There is redemption to be found on the farm, atonement from civilized life. No plastic, no preservatives, no veneer of authenticity but a true form of life. It exists in the dirt, and the great stones that rest quietly in the woods. It is a place to wear no shoes, to bathe in a frigid torrent with quartz running underfoot, to be silent in a room full of people, to enjoy the simple things and to laugh. Frugality replaces excess, hard work ousts boredom and laughter supplants loneliness. Met with life as soon as you wake, the farm is a binding force that I will miss as I move on, to continue my travels elsewhere.
In a tribute to the farm, this is what I will miss most about the old place, in no particular order:
- The people, volunteers come and go and they are all spectacular people, but Dan and Hanna remain to be two of the most peaceful and wonderful people I have yet to meet – it was a perfect first experience on the farm.
- The viking baths, the jaunt down to the great pool down below the farm and the heart-stopping cold that greets my body as I plunge under the water to wash off the sweat and dirt from the day’s work – a true Norse treat.
- The food, the simple oat porridge in the morning and the bread at lunch with the multitude of condiments – the wonderful peer pressure to “try it before you knock it,” which is part of the reason I now love mackerel – yum!
- The stones, mysterious and ubiquitous their presence is both massive and complacent. Covered in moss and stubborn with gravity, their giant bulks dot the landscape around the farm and tickle the imagination as homes of gnomes and fairies alike.
- The mornings and their peaceful silences with the shadows in the valley rubbing across the hills below, until the screech of the rooster breaks through of course.
- The animals, the rabbits with their oblivious demeanors, the chickens and their spunky attitudes and that gloriously pompous cockerel who I actually have come to like (until he attacks me and then all I want is fried chicken).
- The work, yes the work. The reason I am there in the first place. From thinning vegetables, to mulching the garden, making tool handles and drying hay – all has made me a better man and a healthier human – hurrah!
- The weather, a beating sun can quickly change to a torrential rain. This quick reversal makes me appreciate all forms of weather, and their incredible power, on the top of the mountain.
- The nature, and its perplexing beauty. From the dense woods to the open meadows, nature is Norway’s greatest entity and I have faith that it will remain this way in the hands of people like Dan and Hanna.
The list, like making hay, could go on for a long time but for the sake your sanity and mine I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking as they so often do. For the moment, the fields are being cleared as hay season has come into full tilt. With an intensity that is only made greater by the beating Norwegian sun, all able hands flock to the fields to make hay out of grass.
With practiced skill and callused hands, grass is sliced under the roaring hum of the antique tractor and scooped up with pitchforks, their handles worn smooth by decades of heavy use. Hay racks constructed from spruce saplings and wire, we often work in silence, only the sound of pitchfork tines scraping the tough stalks of grass and the occasional sneeze from the hay dust drifting in the air.
My travels are taking me next to Croatia – the land of my ancestors – and to a much warmer, Mediterranean climate. As much as I cannot wait to see this new place and gain new knowledge and experience, it is the farm that I must enjoy to the fullest now.
As always, be mindful, live in the moment and travel well.