The garden was one of our most talked about ideas when we were planning for cabin life. The idea was to grow a 50/50 mix of herbs and vegetables to get a feel for gardening. It would be our first real project together! We agreed on the following criteria – we would grow vegetables, herbs and flowers that would last one year. We obviously had a tonne of questions but the main ones were:
How do we keep away hungry creatures from eating everything?
How often do we need to water the garden?
What about fertilising?
What do we need to get started?
Supplies were relatively easy to procure. Planks used for the herb garden were leftovers from a build project, rocks were collected from the beach and plastic pots were found at a nearby trash station. We had to find soil and plants. Soil was 99% horse poop from Jenny’s grandmother (tack Kickan!) who has a fantastic garden herself and we added some kelp fertiliser from our beach to the mix. We also ended up purchasing a few sacks of garden soil and mixed that in with the horse manure and kelp. As for water, we reserved a barrel of rainwater for the garden which was perfect.
The build was relatively straightforward and hastily done. The important thing was that it would hold its contents! We had thought about covering the box with netting to deter the animals from eating the plants but ultimately decided to leave it as is.
Alot of research was done on what plants we wanted to try growing and we decided to focus on a deer and rabbit resistant selection of herbs as well as flowers. One of the gardeners at the greenhouse gave us a bag of untreated sheep’s wool to try out as a deer deterrent and funnily enough, it worked…until late autumn when the parsley bush mysteriously dwindled in size overnight! We presume the wool has a very powerful smell that deters other animals. Whatever it does, it works and we will be using it next year again for sure.
The final selection of herbs included thyme, lemon thyme, rosemary, parsley and mint. The flowers were a mix of colours and shapes and we even managed to transplant some wild strawberry plants and orpines.
Funnily enough, the day we built the garden was the same day that we had our first proper encounter with our garden’s biggest threat: the deer! Perhaps it was curious about the garden (and future food possibilities) or perhaps it was passing through the neighbourhood…either way, we had never seen it this close before and it didn’t appear to be very nervous with our presence. Lets see how it goes…
Det blir ju alltid lite stearin kvar i botten av ljuset när ljuset har brunnit ut. Jag tänkte att det väl måste gå att göra nya ljus av det så jag testade och det funkade hur bra som helst! Det var lätt men pilligt.
Jag samlade stearin från utbrunna ljus i en glasburk. Tog bort smuts och vekar och annat fult och lade sen ner hela glasburken i ett bad med varmt vatten. Långsamt smälte stearinet till en genomskinlig massa.
Jag använde aluminiumformarna från gamla värmeljus och limmade fast en veke som jag köpt i en hobbybutik i botten. det var ganska lätt att rikta veken uppåt när stearinet stabiliserat sig lite. Nästa gång tänker jag använda stearinet som lim.
Fint brann sen ljuset. Det brann snabbare än köpta värmeljus, jag vet inte om det berodde på vekens tjocklek eller på stearinet. Ett kul pyssel som jag tänker göra igen. Nästa gång ska jag experimentera med olika färger tror jag och se hur det blir. Vi har både röda och vita ljusrester. Kanske också göra någon form som man sen kan ta ut ljuset ur när det har stelnat så att det blir som ett blockljus.
It always begins when you least expect it. A heron flew past at an angle that suggested it was in a hurry. It startled the nearby merganser ducks who then began to make a hasty retreat. These are the signs I’d been waiting for. I stepped outside to scan the skies and lo and behold – an eagle soared above for a while before it began a descent towards the nearby island.
I had time to get my camera (its always by the door) and take some photos. I spotted another eagle as it landed on the same island next to three more eagles and I had never seen four eagles at once so this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to get some photos! The only way for me to do that though was to get closer in a kayak. Jenny was a bit reluctant to join me at first (the conditions weren’t great) but I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity so we got in the water and started paddling out.
Approaching the island revealed the situation thus far. One of the eagles had managed to hunt a large prey and was trying to eat in peace. The remaining three eagles were hungry and were watching, probably hoping for scraps. Two gave up and flew south. Things then got interesting as the eagle with the prey took off, followed by the remaining eagle (and several crows) in hot pursuit. Despite the large waves and my constant stress over dropping the camera in the sea, I managed to get a few decent photos but they don’t really do the scene justice. Watching these huge birds of prey this close was exhilarating.
After a long chase from island to island, the hungry eagle gave up and headed to the east. The eagle with the prey was finally able to eat in peace and found a nice rocky island to do so. We stayed for a while and watched for a bit before heading back home. Winds had picked up slightly but we had tailwind so getting back was nice and relaxing after having followed the eagles that afternoon.
It is rare to experience these kind of moments, and I am always humbled by them. Watching these impressive birds trying to survive in the wild is something I don’t take for granted – life out here isn’t easy for a lot of the wildlife and the eagles are targeted and harassed by other animals due to their size and the threat they pose. I can’t imagine how exhausting this ordeal must have been for all the eagles but it was an incredible display of nature.
On a day like today, the wind blows from the southeast so we can hear the waves crashing on the beach. Out on the horizon we can see seagulls and sailboats taking advantage of the uncommon wind direction. Jenny and I sit by the window, drinking strong coffee and discussing how to trim the blackcurrant bushes as flies bump against the window in the summer heat. Tomorrow we should chop down two trees for next year’s firewood and if we have time, we should clean the rain barrels before this week’s rain. Maybe go watch the sunset before dinner too. This is the lifestyle we have chosen and we call it ‘landeliv’ – cabin life in Swedish although the literal translation would be ‘country life’.
We are Chris and Jenny and this will be our bilingual blog about living by the coast in Southern Finland. The plan is to share some insights and experiences from our cabin life. We are not sure how this blog will evolve but for now we will be keeping you updated through weekly posts about our living style.
Before we get started, maybe some background information would be good. When we started discussing moving out to the coast, we both had full-time jobs in Helsinki. Despite the city being so close to nature and offering endless conveniences, we felt unfulfilled and frustrated. Working 5 days a week just to have 2 days off was not an ideal setup for two nature enthusiasts; we needed more access to the outdoors. After two years of saving up, we left the city for the coast in the spring and so far so good. Everyday we get to set our own schedules as long as we also spend time preparing for the cold winter. This means doing things like getting firewood, painting exteriors and tending to our plants. In our free time however, the sky is the limit!
Our blog aims to be insightful and perhaps even act as an exercise in journaling our lives. Complacency can take over anyone’s day to day living and we hope that by providing a glimpse of our life out here we will remember to see each day as a unique and special day and not let each one slip away like the last one. Hope you will stick around!