The Weekend Woodsman in Estonia – Part 2

In case you missed it, you can check out Part 1 here.

On Saturday morning, I awoke to bird calls and decent weather. The day’s breakfast would be a piece of the bannock I baked the evening before, cut in half and smeared with fresh blackberries gathered from around my camp.

After breakfast, it was time to explore the forest a little more. I soon discovered an area where stinging nettles were growing in abundance, so I stopped there and decided to try my hand at making cordage from the outer fibers of the stem, which I had not tried before. I cut a stem down near the ground, stripped off the prickles and leaves with my shirt and proceeded to peel the outer fibers off. Once the fibers were off the stem, I could work them into cordage.

Next up was some more forest exploration. Here you can see some birches just starting to change color:

I came across some yarrow along the little road:

This is the largest oak I could find on the property. I found larger ones elsewhere on the island, though.

And some alder trees (don’t know if they are gray or black alder):

Anyone know what this is?

Fresh tracks:

More tracks:

I wandered off the property and meandered along the dirt road toward the sea. Along the way, I finally saw a spruce:

Here’s a juniper, which is usually a common sight on Saaremaa:

And some cattails in a wet area:

More spruce:

Here’s the dirt road I was traveling on:

Someone recently had their forest thinned out a bit. This is a typical sight along forest roads in this part of the world.

As I neared the sea, I entered a slightly more developed area, where I snapped a picture of this idyllic cabin.

At the road running along the coast, I took a picture of this sign, which indicates that the sea is just a short walk away.

I saw a chestnut sapling along the way:

Almost there:

It took about 30 minutes to walk to the sea from my campsite. What you are looking at is the Baltic Sea, more specifically the Gulf of Riga. Latvia lies on the other side. The water was cold, so there was no way I would be going in. :)

After listening to the waves and breathing the sea air for a while, I walked back to the property I was camping on. I saw a large anthill in the pine forest on the way:

My “woodsman-sized hunger” was coming on strong, so I cut up the rest of the bacon I had, as well as some potatoes and onions, and lit up the buddy burner stove. Instead of making soup like the day before, I fried up the bacon and then added the potatoes, onions and a little salt and pepper.

While the stove was still lit, I threw on a kettle full of water to boil. Boiling water to make it drinkable (as opposed to using filters or chemicals) really isn’t that inconvenient. Each time after you cook a meal, just boil a bit of water before extinguishing your stove or fire. I do it almost automatically and I always have plenty of water to drink. A benefit of having at least one metal water container means that you can fill it with freshly boiled water right away without having to worry about heating the container too much (not a good idea with plastic containers).

Dessert was some delicious Finnish milk chocolate:

A little while after extinguishing the buddy burner stove, I realized there was a problem: I couldn’t get the cover/extinguisher off! The stove had gotten so hot from the long cooking session that the duct tape had shrunk! This didn’t happen the other times I tried it because the stove wasn’t as hot. Live and learn. :) I think I will try aluminum tape on thin aluminum sheeting next time, instead of duct tape on aluminum foil. I managed to get the cover off after a while, but there was no way to get it back on.

I was getting low on good dry wood to burn, so I scouted around the forest for some new fuel. In no time, I found a dead standing rowan/European mountain ash with really nice solid and dry wood. Well, some of it was. Other bits were half-rotten and half-solid (but none of it was wet). I took all the good wood and some of the lower-quality stuff back to camp and split it up.

The next picture shows how I collected water from the drainage channels. I wrapped my kettle with my bandana and dunked it in. Then all that was needed was to pull out the bandana. It strained the water as it came out.

Later I came upon a mini-mushroom colony:

When dinner time came around, I made a platform from split wet birch I collected the day before, split up some of the rowan and made some kindling and shavings from it. I again lit some paper-thin birch bark with my ferro rod and got the fire going. As an aside, I normally like to use matches instead of a ferro rod, but matches, cigarette lighters etc. could not be brought on the airplane, and I didn’t have time to stop and get any before getting to camp the first evening. So my only means of making fire during this trip was two ferro rods/firesteels.

One thing I really like about having a small folding grill like this is that it’s very versatile. I can use it with a hobo stove, buddy burner or a plain old fire on the ground.

For dinner, or at least part of it, I wanted to try something I saw at the Scandic Woodsman Blog. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical of this, considering the potential for extreme discomfort involved. What I would be doing is frying and eating stinging nettle leaves. I collected leaves from the nettle patch I had found earlier and threw them in a pan with some hot olive oil.

They shrank a lot while frying and when they were cooked through I sprinkled them with salt and pepper. Not my favorite meal, but not bad either. At least I didn’t end up with an unbearably itchy and swollen mouth and throat! After these fried nettle leaves, I ate some bannock and dried fruit.

After taking the grill off the fire, I added some more wood. It was nice to keep the fire burning for a while, as it provided both light and warmth. I had plenty of wood on hand and really enjoy a good old campfire, so why not.

You can see in the picture above that I’m still using the tarp and bedroll for my shelter. Though it was raining on and off, it wasn’t cold or windy, so I didn’t really see a need to set up my poncho tent. A few mosquitoes and deer keds pestered me from time to time, but nothing requiring any kind of netting.

I stretched out on top of my bedroll and added new wood from time to time. Eventually, I crawled into my sleeping bag and drifted off.

I must have been snoring while I was asleep, because at one point during the night I was abruptly woken up by a curious moose not very far away from my camp! As for the exact distance, I can’t be sure, but let’s just say it was CLOSE! The moose’s calls scared the bejeebus out of me for a second, but once I had woken up a bit and realized what it was, I smiled. Luckily, there weren’t any more episodes like this for the rest of the night.

I woke up well rested on Sunday morning and, after eating the rest of the bannock from Friday evening, I decided it would be a good time to pick some blackberries to bring home to the family. I filled my canteen cup almost to the top, which is just under half a liter.

Though it was still morning, and my flight from the island wasn’t until almost 8 p.m., I knew that I had to start wrapping things up if I were to have enough time to visit town. So I spent several hours breaking camp, packing up and getting myself cleaned up, finally leaving the forest at about 2 p.m. I caught a bus to Kuressaare (cost all of 70 cents) after a 25-minute walk from my campsite and snapped these pictures.

This is Kuressaare Fortress/Castle. It was built in the 1300s and is now a museum.

Knowing I still had a taxi ride, a flight, another taxi ride, a ferry ride and yet another taxi ride ahead of me, and that I wouldn’t be home until after 1 a.m., I decided to splurge and treat myself to a big restaurant meal at a place I had been to years earlier. This being Estonia, the bill ended up being very reasonable (maybe less than half of what it would have been in Finland).

I started with pelmeenid, which are small meat-filled fried pastries. Accompanying the meal was an Estonian pilsner.

Also enjoyed was some of the sweet dark bread typical of Saaremaa.

I was so eager to start eating that I only remembered part way through the meal to take a picture of the main course, which was a pork schnitzel, potatoes and salad.

For dessert, I enjoyed a deliciously creamy piece of cheesecake and a cappuccino. Hey, it can’t all be stinging nettle leaves and bannock! ;)

I was truly stuffed at this point and ready to head out. Thankfully, the rest of my trip home was uneventful, and I finally reached my doorstep, exhausted, a bit after 1 a.m.

This trip was a really nice opportunity to see something a bit different. As you probably guessed, I’m already dreaming about coming here again. Hopefully, a friend or two will accompany me next time!

The Weekend Woodsman in Estonia – Part 1

I contemplated calling this post “Of Moose and Men”, but ultimately decided on a more conventional title. You’ll find out why later on and in Part 2. :)

This year’s longer-than-a-weekend trip was quite different from last year’s trip to Lapland in a lot of ways. Not only did I head in the complete opposite direction geographically, but the type of outing differed as well. Rather than an on-the-move backpacking trip covering lots of ground, this year’s trip involved more foraging, bushcrafting and hiking around a base camp. The base camp in question was located on a 7-hectare/17-acre piece of private land (which I am fortunate enough to be able to use) on the largest island of Estonia, called Saaremaa. This island is 2,670 km²/1,030 m² in size, has about 40,000 inhabitants and lies in the Baltic Sea. It is located in the transition zone from broadleaf to boreal forest, so elements of both are present.

After a ferry ride from Helsinki, Finland to Tallinn, Estonia, I flew on a small 12- or 15-seat propeller plane to the little airport near Kuressaare, the capital of Saaremaa.

Leaving mainland Estonia:

By the time I had landed it was getting on in the evening, and I knew I had to get to the forest quickly or I’d run out of daylight! Somehow, I managed to explain to an elderly cab driver where I wanted to go using my bad Finnish and even worse Estonian language skills. After about a 15-minute ride, he dropped me off on a muddy back road, probably wondering If I knew what the heck I was doing!

I speedily changed into my “bush clothes”, hiked part way into the property and set up a tarp between four trees. It was just in time, too, because shortly afterward it got a bit too dark to see and started raining as well. I laid out my bedroll to sit on and got the rest of my gear situated under the tarp while listening to the nearby cricket chirps, raindrop spatters and moose calls. I was surprised at how close the moose were and that they didn’t move on after hearing my fumbling around and probably smelling me. This made me wonder if I’d be having any run-ins with bull moose during my trip, as they can be moody and aggressive during mating season (which I think it was), but I was too tired to care and passed out like a drunken frat boy (it turned out that the moose calls would echo through the forest for lot of my time here, but I never caught a glimpse of any). The thunder and lighting storms that rolled in during the night woke me up a few times, but I stayed warm and dry in my little shelter setup.

The next morning, I woke up to this view of the birch forest:

And this:

These are blackberries (rubus fruticosus), but I didn’t know it at the time (I had never come across them before). I collected the ones you see here from a sitting position under my tarp, and there were plenty more within reach. Since I was unfamiliar with these berries I didn’t eat any yet.

I really wanted to find out if they were edible, because after I got up and stumbled around for a little while I realized that I was surrounded by acres and acres of them. A quick text messaging session with my friend Ilkka Seikku helped me to identify the berries as blackberries. After assuring me that they are tasty and nutritious and that there aren’t any poisonous lookalikes, I decided they probably were blackberries. The fact that they were “probably blackberries” is, however, not sufficient for me to start eating to my heart’s content. As much as I respect Ilkka’s knowledge, skills and experience (greatly), he was not there with me in person and could not see what I was looking at. Not wanting to take a chance with my health or life, I decided to do the edibility test to make sure I wouldn’t be eating something poisonous. I started by crushing a berry on a more sensitive area of skin.

I left it there for about 20 minutes. There was no burning, itching or other reactions, so I put some berry juice on my bottom lip (not in my mouth). Again, after a while there was no reaction, so I chewed one berry in my mouth and held it there for several minutes. Once again, no reaction, so I swallowed it. About an hour later, I felt fine, so I decided it was OK to eat some more. Turns out they were, in fact, blackberries. :) Note: If I had been dealing with something that I was completely unfamiliar with and had not gotten Ilkka’s advice beforehand, I would have waited much longer during each of the tests before deciding they were safe to eat.

It was time to check out the property, so I put on my rubber boots and gaiters and pulled the gaiters much higher than they normally go so that they were well above my knees. This effectively kept my pants from getting wet as I continually brushed against wet undergrowth in the forest while hiking.

I headed back to the “road” alongside the property to see what I could find and to start out on a perimeter walk of the land. I found dandelion greens:

Plantains:

And this…a wild “deadible”?

I believe this is harebell:

Alder:

Oaks:

Stone bramble:

Sphagnum moss:

Moose dumplings:

Rowan, a.k.a. European mountain ash:

Pine forest:

A mighty aspen:

Birch polypore:

Fern:

The point where the pine forest meets the birch forest:

Unripe blackberries:

Blackberry blossom:

The drainage channels surrounding parts of the property are where I got most of my water from, which I strained and boiled before drinking:

Jumping ahead for a second, I had an annoying headache for a while in the afternoon after my hike, so I went back to a willow like this, which I found while hiking, and chewed on some of the leaves (they contain a natural pain killer). My headache went away after a little while, but I’m not sure if it was because of the willow or not.

The sun came out and changed the look of the place pretty dramatically:

Mugwort:

The biggest maple I could find was just a sapling:

There is a lake behind the far end of the property, but there’s a large area of reedy wetland between the lake and the forest, so I didn’t go all the way to the lake.

Check out the size of this horse’s hoof fungus!

Sphagnum moss growing on a long-dead birch:

A long-lost Saami village?! Nope, somebody collected, bound and put up reeds to dry. Traditionally, house roofs on this island were thatched, and there are still people who thatch roofs there today.

I also found their binding device:

Clover:

After my 3-hour hike and photography session, I ended up back at the road alongside the property near my camp. The day’s breakfast was eaten while on the move and had consisted of blackberries, dandelion greens, plantain leaves and clovers.

My tarp blends in to the forest pretty well, doesn’t it?

After returning to camp, it started raining, so I chilled for a while and rested up. I was in need of water at this point, so I let rain collect on my tarp, dumped it into my pot and strained it through a bandana into my kettle.

After a while, I started to get hungry and wanted to make lunch using my hobo stove, so I found the closest dead standing wood which looked like it might be dry (turned out it wasn’t). I felled this dead birch tree with my axe and sectioned it with the saw.

As I said, it turned out to be wet inside (though the part I happened to test before felling it was dry, go figure). It was still solid, so all it needed was to be heated and dried out next to a fire and then it would work fine.

To get the hobo stove fire started, though, I had to look elsewhere for dry wood. I found some along the road and split it up (two piles on the right).

I mowed down the plants in an area under and around my tarp and then cleared down to the soil in one spot so as to avoid setting an unintended forest fire. Then I processed wood for cooking in my hobo stove/tin-can stove.

I gathered some very thin birch bark from a tree nearby, stuffed it in the can and lit it with my ferro rod/firesteel.

I added the dry wood shavings I had made, as well as some split wood for fuel. In no time, I was ready to cook.

Lunch/dinner for the day would be a hearty soup, woodsman style. The ingredients:

I cut up half the package of bacon I brought with me and put it into the pot of boiling water.

Then I cut up three smallish potatoes, two small onions and two carrots, using my frying pan to hold them temporarily.

These veggies were added to the pot after the bacon had boiled for a while, and once they were cooked through I added some salt and pepper and took the soup off the heat to cool.

While my meal was “on the cool”, I figured it was a good opportunity to make the bread I’d be eating for the next few days, as well as to boil some water for drinking. I rummaged through my food bag and pulled out the bannock mix I had prepared at home. After mixing in some water and a little olive oil and kneading the dough, I heated a little oil in my frying pan and put the dough in.

I dug into the soup, which was fantastic and filling after a very active day in the woods, and when the bread was done I ate some of it as well. A meal fit for a woods-wanderer. :)

Night was coming on quickly, and it was time to crawl into my sleeping bag again. Though the moose were back in force all night, the weather was on my side, so there were no storms to contend with. I slept reasonably well and awoke well rested on Saturday morning.

Stay tuned for Part 2 to see some natural crafts, more wild edibles, more bush cooking, a hike to the sea and a 14th-Century castle (didn’t see that one coming, eh?).

Bushcraft and camping gear for overnight trips

For a while, I’ve been promising to show my rucksack and it’s contents, since I’ve already shown my cutting tools, belt pouch and shoulder bag. Seeing as how I had to get my gear together for my upcoming trip to Estonia anyway, I figured I’d take pictures of it all and just put out a single post showing all the gear I regularly use for overnight trips. Naturally, since my trip to Saaremaa will be a late-summer/early-fall trip, I won’t be showing any winter-specific items here.

So here’s an overview shot of the gear I bring for overnight trips lasting one night or more (my longest trip in recent years has been about a week).

1) Cutting tools
2) Belt pouch
3) Seasonal items
4) Bedroll
5) Shoulder bag
6) Rucksack
7) Cook kit
8) Poncho tent kit
9) Extras bag

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1) My cutting tools are a 26″ vintage Gränsfors Bruks axe, a Wenger No.7 Swiss army knife, a custom BushProwler knife made by Ilkka Seikku (with ferro rod in the sheath) and a 10″-bladed Fiskars sliding saw.

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2) My belt pouch contains twine, mini fishing kit, sewing needle, whistle, matches, mini ferro rod, flashlight, spoon, metal cup, bandana, Swiss army knife (it’s the one shown in the cutting-tools picture above; I keep in in this pouch), imitation Swiss card with mirror, mylar space blanket and compass.

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3) The seasonal items I’m bringing with me are a mesh bug shirt and a hand-line fishing kit and fake worms.

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4) My bedroll consists of a waterproof bivy bag, two thin foam sleeping pads and a sleeping bag (the sleeping bag is rolled up at the foot of the bivy bag in the picture).

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5) My shoulder bag contains a German army poncho, candle lantern, bug spray, lip balm, compass, large heavy plastic bag, light stick, wooden cup, coffee/tea/sugar, half a bar of soap, sewing kit, pen, canteen, sausage roaster, alcohol stove, head light, bag of tinder, first-aid kit, paracord, twine, toilet paper, small dry bag and sharpening stone.

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7) My cook kit contains a pot, kettle, fire grill, hobo stove, buddy burner (including a soot brush, cover/extinguisher and extra wax), folding-handle frying pan, spoon, olive oil, salt/pepper mix, aluminum foil, dish soap and dish brush.

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8) My poncho shelter kit contains tent poles, stakes, guy lines, a ground cloth, one poncho and two removable end walls. The other poncho used with this tent is attached to my shoulder bag.

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9) My extras bag contains steel wire, water-proof repair tape, extra matches, needle-nose pliers and a hygiene kit.

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In addition to the items shown and listed above, I will bring one set of extra clothes, high-top rubber boots/wellingtons, gaiters, thin gloves, a set of thermal underwear (just in case), thick socks, a hat, a second water bottle, an extra pair of glasses, my cell phone and food.

I keep my clothes in a dry bag on the outside of the pack. This leaves more than enough room inside the pack for my food and, if I so choose, my entire shoulder bag! If I wear the shoulder bag on my shoulder (which is what I usually do), I can easily fit 2 or 3 weeks worth of food in the pack. Not bad for a 35-liter rucksack.

I’ll be the first to admit that this is neither an ultralight, nor a minimalist, kit. Fully loaded with food for a few days, clothes and 2 liters of water, the total weight is around 17.5 kg/38.5 pounds. I’m happy to carry this kind of weight if it means I’ll have very rugged, reliable items at my disposal. It’s true that I could do without plenty of the items listed above, instead improvising things in the bush. To be honest, though, I don’t always want to have to make the things I need every time I go out! There are also lots of things I may not use, but I’ll be happy to have them if I do need them.

Weather situation: The forecast is now calling for rain every day of the trip, and since my transportation has already been paid for and I will not be able to reschedule, I have had to make a last-minute change to my regular kit loadout. I’ve decided to replace my tent’s ground sheet with a lightweight 2 m x 3 m/6-foot x 9-foot tarp. This tarp can either be used as a ground sheet for the tent or strung up for added protection from the rain. I will probably be wearing one of my two ponchos most of the time, and the other poncho plus the extra tarp will give me plenty of dry space to move around in if necessary. It will also give me the option of making a small kota/teepee shelter. Since I’ll be using the tarp to replace the old single-purpose ground sheet, I won’t be adding any bulk or weight to my pack. I’ll only be adding versatility.

The Weekend Woodsman in New Jersey

…New Jersey? As in “Jersey Shore” New Jersey? The state with such grand cities as Newark, Atlantic City and Camden? The place where medical waste used to wash up on the beaches etc. That New Jersey? Well, no. Not that New Jersey. There is a side to this state which many people don’t know about, a side with very beautiful natural areas featuring diverse ecosystems, flora and fauna. Sadly, most people think of the pollution, urban sprawl and all the other things that come along with being wedged between New York City, Philadelphia and the edge of the continent, so in this post I want to show you a different side to The Garden State.

My favorite natural area in New Jersey is called the Pine Barrens, a place with sandy soil not suitable for growing most crops, but in which pine trees and many other plants thrive. In 1978, the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve was created to protect the Pine Barrens, which cover 22% of the state of New Jersey and which constitute the largest unbroken natural forest area on the east coast of the US between Boston, Massachusetts and Richmond, Virginia. That’s right, in NEW JERSEY!

(Linked image)

Back in August, the Woodsfamily and my brother and sister-in-law-to-be visited Double Trouble State Park, which is located in Lacey and Berkeley Townships. Below are some pictures I took during our hike. Hope you enjoy them and get a taste of what New Jersey can offer!

Pines:

Oak:

Antlion” pit:

More pines:

Water oak:

Honeysuckle:

Maple:

Sassafras:

Oak:

Cedar Creek:

Black gum:

Birches:

Birch leaves:

Holly:

Juniper:

Mountain laurel:

A drained cranberry bog. Cranberry farming is still carried out in NJ.

Creepy:

Water lily:

Some kind of nest:

There was a fire here a few years back:

Hope you enjoyed seeing a wild side of New Jersey not involving Snooki or Pauly. ;)

Something old, something new

Our recent vacation to the US (final report coming soon) allowed me to become reunited with a few pieces of gear I had not used/seen in several years. I also had the opportunity to visit a few stores and pick up something new.

The “old” items are of such length that it would have cost an arm and a leg to mail them over (“oversize package” fees). This is what prevented me from getting them earlier. Fortunately, I was able to check these items as a piece of luggage on our flight back to Finland at no extra cost. One of the items I brought back was a 50 pound-draw longbow I bought in the States years ago. It is about 6 feet/180 cm long. I don’t even remember what wood it’s made out of (hickory?). I haven’t actually shot this bow yet, but getting into archery/bow-hunting is on my to-do list.

The other old item is about 20 years old. It is a simple walking stick I made as a teenager. This thing accompanied me on many a trip in my youth. As for the wood, I believe it was either Atlantic white cedar (which is actually a cypress) or red cedar (which is actually a juniper). I am looking forward to taking this old walking stick for a spin again, this time in the forests of Finland.

The new item I brought back is a small, thin folding knife from Buck. It’s a slip-joint, a model 379 Solo, featuring a single clip-point blade. It’s nothing amazing, but I’ve wanted a classic-style knife for some time, not having had one since my youth. Its slim profile means that it disappears into a pocket. It’s not going to butcher a moose (maybe?), but for the few-and-far-between cutting tasks I need a small EDC knife for, it would be perfect. I should mention that, somewhat bizarrely, carrying any kind of knife on your belt or in your pocket in public is illegal in Finland (unless it’s work-related), so I would never carry an EDC knife (perish the thought…). But if I were to carry one, it would be this one. :)

Now all that’s left is to get back out into the field and put these things to use!

(Sorry about the picture quality. It’s not always easy to get good lighting indoors!)

A quick axe-hanging tip

If you live in a place where the winter is a lot colder and drier than the rest of the year (e.g. the subarctic), it makes sense to rehang your ax in the winter, if you have a choice. The reason is that the wood of the handle will have less moisture in it during the winter, in comparison to the rest of the year, so it will have shrunk slightly. If you fit a new handle in the winter, the fit is likely to be even more solid the rest of the year. If you fit a new handle during a warmer and more humid time of the year, the axe head would be more likely to loosen up when the wood loses moisture and shrinks in the winter.

If you’re in a situation where your axe head is a tad loose, but the handle doesn’t need to be replaced, soak the eye in linseed oil overnight. The oil will swell the wood, thus tightening up the fit. What’s nice about using linseed oil is that it will remain in the wood and harden. I think it’s a better solution than swelling the handle with water (which, granted, also tightens up the fit, but will eventually lead to weakening of the wood if done repeatedly).

The Sunshine Award

Chris Major from movingfastwhilstgettingnowhere has awarded me with a Sunshine Award. The Sunshine Blog Award is “a prize awarded to bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” Thank you, Chris!

Chris is based in the UK and writes about his outdoor adventures and his recovery from a climing-related injury. He takes great pictures and has interesting and insightful write-ups.

Here are my instructions for the Sunshine Award:

  • Acknowledge and thank the giver, link it back, and put the award on your page;
  • Answer 10 questions about yourself found below;
  • Pass the award on to 10 or a random number of bloggers and notify them.

The 10 questions:

What is a real fear you have?

Answering questions like this one!

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I can remember wanting to be a naturalist, i.e. someone who studies the plants, animals and other natural aspects of an area. Although I didn’t end up doing that professionally, it looks like I’m slowly becoming one in my spare time. ;)

What are some of your hobbies?

My main hobbies can be read about here at my blog. I also enjoy cooking (and eating) a wide variety of foods, traveling, reading, exercising, history, religion, philosophy, languages, music…and so on.

What hobby would you like to start?

Honestly, I feel very content with bushcraft, backpacking etc. and don’t feel a strong drive to start a new hobby right now (not that I’d have time for it anyway), but I would like to improve my Finnish language skills.

If you could tell people anything, what would be the most important thing to say?

Try not to get caught up in the past or future, rather, focus on the present and do your best.

Name one item from your “bucket list”?

I would like to have an as-close-to-self-sufficient-as-possible homestead.

What’s the best prank you’ve pulled off?

Putting half a bottle of Tobasco sauce in my brother’s chili when he was a kid/teenager. :D

What book are you planning to read next?

I read a LOT, but don’t have any particular one lined up.

Coffee or tea?

Campfire coffee, sweet tea.

Lemon torte or chocolate cheesecake?

Vanilla ice cream with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups smashed up and mixed in.

I have decided to leave it to other winners to continue the Sunshine Award nominating process. There are just too many good blogs out there!

Again, thanks for the award, Chris. Glad you like my blog. :)