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Small victories

Several days ago I noticed a ribbon of red fabric, hanging on a tree branch next to my yard. They use that kind of ribbons to mark areas for logging - and I certainly do hope that they aren't planning to clear-cut the whole area, but rather just harvest a tree here and there. Well, but since I don't own the forest, there's nothing i can do about it, just watch and see how many of the trees they are going to harvest. And this is the particular forest area which had some fir trees felled by storm winds. The ones I asked the owners if I can have them if I haul them away, and they agreed. Hauling those logs has been another of my long-term slow progress tasks, which has gained a lot of symbolical meaning and theraupeutic value. Five of the heaviest logs have been still there, waiting to be hauled in a way or another. Seeing the red ribbon made me feel that I'd better not postpone it any longer. So these past days I've been dragging heavy logs.

Each log was so heavy that there was no question of me lifting them alone. I tried dragging them with a winch, but that proved to be non-practical, tedious and cumbersome. Merely dragging a log on mossy ground had too much friction, straining the winch beyond its maximum load capacity. Also, the modified hand truck I was using earlier had flat tyres. I tried to pump more air, but it turned out that the inner tubes had been damaged. An air-filled tyre is a great invention, as long as it works... Seems like I had been hitting sharp rocks concealed in the moss. At the moment I'm practically out of money, so I can't go have the tyres fixed. So what to do, then? I decided to revert to a more primitive version of the wheel. There was a smaller tree also felled down by storm winds. I cut that tree to short pieces. I lifted another end of a heavy log and kicked one piece under the heavy log. Then I went to the another end of the log, at the same time slightly lifting and heavily dragging the log - and it moved, the smaller piece of wood rolling under the weight and movement of the heavier log.

Well, but of course a mossy, uneven forest terrain isn't that good for any kind of wheels to roll. Sometimes that smaller piece got stuck in the moss, making the heavier log just to slide forward. But a round piece of wood has a lot less friction than the mossy terrain, so I kind of a constructed a track of round wooden blocks, dragging the heavy logs along the track, towards my yard. It was slow, but possible. I felt like I can get it done. And now it certainly wasn't about the practical value of obtaining materials for building - if I'd start with the idea of building a shelter for firewood, I'd just buy a heap of 2" by 5" timber and construct a shed out of those. 2 by 5 would certainly be well enough for the walls of a plain ordinary firewood shed. But these logs, these are thick and heavy and not so practical to handle. But since I had decided to try to haul them, the whole work has become a positive challenge for me. Do I find enough stamina, not to abandon the project even though it has been slow progress and heavy work? When I hit the limits of my physical strength, can I figure out basic mechanical aids to make the work doable? Do I believe in myself, do I find my own strange ideas still worth pursuing for? Or is this going to be just another project I once started but never finished? Oh do come on man, you can do it, you are no more a heavily depressed human wreck =)

Once again I realized how I went through the basic mental cycle - at first I had a vague feeling that the logs are probably just too heavy and it is impossible for me to drag them alone. Then I went to take a look, tried a little bit of this and that, until I stumbled upon a solution which worked. And seeing the heaviest of the logs moving I knew I can do it. And again, one of the basic requirements was not to care about all the other half-finished tasks waiting to be done. Just to concentrate at the task at the hand, wanting to get it done before moving on to other tasks. At some point I had forgotten to eat, I had just been breathing heavily, sweating and straining my body for hours until the logs again started to seem too heavy and impossible to move. I took a break, cooked food and ate and decided to continue the next day.

Somehow, the red ribbon made me think about the history. Back in 1905 it was times of The Grand Duchy of Finland - Finland was an autonomous part of Russian empire. At those times, generally speaking, land was not for sale. There weren't anymore no-mans land, no more wilderness free to settle in. So, if you happened to be born into a non-land owning family, generally speaking your only viable way of establishing a homestead was to sign a contract with a landlord. Bigger contracts came with enough land for farming and for cutting wood for your own use. Smaller contracts came with only a small plot of land, and they were typically for farm-hands, lumberjacks, masseurs, blacksmiths and other such workers who didn't run a farm of their own. Common to both kinds of contracts was that you were obliged to serve regular working days at the landlords farm, basically for ever, for generations. Sometimes it also happened that the landlord wanted a contract to be discontinued, forcing the non-landowning people to leave their homes. In the early years of 1900's the question of land ownership became increasingly pressing political theme. Some sort of reform was planned, there were talks about granting the contractors a legal and an affordable way to eventually purchase their homestead, thus ending the rental contract and becoming independent farmers or workers. But the political process was slow, there was a lot of talk but little did happen. Not all, but many of the non-landowning folks felt frustration building up. Shortly after the Russian Revolution the Finnish parliament applied for independence, which Lenin granted. Finland declared independence in December 1917, and collapsed into a bloody civil war in January 1918. The war is a complex topic, and there still are rather emotionally charged opinions and interpretations concerning the causes and the nature and even the name of the war. I'm not going to go into details in this post. But why I mention this is that the land ownership questions were one of the topics which contributed towards the war breaking out - a lot of people were frustrated because of a lack of political resolution. So, a lot over-simplified, there was a civil war about how the country should be organized - the white side defending status quo, and the red side demanding more radical reforms to improve the rights of working class non-land owning people. The white side won. But, after the civil war they finally passed legislation to address the questions of land ownership. A land reform started in 1919. Those non-land owning people who had already built their homes on rented land, they were granted an affordable way to eventually buy the lands they lived. So, despite a loss in rebellious war, there were smaller political victories, vastly improving the conditions of those people who had traditionally been restricted to non-land owning class for generations after generations.

Hehe, starting that historical background I mentioned the year 1905 - that is when my house was originally built. Which means that at that time it was a contract signed between a family and the landlord. Actually, it was not just one contract, but two. There were two families, each building a house to live in. Their houses were next to each other, yards connected, and neither of the contracts involved any fields nor forest area. It was just a small plot to build your house on. I don't know the exact order of how things happened, but eventually the smaller house went uninhabitated, and both plots were eventually purchased by a family living in the other house - which is the house I bought in April 2008. And that's why on the papers it says that I own two adjacent plots of land. Although both plots combined is still a smallish homestead, I only own my yard and all the surrounding forest is owned by neighbours. Well, but because of the past political reforms, because of the hard work done by those two families in 1905, because of all these small victories I was able to buy the place. And now, dragging logs from a forest I don't own, the contract was purely based on spoken word and mutual respect. Dragging these logs I get a glimpse of how the life of non-land owning people might have been back in the 1905, doing a lot of physical work to get your homestead established.

Well, with this kind of thoughts I finally got those five heaviest logs successfully hauled to my yard. In the evening sunlight I went lying on the logs, sipping some home-made rowan-berry wine I got from neighbours. A small victory for me!

A track for hauling logs
A track for hauling logs
Dragging
Dragging
The red ribbon
The red ribbon
Victory!
Victory!
tags: 
depression
diary
homesteading
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Comments

If the size of the victory is comperable with the size of the tree trunks, it is not small at all!
TY for history lesson!
Those times seems to be a bit turbulent. Very interesting events in all of the Europe.
Independance of Finland is maybe only good think the bolsheviks did. As far as I know.

It seems like there will be more turbulence ahead, in all of the Europe. I only hope it won't get quite as bloody as it was 100 years ago...

Well, personally I haven't studied the history of bolshevism enough to evaluate and to weight their value in good and bad =) I'd guess they managed to improve the conditions of many of the ordinary folks in Russia, but in so doing they also caused a lot of damage. Events and people in history seldom are purely good nor purely evil - and all too often evil stuff is justified by some glorious narrative making it all seem good and heroic...

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