Three days at the farm and I am coming to terms with “self-sustained” living. There is no trash bin only a compost heap, there is no fridge only a root cellar, there is no bathtub just a majestic waterfall from a mountain spring and water that will stop your heart its so cold! Coming from modern society with modern amenities, it has been a bit of a shock to suddenly be completely immersed in a life so different from my own. But every day that I wake up, I feel more at home upon this mountain ridge, the farm itself steeped in history and Norse myth.
After nearly 17 hours of constant travel I stepped foot on the mountain farm of Nordre Stuksrud – pronounced “Nor-dray-stook-srood”- ‘ya gotta’ roll that rrrrr! It is a spectacular sight, these century-old buildings built on dry-stacked stones the size of small cars up on top of a mountain! Actually, a large hill – but when does a large hill become a mountain? I digress.
I got out of the car, an avenue beaten up by the rocky road to the farm, where several parts I thought I was either going to have to push or bail out, but somehow we made it. Looking exactly like its my first time doing any of this ever, I shouldered my 40 pound backpack with a big “HUFF!” and walked on to meet the crew. Good folks all, Dan the proprietor is an interesting individual with a extensive schooling in the old Norse culture (Masters in Archaeology), he is living his dream farming and living the old way. Hanna, his partner, came here in October fell in love with the place and ended up staying. Quinn is a volunteer like myself, although he has traveled extensively and is full of helpful information and great stories.
The farm is situated just below the summit of the Western face of the Gudbrandsdalen Valley, this location is famous for its folklore traditions and is home to the famous Olympic town of Lillehammer, where I am currently sitting writing this entry. The farm’s internet is down at the moment so the only connection to the outside world lies 20 minutes away by car. But I reckon that is the point of this farming experience, to live traditionally and learn the old way.
The first day was rather difficult, as I was having these completely outrageous thoughts such as why the heck did I leave my perfectly good life in the states? These continued through dinner and when I finally collapsed after a whole day of travel and farm work, I forgot about my worries and let sleep consume me.
I woke up exactly at 0730 the next morning rested and energized, and from then on its been amazing here at the farm, no more thoughts of mutiny of self-betrayal. I have been much too busy for any of that. They put me right to work harvesting moss, which will be dried and eventually used for livestock bedding in the winter months. Quinn and myself traveled down the road, past old summer cottages with slate roofs and dragon-head peaks to a large stream where overhanging moss grew in great clumps, ripe for the taking. We collected nearly 500 lbs of moss in one day, hard work amidst verdant hills and raging rivers – totally worth the sweat.
Next day, Dan had me carve an axe shaft out of a fine piece of stunted spruce. Typically a soft and weak wood, this spruce had grown slowly in the shade of older trees thus giving it tight growth rings and a much a more rigid grain. I used a hatchet to first rough it down, a drawknife to shape it, and then a carving knife to finish it. Took me all day, but at the end, we have a working axe – sure beats the heck out of those fancy store-bought ones!
But that’s my life for the past few days and for several after I am sure. I already feel better and stronger too. The food is simple but good and healthy – exactly what is needed after a long days work. I miss home, my family and friends and comfort of a beer with Dad or a conversation with Mom, but I still have a long way yet to go before I come home and few more stories to put down. Internet is difficult to get at the farm, so these entries may be few and far between, but I cannot wait to see what this next week will yield.