It's been quiet on the blogging front for several months now but we have been busy busy busy! That also means we have quite some news for you, so hang on to your seats while we bring you back up to date!
At the beginning of Spring (up north that's in the month of May) we got out the snow shovels and cleared the back garden of nearly a meter of snow. It took a few days and lots of elbow grease but it allowed the ground to thaw sooner so that we could ultimately build new outdoor raised beds in time for the start of the very short growing season up here. We built two of 1.2m wide by 8m long each.
Together with the growing space in the greenhouse, the space along the side of the house, the potato patch at the foot of the garden, a big trellis at the end of the house and an indoor growing room (where we start off a lot vegetables as the season is just too short otherwise), we were able to grow and harvest a huge variety of different vegetables. We even experimented with a lemon tree in the greenhouse!
We also applied for a permit to build a chicken coop in the garden, which was a time consuming and expensive process, but the local authorities decided that apparently we live in a too densely populated area and that there is a potential for the chickens to be too smelly (so are the dogs from the dog breeder up the road I bet), noisy (did we mention the dog breeder? They bark! A lot!!) and attract rodents (we have yet to meet that 1 rodent in Storuman), so it was denied. Said authorities (politicians whom we've never met) of course never bothered to come and have a look at our situation and seemed to disregard the fact that there is a huge grassy field behind where we wanted to build the coop and only have one neighbour that would be really affected. That neighbour is Vince's mum, so we had her approval of course as we also had the approval from all other neighbours within a 100m from our house that were asked to give a "yes/no" response to the commune as part of the process. In fact, most of them even came up to us saying that they were very excited about it and looked forward to some changes around the place. Come to think of it, when is the last time a politician did anything useful? Oh yeah, that time they didn't do anything. Can you tell we were a bit bitter about that decision?? So would you if you had to pay a 100 euro per hour for the decision to be NO (it took them 2 hours to get to that decision by the way. Must have been a real tough decision), cause we didn't tell you yet, but you got to pay up even if they disapprove of your plans.
This meant that we could not be self sustainable while living at our house in Storuman so it forced us to start looking sooner for a place in the countryside.
Plans were made to go tour the area in the summer and drop off notes in peoples mailboxes in the vicinity of places we liked. This never happened though, as before winter was over (April) a friend came to us and told us he had spotted a house in the forest while on a snowmobile trip. He asked the friend he was with at the time if he knew who owned it and this guy did indeed know the owners. Better yet, he knew it was for sale and that his brother was in charge of selling it! So, arrangements were made for us to meet his brother, who owned the land around the property and had told the owners (family friends) that he would take care of the sale of the house as long as he could choose who would buy it, as he wanted to make sure that it would be decent people buying it and not some people who'd leave it deserted for most of the year. Enter V&C!
Incredible synchronicity happening for us once again and it didn't take us long to decide: the land is approx 5km2, so smaller than we had been looking for but it has a liveable house, it's own water source, a big cellar, a huge barn (which was full of a tonne of wooden planks, beams, tools and old windows), an old garage, a small burn along the perimeter and lots of trees (pine and birch) that we can use for firewood and building material once we buy our band-saw.
We started moving in when the purchase contracts were signed and we have already made a lot of changes, although there are many many more planned:
1. We installed a robot lawnmower, which involved a special machine to lay cables round the grass to be cut. It was quite a pricey investment but it was so worth it, as it's a huge time and petrol saver.
2. The garage has been converted to a chicken coop (weeks of work but looks amazing if we don't mind saying so ourselves!) Everything is built from the wood that was already here. We only had to pay for the screws, sheet metal and feeding pipes/water bowl for the chickens.
3. Vincent installed 2 solar panels as well as all the other electronics that goes with that, the inverter, batteries, additional fuse box etc and has already been used to power the heating in the pantry to lower the humidity levels.
4. We hired a digger for a weekend and flattened the areas where the new greenhouse will be build as well as a new garage.
5. A start was made on the concrete foundations for the garage but winter came early and we are already covered in half a metre of snow! Thank goodness for snowblowers...
As we both worked at the local campsite this summer, we didn't have a lot of time before winter to finish everything we wanted to. Perhaps we gave ourselves a little too much to do, but we just wanted to get on with it, because around December 1st we'll be very preoccupied with our next 'project'...
Love to you all and we'll be back sooner than last time (which should be easy considering how long it took us to get this update out there)
Caroline, Vincent, Amber, Fraggle the Cat and little baby on the way