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!
In Sweden we have Sportsweek holiday week 7. We are probably the only family on Hönö that doesn’t go skiing. Not that I don’t want to, I have warm memories going along with other families to the north of Sweden and to Norway. Also memories from being kicked out of pubs, getting some poor guy beaten up and my friends parents forbidding her ever to contact me again. Lets not talk about that. Sooo we have had a nice lazy week but in some ways very productive. Today started with me mixing chemicals for the wet plates and husband doing a new batch of the chili marmalade Nam Prik Pao. This thai chilli marmalade is my absolute favourite. It goes with just about everything, especially nice with prawns or cheese. Also on Knäckebröd(Swedish crisp bread) with butter. It is so lovely, tasty, addictive but so stinky while you make it. Nam Prik Pao ingredients are: Fried chillies, fried onions, garlic- all ground together. Return in the oil with shrimp paste, tamarind, fish sauce and palm sugar. Yesterday we had Focaccia with mozzarella, chillies, basil, garlic and serrano ham. Today sourdough pizza, the dough rested in the fridge for 2 days, with calabrese, mozzarella and Nam Prik Pao. If my husband was home all the time I would get so fat. He is set on baking mode so we’ve had to give bread away to neighbours, no more room in the freezer, and tomorrow I’ll do a round with eggs because the chickens have been very productive as well. I’ve been spoiling them with food so everytime I go outside so they come running up and run after me wherever I go. A little bit scary hearing their little claws and they peck more at my fingers than the food when I feed them but still nice to have company out there. I sat down in the hammock outside with my daughter and said -I hope it doesn’t collapse. Sure thing it did! It had rusted so badly on one side of the hammock that it just broke off but we stayed sitting there pretending we where sat in a ski slope. Fed the chickens corn and popcorn. This afternoon I re-planted all my chillies to larger single pots and moved them downstairs because we are getting Airbnb guests upstairs next week. The majority of the family took a walk down the beach and we chose a direction that me and my daughter discovered last week, full of mystery, great photo opportunities and not too long. Great to have lived on this Island for 6 years and still have parts to discover!
Every autumn I think next year I’ll calm down a bit with the planting but by the time xmas is fading my fingers start to itch. My first chilies are popping up and I’ve ordered some veg seeds and flower seeds who need an early start. A little while ago I received the new seed catalogue for 2017 and skipped happily towards the front door only to glance at the flower bed at the front of our house. 3 happy chickens sand bathing in where they had dug big holes in my flower bed. My happiness was momentarily quenched but now I’ve decided to not go through another summer without a green house and that makes me happy again! Just need to build one. As well as extending the henhouse and building a smoker. 2017 bring it on! Same with photography, I always switch off over the holidays but now new ideas are popping up like mushrooms without me even trying to think. Still haven’t spent any time in the darkroom since before xmas but today I played around with my phone, taking pics of the chillies(yes, all the people who know me as the most analogue person out there are laughing their asses off right now) with my xmas present. It’s a macro lens that you attach to the mobile with a little clamp. I must say I am quite impressed with what the phone can do with just a little add on and it’s a lot of fun. Only problem is keeping the phone still, never thought I’d say this as I don’t even own a digital camera but maybe I’ll have to invest in a phone tripod…
The plant and seed exchange day was a success third year in a row. People started showing before opening and I was running like a bouncy ball between the kitchen and the barn answering questions at the same time. Luckily my daughter is now completely capable of running the “fika”(coffee and cakes) sale by herself and the husband was on kitchen duty making sandwiches. We sold plenty of home smoked salmon sourdough bagels along with cakes, meringues and rhubarb pie. Visitors brought lots of plants, some just left them after swapping to what they wanted and some stayed for a while swapping and selling. There is always a small confusion about rules and how the whole thing works. I’ve thought a lot about adding rules but think I’ll just keep doing it like I’ve done it so far. Exhausted after the day I fell asleep at 9pm and spent the day after planting everything that was left behind in my garden. Very happy to see that it covered most of the bare ground, just to see the chickens dig half of it up after a few hours…this means war!
Time to make up for neglecting the garden and the chicks! I bought 250 kilos of soil from the shop with my bike trolly and emptied the compost. This year I will try to be a smarter gardener(so I say…). The downside of planting allover the place is that it will need a lot of watering. The pump partly broke just after we moved in, it used to turn itself off at a certain level and then come back on again automatically but now it just switches off and I have to go in the basement to start it up again every 5 minutes. So now I will ditch the veg patch/potato field and plant a mix of flowers that are good for the soil, let them grow, flower and then cut down before they spread their seed(I already know that I will forget about that last step but it can’t get much worse than the weed that already takes it over every year). Of course I do want spuds but I’ll plant them closer to the house in bags or buckets. I’ve also decided that whenever I go to the garden shop I’ll buy three of a kind instead of the usual one of each. My final goal is to have so many perennial flowers and berry bushes in my garden so that the hens don’t have room to dig away the flowers. Right now the chicks aren’t my favourite animals. Every evening Esme makes me climb the top of the cherry tree to get her down, if I don’t she’ll make a racket in the morning and wake us up at 5am. A couple of days ago I lifted Sookie up, who has been stuck in the nest wanting babies for a month, and there were loads of hopping bugs! Hen fleas! Yuck! I sprayed the nest with soap and vinegar and this morning after being woken up at 6am by the hens making a huge racket I took the nests off the wall. I tucked my jeans into my socks, apparently they go for humans to and if your not careful they follow you into your house. It does explain the bites that my daughter has been getting because of the cat sleeping in her bed… I brought everything in the henhouse out and then sprayed and scrubbed and chalked everything. Now the henhouse looks like new again and I also put in a new nest while I’ll be re-painting the old ones. Funny thing is, while cleaning I didn’t see one flea! The rest of the day was spent in the garden, digging, sowing, clearing and hanging with the chicks. If it wasn’t for the crazy weather, snow, hail, sun, wind and rain it could almost have been a summers day…
Success! Wow so many people showed up! If I had to make a guess, probably around 100-120 people. It’s been sunny the last week but today overcast, still lucky because it started raining literally five minutes after closing. I had invited a friend who is an artist and who shares the same love for gardening to join me. She and her partner makes these very original plant supports(and fantastic artwork see more at her website! )which you can use for plants to climb on or even indoors to hang jewellery or scarves etc. As soon as we opened there was a storm of people with bags full of plants to swap or just leave behind because they had to many. For fairness I put a maximum of 5 eggs a person but they still sold out straight away. Lots of nice conversations during the day, new friends and new exciting plants! I baked the last cake this morning and almost all of the cakes were gone by the end of the day. It was quite windy and a cold breeze went through the barn but I had put some old windows up to stop the wind and all the chili plants had a place where the pigs used to live. Behind the wall with a heater and extra light lamp. Now I find myself swamped with even more plants though so will do a re-run in a few weeks when the weather is a bit warmer. Also for next year I’m planning to put tables up for everyone to rent so that they can sell or swap their own plants. There was some confusion about how the whole day works and I found many people being a bit conscious about what they could take or not. Now I’m stood in front of a new problem, where to put everything that people left?? I counted on gaining space not loosing!
Started 6.30am baking a cake and carried on pretty much without a break until now. I cleared out the barn. Well, the part with the new floor is very tidy but the rest has collected a lot of stuff over the winter, bikes, garden furniture etc. Not to mention the mess I’ve made with my newfound hobby carpentry… All the old doors and windows that I’ve saved were taking up a lot of space and then I realised that it would save a lot of room, and cover up the only very ugly wall, to just spread them out next to each other. Looks great! I know I could sell them for a lot of money but I never will, they all have their own individual story. A very original story I heard today from a neighbour, another neighbour told me a while ago but no one I told seemed to have heard of it so I had my doubts. Apparently where our road begins used to be called “Hor-gabet”, translated to English(from broad island dialect) it means The hookers mouth. Charming. Although where my neighbour house is there used to be Gårda bar, a drinking hole, so it actually makes sense. Oh well tomorrow I’m bringing some culture to Hor-gabet. After a lot of carrying, sweeping(amazing to think I have a hundred year old dust up my nose) and planting I only have some more baking to do and then my head will hit the pillow. Oh! One great thing today was trying a blog tip (thank you Instructables.com!) about ageing new wood. In autumn I built a stand for the extra light for the chilies. Carrying it out to the barn felt kind of wrong because it looked so new compared with everything else in the barn so I brushed it with tea and vinegar. What a change! A great result, now this I will do again. The only drawback is the smell of the vinegar after a few days with rusty nails. Well I have a feeling that tomorrow will be a very busy day so off to bake and then bed.