Chapter 40: The Ins and Outs of Crafting
Volume 1 — The Temporary Snow Country Life of the Northern Nobleman and the Raptor Wife
Recently, I decided with Sieg that we will make the bear fur we got from Teoporon into a gift for grandfather.
Grandfather liked Teoporon’s white bear fur very much. Teoporon too realised that and took his off, but grandfather refused, saying, “I don’t want something that was used to cover your groin!” Of course that was grandfather’s condition, but I wanted to retort if he didn’t have a better way to word it.
After we skinned it and removed the fat from the surface, we put it in a medicinal concoction of salt, tree barks and leaves to remove the bugs and the smell. The water was changed many times, and at the same time we rinsed and cleaned the fur.
After repeating that process, we let it out to dry in the wind for a few hours. Then we placed on the worktable and removed any remaining bits of meat.
Then we smeared ground volcanic rocks and salt all over the fur and left for a few days. After that, the powders are brushed off, and bear oil is applied before we moved on to the drying process.
For the drying process, the fur is hung inside the house on the wall. If we don’t do this, the fur curls up after getting dried, making it hard to craft something out of it.
After it’s dried, we then brush the surface to make it soft. It seems that long ago people crushed animal brains on the fur and chewed them with their teeth to soften the fur, but I don’t think I could endure such a process.
When that’s done, we went onto crafting it so that it could be worn on the head.
Teoporon used the same method people use when they stuff animals, so the skull is still there. However, I don’t know how to do that so I just sewed in the skull afterwards.
On the clean bear skull, I drilled in some holes in it.
The bones were tough, so it was a tough job.
Once I finished drilling holes, Sieg fitted the fur on the skull. In the eye sockets, I set black quartz, which were lying around in father’s room.
On the paws too, I drilled some holes for the claws. For that too, Sieg carefully sewed them. Finally, we put in some combs.
Thus, the bear coat was complete.
“……This, erm, isn’t there any place to wear this in Sieg’s country?”
“Well, there isn’t.”
“Do you think he’ll be happy?”
While talking, I gently put the coat on Sieg.
……Mm. Looks great on her.
While wearing the bear fur, Sieg continued to speak.
“Giving a gift is conveying one’s feelings to another. What’s important is not what’s being given but the feeling.”
From Sieg’s words of encouragement, I decided to send the bear fur to grandfather.
A few days later, a letter from grandfather arrived.
“Grandfather, he sounds like he was troubled because people asked where he got it from when he wore it to a masquerade ball.”
But he didn’t sound troubled at all from the letter.
He seemed happy, so I felt relieved that my work paid off.
As for the berries too, I have to get to processing them before it becomes too much work. I also needed to prepare for the upcoming seasons.
To make berry liqueur, I was making white liquor from the grains.
First, the threshed grains are carefully boiled in water. Then roasted grains are sprayed on top and left in a hut in which the temperature was controlled.
That is then moved to a big barrel and mixed with water before it’s left for a day. After that, I repeatedly mixed steamed potatoes into that.
Finally, I added in birch sap and more water. After a few days, foams form on the surface. While keeping close watch on the foams, I stirred the mixture every few hours.
A week after the final step. Now, the mixture smelled quite strongly of alcohol. There was also a lot of foam. However, the foam soon died down.
We can’t drink it as is, so the impurities have to be removed. That process is called distilling.
In a big iron pot, the almost completely liquid is put in, and a sealed wooden container with a bowl is put on top of that.
The droplets that form from the steam is the clean alcohol.
The droplets are collected into the wooden container, and those come out through a pipe.
Like this, alcohol is made.
Using that alcohol, I made berry liqueur.
Any berries are fine. This time. I decided to make the liqueur with the abundant blueberries and cranberries that we gathered.
Though I say make, it’s a very simple process. In a sterilised bottle, alcohol, ice, and berries are put in. It’s then left for three months in a cool place. In winter, we mull the drink to keep our bodies warm.
“By the way, I once made a terrible drink.”
I brought out a bottle from the shelf. It was the legendary potato alcohol.
“Akvavit. A drink made from potatoes and herbs.”
I found the method from grandfather’s library so I made it out of curiosity.
Meaning ‘water of life’ in another language, the drink was unfortunately too strong.
It had a taste as if I was chewing on bitter herbs, tingling the senses. I realised that grandfather had written ‘tastes like drugs’ only after I made the thing.
“I heard that it was used as a disinfectant in other countries. It’s strong enough to be considered as a medicine.”
“……Want to try some?”
While thinking that she was one fearless wife, I poured the drink in her kuksa. After thanking me, Sieg downed that in one go.
“How is it?”
“Yeah. Feels like it would go well with pickled herrings.”
Because I wanted to be thought of as a great husband, I took out a jar of pickled herrings and served some to Sieg.
“……I didn’t think that you’d actually have some.”
“They’re just made though.”
The fish is eaten with a sauce of spices, vinegar, onions, salt and sugar.
It also goes well with mustard.
After pouring some more for Sieg, I also brought cheese.
I nodded as I served the cheese.
Oddly, Sieg continued to drink. I discovered then that she preferred dry alcohol more than sweet alcohol. So far, we only had sweet berry wine and the wine from the family’s house, so I had no idea. Of course, I also did think that the wine was dryer and more bitter than usual.
I discovered something more about Sieg after living with her for a few months.
However, she was still shrouded in mystery.
A mysterious woman, Sieglinde.
A former soldier, with top sharpshooting skills. She’s good with handicrafts as well. She is quite stoic, but she is warm-hearted.
When I looked at her, she was drinking more alcohol from her wooden cup.
“……What is it?”
“No, I just thought that you drank well.”
Because Sieg stretched her hand out to the bottle, I poured some more for her.
“Ritz is like a diligent wife.”
……Diligent wife. But come to think of it, making alcohol and pickled herrings at home was not something a husband normally did. Wives did that.
Even as I wondered at how this happened, I continued to pour more drinks for Sieg when her cup got empty.
Wait, cups of Akvavit!? Just how much can Sieg hold her drink!?