I stayed at a really nice farm in Telemark and did volunteer work with the WWOOF (Worldwide Workers on Organic Farms) program, where you get free lodging and food for work. Telemark is a beautiful place in Norway, with much cultural heritage. The farm (view of the mountain form the farm above) I stayed at had buildings that were very old, and there had been a farm there at least from the 1700s, and the farm across the valley was from before the black plague in the 1600s. I felt like I was learning about an connecting with the way of life some of my ancestors may have experienced. The farm had no electricity, and our world revolved around this wood stove:
For cooking, cleaning, and warmth. It got down to 10 below degrees Celcius, or 14 degrees F, at night. During the day it got above freezing and some days it was pretty warm, but mostly it was cold. We burned a lot of wood. I sometimes split larger pieces of firewood to fit them into the top right corner door, which is pretty small.
They had other old contraptions, like this hay rake:
And old buildings like this stabbur, or storehouse, where the grain is kept in a building elevated by stones to protect from the snow and moisture, I think.
I love the grass roofs with the little trees growing out of them.
Here is a view from the top of the hill to the really old farm on the other side:
And the view from the bottom of the hill to the farm I stayed at above:
I walked down and then up this every day, mostly because it was beautiful, but also it's great exercise. Not that I didn't get a work out enough 3 times a day from feeding these gals:
Among the other animals. These are Viking sheep, whose long hairs were used in making the sails of viking ships so they could sail even in the rain, a friend told me.
I also fed the horse, whose name is "Hesten" and means literally "the horse". Also a Norwegian breed. I remember riding one like him in Minnesota for a class trip.
I also fed the goats, who were really sweet:
One of them, hoping for some of the good stuff (barley!) and ignoring the perfectly good hay below.
And finally, I let out the chickens at noon and fed them in the evenings. I found between 1 and 4 eggs per day, and a few days that was our lunch.
Seemed appropriate, as it is the Easter break right now. We put up an "Easter tree", which is willow branches that flower yellow, and the family I stayed with decorated it very nicely.
It's colder now than it was, but I still see crocuses and other flowers around, even in Telemark they were coming up in the gardens.
I'm really glad I had this experience. My host had even lived in Aurland for a while, so she knew where I was talking about for my mom's side of the Norwegian heritage. The past felt very present during this week, and I felt humbled by the raw nature and hard work put into the farm and wondered how people could ever live their whole lives like this. Even without electricity we were spoiled by the treats from the nearby town. It was a hard life but maybe there were things about it that I don't know that made it satisfying.
Tomorrow I will celebrate a bit with an Easter tree of my own, and a small chocolate-covered egg-shaped marzipan treat. And maybe watch some Norwegian television about the meaning of Easter, which they had some of on TV today. And I have to work on many papers...but it should be a fun day!