Jan 25, 2010

Log On!

     Winter on a farm in northern Sweden means forest work. 
     If the temperature is above -18 degrees, it's time to "manage the forest". 
     Since wood is our primary energy source on the farm, the preservation and maintenance of the forest is a critical factor.  In fact,  farm values in this area are increased or decreased immensely in relationship to the forest that exists with any given property. 
     Some earlier posts on our blog show various  activities with wood such as feeding "Big Red" the industrial furnace that services all  underground heating for the entire farm complex,  filling up the wood chute in the main house to power our woodstove, and the wood-fired stone oven for making all the Scandinavian crisp breads in the nearby bakery building.  Not as common to others unfamiliar with this way of life are the wood-fired boilers that are used to "cook" enormous quantities of paint for the exteriors of the farm buildings, and other large capacity wood-fired boilers for sterilizing wooden shelves used in the storage of cheeses in our cold rooms. 
      Earlier in the season the men go out with chainsaws and cut down any trees that would interfere with the cows' grazing areas.   It is vital that the forest never encroaches onto the land that should be kept clear.  It is also imperitive that the ditches used for watering both hayfields and animals be freed from any trees that spring up.  At the same time, trees that have been blown over in storms, or stray branches, are gathered.  But this work is done intermittently in the Autumn because there is so much going on at that time with the harvesting, slaughter, butchering, etc. 
     Once the holidays are over, the forest work is the main priority.  There are hundreds of acres that must be maintained and cared for.  This means thinning and clearing. Later, harvesting is done in increments of 20, 40, 60, and then 80-100 years.  At that point, after the final logging (80-100 years), the land is prepared either for spontaneous seeding or for manual re-planting, which is done in the early summer.

The current economic crunch has made it's way across the ocean to Sweden and the job that Manny had been promised building timber houses simply evaporated in the wake of the downturn.  So we decided to hire him full-time in the interim period while he waited for his Mission Call.  He starts "work" each day as an employee at 7:00 A.M. which makes it possible for him to do his regular family farm chores first (we are up before 5:00 A.M. to be in the barn) and then go to his assigned paid duties until 4:00 in the afternoon.  This has proved to be a great blessing for both Manny and the family.  Before the hard snowfalls came, he was busy washing, greasing and putting away the farm machinery and equipment.  Above, he was backing in a haywagon to one of the narrow machine hall bays with such dexterity, we were amazed at it.  He also took over the bulk of the work in the dairy with the maturing cheeses, both washing and turning them. 
But's time to work in the forest.

Does this look like a farm vehicle to you? 
It is - according to the government of Sweden - so they offered a tax deduction that made it possible for us to purchase this snowmobile for forest maintenance.  It is a Yamaha Viking and they call it  "The Work Horse".   This year we found out it lives up to that name.

Manny had been up in the deep forest behind our farm in the late Fall with the chainsaw, cutting down the trees that needed cleared and stacking them in the criss-cross fashion (shown in the picture below) that makes them accessible when it comes time to load.  Hans found a log hauling sled on the Blocket (Sweden's version of Ebay) and it was owned by a man from the village of Kläppsjö (Klepp-fwuh) which is only about 15 minutes from us.

       We called about it and made arrangements to meet with the owner.  It turned out to be exactly what we wanted as it is the old style that was welded in a much more heavy-duty manner.  We bought it and brought it home on the trailer and hooked it up to the snowmobile.  Here goes Manny with the sled on the back, on his way to bring home the logs.
Nainy put on her studded boots and her tasteful 'four-sizes-too-big-but-still-the-warmest' jacket (dubbed "the world's ugliest" by the boys) and grabbed the camera to take pictures.  She was holding on for dear life as they raced along with Manny driving, but took this picture from the back seat of the snowmobile as they approached the forest. Manny was completely at ease, listening to his music, evidenced by the cord coming out of his right ear.

To say that loading up the logs was a Herculean task, would be putting it mildly.  Those suckers were heavy and there were a lot of them!  Right below is a shot of the ditchbank showing the stumps along the gully where the trees had been cut.
       To add to the challenge, the logs that were in the bottom of the pile
 were frozen to the snow so an iron hook had to be used to wrench them out of the ground.  Then they were stacked onto the sled and chained up for transport back to the logpile on the farm.
We felt fortunate that the weather was relatively mild..only -15 degrees.  We headed back with a full sled.
We were TOTALLY ready  for the sled to be emptied on the last run and the logs put onto the woodpile in the farmyard where they will start, even in the cold weather, to dry in preparation for cutting later on this Spring.

Assessing, felling, trimming, thinning, stacking, loading, hauling, unloading, stacking again, cutting into lengths, bagging, stacking again, covering, forklifting, hauling again, unloading, and finally...BURNING!
It's a LOT of WORK!!

When Nainy was being raised, her mother, Granny Bannatyne,  would regularly offer thanks in her prayers by saying,  "Heavenly Father, we are so grateful for good work to do and the strength to do it". While Nainy was working to inculcate that value in her children on one side of the Atlantic, the Karlsson family was doing the same on the other side.   In our village of Eden and also in Junsele, the Karlsson name is synonymous with an excellent work ethic.  We feel so appreciative of that aspect in all our children's characters.

  We recently found an address given by Marlin K. Jensen, one of our church leaders, coincidentally entitled, "Living after the Manner of Happiness"  (December 2002),  taken from the same scripture that we have as our motto on the header for our blog. 

       In it he says "No matter what our life's work turns out to be, I know we'll be happier if we regularly labor with our hands.  Labor can take many forms: yard work, sewing, quilting, cooking, baking, auto repair, home repair - the list is endless, and so is the happiness and sense of accomplishment such activities produce."

We have found Brother Jensen to be right.  When we LOG ON! and have a life filled with meaningful work and industry, we enjoy a sense of accomplishment and great happiness.  So to all our readers we offer the same challenge....


Jan 15, 2010

Called to Serve..

It's the Baltic Mission - Estonia!

     When we woke up in the morning we didn't know that Thursday, January 14th would be such an important, life-changing day. 

But it was.

We are members of the

As such, our worthy young men, each of whom bear the priesthood of God and have made sacred covenants both at baptism (age 8) and later when they are ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood (age 12) and Melchizedek Priesthood (age 18), are expected to keep themselves morally and physically clean, to be completely honest and upright in all their dealings, to study and ponder the scriptures daily, and when they are nineteen years old, to "put in their papers",  signaling their desire and willingness to serve a two-year mission for the Church at their own expense.  
After years of working and saving his money in a special account,  cheerfully fulfilling his responsibilities at home and at church, and trying his best to live a good life and be a good example,  Manny's papers went in in early November, right after his nineteenth birthday. He had already been ordained to the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood.
We have been haunting the mails for weeks, expecting the white envelope that would tell us where he will be assigned and when he will report and...

At last it came!

We called Papa right away to set up a time when we could all be there to open it together.  We had to wait until after 5:00 P.M. for Gustav to get home from school,  then we  went into the office and called Papa. By coincidence, our daughter Kezia called from the U. S. at exactly the same time, so Manny had a phone on each ear.

And he opened it with a cheese knife.  How appropriate.....

He has been requested to report to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah in March 2010.

He will spend approximately eight weeks there receiving training in the Estonian culture and language, and other facets of daily life as a missionary. 

We are so proud of him!

Here are some pictures of the things he will be leaving behind for the next two years:

Daredevil sport stunts, summer and winter,  both on the farm and off.

Construction and firing off of ear-splitting potato guns (the neighbors won't miss that).

  Warm moments of love in the barn,  warm moments of food made with love in the house,

and fun Church activities with friends in far-away places.

Today, while reading aloud the booklet that came with his call, giving him all the guidelines and instructions for preparing to report for his mission, it dawned on us in an even more poignant way  how important this moment in Manny's life is.  He will be "forsaking all worldly concerns" and "locking his heart" for the next two years where girls are concerned, to focus all his spirit, intellect, and energies on the Lord's work.  He has been "Called to Serve" in the truest sense of the word, and he has accepted that call.

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:  and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.  Amen"
(Matthew 28:19-20)
We love you Manny!

Jan 13, 2010

"Baby, It's Cold Outside!"

In the winter of 1984-1985 the record cold spot in the continental U.S. was Cache Valley, Utah at -67 degrees Fahrenheit.  The winter before had also been record-setting at -66 degrees Fahrenheit, one degree warmer.  We were there for both of those winters and it didn't feel ANYWHERE NEAR AS COLD as it did here a few days into January in northern Sweden at -36 degrees Celsius which our math whiz tells us is equivalent to -42 degrees Fahrenheit.

At the normal milking time, when we got to the large animal barn where all the cows are, this was the INSIDE of the door.  Normally the body heat of the animals would keep it much warmer than that, but this time we had to make sure that they had plenty of grain and fresh hay to eat and plenty of warm straw to curl up in during the day and again at night.

In the small animal barn that houses the younger heifers and also the older bull, the temperature gauge had a flashing red light and the words 'Låg Temperatur'!
     The boys went immediately and got the heaters and we positioned them so that the air would be heated and circulated as efficiently as possible since the young ones do not give off as much heat and need the protection of a warmer environment. 

 The sheep, with their wooley coats are usually in good shape, in fact they prefer to be outside, but this winter they have a roommate, a young bull that is to be used next Spring with our young heifers.  We went out to check them all and discovered that the power line to their water supply had been disconnected in the storm.  The post was covered with snow and the pipes were frozen solid.  Once we got that fixed and the line thawed the water ran freely again and they were fine.  Again, it was fortunate that they had a generous amount of grain and hay in their feeders and a bed of warm straw.
With the animals all secured, it was time to do what we had come for...the milking.  This is the window inside the milk room in the main barn.  We were relieved that none of the pipes there were frozen and that all the equipment was working fine.  We were able to do all the milking and cleaning up without a problem.  But it was MIGHTY CHILLY IN THERE!!
In a discussion with  friends recently, the subject came up of what elements exist in our lives that give us comfort and the ability to deal with the challenges we face.  One woman said with deep feeling, "the beauties of nature". 
                                                 She was right.
      Even when the days are difficult and the problems seem unending, there is such an abundant beauty in nature.  To that end, we took some pictures of other areas of the farm.  We love the serenity they display and are reminded again of the peaceful beauty of the place where we live. 

As the thermometer below shows,  today we are at a "balmy"  -22 degrees Celsius.  It's amazing how much warmer it feels!  Instead of two pairs of long-johns, we have on one.  The cat's milk in the enclosed entryway to the main barn is still frozen between feedings, and we are watching the temperature in the root cellar and the cheese storage rooms in the dairy very closely. But, surprisingly,  IT ISN'T TOO BAD...

We have a warm fire, strong, healthy animals, the strength to do our work every day, and the beauties of nature as well as other comforts to sustain us.
And like the song says:

We think we'll stay. 

Jan 10, 2010

Betwixt and Between  
(Christmas and New Year's)
Flygplatser 'R Us
The "Tail End" of the Holidays
(With some of the Prettiest Girls in Sweden)

Christmas was hardly accomplished when the flights began!  If you look on the map above, we are in Västernorrland, significantly inland,  northwest of Örnsköldsvik, about 15 minutes from the Jämtland border  and about half an hour from the actual Lappland.  (Surprisingly, they are showing the thriving metropolis of Junsele on this map...but not the cosmopolitan village of Eden. 
 Between Christmas and New Year's:   Louise and Manny left on the 27th for FOCUS in Stockholm, an all-Scandinavia Church activity for singles ages 18-30, and Gustav  left the same day but on a different bus for BOLLIADEN in Goteborg, also an all-Scandinavia Church activity for singles ages 14-18.  With Papa also gone,  that meant that Nainy, Sophia and Clint were here to tend the farm until the 2nd of January when Manny and Gustav returned.  Louise flew back to Utah straight from FOCUS and Sophia and Clint went to Umeå about two hours north of Örnsköldsvik (in Västerbotten) to visit friends until they also flew back to Utah on January 7th.

but before the Exodus:

Louise, Manny and Gustav spent a day on the slopes in beautiful, downtown Junsele.  Here they are getting all their snowboarding gear on, ready to roll.

Just a few runs in, Manny, who is famous for his coordination hit the snow flat out.  Louise was racing down the hill at the speed of light, and Gustav and Louise snuggled up tandem-style taking the lift back up to the top.

Meanwhile, back at the farm, Sophia and Clint relaxed a bit and after barn chores visited with friends in the village and spent a lovely New Years Eve with one of Sophia's high school friends and her family from Junsele.   Nainy took advantage of the relatively peaceful moments to catch up on some "cow beautification" in the barn.

With all the Fjällko girls spiffed up from their shaving, it was time for some attention to "de-tails".

Nainy is convinced that the cows are multi-lingual.  She talks to them the whole time she is working with them and getting ready for the "tail trim" was no exception.  Here she is with one of the younger cows, explaining that there is absolutely nothing to be worried about, that this procedure is going to make her (the cow) even more beautiful than she was before, if such a thing could be possible. 

 It doesn't take long for the tails to become tangled and matted.  Although the tail shaft has been shaved, the end is an overgrown mess with bits of hay and dirt stuck everywhere.  The first step is to feel for the end of the cartilage and cut off the excess hair straight across. 
Once that is done the hair can be tapered up from the bottom, removing all the dried debris and cutting away more of the bulk.  Then the tail is swished and dipped into a bucket of warm soapy water, squeezed out, shook and fluffed . 

 It's amazing how quickly it will dry.

And here is the "Tail End" of the exercise on both sides of the aisle!  Everyone is cut and clipped and trimmed and swished and squeezed and dried and fluffed! (Proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that this group truly includes some of the.....)
 Prettiest Girls in  Sweden.

All in all, it was a wonderful Holiday Season for every one of us.  We had beautiful company, beautiful food, and a beautiful place to share it all.

May you have a truly Happy New Year in 2010!