Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight… red sky in the morning, shepherd’s barn on fire!!

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight… red sky in the morning, shepherd’s barn on fire!!

Fire, Fire, Fire

Thursday 22nd January
Today our farm cabin burnt down. Everything in that block of buildings razed to the ground: our cabin, the equipment room, the wood shed and the tool cupboard gone!

It’s our day off today and we’ve decided to walk to the Sami Wilderness Church – it’s the destination of one of our horse sled tours. When we leave we’ve heard from Erkki that he can’t pick up Maria for day farming because there’s a fire at the farm. At this point we don’t how serious it is and there’s nothing we can do anyway.

We go off on our walk. Fail to find the Wilderness church -doh! See 4 reindeer, a Sami reindeer herder on his skidoo and walk 11 miles. And I see the sun for the first time since arriving! It’s amazing seeing that orange ball in the sky and feeling the heatmon your face again after so long. By the end of the walk I’m very very cold and tired; walking in snow is hard work.

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Back at the apartment we meet Sarah. She says they were just finishing the breakfast feed when they noticed the flames. By the time they got to the cabin the fire was raging and with a gas bottle inside they kept their distance. Sami reindeer herders came to help and the fire brigade was called. Sarah has lost clothes, passport, money, cash cards and other items she had in the cabin. Poor girl – she’s had 3 really tough days truly being thrown into the deep end and then the fire. A few hours earlier………………!!!!!! Lukas had mentioned that he thought there was a problem with the chimney – so perhaps it was a chimney fire!!!


This was the cabin and stores before… P1030088

Maria, Rob and Horse Satu have gone to the farm. Sarah is having to phone many people. She needs money, passport etc.
We have a sauna booked at the Kultahovi hotel at 5pm. No one’s around so off we go. It’s fab. We go on the sauna and then go outside and lie in the snow, several times! It’s soooooo cold!!!


After the lovely sauna we have a beer by their lovely wood stove – it’s made of glass so we can see the logs burning.

Today is opening night of the film festival. There’s supposed to be an opening ceremony but we’re too late. Instead we see the ice theatre – each tier of seats covered with a reindeer skin.

Back at the apartment. Sarah is leaving!! She’s had enough and who can blame her. Maria is back and has some photos. The cabin is gone. Rob and Horse Satu are staying the night on the farm in Lukas’ house. Erkki has managed to buy some dog harnesses and apparently ‘the show will go on’!!!!! Tomorrow Daz and I are back for 2 nights on the farm so I’m sure we’ll see what’s what then!

Friday 23rd January

We’re picked up at 9.30am and at the farm all are very somber. Is it due to the after shock of the fire or is everyone suffering from a vodka induced hangover???? Erkki has bought new dog equipment and we’ve got clients at 12 so it turns out to be business as usual. Well kind of. There’s no Lavuu – it’s still standing but it’s right next to ground zero – the site of the fire and we’re pretending to the clients all is normal. We’re not to mention the fire!! Or the war to the Germans!

There are some new chores to do including looking for our sled anchors in the remains of the fire. Unfortunately the fire is still burning and Daz melts his salopettes in the anchor salvage operation. We also need to chop more wood as the wood store, and all the logs Hels chopped the other day are gone and we need logs to be able to melt the water for the horses and dog soup. There is a layer of ash all over the snow and the site is still smouldering, as it gets dark we can see that it is still burning deep in the ruins, it’ll be a few days before we can try and start salvaging anything else.

Erkki comes along later and takes Daz away to get one of the other vehicles as we need to be self sufficient for the next 2 days as he is going somewhere to the far west of Finland to buy more equipment. Already they have had to buy new axes (wood chopping), auger (ice holes), water pump (drinking water from lake), leashes and harnesses (doggies), more dog food (we’d just taken delivery of a new pallet and that all went up!) more food for us and tea bags for Hels! We need to put a list together of the other things we need like work gloves, head torches, batteries and all the other stuff we need to manage the farm. We are all amazed that the fire didn’t spread to the trees and other buildings, it really would have been the end if that had happened. Let’s hope that tomorrow the mood lifts a bit and we can all get back into a routine as such as it was.

We’re living in the farm house now. Some pics, Maria and Rob drinking tea English style, beds, Hels hugging the fire, Lukas and Maria chilling at the kitchen table (note kitchen bedroom combo!)

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Saturday 24th January

No clients for dog sledding today. Erkki and Satu have gone to the west of Finland to shop for replacement stores and equipment. We’re expecting Horse Satu and Maria at some point because there might be horse clients. So without the usual dog team preparation, Daz and I decide to make a more direct path to our new toilet. We chip ice from around the well and we clear snow from the site of the ‘new’ Lavuu

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and then apply some DIY to the new toilet which was so high Daz couldn’t touch the floor when he was seated and in order to hoist himself into seated position he’d bang his head on the ceiling, I just looked at it and wondered where my climbing gear was! So we’ve lowered the frame and we’ll see how long our DIY lasts. Apart from this we have the usual chores of dog and horse feeding and picking up poo. All in all a productive day!

Daz and Bandit, his fav dog, Hels and Suvan, her fav dog! (Don’t tell the other 35 dogs!)

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Tonight we’re home alone. There’s a Sami rapper (apparently quite famous) on in Pa Pa Na’s – Inari’s main watering hole and since it’s also Ola’s birthday everyone is going out and we’ve offered to cover at the farm tonight and tomorrow whilst they have a lie in.

Sunday 25th January

I get up and light the fires and feed the horses.

P1030409 Hels lighting fire and doing morning feed

We do the morning dog feed and poo pick up. It’s only -13 today so nice and warm.
P1030411P1030412 Lucy has had enough of the puppies (especially Fat Fuck!) stealing all her food, so now she carries her own bowl.

When everyone left the farm last night we told them to call when they needed picking up. But we overlooked the fact that Daz’s phone was running low on power so he switched off his phone only to discover in the morning that he needed the PIN to reactivate phone and its in the apartment. Whoops!! Anyway about 10am we see someone walking past the window. Erkki picked them all up this morning – think they didn’t go to bed until 3am so I think there are some sore heads.

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We have 4 clients today so a quiet day but Erkki wants to use the new open air Lavuu so we need to take the seats, and fire bowl etc from old one. The clients are Spanish, one is a tour rep and so whilst 4 of them go sledding with Erkki and Lukas, Daz has to escort the tour rep around and generally look after him in the hope that he will get us some Spanish clients! Daz, waffles any old drivel as he knows the guy will not know the difference between one dog and the next, although he does look worried when the Rep points out the horses are Norwegian fjord horses… Daz nods sagely, “yes, they were wild, but Satu is a great horse trainer!” Apart from that not much happening and we’re allowed to leave the farm at 3pm and a day off tomorrow. Hurrah!!!

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