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....



Anonymous said...

Good job Manny! a real Timmerman! I love that your out in the cold Nainy and talking all the pictures! lately I find myself living through the blog! Love, Louise

Anonymous said...


em-il-ie said...

Who is that woman in the coat?
Surely it's not the same woman who once made regualar appointments for eyelash extension a la Paris Hilton!
You look great! Ugly coat or not.

Lauralee said...

Unbelievable forestry! Love the pictures. What else can I say? Brother Jensen said what I've known and done and lived my whole life. At different times and different places the work has changed, but it always has been meaningful and worthwhile. I do understand!

P.S. Excuse me, is that the same girl who had beautiful evening gowns hanging in her closet?

Kiki said...

Dearest Nainy, I love your blog and all of your posts, they are so fun to read and catch up on what is going on at the farm. Miss you! Talk to you soon!