It’s been a great weekend. The Weather has been fantastic. There are buds on the trees, catkins and pussy willow in the hedgerows. My garden is full of bulbs. I really feel like the trees waking up and coming back to life after the winter. There wasn’t a lot that could be done over the winter, now though I have a list a mile long.
Söderåsen is a national park in Skåne lan. It’s a place I spend a lot of time walking with Troy and generally enjoying the peace and quiet.
It’s been another good week. The weather has been dry, if a little windy and I’ve been working hard on the new vegetable plots. I’d forgotten how hard double digging can be. My back is a reminder of how unfit a lazy winter has let me become. Still we’ve made huge progress and that is the main thing I think.
It’s been a great weekend. Spring has sprung. It’s amazing, you wake up one day and realise winter is over for another year. I’ve been quite busy as a result. We’ve moved the Blommehöns out to their summer accommodation and some sun on their backs is doing them the world of good. The cockerel is strutting around looking wonderful in the spring sunshine.
|This is us [Stephen and Nigel] a couple of Englishmen living in rural Sweden.|
He’s a three and a half old Weimaraner. He came from rescue after being given up by his previous owners. We are actually his third home, forth if you count the kennels he was being held in when we met him. He came to live with us in June’06 just before we moved to Sweden. It was all a major upheaval for him. Not that you’d know it to see him now. He’s made a marvellous dog.
Like any Weimaraner he’s a big athletic dog that likes plenty of exercise and lots of mental stimulation. His favourite pass times involve him retrieving something, usually his Frisbee. No matter how often we play or how far we walk in the local woodland, it’s never too much. I don’t think it’s possible to tire him out. He is a little highly strung at times and can still be excitable and this is one of the areas we’re working on. Compare him now two years on from when we first met and he’s a different dog.
|Tazio (died December’06)
Tazio was Stephen’s cat before we met. He was a small black rescue cat who somewhere along the line had become convinced he was royalty. By the time we moved to Sweden he was sixteen years old. He liked his routine and was rather unhappy that things weren’t the same any longer. I’m comforted to know that he was settled and happy in his life here before the end.
Rest in Peace Tazio
After Tazio things were a little quite around Alledal. A house just isn’t a home with a cat. We saw some Maine Coon cross kittens for sale in some local classified ads. When we inquired luckily for us, one of the couple that had them for sale was English. With communication not a slow process we arranged to see them and fell in love. We ended up with a one mackerel and white tabby. I’ve never had a kitten before and not sure it’s an experience I’d rush to repeat. Notwithstanding any of this he is a wonderful character and into everything. Being half Maine Coon he has made a very big cat.
|Charlie and the girls
These are our Blommehöns a native breed to the southern part of Sweden where we live. They are big sturdy birds a real dual purpose breed. Good for eggs and the table. Our come from a genebank registered flock
|Pingu and his girls
These are our Cochin. They are about as large a breed as domestic poultry gets, but for all that they are gentle giants. These were the first eggs we ever hatched here at Alledal and because of that they will always hold a special place. Their thick plumage just enhances their already large size. They are stately creatures who’s origins is a bit of a mystery since they seem to come from a different wild ancestor to most domestic breeds, though that has yet to be identified.
|Phil and his girls
These were my first ducks. They are Svensk Myskankor or Muscovy ducks. This is the only domestic breed not descended from the mallard. They are turning out to be quite the characters. They came from a pig farm outside Sjöbo where they lived in the stalls with the pigs. They were in quite a state when we got them. A week later and a little TLC and they are doing fine. We’ve even started to get eggs. Now they’ve settled in they free range the garden and paddocks here at Alledal this is quite a change for them, but all for the better.
|Blåblomme and her family
These are Svensk Lantrasget [Swedish Goats]. These are a highly productive, robust and healthy medium sized breed. There can be a huge variety in appearance. Colours ranging from solid white through to solid black, both horned and polled animals exist. There is also some variance in coat length. Our fine animals came from the Island of Hven in the Öresund straight between Sweden and Denmark. There is no Genebank register for these animals and sadly they are declining in numbers which is rather sad. This little family group are milked twice daily and the milk goes to make cheese and yoghurt
I have wanted some of these for as long as I have known we'd be moving to Sweden. Skånegås or Scania Geese have their origins from the towns of Vomb and Hunneberga around the end of the nineteenth century. This grey and white goose despite appearances is not identical to either the Pomeranian or the Danish Goose. Research has shown that the Skånegås is mainly of native Swedish origin with far less mixing with foreign breeds than had first been thought. They are a large goose with ganders weighing up to 11Kg. We have a flock of ten here at Alledal
|Bertil and Hattie
These are Svensk Gul Ankor, The Swedish Yellow Duck and are quite rare in Sweden – and not found anywhere else worldwide. It was developed here in Skåne and is thought to have been developed from the Swedish Blue, though there does seem to be some argument around this! Some claim that he must have used Kaki Campbell to improve the breed. Måns Eriksson himself said he used a "white race"… Their appearance causes some confusion, being as the ducks are more beige/brown than yellow. Perhaps a better translation would be buff ducks. There were believed to be 145 left in 2004, and in 2001 there were 110. They were relatively common in the 1920s, but post-war they declined, and were thought to be extinct. A small flock was discovered in the village of Billinge (the village where Alledal is located) in 1977, and a Genebank program was started to try and build up their numbers we’re hoping to help in this endeavour.
Welcome to the fourth incarnation of the Random’s-Lair webpage
This is the bit that tells you all about me and I can honestly say that it doesn’t get any easier deciding what to write. I’m an Englishman living in a small village in Skåne, Sweden, where we have a small farm of five acres which is home to our ever expanding menagerie of animals.
In 2006 I had the chance to start over, to live a long held dream. My partner had the chance to relocate, and after much consideration and not a little heartache we decided to move to rural Sweden. The decision to give up my nine-to-five, friends, family and all things familiar and to give smallholding and self-sufficiency a try was one of the most considered decisions I have ever made and I suppose it’s only natural that when you start to write about all the changes that you have made that you mentally list the pros and the cons, the highs and the lows. I’ve come to realise that despite changing nearly every aspect of my life, the biggest change has been in me. Leaving England was a huge step, but I don’t think I could ever have been content to take my place by the fireside with pipe and slippers and simply look on. I have always thought that life was meant to be lived.
Things do not change, we change
Henry David Thoreau
I don’t think anyone should ever, for whatever reason, turn their backs on life. The worst that could happen is that we do not succeed and I think that failure is easier to live with than the “what ifs” that would be inevitable if we hadn’t even tried. The biggest regrets in my life are all for things I haven’t done. Like Robert Frost I may have taken “the road less travelled by” but in the long run, we have to shape our own lives and destinies, and in doing so we shape ourselves. This is a process which never ends. Every choice we make is ultimately our own responsibility. We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we should, at the very least, try all the things which we think are impossible.
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading
The move has presented us with a whole new set of challenges. Ones I hope to write about in the diary/blog section on this page. I can’t promise excitement, just a collection of my thoughts and descriptions of my day-to-day life, which since we moved has fallen into a comfortable routine that revolves around our home, our land and our animals.
We have several additions to mention. We have a dog – Troy, a beautiful Weimaraner which we have given a new home to. Due to set of unfortunate circumstances he was due to be destroyed. He has settled into life here wonderfully. He is a happy good-natured fellow who I can’t ever imagine being without now. Our little old cat Tazio died in December 2006. We missed him terribly and as a house is not really a home without a cat, we acquired two kittens Puck and Jyrkï [yer-key]. I’ve never had kittens before and found them and their antics both adorable and abominable in equal measure and quite often at the same time. They are part Maine Coon and have made large cats each weighing over five kilos. Of course we have chickens, some Blommehöna – a breed native to Skåne where we live. They are a large dual purpose breed good for eggs and the table and will be a major part of our drive for self sufficiency. We’ve also several varieties of ducks and some geese. We kept poultry in England before we moved so apart from increasing in numbers we were confident we knew what we had taken on. Then we added goats; we thought some dairy goats would be the next logical step for us. The learning curve we have been on as goat-keepers is described in the blog section; they’ve certainly given us a real rollercoaster ride.
I intend as my time allows, to keep this all updated with all the changes that happen around Alledal.
The final word is for Steph, none of this would have been possible without him
…and he showed me things
many beautiful things
that I hadn't thought to explore
they were off my path
so I had never dared
I had been so careful
I had never cared
and he made me feel excited…
well excited and scared
I couldn’t say it any better. Thank you for those words Steven Sondheim.