash and Renee Biggs is like they’ve come back to life. They are very happy over there though! Sharing their home with the wild goose Gizmo. Gizmo was found as an egg(yes I know it’s illegal to pick eggs from wild birds but a kid found it and if they had put it back it would probably have been shunned). They hatched it in an egg hatcher and we saw him when he was just 2 days old, tiny fluffy thing with flippers. Now he’s huge! They are not friends but tolerate each other. Gizmo must like his home thought because his wings aren’t clipped and sometimes he’ll do a tour of the island but he always comes back.
I am naturally very careful with closing the chickens in now after our fox visit, they usually head inside as soon as it starts getting dark but the last two nights that I’ve gone to close the hens in they have still been outside. Tonight I watched Lottie try to fly up in the cherry tree but she failed. She is definitely Esme reincarnated! I know that in a few weeks when it gets warmer I will have to climb that cherry tree every evening to collect her. Wouldn’t surprise me if she learns how to cockadoodeldoo as well as Esme did.

Harvest frenzy!

IMAG5566 We started the day with going to a friends place around the corner who just got chickens. Well they actually got a hen and some eggs for their sons preschool so all the children had the fantastic opportunity to watch the whole “from egg to chicken” and then all the young chickens were brought home to their garden. They reckon 3 cockerels but I guess 4, I’m not claiming to be an expert so time will tell. I wish all children would have the chance to experience this in their life but I think sadly enough that there are too many rules and “allergies” for it to happen.
IMAG5571 IMAG5575 IMAG5590Today the whole family helped(not counting the teen then busy being a rockstar) harvesting the berries in our garden. In one hour we picked red and black currants and cherries, 7 kilos all together! A record of cherries this year though, after picking a bucket full it looked like I hadn’t touched it and there are still more on the tree to ripen. The other day I ordered more pretty jam jars and they will arrive any day now so I’ve frozen most of the harvest apart from the cherries that I’m now turning into cordial and a first to me, cherry jelly. Tomorrow or when I have more time I will make blackcurrant jelly and then cordial of whatever is left. I feel like I haven’t written about the chickens for quite some time now but they they started eating my geraniums and that’s when I had enough, they seriously crossed the line. I started to have them closed in most of the day, well it’s a very big hen yard but I still felt bad about it. Now I pay the price. There are some strawberries but we still haven’t tasted them, the slugs are too fast. That’s the downside of my recent decision to close the chicks in more often. There are more slugs and snails than last year, so it’s a win-win(for the slugs!) or maybe lose-lose situation? I guess I’d rather have happy chickens eating my garden than slimy slugs so ok I give in…

In Sweden we say

cyanotulips

Cyanotype tulips

“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!

really cool to watch the wet plate negative turn positive in the sun as the cyanotype coating darkens underneath!

really cool to watch the wet plate negative turn positive in the sun as the cyanotype coating darkens underneath!

Pidgey is such a lap-hen

Pidgey is such a lap-hen

R.I.P Bugget

Bugget, best mum in the world- rest in peace

Bugget, best mum in the world- rest in peace

The hen posse helping out

The hen posse helping out

Nugget will miss Bugget, our first two hens

Nugget will miss Bugget, our first two hens

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.

A beautiful bird of prey

A beautiful bird of prey

Like one of the decorations

Like one of the decorations

Feeling sheepish

My relative with the cows Malin and Rosa

My relative with the cows Malin and Rosa

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…

the cutest piglet!

the cutest piglet!

all the ladies

all the ladies

Kettil, the big boss

Kettil, the big boss

waiting for food

waiting for food